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ft. Z&. Harris Lectures? 

were founded in 1906 through the generosity of Mr. 
Norman Wait Harris of Chicago, and are to be given 
annually. The purpose of the lecture foundation is, 
as expressed by the donor, to stimulate scientific 
research of the highest type and to bring the results 
of such research before the students and friends of 
Northwestern University, and through them to the 
world. By the term scientific research is meant 
scholarly investigation into any department of human 
thought or effort without limitation to research in the 
so-called natural sciences, but with a desire that such 
investigation should be extended to cover the whole 
field of human knowledge." 





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Published February IQ08 

1 1 r <". 


EARLY in the last century, M. Comte, the 
founder of French positivism, set forth his fa 
mous doctrine of the three stages of human 
thought. Man begins, he said, in the theologi 
cal stage, when all phenomena are referred to 
wills, either in things or beyond them. After 
a while, through the discovery of law, the ele 
ment of caprice and arbitrariness, and thus of 
will, is ruled out, and men pass to the second, 
or metaphysical stage. Here they explain phe 
nomena by abstract conceptions of being, sub 
stance, cause, and the like. But these meta 
physical conceptions are really only the ghosts 
of the earlier theological notions, and disappear 
upon criticism. When this is seen, thought 
passes into the third and last stage of develop 
ment, the positive stage. Here men give up 
all inquiry into metaphysics as bootless, and 
content themselves with discovering and regis 
tering the uniformities of coexistence and 
sequence among phenomena. When this is 


done we have accomplished all that is possible 
in the nature of the case. Metaphysics is ruled 
out as a source of barren and misleading illu 
sions, and science is installed in its place as a 
study of the uniformities of coexistence and 
sequence which are revealed in experience. 

In this view Comte was partly right and 
partly wrong. By explanation Comte under 
stood causal explanation, and he was quite right 
in pointing out that explanation in terms of 
personality is the one with which men begin. 
He was equally right in saying that abstract 
metaphysics is only the ghost of the earlier per 
sonal explanations. Later philosophic criticism 
has shown that the conceptions of impersonal 
metaphysics are only the abstract forms of the 
self-conscious life, and that apart from that life 
they are empty and illusory. Comte was equally 
right in restricting positive science to the in 
vestigation arid registration of the orders of 
coexistence and sequence in experience. But 
he was wrong in making caprice and arbitrari 
ness essential marks of will, and equally wrong 
in rejecting all causal inquiry. The history of 


thought has judged his doctrine in this respect. 
Causal inquiry, though driven out with a fork, 
has always come running back, and always will. 
It only remains to give the causal doctrine the 
form which is necessary to free it from the ob 
jections of criticism. 

The aim of these lectures is to show that 
critical reflection brings us back again to the 
personal metaphysics which Comte rejected. 
We agree with him that abstract and imper 
sonal metaphysics is a mirage of formal ideas, 
and even largely of words, which begin, con 
tinue, and end in abstraction and confusion. 
Causal explanation must always be in terms of 
personality, or it must vanish altogether. Thus ? 
we return to the theological stage, but we do so 
with a difference. At last we have learned the 
lesson of law, and we now see that law and will 
must be united in our thought of the world. 
Thus man s earliest metaphysics reemerges in 
his latest ; but enlarged, enriched, and purified 
by the ages of thought and experience. 

In war the success of a campaign seldom 
depends solely upon sheer fighting and direct 


assaults upon the enemy s position. It often 
depends equally, and even more fundamentally, 
upon seizing and holding certain strategic po 
sitions which may command the enemy s com 
munications, or threaten his rear, or make his 
position untenable. Intellectual campaigns are 
subject to the same law. They are commonly 
decided at points quite remote from the appar 
ent battlefield, and without any " thunder of 
the captains and the shoutings." These are 
the strategic points that command the field and 
decide the day. They lie in our epistemology 
and metaphysics subjects which seem to 
have little or no practical bearing, yet out of 
them are the issues of intellectual life or death. 
Our notions of knowledge and its nature, 
our conception of reality and causality, our 
thoughts respecting space and time, the 
two great intimidating phantoms, these are 
the things that decide our general way of 
thinking and give direction to our thought 
even in morals and religion. Some harmless- 
looking doctrine is put forth in epistemology, 
and soon there is an agnostic chill in the air 


that is fatal to the highest spiritual faiths of 
the soul, or some sensual blight and mildew 
spread over the fairer growths of our nature. 
Space and time are made supreme laws of ex 
istence, and determinism and materialism and 
atheism are at the door. This general fact ex 
plains the form of the campaign. The " thun 
der of the captains and the shoutings" are 
omitted, in order to deal with the questions 
which both experience and reflection show to 
be the really strategic points in philosophic 


February 1, 1908. 










COMMON sense has always thought rather 
meanly of philosophy, either as losing itself 
in abstract verbiage which makes no connec 
tion with reality, or else as falling into dan 
gerous and destructive errors. Aristophanes, 
wishing to deride philosophy, represented So 
crates as floating in the clouds and uttering a 
deal of nonsense, which was supposed to be 
philosophical. And we are all familiar with 
the formula which refers to "science," that 
is, philosophy, " falsely so-called/ and which 
couples "philosophy and vain deceit" in a 
way not intended to be complimentary. 
Goethe expressed the same opinion when he 
made Mephistopheles say, " A speculating fel 
low is like a beast on a blasted heath led round 
in circles by an evil spirit, while all about are 


pastures fair and green." Milton is even more 
pronounced, for he mentions philosophizing 
as one of the pursuits of hell. One group of 
devils is described as holding high debate over 

" Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, 
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost." 

Much of this popular opinion is due to ig 
norance, but the warmest friend of philosophy 
must admit that there is also much in the his 
tory of thought to justify the popular view. 
Philosophers themselves are not always clear as 
to their own meaning, and have often spoken 
a language "not understanded of the people." 
Nonsense and pernicious errors mingle in about 
equal proportions in philosophical literature. 
Many a navigator has sailed away over the 
misty seas of speculation and never come back ; 
and many an ambitious climber, imitating the 
I "Excelsior" youth, has climbed out of sight 
and never returned to earth again. Fogbanks 
have often been mistaken for land, and islands 
of mist have passed for solid continents. A 
fearful proportion of philosophical discussion 
at best is barren and often pernicious. Prob- 


ably nine tenths of the treatises on this subject 
might be burned up without any loss to the 
world, and with some small gain to the fuel 
pile. Could the good Caliph Omar return to 
life and make a bonfire of our philosophical 
literature, as he did of the Alexandrian library, j 
it would not be an unmitigated calamity. 

And this is no judgment of outsiders 
merely, but of philosophers themselves. The 
ever-recurrent outbreaks of skepticism and 
agnosticism among them remind us of the 
instability of the philosophical structure ; and 
just now the pragmatists, distantly echoing /wf 
Kant s doctrine of the primacy of the practi 
cal reason, are pointing out what sorry stuff 
the traditional philosophy is, and more in sor 
row than in anger, as in true friendship bound, 
are inflicting numerous " faithful wounds." 
It is not surprising, then, that common sense 
should propose to throw philosophy, along 
with physic, to the dogs and have none of it. 

We might well conclude, then, that we 
should let philosophy alone, as at best a use 
less science. Unfortunately this cannot be 


done. Every one has a philosophy of some sort, 
wittingly or unwittingly. Every one has some 
notions about reality, the nature of things, the 
meaning and outcome of life, and the like; 
and these constitute his philosophy. Monsieur 
Jourdain in Moliere s play, as you remember, 
talked prose all his life without knowing it, 
and many persons do the same thing with 
philosophy. For philosophy is simply an 
attempt to give an account of experience, or 
it is a man s way of looking at things. The 
common-sense man finds a lot of bodies about 
him in space and a series of changes going on 
in time, and in these he rests as final. That is 
his philosophy. The materialist conceives that 
the world of experience can be explained by 
molecules and atoms, endowed with forces of 
attraction and repulsion which work forever 
through space and time. That is his philoso 
phy. The agnostic holds that we can know 
nothing beyond phenomena. The causal power 
behind is forever hidden. That is his philoso 
phy. The theist holds that the order of things 
can be explained only by an intelligent cause 


back of all appearance and manifestation. 
That is his philosophy. But every one has a 
philosophy of some sort, implicit or explicit, 
and commonly he is all the more controlled 
by it the less he is aware of its presence. If 
men could and would let philosophy alone I 
sometimes think I should be willing to have 
them do so ; for there is a great deal of false 
and pernicious philosophizing. We might even 
say that strait is the gate and narrow is the 
way that leadeth to philosophical insight, and 
few there be that find it; while wide is the 
gate and broad the way that leads to philo 
sophical confusion and destruction, and many 
there be who go in thereat. But since we 
must have a philosophy, whether we will or 
not, it is important that we get the best. If 
we do not sow good seed the enemy will sow 
tares, and by and by we have to reap the tares 
that have been sown. The whole system of 
naturalistic thought, with its materialistic and 
atheistic tendencies, is but the outcome of the 
crude metaphysics of common sense, and it 
can be permanently overthrown only by dis- 


crediting that metaphysics. So long as space 
and time and matter and force are openly or 
tacitly assumed to be the standard realities, 
or the standards of reality, there will always 
be a root of bitterness in our speculation 
which will spring up again and again to 
annoy us. 

It is not, then, a question of having or not 
having a philosophy, but of having a good or 
a bad one. And this question is of great prac 
tical importance, for, while a good philosophy 
may not have much positive value, a bad one 
may do measureless harm. Nations may be 
paralyzed, and individuals may be wrecked, 
by a fatalistic and pessimistic philosophy. A 
sense philosophy may tend to mildew the life 
of a people and cast discredit upon all the 
spiritual aspirations of man. An agnostic 
philosophy may paralyze both the mental and 
moral nature and leave men thwarted and 
despairing in impenetrable darkness. The 
most destructive errors that have devastated 
humanity have been rooted in philosophy, and 
many of the worst aberrations of religion run 


back to some philosophical doctrine as either 
their source or their justification. And a little 
reflection shows that philosophy is no unim 
portant affair. It would not be a serious mat 
ter if we made an error in our theory of the 
double stars, or if we mistook the order of 
the geological strata, or blundered in the 
atomic weights of some of the elements ; but 
it would be a very serious matter if we went 
astray in those fundamental conceptions of 
life, its worth and destiny, with which philo 
sophy deals. It would be a serious matter if 
philosophy reached a conception of life and 
the world which was incompatible with those 
high faiths of humanity by which hitherto 
nations have nourished themselves into great 
ness and men have nobly lived and bravely 
died. Would it, then, make no difference to 
personal life or to civilization if we should 
replace these faiths by materialism or atheism? 
Could we safely exchange our Christian phi 
losophy for that of India ? Would life go on 
just as well if, with the agnostic, we decided 
to restrict all thought to things seen and tern- 


poral, and forbade any reference to the unseen 
and eternal ? These questions answer them 
selves. Mr. Spencer in his last work, " Facts 
and Comments/ seems not to have weakened 
in his agnostic conviction, but he advises the 
skeptic not to say too much about agnosti 
cism ; as faith is a comfort to many who have 
no other support. Such considerations show 
that philosophy is not a matter of practical 
indifference. It may not " bake bread for us/ 
it has been said, " but it gives us God, free 
dom, and immortality ;" and, we may add, it 
gives even the bread which it does not bake 
a savor it would not otherwise possess. 

We need, then, a sound philosophy at least 
as a kind of intellectual health officer whose 
business it is to keep down disease-breeding 
miasms and pestiferous growths, or as a moral 
police whose duty it is to arrest those dan 
gerous and disturbing intellectual vagrants 
which have no visible means of support, and 
which corrupt the people. 

This negative function is very important. 
A great crop of errors readily springs up on 


the plain of sense and mechanical thought. 
In this way sensualism, materialism, atheism, 
like weeds, are sure to grow unless there be a 
philosophy of higher character to keep them 
down. These lower philosophies tend to usurp 
possession of the mind; and in their presence 
the higher faiths of the soul soon wither and 
perish. And these lower views cannot be dis 
pelled by authority, but only by a careful 
examination of their philosophical founda 
tions. Then they are seen in their baselessness 
and fatuity. Positively, philosophy has the 
function of formulating and systematizing life 
and experience so as to bring out into clear 
consciousness our aims and principles. It must 
close up the ways of error and open the high 
ways of progress. With all its shortcomings, 
philosophy deserves well of humanity in this 
respect. It has driven away nightmares and 
enabled us to see visions. Only a good philo 
sophy can displace a bad one. 

The generation just passed had abundant 
illustration of the practical importance of phi 
losophy. That was a time of great develop- 


merit in the physical sciences and in the com 
mercial application of science to our control 
of nature. There were great generalizations in 
physics, such as the conservation of energy, 
and the correlation of the physical forces ; 
and equally great generalizations in biology. 
The application of scientific method to histor 
ical study, also, and the ever-widening dis 
covery of law, leading to the belief in its uni 
versal reign, had great influence. New facts 
crowded upon us and new interpretations were 
demanded. The old mental equilibrium was 
broken up and the new one had not yet been 
established. The new wine of science and evo 
lution went to the head and produced many 
woes and more babblings. It was a matter of 
course that at such time religion should seem 
to be imperiled. To the passive mind even 
new truth seems dangerous until it has be 
come familiar. All who had any grudge against 
religion loudly proclaimed its baselessness, and 
many who were interested in religion were 
profoundly disturbed by the new order. Every 
thing seemed to be in solution. The foun- 


tains of the great deep were broken up. The 
elements melted with fervent heat, and some 
things passed away with a great noise. Natural 
ism came to the front with a mechanical phi 
losophy, and commercialism tended to fix all 
eyes on gain as even better than godliness. 
The latter produced a feeling that we could 
do just as well without religion as with it, 
and the former found no place for it. It was 
proclaimed by many, and feared by more, 
that the high hopes and dreams of humanity 
were baseless. The truth about man had been 
found out, and the truth was that instead 
of being a child of the Highest he is merely 
the highest of the animals, having essen 
tially the same history and destiny as they, 
birth, hunger, labor, weariness, and death. 
Man was viewed as simply an incident in the 
condensation of dispersed matter, or the cool 
ing of a fiery gas. 

For a time the religious world was in a con 
dition of stampede and panic, but after a while 
it became clear that the difficulty lay not in 
the facts themselves but in the philosophy by 


) which they were explained. The great source 
of the disturbance of that time, apart from 
the horror of change natural to the passive 
mind, was the lack of any adequate philosophic 
! equipment. The new facts were interpreted on 
the basis of a crude sense-realism, and this 
view has always had a tendency to materialism 
and atheism. But now that we have a better 
critical apparatus the difficulties have disap 
peared. We are now able to live in peace and 
quietness with the facts once thought so 
threatening, and we look back on that period 
of panic only to wonder at the superficiality 
that caused it. We smile at the naive dog 
matism and the extraordinary logic of the 
movement. Had we had a generation ago our 
present philosophical equipment there would 
have been no flurry over evolution, the trans 
formation of species, the reign of law, and the 
many other things which were supposed to be 
fatal to man s higher faiths. The storm we 
had was part of the price we paid for being 
philosophically unprepared. 

It is clear, then, that philosophy is practically 


important. It is not necessary, of course, that 
everybody should be a philosopher, any more 
than that everybody should be a physician or 
a lawyer, but just as it is important that these 
professions should be represented in the com 
munity so that all may share in their advan 
tages, so it is equally important that philoso 
phy should be represented in the thought of 
a community, and without it there is no se 
curity against all manner of superstitions and 
intellectual aberrations. Keligion, conscience, 
and even intellect itself grovel or fall into 
vagaries when not subject to critical super 
vision. But it is equally clear from a survey 
of conditions that philosophers themselves 
need to bring forth fruits meet for repent 
ance, if their science is to receive general 
respect. Some improvement in this direction 
may be hoped for from the pragmatists criti 
cism. We need to pay more attention to first 
principles and to practical bearing and out 
come. Mr. Huxley tells of an Irish cabman 
who was told to drive fast. Without waiting 
to inquire where he was to go, he drove off 


furiously. When the passenger asked him 
where he was going he replied, " Oi don t 
know, yer banner, but annyway Oi m drivin 
fast." One is often reminded of this good man 
in reading current philosophical literature. 

Philosophers themselves by no means always 
clearly understand their own aims, and the 
teachers of the science are sometimes confused 
as to its meaning and contents. It cannot be 
doubted that a great deal of time and strength 
is wasted in philosophical study because of 
misdirection and failure properly to analyze 
the problems. Teachers often lose themselves 
in details and reach no insight into the essen 
tial questions. Even distinguished occupants 
of philosophical chairs sometimes come under 
this condemnation. They are experts in the 
bibliography and biography of the subject. 
They are full of information on the editions 
and the commentaries, and in short seem to 
know everything about philosophy but phi 
losophy itself. The scholastics distinguished 
" knowledge of the thing " from " knowledge 
about the thing," and the latter is what we 


too often find when we are looking for the 
former. The principle which gives meaning 
and unity to the whole is missed altogether, and 
any criticism which may be made is " unprin 
cipled " and superficial in consequence. There 
is abundant knowledge of details, but when 
we come to the subject itself we often find 
some naive and uncritical dogmatism or per 
haps no idea whatever ; and sometimes it is 
even held to be a mark of especial mental 
breadth to have no system at all; as if the 
inability to think organically and consistently 
were a sure sign of greatness. Such philoso 
phers are strong on the history of philoso 
phy. They remind us that we can understand 
a thing only by studying its evolution. As if 
a man could write edifyingly upon the his 
tory of a subject which he did not himself 
thoroughly understand ; or as if a man could 
read to much edification the history of a sub 
ject of which he knew nothing. The only 
result would be barren superficialities in the 
work and a fluency of speech without under 
standing in the reader. 


When we are dealing with concrete insti 
tutions, legislation, etc., there is truth in the 
claim that they must be historically studied 
for their complete understanding; but when 
we are dealing with the formal truths of in 
telligence, they are to be understood in and 
through themselves. Any student of average 
ability can be made to see the truth of the 
binomial theorem by reflection upon the proof 
offered, and he can equally well learn how to 
apply the theorem by inspection of its terms. 
In neither case is any historical study needed 
for insight, though it might be interesting 
in itself. But a history of mathematics as an 
introduction to mathematics would not tend 
to edification. Equally inverted pedagogically 
is the history of philosophy as an introduc 
tion to philosophy. Either it must confine 
itself to worthless platitudes which will enable 
the student to talk without understanding, 
or it must be as unintelligible as a history 
of the higher mathematics would be to one 
who had never studied algebra. While, then, 
we must always have the highest respect 


for the historical method, it manifestly ap 
plies to some things better than to some other 
things, and we must not allow a mechanical 
repetition of formulas to obscure this fact. 
The men who have helped philosophy forward 
have seldom been men learned in the biblio 
graphy of the science, but men who grap 
pled with the problems themselves. Descartes, 
Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant are illustra 
tions. Hobbes said that if he had read as much 
as some of the stall-fed philosophers of his 
time he should have known as little as they. 
Again, philosophers, from failure to keep 
in touch with reality, have often run into 
barren elaborations of obvious commonplace 
which might well justify the contempt of 
common sense. Here logic reminds us that 
explanations which leave matters as dark as 
ever lose from that fact all reason for exist 
ence. Philosophers sometimes forget this and 
in their theoretic zeal for their formulas un 
wittingly give awful examples of theoretic 
obsession. A distinguished philosopher fur- 
nishes us with illustrations. 


How does a child learn to write ? To most 
of us it seems sufficient to say that he must 
try and try again. But the distinguished phi 
losopher gives a more elaborate account, as 
follows : 

"What he [the child] actually does is to 
use his hand in a great many possible ways as 
near as he can to the way required ; and from 
these excessively produced movements, and 
after excessively varied and numerous trials, 
he gradually selects and fixes the slight suc 
cesses made in the direction of correct writing. 
It is a long and most laborious accumulation 
of slight functional selections from overpro 
duced movements." 

The next selection is still more profound, 
and illuminates a deeper mystery. 

" Selective thinking is the result of motor 
accommodation to the physical and social 
environment, this accommodation taking place 
in each case, as all motor accommodation does, 
from a platform of earlier 6 systematic deter 
mination or habit. In the sphere of the phys 
ical environment as such, the selection is from 


overproduced movements projected out from 
the platform of the habitual adaptations of 
the members brought into play ; in the sphere 
of the social environment it consists in the 
accommodation of the attention, secured by the 
overproduction of motor variations projected 
from the platform of the habitual attention 
complex. The presentations from which the 
selected motor variations issue are believed, or 
called true/ while the organization which the 
motor complex gradually attains holds the data 
of knowledge in relations of theoretical and 
analytical validity. 

Fortunately life can go on in its main inter 
ests on a less complicated platform than this. 
These operose and stilted elaborations of com 
monplaces remind one of the man mentioned 
by Swift, who, thinking that the ordinary 
method of being measured for a suit of clothes 
was too crude, had himself surveyed for a suit, 
as much more scientific. After an elaborate 
measurement of lines and angles and much 
intricate calculation, a result was reached 
which could have been gained directly and 


more effectively by a moment s use of a tape 

So. then, two things are plain : first, the 
importance of philosophy, and. second, the 
very general confusion which attaches to the 


subject, not only in popular thought, but also 
in the minds of supposed experts themselves. 
The first step out of this confusion must lie 
in seeking to reduce it and help to a better 
understanding of the problem by looking for 
some starting-point which will serve as a com 
mon ground for common sense and philoso 
phers of ah 1 schools, something on which all 
may agree as a point of departure. 

We find such common ground in the fol 
lowing postulates : 

First, the coexistence of persons. It is a 
personal and social world in which we live, and 
with which all speculation must begin. We 
and the neighbors are facts which cannot be 



Secondly, there is a law of reason valid for 
all and binding upon all. This is the supreme 
condition of anv mental conmmnitv. 


Thirdly, there is a world of common expe 
rience, actual or possible, where we meet in 
mutual understanding, and where the great 
business of life goes on. 

These conditions commend themselves as 
absolutely necessary in order to give any ra 
tional standing to our investigations, and they 
cannot be questioned by any one without 
immediate and obvious absurdity. If any one 
should doubt the coexistence of persons and 
assume that he was the only being in existence, 
it would not be worth while to argue with 
him. And if any one should doubt that the 
laws of thought are essentially the same for 
different persons he could not rationally pro 
pose to argue with any one else, for his argu 
ments could only show what was reasonable 
for himself, and this by hypothesis need not 
be rational for any others. Again, if any one 
questioned the world of common experience, 
this experienced world in which we all live 
and meet one another in mutual understanding 
and to which we have to adjust ourselves in the 
direction of our lives, he also would shut him- 


self off from any intelligible communication 
with others. It is only, then, as we assume and 
admit these general postulates that our dis 
cussion could have any rational standing. If, 
however, any one chooses to deny them we 
have no objection. We only insist that he 
shall keep the peace and not disturb the rest 
of us by his inconsistent outcry. 

It is well, however, to note that these facts 
do not admit of being speculatively deduced 
or demonstratively established. If they need 
demonstration it cannot be given. They in 
volve some very deep mysteries and carry us 
into the depths of metaphysics, the philosophy 
of the infinite and its relation to the finite. 
But, on the other hand, they do not need de 
monstration, being so cogently forced upon us 
that any skepticism regarding them can never 
be more than verbal. In dealing with them of 
course we must be careful not to find more in 
them than the facts themselves necessitate, or 
not to impart into them a system of crude 
metaphysics, as if this were a part of the ori 
ginal datum. But when this condition is duly 


regarded the facts themselves are not open to 
question. Every system of whatever kind has 
to begin with something behind which there 
is no going and which is to be uncondition 
ally accepted. In our human thinking we must 
begin by admitting the points in question. 

It is also well to bear in mind that we have 
here a common ground for all intelligent 
thinkers, whatever their philosophic theories 
may be. Hume and Berkeley and Mill would 
accept these postulates as readily as Reid and 
Hamilton and the most dogmatic of realists in 
general. For Hume matter was substantially 
nothing in theory; for Berkeley it was an idea 
only; for Mill it was a "permanent possibility 
of sensation/ but practically matter was 
the same to them as to every one else. They 
had to adjust themselves to material things 
and their laws, and had precisely the same 
kind of experience as their realistic neighbors. 
The differences among the philosophers do 
not concern the facts of experience or any 
thing which they can be shown to imply for 
possible experience. The differences begin 


with the philosophic interpretations. The facts 
are interpreted by different schemes of meta 
physics, or perhaps the possibility of interpre 
tation is denied, thus producing different phi 
losophies; but the facts themselves cannot be 
practically questioned without insanity, or even 
with it. Agnosticism, idealism, nihilism, all 
leave experience untouched, and for experi 
ence they all agree with common sense. There 
is an order of experience which we do not 
make but find, with which we have to reckon 
and to which we must adjust ourselves in 
order to live at all. In this conviction of com 
mon sense all philosophers agree, whatever 
reasons they may give for it. 

Thus we secure an intelligible and manage 
able problem. We have the world of persons, 
the laws of reason, and the world of experi 
ence, or the world of perception, and the 
world of life and history for our data, and 
the just claims of common sense are recog 
nized. Common sense has always claimed 
that we are not living in a world of illusions, 
but in the real world, and this we not only 


admit but affirm. The basal facts, therefore, 
for philosophy are the personal world, the ) , 
common reason, and the world of experience. 1 
With this living, aspiring, hoping, fearing, 
loving, hating, human world, with its life and 
history and hopes and fears and struggles 
and aspirations, philosophy must begin. We 
are in a personal world from the start, and 
all our objects are connected with this world 
in one indivisible system. And this world of 
experience stands absolutely in its own right, 
and is independent of our metaphysical the 
ories concerning it. We may have various 
theories about it, but the experience itself is 
what it is, and its contents are revealed only 
in life. 

This personal beginning of all speculation 
should be emphasized, as oversight of the fact 
has led to some of the great aberrations of 
philosophy. In particular naturalism begins 
with matter and force under the conditions 
of space and time, and at once we have an in 
soluble dualism in our theory, and also a strong 
tendency toward materialism and the elimina- 


tion of personality altogether. Such errors are 
avoided when we recognize the primacy of the 
personal world from the start. This matter 
and force of naturalism are a pair of abstrac 
tions broken from the system of living expe 
rience, and probably having only an abstract 

Returning now to experience, and confining 
our attention for the present to the physical 
world, we point out first that we speak of the 
system of experience instead of the world of 
things, as that is a phrase which carries with 
it many questionable metaphysical implica 
tions. The order of experience cannot be ques 
tioned, but when we import into it the notion 
of material and impersonal substances under 
lying it we have already transcended experi 
ence. Here is where the idealistic systems 
break off. They all agree on the data of ex 
perience, its laws, and the practical expecta 
tions we may form for our guidance, but they 
find neither proof of the existence of these 
substances nor any use for them, supposing 
them to exist. By experience, then, we mean 


the world of objects, so far as they can be the 
subjects of a real or possible experience, and 
we imply nothing beyond this by way of 
metaphysics. How the order of experience is 
possible is a matter for later inquiry. 

But after yielding thus far to the scruples 
of the idealist, we must next point out in the 
name of common sense that this world of ex 
perience is real in the sense of being trust 
worthy, or something which can be practically 
depended upon. It is not illusion, as illusion 
means something which does not fit into the 
system of common experience on its own plane, 
and is therefore a fancy or phantom of the 
individual, like the visions of a fever patient. 
But all that we find or can find in the order 
of common experience is to be unhesitatingly 
accepted as real, and for the very good reason 
that there is no help for it. And this is all that 
common sense means by reality in general, 
something which is there for all and which 
can be depended upon. 

But these terms, real and unreal, are ex 
ceedingly vague, and their meaning deserves 


some further specification. They are so far 
from having a single meaning, that the same 
things may be called real and unreal at the 
same time, according to our standpoint. Thus 
finite things may be called real on their own 
plane of finitude, and unreal as contrasted with 
some basal and absolute existence. But there 
is no contradiction, for the unreality of the 
finite is only a denial of its eternal self-exist 
ence, and this gives it a temporal and phenom 
enal character in comparison with the eternal. 
But real and unreal are proper contradictions 
only when applied in a given class or on a given 
plane. Thus unreal appearance in space is such 
only because it does not fit into our general sys 
tem of space experience ; but when it does thus 
fit and is consistent with the totality of space 
experience, it is real in the only intelligible 
sense of the word. To ask whether the totality 
of space experience is real or illusory is to 
confuse ourselves by mixing two realms. The 
reality of space experience lies in its validity 
for experience. It is possible that this real ex 
perience might be looked upon as only phenom- 


enal from a deeper metaphysical standpoint, 
but that would in no way modify the reality of 
the experience, but only the interpretations 
which we might draw from it. 

As matter of experience, then, experience 
is real, that is, valid and trustworthy, and not 
illusory. This point is to be emphasized, as 
confusion here has led to not a few philo 
sophical errors and some religious aberrations. 
Some philosophers, especially in the Orient, 
deciding that only the self-existent is real, pro 
ceed to rule out all finite existence and expe 
rience as illusion; but all they are justified in 
doing is to say that finite existence and expe 
rience are not real in the sense of absolute and 
eternal existence. They may yet be entirely 
real as experiencing subjects and experienced 
objects. It would lead to a great clear 
ing up in Oriental thought if these terms 
were clearly defined and consistently applied. 
Considerable maia would disappear forthwith. 

In like manner some persons among our 
selves have thought it a sufficient proof of the 
unreality of pain and disease to call them un- 


real, that is, not substantial. In this sense, of 
course, they are unreal, but they remain very 
real forms of experience notwithstanding; and 
in dealing with them as forms of experience 
we are not helped in any way by our meta 
physics. Suppose we decide that hunger and 
cold are illusions. As such they remain just 
as insistent and peremptory as before. Hun 
ger may be an illusion and food may be an illu 
sion and cold may be an illusion, but the only 
effective way of dealing with the illusions, 
hunger and cold, is to apply certain other illu 
sions known as food and clothing and shelter 
and warmth and so on, and it is just as hard 
and just as necessary to get these under the 
name of illusion as under any other name 
whatever. Berkeley did not find his butcher s 
bill or grocer s bill in any way changed by his 
metaphysical theory ; and in general this world 
of experience, real or possible, is not modified 
by our metaphysical notions about it. Even if 
we go to the extent of utter nihilism, life itself 
ought not to be affected. Thus, if we call our 
own selves illusions and our life an illusion, life 


remains just what it was before, and inasmuch 
as it goes on fairly well now as illusion there 
is no assignable reason why it might not con 
tinue as illusion and even pass into better and 
better forms of illusion. It might be possible, 
therefore, for one to fall back upon experience 
and ignore the metaphysician altogether, with 
the understanding that life itself is what it is 
and that it is not modified by what we call it. 

But if experience be thus undeniable, what 
need of philosophy in any case, or what func 
tion does philosophy have? It might almost 
seem as if it were a species of psychological 
vermiform appendix, without any remaining 
function, and only a seat of dangerous in 

In reply it must be said that there might 
well be beings the contents of whose experi 
ence should be perfectly plain and open to 
thought, so that nothing would be needed but 
to describe and register those contents with 
their laws. We find, however, in our own case 
that experience, while fundamental and also 


true on its own plane, is not necessarily final. 
Our experience is such that when we reflect 
upon it we find ourselves unable to rest in it 
and are compelled by the necessities of thought 
to go beyond it, not for its reality or trust 
worthiness, nor for its truth, but for its ex 
planation and understanding. For instance, 
the visible heavens are something whose truth 
is not to be questioned; but on the other 
hand, when we compare the phenomena of the 
visible heavens we find that we cannot rest 
in them, but must go beyond them to the 
astronomic heavens as their only adequate 
explanation. We find here the true relation of 
experience and its interpretation. Experience 
itself must be accepted as unconditionally 
trustworthy. If it is not so we have nothing 
on which to build. Here is the dilemma of all 
systems of traditional phenomenalism. They 
begin by denying the truth of experience, and 
then seek from the untrue experience to 
deduce something which is to be called true. 
In that case we are seeking to infer trustwor 
thy conclusions from untrustworthy premises, 


something which logic will not permit. The 
correct order is to recognize the truth of expe 
rience, so far as it goes, but to see that experi 
ence may need interpretation, as in the case of 
the visible and astronomic heavens again. 

Brother Jasper made considerable merri 
ment years ago by insisting that the sun 
moved, for he said he had seen the sun on one 
side of the house in the morning and on the 
other side of the house in the afternoon, and 
as the house had not moved the sun had 
moved, and therefore the sun does move. Now, 
in Brother Jasper s original contention he had 
a fact which astronomy could not ignore and 
one which astronomy was bound to explain, 
under penalty of seeing its theory condemned ; 
and the proof of the astronomic theory rests 
on the fact that it includes not only Brother 
Jasper s fact, but a great many other facts of 
which Jasper had no knowledge; but Jasper 
was right as to his fact. He only failed to see 
that his fact admitted, and indeed demanded, 
another explanation. 

Now in this respect Brother Jasper very 


well represents the position of common sense 
respecting experience. It is rightly persuaded 
that experience is something which can be 
depended upon, and it proceeds to explain this 
fact by certain assumptions which may be 
doubted. In this way the crude metaphysics of 
common sense is produced, at which critical 
philosophy has always taken offense. Reflec 
tion, however, shows that this experience, 
when critically studied, does not allow us to 
rest in it as final, but requires us to go beyond 
it for its ultimate explanation. If we bear this 
in mind we shall see that it is possible to hold 
at once the trustworthiness of experience and 
also the necessity of transcending it. 

We may, then, speak of experience as true 
or false according to our standpoint, but we 
must be very careful in applying these terms 
lest they lead us into error. We see that the 
untaught rustic in some sense lives continually 
in a world of illusion. He takes the visible 
heavens as final, and has no suspicion of the 
astronomical heavens. He takes his experience 
of material things also as final, and has no 


suspicion of the truths which physical science 
reveals concerning them. He is living, then, in 
continuous gigantic illusion, in this sense, that 
his eyes are holden, yet not in the sense that 
his experience is false. His experience is true 
so far as it goes, but his interpretation of it 
is mistaken. Or we might say his experience is 
very limited and hence admits of an interpreta 
tion which would be seen to be inadequate if 
the experience were more extensive. The whole 
cycle of scientific truth is hidden from him, 
not contradicting anything that he knows, but, 
because he knows so little, lying entirely be 
yond his horizon. If, however, his experience 
should enlarge, he would not find his old 
truths contradicted, but a good many of his 
old limited notions would disappear, and many 
other notions would receive proper limitation. 
This astronomical illustration is not intro 
duced as being perfectly parallel to the meta 
physical interpretations of philosophy, but it 
serves to show at least how experience may be 
at once true and not self-sufficient, requiring 
us to go beyond it for its interpretation. 


Returning again to experience we discern 
that it has certain contents and ways of being 
and happening, and this leads to the partition 
of territory between science and philosophy. 
Things hang together in certain ways, and 
events come along together according to cer 
tain rules. These uniformities of coexistence 
and sequence admit of being studied and 
described and registered without reference 
to metaphysics. Whatever our metaphysical 
scheme, be it realistic or idealistic or agnostic 
or nihilistic, things do hang together in expe 
rience in certain ways. In the outer world of 
perception, in the inner world of mind, and 
in the social world of history, there are certain 
orders of likeness and difference, of coexist 
ence and sequence, and concomitant variation 
among the facts of experience. These are re 
vealed only in experience, and whether we like 
them or not, and whether we can make any 
thing out of them or not, they are undeniably 
there. If there be any question as to the order 
of chemical change, we make the experiment 
and the fact is established. If we would know 


the arrangement of the geological strata, we 
look and see. Things occur and happen and 
hang together in certain ways, and all the 
king s oxen and all the king s men could not 
alter this fact. Some ecclesiastical authorities 
once took offense at the doctrine of the earth s 
motion and denounced it with all their might; 
but the world kept right on moving after texts 
had been quoted and anathemas had been 
uttered against it. 

The knowledge of these uniformities is of 
the utmost practical value for the guidance of 
our lives. When we have learned what they 
are we can find our way from point to point 
in the world of experience. We avail ourselves 
of our knowledge to reach desired effects by 
arranging their antecedents, or to escape un- 
desired effects by removing their antecedents. 
Our entire control of the inner and outer world 
is reached in this way, and the knowledge thus 
reached is the sum of practical wisdom. This 
knowledge, as said, can be gained only by 
observation and experiment. No amount of 
reflection upon ideas will enable us to deduce 


a priori any of these facts. In this work also 
we are independent of metaphysics except in 
the most general sense. We need not have a 
theory of gravitation to discover that certain 
changes can be formulated in the law of the 
inverse square. We need not have a theory of 
electricity or magnetism to notice that a cer 
tain set of physical changes have such and 
such laws. Hydrogen and oxygen may be in 
themselves things or phenomena or nothings, 
yet we know that a certain measure of what 
we call oxygen and hydrogen will unite to 
form a certain amount of what we call water. 
This matter may be highly mysterious in its 
innermost essence, but for practical purposes 
we know how to deal with it, and know what 
will happen under circumstances open to ob 
servation and experiment. And, as said, this 
order of experience remains even if we decide 
to call things nothings, for the hydrogen 
nothing and the oxygen nothing would still 
unite to form the water nothing, and we are 
as well off as ever, no better and no worse, for 
our metaphysics. This knowledge of the con- 


tents and laws of experience is originally be 
gun by common sense. The spontaneous and 
unreflective experience of humanity has got 
together a good deal of information. To carry 
on this work with greater precision and wider 
range is the work of science. Science has pro 
perly no principles beyond those of common 
sense observation and trial. It only applies 
those principles more thoroughly and invents 
more accurate methods of observation and ex 
periment, but scientific methods move along 
the lines of common sense. And this work of 
science is full of beneficence, and every intel 
ligent person should wish it success. No one 
can find any reason for objecting to it, for 
every one must recognize in it one of the most 
beneficent forms of human activity. It is the 
great source of our mastery over nature, and 
must go on until that mastery has been vastly 
extended, leading to the casting out of old 
forms of disease, the better guidance of life, 
the putting off of human drudgery upon mus 
cles of steel, and the subjection of what we 
call the forces of nature to human service to 


a degree hitherto undreamed of, a degree of 
which our present control of nature gives only 
the faintest suggestion. In this work science 
has inalienable rights, and no philosopher or 
theologian may molest or make it afraid. It is 
in this work, too, that science does invaluable 
service, for it is just this knowledge of the way 
things hang together in an order of law that 
gives us our control of nature and makes civ 
ilization possible. We cannot overestimate the 
importance of science in its own field. 

But this field is limited. If these spatial 
and temporal facts with their various uniformi 
ties were all known, an important question 
would remain untouched. This is the question 
of meaning and causal interpretation, and this 
question the mind insists upon asking. After 
we have found that things exist and hang to 
gether in certain ways in space and time, we 
next need to know what they mean, and what 
the cause is that underlies the cosmic pro 
cesses. What is the nature of the causality, 
and is it moving toward any goal? This 
question belongs to philosophy. Nothing that 


science does or can do even tends to answer 
it. Science discovers, describes, registers the 
facts ; philosophy interprets them. It seeks to 
penetrate to the hidden seat of the power that 
underlies the world and to detect the secret 
meaning that animates it. Both the scientific 
and philosophic inquiry are equally necessary 
for the full satisfaction of the human mind, 
but their coordinate rank has not always 
been recognized. The positivists rule out the 
causal inquiry altogether. They hold that all 
we can do is to register the orders of coexist 
ence and sequence in space and time. All 
beyond that is fruitless. The agnostics come 
to the same conclusion by a somewhat different 
road. The causal inquiry is one that we are 
bound to make, but one that we can never an 
swer. Practically, then, we must be positivists, 
with, however, a sense of the omnipresent mys 
tery upon which all things depend and from 
which they proceed. Common sense does not 
distinguish the questions at all. It believes in 
causality, but finds it in sense objects, and 
there is no mystery about them. When this I 


view is carried out it gives us the familiar nat 
uralism of materialistic and atheistic thought. 

But a more critical philosophy declines any 
of these views. Time has judged both posi 
tivism and agnosticism, and the human mind 
has rejected them. Common sense remains on 
the surface and has no suspicion of the depths 
of the problem. These depths critical reflec 
tion seeks to reveal or to sound. 

But here the objection may be raised : if ex 
perience is to be unconditionally accepted there 
would seem to be little need for any puzzles 
over the causation in the case, for things 
about us are manifestly causal, and so what 
need is there to go beyond those things, simply 
describing them not only in their temporal 
and spatial relations but also in their causal 
relations ? This leads to the insight that the 
question of causality is very much deeper and 
more mysterious than is commonly supposed. 
This appears from the study of physics as well 
as from abstract metaphysical reflection. 

A first thought, of course, is that causality 
is given in immediate experience of things ; but 


since the time of Hume this notion has been 
obsolete among practiced thinkers. There is of 
course no question that causality is in play in 
the production of physical changes, but where 
the causality is to be located and how it is to 
be conceived is a problem not so easily man 
aged. Common sense locates it in the things 
themselves, but as new facts are discovered 
and reflection upon them is extended this is 
seen to be an impossible view. Thus, take this 
desk at which I stand. It is easily described 
in terms of experience, and in such terms there 
is no mystery about it. But when I proceed 
to ask concerning the nature of the material 
of which it is composed I soon find myself be 
ginning to grope. The wood, according to the 
physicists and chemists, is composed of mole 
cules, which in turn are built of atoms, and 
nowadays these atoms themselves seem to be 
systems of particles still more minute. And 
when inquiry is continued we are told of still 
deeper mysteries, of vortex rings in an ether, 
with other dark sayings, the result of which 
is to show that the things about us are not 


substantial things, but rather processes of an 
energy beyond them; and at last we are led, in 
the words of Mr. Spencer, to recognize " the 
one absolute certainty that he [man] is ever 
in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal 
Energy, from which all things proceed." How 
ever true this conclusion may be, the facts 
adduced serve to show that the problem of 
causation has deeper mysteries in it than we 
at first suspected. We are still sure, as said, 
that causation is in play as the ground of phy 
sical changes, but we seem compelled to locate 
it, not in the phenomena themselves, but in 
the basal energy beyond them on which they 
depend and by which they are coordinated. 
This inquiry takes us into the depths of meta 

Thus we see a way of harmonizing common 
sense, science, and philosophy. They are not 
mutually contradictory or indifferent realms, 
but rather mutually supplementary aspects of 
the mind s effort in the attempt to under 
stand itself and its experience. All conflicts 
between them, then, are entirely the outcome 


of misunderstanding and ignorance. Common 
sense and science must discover the facts, their 
contents, their spatial and temporal laws, other 
wise philosophy has nothing to work upon ; 
but, on the other hand, after science has done 
this work, the higher interpretation remains 
necessary, and without it the mind cannot 
fully satisfy all its tendencies and come to rest. 
Each inquiry is justified and highly important 
in its own field, and each must recognize the 
coordinate importance of the other. 

Science, we have said, studies the laws of 
coexistence and sequence among the facts of 
experience, and leaves their interpretation to 
philosophy. A certain extension of the sci 
entific field, however, must be made in this 
way. Science may undertake a certain kind 
of interpretation in its own field of space 
and time without going into the metaphysical 
field which belongs to philosophy. The astro 
nomical illustration, which we have already 
given, serves to show this. The astronomer 
need not go beyond his own spatial phe 
nomena and the laws which obtain therein 


in order to reach his astronomical conclu 
sions. Proceeding on the experience of the 
variation of the apparent size of bodies ac 
cording to their distance, we can infer from 
the given spatial phenomena how they would 
appear from another point of view, and in 
this way we may pass to affirm the astro 
nomical heavens as the way in which the 
system would look if we extended our space 
vision. If the visible heavens are only appa 
rent we can argue to their appearance if their 
distances from us were diminished. Passing, 
then, in imagination, back and forth in space, 
we can form some conception of the great 
sidereal system and its mighty spaces. In 
so doing we use no new principle, but only 
apply the familiar laws of space and space 

And thus, in general, we find that phe 
nomena interpreted by their own laws give 
a hint of past conditions and also point to 
future conditions. From a given state of 
things we can infer the past state of things 
or look forward to a future state of things, 


in accordance with the laws observed to hold 
among them. Thus we can read back the 
geological history of our earth to some ex 
tent, and also its biological history, or its 
astronomical history. From given erosions 
and strata, and from a succession of fossil 
forms in these strata, and from various astro 
nomical data, we can do somewhat in the 
way of reading back into the past of the sys 
tem. In like manner, from the present con. 
ditions, laws, and tendencies, we can infer 
something respecting the future. But in all 
of these cases the inference remains within 
the phenomenal realm, or among the phe 
nomena of space and time, and they involve 
no new metaphysical principle beyond the 
simple recognition of those phenomena and 
their observed laws. In this sense, then, sci 
ence not merely discovers and describes and 
registers the facts of experience, but it also 
infers from them many other facts as existing 
elsewhere in space, or in past or future time. 
It is to be observed, however, that this 
scientific inference is hypothetical and can- 


not claim to have the certainty of the facts 
of experience which can be verified in expe 
rience itself. It has a certain measure of 
probability and is not to be gratuitously re 
jected. But, on the other hand, it can never 
lay claim to be assured matter of fact, as it 
rests upon certain assumptions which are far 
from being necessary truths. This inferred 
knowledge of the past assumes that we know 
all the determining circumstances, that the 
order of change is constant, and that no 
manifestation of a new force from without 
or within occurs ; and as this is something 
we never can know, we are not entitled to be 
dogmatic. Of course the reasoning in such 
cases may be sound, but the premises may be 
open to doubt. For example : If a certain 
valley is being cut away at a fixed rate, we 
can readily calculate how long it has taken to 
form it. Or if the delta of the Mississippi is 
extending a given distance every year, we 
can by simple division tell how long it has 
been in forming. Or if a certain peat-bed 
has a given thickness and has been deposited 


one inch a year, we can easily tell how long 
the deposition has taken. In such cases, as 
said, the reasoning may be exact, the math 
ematics perfect, but the conclusion depends 
upon the assumed truth of the premises. It 
might be in the case of our peat-bed that we 
should find at the bottom of the bed, say a 
Roman shoe, or coins of the date of Augus 
tus Caesar, in which case, if our mathematics 
had given us a million or two of years as 
the quotient, we should know that, while the 
mathematics was right, the inference itself 
was wrong. 

Again, we can never be sure that there 
might not have been manifestations of unsus 
pected forces, bringing about new conditions 
which would make our reasoning invalid. For 
instance, if there were a number of beings liv 
ing in a world of oxygen and hydrogen, they 
might conceivably learn the physics of gases 
very thoroughly, and they could infer that the 
gases would contract with cold or expand with 
heat, but they would not have any hint of 
what would happen if an electric spark should 


pass through. In that case there would be a 
sudden manifestation of unsuspected chemical 
properties, resulting in very different physical 
and chemical properties in the water vapor 
which would result. If these hypothetical 
beings should survive the process, they might 
then proceed to study the physics of water 
vapor and become dogmatic again as to what 
was possible on the basis of the law of con 
tinuity ; and their reasons would be valid until 
the vapor cooled below a certain point, when 
there would be another break of continuity ; 
and the result would be water with another 
set of hitherto unsuspected properties. And 
if the speculators still lived and should once 
more grow dogmatic about continuity, their 
conclusions might be justified until the water 
was cooled down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 
when another wonder would happen. The 
water would pass into ice, in bold defiance of 
the law of continuity, and still a new set of 
properties would appear. This serves to show 
that we must be somewhat careful not to be 
too dogmatic in our inferences from the pre- 


sent state of things, for what we have illus 
trated here in the large may take place in the 
small all the time. Indeed, the system of spa 
tial changes and successions, based upon purely 
kinematic considerations of the composition 
of motions, is continually suffering modifica 
tions from the dynamic realm, conceived either 
as the nature of the elements or as some en 
ergy outside of them and working upon them. 
To what extent this is possible in general is 
of course unknown, but enough is known to 
warn us against a confident dogmatism based 
on the supposed law of continuity. Only the 
self-confident dogmatist knows that the system 
has already manifested all its essential poten 

Logic makes the further suggestion at this 
point to the effect that no moving system can 
ever give an account of its origin ; for when a 
system of law is given it is logically possible 
to read the system backwards, but the back 
ward reading in such a case does not repre 
sent any actual fact, but simply what would 
have been the fact if the system had existed 


through that time. Every such system, then, 
has what may be called a virtual past. Thus, 
if we should suppose the solar system created 
outright, the equations which express the com 
positions and motions of the planets at the 
moment of creation could be read backward, 
but the backward reading would refer to a 
virtual past, not a real one. The same is true 
for any order of law in a changing world. It 
admits of being read backward, and there is 
no sure test whereby we can distinguish the 
virtual from the real past. Our analytic 
thought naturally assumes that the simple ele 
ments preceded compounds ; but this is only a 
logical precedence, and we find no warrant for 
turning it into a temporal relation. If there 
have always been chemical elements, for all 
we can say they may always have been chem 
ically active and chemically united in any 
order of complexity. Dogmatizing on origins 
is logically a very perilous business. It gener 
ally ends in mistaking the simplifications of 
analysis for the original forms of existence. 
Wisely, then, did Mr. Mill say even of the so- 


called laws of nature that we should confine 
our affirmations to a "reasonable degree of 
extension to adjacent cases." 

Science, then, has the world of temporal and 
spatial phenomena for its field ; but it is ne 
cessary to remember that this world has its 
roots in an invisible and impicturable world 
of power and possibly of purpose, and the 
real reason for all spatial and temporal mani 
festation must ultimately be sought in the 
world of power. And as this and its implica 
tions are very largely hidden from us, we need 
to beware of all dogmatism respecting either 
past or future which is far removed from our 
practical interests. 

Our first step toward the personal inter 
pretation of experience consists in the insight 
that we are in a personal world from the start, 
and that the first, last, and only duty of philo 
sophy is to interpret this world of personal life 
and relations. Any other view can only lead 
to the misleading abstractions and aberrations 
-with which the history of thought abounds. 



How is experience possible ? This is the ques 
tion with which Kant inaugurated a new era 
in philosophy. Before his time there had been 
two views respecting the origin of knowledge. 
One was that all knowledge is from experience. 
Mind is purely passive in knowing, and impres 
sions are made upon it from without. The fa 
mous metaphor of the tabula rasa has served 
this school as both doctrine and argument ever 
since the time of Plato. Knowledge, then, is a 
mere reading off of what the mind passively 
receives. The other view was that the mind 
may know many things independently of ex 
perience. The former view had been reduced 
to absurdity by Hume, and the latter view 
had run into a barren formalism in the hands 
of Leibnitz s disciples. Both views were super 
ficial. The empirical school had never decided 


what experience means when the mind is ut 
terly passive, and they had found it easy with 
Locke to deduce many rational principles from 
a passively received experience. But Hume 
came and showed that such an experience must 
become a vanishing phantasmagoria, which per 
ishes as fast as it is born and leaves nothing 
articulate behind it. Since, however, we do 
have an articulate experience, it is plain that 
the question of the origin of knowledge is sub 
ordinate to the deeper question respecting the 
origin of experience itself. If it should turn 
out that experience is a product of our rational 
nature, the folly of seeking to deduce reason 
from experience would be manifest. Hence the t 
epochal significance of the question, How is j 
experience possible? 

Kant s answer is well known. Experience is 
not something given ready-made from without, 
but is actively constructed by the mind within. 
Experience is possible only through a certain - 
constitutive mental activity, according to prin- } 
ciples immanent in the understanding. In this 
way the raw material of sense impressions, 


which in themselves are fleeting and discontinu 
ous, is built into a rational world of experience. 
This insight was Kant s great contribution to 
philosophy, and it remains, in spite of all 
criticism, a permanent possession of reflective 

This result finally vacates the traditional em 
piricism which views the mind as only passively 
receptive in knowledge. Hume showed the in 
articulate nihilism to which the doctrine must 
come when made consistent, and Kant showed 
that actual experience is a mental product. In 
this result he had been forestalled by Hume, 
in a somewhat left-handed way, in his admis 
sion that there is much in thought which cannot 
be found in an experience of the passive type, 
and which he ascribed therefore to a " mental 
propensity to feign." When carefully studied, 
it turns out that this "propensity to feign" 
is a very active faculty in Hume s system. Be 
tween Hume and Kant the old sense empiri 
cism is deprived of all visible means of ra 
tional support. It now belongs to the family 
of superstitions. 


The principles of knowing are primarily im 
manent laws of mental activity. This we must 
now endeavor to bring out into clear vision, as 
the great difficulty in popular philosophizing 
and all the strength of traditional naturalism 
lie in the apparent immediacy of knowledge, 
so that it seems to be no problem at all. This 
makes it easy to believe that a great system of 
things can exist and be known without the 
activity of any rational and spiritual principle. 
This assumption is the corner-stone, and indeed 
the whole foundation, of all mechanical philo 
sophizing. Hence the need of making this 
activity evident. 

Knowledge of course cannot be defined ex 
cept in terms of itself, neither can it be deduced 
from that which is not knowledge. There must 
always be a certain unique and immediate char 
acter to knowledge which can rest on nothing 
but itself. In some sense, then, there is no an 
swer to the question, How is knowledge pos 
sible? for there is nothing deeper or other 
than knowledge by which to explain it. Still 
the study of knowledge may reveal certain con- 


ditions and implications which are unsuspected 
by unreflective thought and which have pro 
found significance for philosophical theory. 
This fact gives us our next subject of inquiry. 
We do not aim to tell how knowledge is pos 
sible, in the sense of giving a recipe by which 
it might be compounded from that which is 
not knowledge, but in the sense of studying 
the conditions and implications of the knowing 
process. And, first of all, we must make clear 
the problem and our starting-point. 

A fundamental distinction in knowing is that 
between the " me " and the " not-me." I place 
all other things or persons as my objects in 
changeless antithesis to myself as conscious 
subject. But inasmuch as this "not-me "in 
cludes my fellow men, the " me " is soon enlarged 
by their addition, and then the antithesis be 
comes the " us " and the " not-us." We human 
beings become the " us," the subjects, and the 
cosmic order with whatever else there may be 
becomes the "not-us." Then the "not-us" 
breaks up again into the cosmic order, so far as 
it is an object of scientific study, and its cause. 


If we could attain to clear and definite know 
ledge on all of these points, we should have 
made great progress in philosophy. 

It will very likely be objected by some that 
we have made too sharp an antithesis between 
the " me " and the "not-me," the " us " and 
the " not-us." This objection is due to the fact 
that many persons have contracted the habit 
of talking about monism without any very clear 
conception of their own meaning, and still less 
of its concrete possibility. Whatever monism 
can do for us, it can never confound us with one 
another so as to identify Jesus and Judas, or 
make Mr. Spencer s critics the authors of his 
philosophy. Whatever universal elements the 
fact of knowledge may contain or imply, as a 
concrete process knowing is necessarily individ 
ual, a gathering by the " me" of information 
respecting the " not-me ; and any other method 
of treatment will result in confounding all dis 
tinctions and telling us, perhaps, that the sub 
ject of the universal experience is the same as 
the subject of the particular experience a 


dark saying, to which unfortunately no key has 
been furnished, not even for teachers. 

In addition, we must note that our knowing 
in its very nature implies being in the sense 
of a content which is the object of the know 
ing. Knowing as an act never ends in itself 
as a psychological fact. It always relates itself 
to a content which the knowing act does not 
make but reproduces. There is, then, in the 
very idea of our knowing a presupposition of 
something existing apart from the knowing 
as a mental event, and this, indeed, is the very 
essence of the idea. This fact has always been 
overlooked by empiricists, who have thought 
the only problem of knowledge was to group 
particular sensations in the individual con 
sciousness, and when this has been done to 
their own satisfaction they have supposed that 
the problem of knowledge was solved. In fact, 
however, they have not even seen the problem, 
to say nothing of solving it. If their associa- 
tional mechanism worked perfectly, it would 
only give sensations associated in some par 
ticular consciousness, and could never give 


anything beyond it. Solipsism would be the 
only result* This outcome is escaped by the 
ambiguity of the term sensation, which means 
primarily an unqualified and particular impres 
sion in the individual sensibility, and which 
then, without warning, is transformed into a 
symbol or revelation of a world of things exist 
ing beyond itself. But this is something very 
different. If the sensations are only affections 
of the sensibility, they never carry us beyond 
themselves; but if they point to and reveal a 
world beyond them, we have something more 
than sensationalism. All the apparent success 
of sensationalism rests upon this ambiguity, 
as Green has shown with such thoroughness 
in his Introduction to Hume. 

Assuming, then, this world of things other 
than myself, in the sense that they cannot be 
identified with myself, we have the question, 
How is a knowledge of such things possible? 

Knowledge is conditioned both by the na 
ture of the subject and by the nature of the 
object. In order that a thing may be known, 
the subject must act in certain ways and the 


object must be of a certain nature. If the sub 
ject remained passive and inert, there would 
be no knowledge; and if the object were such 
as to admit of no rational construction, again 
there could be no knowledge. We consider the 
activity of the subject first. How is know 
ledge possible as a subjective apprehension of 
objects other than the knowing subject? 

The general answer to this question is that 
our human knowing of other than purely sub 
jective states must depend upon some form of 
interaction between the "me" and the "not- 
me." This "not-me," so far as yet appears, 
might conceivably be the world of things about 
us, or it might be an all-embracing impersonal 
energy, or it might be a supreme spirit upon 
whom we all depend. Common sense, of 
course, assumes that the interaction is between 
apparent objects and ourselves, for there seems 
to be nothing else in sight. This view, how 
ever, loses its plausibility as soon as we come 
to see the phenomenality of the world of ob 
jects. Then we find ourselves shut up to one 
or the other of two views ; but for our present 


purposes it makes no difference what view we 
take of the " not-me." Whatever it be it can 
not give us ready-made knowledge, or do any 
thing but furnish a stimulus to our own mental 
activity. In all interaction between things the 
reaction is but an expression of the agent s own 
nature, for the manifestation of which other 
things but furnish the occasion. Hence the 
mental reaction which we call knowledge can 
be looked upon only as an expression of our 
mental nature according to principles immanent 
in itself. But this statement is too abstract for 
easy understanding by the unpracticed reader, 
and we must attempt a more concrete explana 

Common sense begins by taking knowledge 
for granted. In the beginnings of mental de 
velopment knowledge is not even a problem. 
Things are there, and are reflected by the mind 
as a matter of course. Of the complex and 
obscure processes and postulates of cognition, 
spontaneous thought has no suspicion, and 
knowledge would have always been taken as 
a matter of course had not experience revealed 


difficulties and contradictions in our thinking. 
Men stumbled at an early date upon these 
difficulties and skepticism was awakened, and 
thus thought was gradually forced to consider 
its own methods and to inquire into the pos 
sibility of knowledge itself; but the problem 
did not receive its full and adequate statement 
until the time of Kant. From his time epis- 
temology has been a leading department of phi 
losophy. Common sense supposes that know 
ledge arises without any process of mystery, 
but epistemology shows that the matter is ex 
ceedingly complex. The existence of things 
is by no means the same as our knowledge 
of them, and reflection makes plain that if 
things existed precisely as they appear to us 
the knowledge of them could arise only as the 
mind by its own action reproduces the con 
tents of things for thought. Knowledge is 
1 | nothing which can be imported ready-made 
into a passive mind, but the mind must actively 
construct knowledge for itself. We see this 
most readily in the case of conversation or any 
form of mutual understanding between per- 


sons. In such cases no ideas pass from one mind 
into another, but each mind for itself con 
structs the other s thought, and thus appre 
hends and comprehends it. This is self-evi- 
dently the case in all personal communion, and 
every one would see the absurdity of any other 
supposition. Thoughts are not things to be 
exchanged or handed along. They exist only 
through thinking, and to perceive another s 
thought is to think it for ourselves. But this 
equally expresses the fact in all knowing. To 
know things is to think them, that is, to form 
thoughts which truly grasp the contents or 
meanings of the things. The things do not 
pass ready-made into the mind. Indeed they! 
do not pass into the mind at all, but upon oc 
casion of certain action upon the mind the 
mind unfolds within itself the vision and know- \ 
ledge of the world. And this it does, accord, 
ing to the physiologist s report, without pat 
tern or copy, and in consequence of certain 
nervous changes of which moreover it knows 
nothing directly and commonly knows nothing 
whatever. This being the case, it is manifestly 


idle to think of knowledge as impressed on a 
passive mind, or as carried ready-made into 
the mind. The knowledge originates within, 
and the laws and forms of knowledge must 
primarily be the laws and forms of thought 
itself. Just as little as ideas pass from the 
teacher s mind into the pupil s mind, just as 
little do they pass from things without into 
the knowing mind. 

This matter is plain enough upon reflection, 
but common sense has its difficulties. We ven 
ture therefore another illustration. Suppose a 
man who had lived all his life in a telegraph 
office and who had to get all his information 
respecting the existence and nature of an ex 
ternal world by the clicks of the instrument. 
The clicks are like nothing but themselves. 
They resemble neither the things they are 
supposed to represent, nor the thoughts they 
are supposed to evoke. But if under such cir 
cumstances the man did read them back into 
the external world, it is manifest that he must 
have the key in himself, as only thus could 
he pass from clicks to meanings. But this 


illustration hardly even adumbrates the ob 
scurity and difficulty of the actual process of 
perception. The sense clicks left to themselves 
mean nothing ; it is only as they are made the 
bearers of a rational content that they acquire 
any significance. Sensations at best in their 
perceptive relation are only symbols, the 
meaning must be furnished by the percipient 

This conclusion must stand even on the 
supposition that we simply apprehend or read 
things in sense perception without modifica 
tion. But most of our objective knowing is 
not perception, but interpretation. The world 
as it is for sense is very different from the 
world as it is for thought. In looking at a 
picture the colored surfaces and outlines are 
in the sense. The meaning is in thought. In 
reading a book the printed page is in the 
sense. The signification is in thought, and 
only in thought. One who does not know how 
to read would look in \ain for meaning in a 
book, and in vain would he seek to help his 
failure by using eye-glasses. The same is true 


also for our knowledge of the world. That 
which is in sense is very different from that 
which is in thought. The sense world is flit 
ting, fleeting, discontinuous. Epistemology 
shows that it is all an inarticulate, phantasma 
goric flux or dissolving view until thought 
brings into it its rational principles and fixes 
and interprets it. The sense world, so far as 
it is articulate, is already a thought world. Its 
permanences and identities are products of 
thought. The complex system of relations 
whereby it is defined and articulated is a 
thought product, which can in no way be given 
to sense. The far-reaching inferences of sci 
ence whereby our spontaneous thought of the 
world is so profoundly transformed, are some 
thing which exist for neither eye nor ear, but 
for thought only. The world of science differs 
from the world of sense as widely as the con 
ceptions of the astronomer differ from the 
algebraic signs by which he expresses them. 

At first glance this is a hard saying for the 
plain man of common sense. He is perfectly 
sure that the things he sees are really there, 


and there as he sees them, and he is not 
aware of any of these processes of which we 
speak. But the question now is, not whether 
the things be there, but how they come to be 
there for us ; and when this distinction is made 
even the " plain man " can be made to see 
that there are more things in this matter than 
have been dreamed of in his philosophy. By 
common consent the last term on the physical 
side of the perceptive process is some form of 
nervous change, and this is but a fleeting 
impression with nothing abiding about it. 
When these facts are remembered it becomes 
plain that a permanent and rational world can 
be reached from these antecedents only as the 
mind reacts upon them and by laws imma 
nent in itself proceeds to build up the rational 
order of experience. The flitting and discon 
tinuous impression is interpreted into a con 
tinuous and abiding world only by a perma 
nent self with its outfit of rational principles ; 
and if this were taken away there would be 
only an inarticulate flux of impressions with 
out rational contents. 


Some further illustration may be useful 
in illuminating this matter. The work of 
thought is so quick and subtle that it is easy 
to overlook it altogether and to take the 
products of thought as original data antece 
dent to thought. Thus it seems self-evident 
that sensation, at least, is something which 
may be given without any rational activity. 
But this is true only for the fleeting temporal 
impression, and not for the sensation as any 
thing rationally articulate. But the temporal 
impression itself is nothing for intellect until 
it is fixed into an abiding meaning. As oc 
curring, the impression is dispersed through 
the divisibility of time into an indefinite 
number of parts each of which is external to 
every other and different from every other. 
But thought cannot grasp any such elusive 
thing as this unless it be able to fix this van 
ishing flow into a single and permanent mean 
ing, and only thus does the impression become 
anything for thought. Similarly with regard 
to recurrence of sensations, this is impossible 
as a psychological and temporal fact. Past 


sensations can recur as little as past time can 
recur. Recurrence is possible only as the mind 
fixes its experience into abiding meanings 
and identifies those meanings in successive 
phases of the sense flow ; and apart from this 
synthesis and identification by the mind, the 
sense flow would have neither fixity nor per 
manence nor recurrence of any kind. The 
same is true for the discontinuity of our sen 
sations and the continuity of the world of 
things. The sensations are discontinuous, and 
if they were all, there would be equal discon 
tinuity in things ; but the mind interprets the 
discontinuous sensations into a world of con 
tinuous things on its own rational warrant, 
and apart from this interpretation there would 
be no framework nor systematic connection 
at all in the world of experience. Thus it 
is manifest that without this synthetic and 
interpretative action of the mind there could 
be no world whatever for us. 

And now to complete the paradox, it must 
be said that no one can ever perceive any world 
but the one he makes. I can perceive another s 


thought only on condition that I think that 
thought ; and the thought so far as I think it 
can never be other than mine. I may have the 
sure conviction in connection with it that it 
reproduces the content of another s thought, 
but it can exist for me only as it becomes my 
own thought, the product of my own think 
ing. In the same way and with equal evidence 
the world I perceive is the world I construct. 
When we are looking at a series of moving 
pictures we see a great many things that are 
not there. The train rolls up to the station. 
Passengers leave or enter the cars. The plat 
form is thronged with persons hurrying to 
and fro. Yet this busy scene is all in the 
beholder s mind. The things he sees are the 
things he constructs. And the same is true 
in all perception. These "constructs " are all 
any one can possibly have in consciousness, 
though it may be that they all carry with them 
a reference to existence beyond the percipient 
consciousness. This reference constitutes their 
objectivity, and makes them possible objects 
for others also ; nevertheless the " construct " 


itself, with of course this objective reference, 
is the only possible content of the percipient 
consciousness, and this "construct" must 
always be the mind s own product. And be 
the object what it may, we never can come 
any nearer to it than this " construct " will 
bring us. 

These considerations show how exceedingly 
complicated the perceptive process is upon 
analysis, and how utterly mistaken those per 
sons are who speak of an immediate knowledge 
of reality as if it involved no process what 
ever. But it would be a mistake to infer any 
doctrine of idealism from these facts. They 
belong to the process of perception, but this 
process itself never decides as to the reality of 
the object perceived. Reflection shows that 
in any case perception must arise in this way, 
that is, through a reaction of the mind against 
action upon it so as to build up or construct 
the world for itself. It is not merely and only 
a construction by the mind, it is a construction 
which carries with it a reference to the con 
tent existing apart from the perceptive act. 


All thinking has this objective reference. It 
claims not to produce but to reproduce a 
content existing apart from the knowing act 
itself. Furthermore, if we should pass to an 
idealistic affirmation on the strength of this 
reasoning the immediate consequence would 
be solipsism, for it is just as true of the neigh 
bors as of things, that our knowledge of them 
is a mental construction. Primarily our thoughts 
of our neighbors arise within our own minds 
as a mental interpretation of our sense experi 
ence, and if we are to deny any kind of an 
existence to things on account of the process, 
we must equally deny the neighbors for the 
same reason. Any tenable idealism, therefore, 
must rest not upon the process of perception, 
but upon an analysis of the product of per 
ception. That is, we must examine our objects 
with the aim of seeing which of them, or how 
much of them, is to be viewed as having 
proper existence and how much of them has 
only phenomenal existence, that is, existence 
for intelligence. To illustrate: the world of 
sense qualities is found to have only phenom- 


enal existence, not because of the process of 
perception, but because a study of them shows 
that they have no meaning apart from intel 
lect with its function of sensibility. 

Thus far we have spoken of knowledge as 
conditioned only by the nature and activity 
of the subject. But it is manifest that the 
nature of the object is also a determining 
factor. We have spoken of the mind as im 
posing its laws and forms upon experience and 
thus reaching objects ; but it is manifest that 
this is only part of the matter. For unless 
the objects themselves were harmonious with 
these laws and forms, the latter could not 
be imposed upon them. It is manifest that I 
can understand another person s speech only 
as I think his thought for myself, but it is 
equally manifest that I cannot understand his 
thought unless there be some thought to 
understand. Or, again, in the interpretation 
of an inscription which I might discover, I 
can interpret it only as I have the key in my 
self, and it is equally evident that interpre 
tation presupposes that the inscription has 


rational meaning. It would be hopeless to at 
tempt to understand random scratches. The 
same is true in the interpretation of the sense 
signs by which we reach the knowledge of 
nature. The mind must have the key in it 
self, but there must also be an objective order 
and fixed meaning as the presupposition of 
interpretation. Otherwise we should be seek 
ing to understand mere noises or random 
scratches, which would be absurd. When this 
thought is carried out it implies an objective 
rational order parallel to our subjective think 
ing. As speech implies a mind at both ends 
of the process, so knowledge under our hu 
man conditions equally implies a mind at both 
ends. Noise becomes speech only as thought 
is expressed in it, and understood through it. 
So the affections of sense become knowledge 
only as they are the media for expressing and 
transmitting thought beyond them. 

And here it might occur to some uncon 
vinced empiricist to return to his claim that 
the sensations are all. For, after all, he might 
ask, what is there in experience but the sense 


content, actual or possible, and what is there 
that cannot be expressed in terms of sensa 
tion, real or expected, or conceived as possible ? 
How can motion be expressed except in terms 
of changing sensations, and how can dis 
tance and size be figured except in sensational 
terms ? 

Such questions, if seriously asked, would 
show loyalty and determination rather than in 
sight into the problem. They would not touch 
the question respecting the form of experience 
at all ; and this is one of the matters at issue 
between empiricism and apriorism. The spatial 
and temporal form, and the relations of iden 
tity, substantiality, and causality are not in the 
sense experience at all as a mere affection of 
the sensibility. Bearing this fact in mind, the 
questions only imply a certain phenomenalistic 
doctrine of sense objects. Applied to persons 
they lead straight to solipsism ; for other per 
sons could be reduced to groups of my sensa 
tions, real or possible, in the same way and with 
the same right. Finally, as applied to sense 
objects, they reach no " common to all/ which 


is the presupposition of a mutually intelligible 
experience. Mr. Mill, working along this line, 
defined matter as a " permanent possibility of 
sensation," but left us in very great uncer 
tainty as to its whereabouts. If it were per 
manent in time and space, it would be very 
like a reality instead of a mere possibility. If 
it be said to exist only in consciousness we 
are embarrassed, remembering that there are 
many consciousnesses, and we need to know in 
which one it has its seat, and also how there 
can be any common system of experience at 
all on this view. This difficulty recurs in all 
phenomenal systems, and there is no removing 
it until we plant behind the phenomenal sys 
tem, sensational or otherwise, a Supreme In 
telligence which manifests his thought through 
it and thus founds that objective unity of the 
system of experience which is presupposed in 
all our knowing. 

But this doctrine of knowledge as taking 
place through our own " constructs " can 
hardly fail to raise the question as to the valid 
ity of knowledge. May not these " constructs " 


be really only shadows of our own minds, 
rather than true apprehensions of reality? 

Looked at abstractly this possibility cannot 
be denied, but the question itself is by no 
means without confusion. It speaks of a true 
apprehension of reality as if this were a per 
fectly clear notion, which is by no means the 
case. We must remember that experience it 
self, with ourselves as having it, is the only 
sure reality in the case ; and to ask whether 
this be a true apprehension of reality is not 
self-evident in its meaning. Surely, before we 
seek to know any other reality than this we 
should show that such reality exists. 

But whatever reality there may be, it is 
plain, as said, that our knowledge of it must 
arise in this way; and it is equally plain that 
our knowledge of anything in the heavens 
above or the earth beneath must consist in 
seeing how we must think about it. Our 


thought cannot become the thing, neither can 
the thing pass bodily into our thought. We 
can only think about the thing and see if we 
reach any result which satisfies our reason and 


fits into the system of experience so as to har 
monize with it. In that case we have the only 
positive proof possible of the validity of know 

Now the first fact that meets us here is the 
validity of our personal knowledge, or our 
mutual understanding of one another. If we 
should attempt to justify this knowledge by 
any insight into the process we possess we 
should never succeed. But the knowledge ver 
ifies itself. In spite of the obscurity of the 
process and the impossibility of any demon 
stration that this process must result in valid 
knowledge, we contrive to be quite sure of one 
another s existence and of our mutual under 
standing. We find the same thing extending 
also into the field of experience, and this shows 
that our conceptions are valid there also. 
Whatever mystery attaches to the process of 
knowledge and whatever verbal doubts may 
be raised about it, the knowledge vindicates 
itself within its own sphere by the clearness 
of our apprehension and by its consistency in 
experience. But this discharges the skeptical 


doubt for all practical purposes by showing 
that it has no foundation in our personal life 
and experience, and is therefore only an ab 
stract doubt without any concrete grounds. 
Any further question that may arise must deal 
with the contents of experience itself. It may 
be that reflection on these contents would lead 
to many modifications of popular notions in 
order to make our spontaneous thought con 
sistent with itself ; but there would be no 
scepticism in such a result. But this doubt has 
played such a role in modern philosophy that 
we must consider it. 

The distinction of appearance and reality 
in common use is a familiar one and occasions 
no embarrassment of any sort, as it lies entirely 
within the sphere of sense experience. Thus, 
a straight stick looks bent when one end is 
thrust into the water. A large thing looks very 
small at a great distance. The mountains look 
blue when seen through a haze, and distance 
lends many an enchantment. When a house 
is seen from afar it has a certain appearance, 
which varies constantly as we approach it. In 


all these cases common sense distinguishes the 
appearance from the reality, but proceeds to 
rectify the appearance by referring it to the 
report of other senses or by comparing it with 
our total experience of the object. The reality 
of a house is not the visual presentation, but 
it is a building of a certain size which we would 
come to if we moved in a certain direction. 
The reality of the bent stick is the stick as it 
appears when drawn from the water and han 
dled and measured, etc. In such cases, then, 
reality and appearance are contrasted, but the 
contrast carries with it no doubt or difficulty, 
at least for common sense. It would of course 
be very embarrassing for a theory of pure 
sensationalism, as in that doctrine a varying 
sensation would mean a different object. 

But out of the Kantian theory of know 
ledge a series of difficulties emerged which 
tended to confirm agnosticism respecting real 
things and to limit us simply to a knowledge 
of appearances or phenomena. This doctrine 
we now have to consider. It has played a great 
role in all philosophy since Kant s time and 


is very far from being entirely clear in its 
meaning as well as sound in its foundations. 

Kant s general claim was that the laws of 
thought or categories of the understanding, 
as he called them, are valid only for phe 
nomena and are not valid for things in them 
selves. He said their only function consists in 
giving form to our sensations, and that apart 
from these sensations they are entirely empty. 
Now, the sensations themselves are simply 
affections of sense which have nothing corre- 
spending to them apart from the mind. In 
that case, being subjective in their nature, no 
possible arrangement of them can make them 
other than subjective. The categories are 
merely principles of arrangement of this sub 
jective material, and by consequence the ap 
parent knowledge, or the seeming knowledge, 
is only a knowledge of appearances or phe 
nomena, and cannot claim to have existence 
beyond the range of human experience. 

This is Kant s famous doctrine of relativity, 
and it is by no means clear even in its mean 
ing and still less satisfactory in its logic. We 


shall find that Kant is here under the influence 
of sundry untenable notions. 

In clearing up the doctrine it is plain first 
of all that Kant has failed to consider the 
position in his doctrine of the plurality of per 
sons, which he everywhere assumes. As we 
have before pointed out, any doctrine of per 
ception which rests upon an analysis of the pro 
cess only must end in solipsism. Hence if we 
make the world of things subjective presenta 
tions because the knowledge of them arises 
through our mental construction, we must do 
the same thing with the world of persons, for 
the knowledge of them has an equally subjec 
tive character. Kant passes from " me " to 
"us" without telling us how he makes the 
transition. He really begins with " us,"- not 
merely with the individual self, but with the 
whole collection of individual human beings, 
and gets an experience valid for us all in 
exceedingly obscure ways. But what Kant did 
not do the critic must do, and we must inquire 
into the relation of these many minds to one 
another in a system of phenomenal knowledge. 


To begin with, it is not clear in what sense 
other minds can be called phenomenal to me. 
Phenomena are appearances, and only in an 
accommodated sense can minds be said to ap 
pear at all. If, however, we make other minds 
phenomenal on the strength of our theory of 
knowledge, it would really seem that personal 
communion vanishes altogether. For we can 
know these other minds only through our 
thought of them, and that thought is said to 
give us merely appearances, which, moreover, 
do not appear. Thus all contents of other con 
sciousness vanish entirely from our knowledge. 
But Kant never considered this application of 
his theory and had no doubt whatever of the 
possibility of mutual understanding in as in 
timate a sense as any one would care to affirm. 

But Kant affirms the phenomenality of 
knowledge not so much of other minds as he 
does of " the mind," or " the Ego." Even our 
own minds are phenomena, or our knowledge 
of ourselves is phenomenal only. This Kant 
tries to make out by showing that we have no 
proper knowledge of the transcendental or 


ontological self, but only of the empirical self. 
Much of this is a deduction from his own the 
ory of knowledge, rather than a demonstration 
on the basis of experience. The transcenden 
tal ego, in distinction from the living, con 
scious, active self of experience, is a fiction, 
like all the other "noumena," and is as base 
less and worthless as they. Kant finds various 
" paralogisms " in rational psychology, none 
of which, however, makes out his case. The 
rational psychologists of Kant s time had laid 
claim to a knowledge of the nature of the soul 
which they really did not possess. For the dis 
proof of this knowledge no doctrine of phe 
nomenalism is needed, but solely a criticism of 
the arguments offered. This part of Kant s 
work was well done. But his general disproof 
of all real knowledge of the thinking self did 
not satisfy Kant himself apparently, as we 
find from the modifications made in the second 
edition of the a Critique." He omits a large part 
of the argumentation of the first edition in the 
second and says, " It would be a great, nay, 
even the only, objection to our Critique if 


there was a possibility of proving apriori that 
all thinking beings are by themselves thinking 
substances ; that as such (as a consequence of 
the same argument) personality is inseparable 
from them and that they are conscious of their 
existence as distinct from all matter, for we 
should then have made a step beyond the world 
of sense and entered into the field of noumena, 
and after that no one could dare to question 
our right of advancing further, of settling in 
it, and as each of us is favored by luck, taking 
possession of it. ... Hence synthetical pro 
positions apriori would be not only admissible, 
as we maintain in reference to objects of pos 
sible experience, but would be extended to 
things in general and to things by themselves, 
a result which would put an end to the whole 
of our Critique and bids us leave everything 
as we found it." Here it seems pretty clear 
that Kant would have liked to admit a real 
knowledge of the self, but he fears that to 
admit it would undermine the whole of the 
Critique, and of course that could not be per 
mitted. Hence he allows himself some exceed- 


ingly doubtful reasoning in support of his re 
jection of the knowledge of a noumenal self. 
But on the other hand what a phenomenal 
self would be which in turn had other pheno 
mena appearing to it is something left alto 
gether undecided by him. The fact is we have 
here a very distinct contradiction. A phenom 
enon which is not an appearance to somebody 
is a logical impossibility. It is possible to look 
upon things as phenomenal only ; but to look 
upon the self which views these phenomena as 
itself phenomenal in the same sense is alto 
gether impossible. Where there is no perceiv 
ing subject there can be no phenomena ; and 
when we put the subject among the phenomena, 
the doctrine itself disappears. So, then, Kant s 
doctrine of phenomenalism with regard to the 
self must be withdrawn. Of course many ques 
tions may be asked respecting the self which 
we are not able to answer, but the self itself as 
the subject of the mental life and knowing and 
experiencing itself as living, and as one and the 
same throughout its changing experiences, is 
the surest item of knowledge we possess. 


The Kantian doubt, then, must be limited to 
the world of external things ; and here, too, its 
meaning and application are by no means ob 
vious. It is clear in the first place that any 
doctrine of phenomenalism which affirms a 
series of unknowable noumena behind phenom 
ena is in unstable equilibrium. For phenomena 
are the immediate fact, and if they do not medi 
ate for us any valid knowledge of noumena, 
the latter are philosophically worthless and logi 
cally unaffirmable. For we must never forget 
that experience itself, with ourselves as its sub 
jects, is the primary fact ; and anything which 
we affirm beyond this fact must be for its ex 
planation. This makes it strictly impossible to 
affirm anything to which no laws and forms of 
thought apply. If, then, the categories apply 
only to phenomena the noumena disappear 
altogether. For these forms include space and 
time, unity and plurality, cause and effect, 
substance and attribute, reality and negation, 
and so forth. Hence the thing in itself is in 
neither space nor time, is neither one nor many, 
neither cause nor effect, neither substance nor 


attribute, neither real nor unreal. Manifestly 
such a thing is nothing, either in thought or 

To this result any doctrine which denies the 
application of the categories of thought to re 
ality must certainly come. The thing in itself, 
or things in themselves, must be brought 
within the range of thought or must go out 
of existence. As soon as we remember that 
these things are affirmed solely for the sake of 
making experience intelligible to us, the emp 
tiness of this kind of agnosticism immediately 
appears. Accordingly the agnostic soon finds 
himself compelled to apply some of the cate 
gories of thought to his unknowable reality. 
The most naive illustrations of this fact ap 
pear in Mr. Spencer s manipulation of his 
Unknowable. When he is dealing with reli 
gion and theology he will hear of no affirma 
tion whatever respecting the Unknowable, but 
when he has once imposed upon them the in 
junction of perpetual silence, he soon begins 
to know a great deal about the Unknowable. 
It forthwith appears as one and eternal and 


causal, and moreover we are told that the like 
nesses and changes among things point to like 
nesses and changes in the fundamental reality 
itself, so that from the former we can get a great 
deal of information respecting the latter. This 
led to Mr. Mill s remark that in this way we seem 
able to get a " prodigious amount of knowledge 
respecting the Unknowable." Contradictions 
of this kind are necessary in the nature of the 
case. The thing which is invoked to explain 
the world of life and experience must neces 
sarily stand in causal relations to it and admit, 
to some extent, of being known thereby. 

Returning now to the Kantian view, it is 
plain that it mainly rests on a naive assump 
tion of uncritical thought. For common sense 
all things except our individual ideas are ex 
tra-mental. They exist apart from our con 
sciousness and are supposed, as a matter of 
course, to exist apart from all consciousness. 
This gives us a world of things in themselves. 
When next epistemology shows that we can 
grasp these things only through the thoughts 
we form of them, and further points out the 


exceedingly complex and obscure nature of the 
processes of knowledge, we then seem to have 
all the conditions for a doctrine of agnosticism. 
The mind is now clearly limited to the thought 
sphere, and things exist beyond that sphere ; 
hence, manifestly, we can know only phe 
nomena and can never reach things in them 
selves. Here the assumption is that things are 
first and undeniable in their extra-mentality, 
and then thought is challenged to know them, 
which it is manifest thought can never do 
under these conditions. 

But the true way out is to show that no 
such problem as is here proposed exists. By 
extra-mental existence common sense really 
means to deny individual illusion, and if it 
could secure this common sense would be sat 
isfied. But a truly extra-mental existence, in 
the sense of something beyond thought and 
independent of it and in no way amenable to 
it, is an impossible conception. If we assume 
that the world of things originated in thought 
and expressed thought they would be homo 
geneous with thought, and there would be no 


apriori reason why we should not know them. 
This theistic suggestion brings the world of 
things within the thought sphere and assimi 
lates the problem of knowledge to that of 
mutual understanding among persons. In that 
case things are indeed independent of our 
thinking for their existence, but they are not 
independent of all thinking. They lie within 
the thought sphere, and that impassable gulf 
between the thought world and thing world, 
into which the agnostic tumbles, does not exist. 
This theistic suggestion Kant nowhere recog 
nizes in his epistemology, although it mani 
festly puts an entirely different aspect upon 
the question. It makes the thought sphere 
all-embracing, but within that sphere it dis 
tinguishes between the finite knower and the 
world of things, thus leaving the antithesis 
between them as it exists for common sense. 
At the same time by making the world of 
things the expression of thought, it leaves 
them open to our apprehension and under 
standing. This is the result to which idealism 
is fast leading us. And when we combine this 


theistic suggestion with the fact already men 
tioned, that nothing whatever can be affirmed 
which does not stand in articulate rational 
relation to the world of experience, we see 
how empty any doctrine of absolute agnos 
ticism must be. 

Indeed, this whole doctrine of phenom 
enalism must be revised to bring it into 
accord with the demands of thought. By 
phenomena, if the term is to be anything 
more than another word for fact, we must 
understand those things which exist only in 
and for intelligence. They are not phantoms 
or illusions, nor are they masks of a back- 
lying reality which is trying to peer through 
them ; they are simply what they purport to 
be in experience. At the same time they have 
no extra-mental existence, although they may 
well have an extra-human existence. The 
world of sense qualities illustrates the con 
ception. These have no existence in space 
apart from intelligence. They are really only 
, effects in the sensibility, and would disappear 
i if the sensibility were away. If the ideality 


of space and time be allowed, then all that 
appears in space and time, the whole physi 
cal world in short, is only phenomenal. At 
the same time it is to be noted that these 
phenomena are not illusions, but have their 
special type of reality. They have the reality 
of being forms and factors of our experience, 
and our knowledge of them and practical 
dealing with them make up the great bulk 
of life. Noumena, on the other hand, or 
things in themselves, are to be ruled out 
altogether as myths. The antithesis of phe 
nomena and noumena rests on the fancy that 
there is something behind phenomena which 
we ought to perceive but cannot, because the 
masking phenomenon thrusts itself between 
the reality and us. Phenomena, however, are 
not the masks of anything, but so far as cog 
nition goes they are what they seem to be. 
They are effects of something, which may 
possibly be known through them, and in no 
other sense are they to be spoken of as 
masks, or even as manifestations of a hidden 
reality. The only intelligible and permissible 


question concerns not their nature but their 
causality. What is the power at work which 
produces the phenomenal order? This is an 
intelligible question, and the only permissible 
one at this point. 

When this question is raised we see at once 
that it can never be solved in picture terms. 
Metaphysics shows that true substantial exist 
ence can only be conceived under the causal 
form. For the explanation of the world we 
need an agent, not a substance. With this 
insight all thought of describing the agent in 
static or picture terms vanishes. Causes are 
revealed in their deeds only. They do not 
look, they act. Thus the question of know 
ledge becomes this : Can we know anything 
of the invisible power behind the phenomenal 
system, or rather which produces the phe 
nomenal system ? Of course we can know 
nothing in picture form, but can we know 
anything in any way ? Something indeed 
we must know, or the thought vanishes 

7 O 

altogether; but it may be that we can only 
form such general notions as that it must 


be causal and unitary and permanent, and 
for the rest must content ourselves with de 
scribing the orders of coexistence and se 
quence among the products of its activity. 
On the other hand, it is possible that a 
study of these products should reveal pur 
pose, plan, and character in this unpicturable 
power. Only a study of the facts can decide 
this point ; but if such a knowledge of this 
power be possible, we have all we care to 
know. And if it should prove impossible, it 
would be because of the ambiguous indica 
tions of the facts, and not because the real 
things in themselves are hidden by masking 

Thus we set aside the Kantian agnosticism, 
or at least the agnosticism based upon Kant s 
system. At the same time we point out that 
there is a good deal of value even in Kant s 
relativity of knowledge. A thorough-going 
limitation of the categories to our human sub 
jectivity ends, as we have seen, in the denial 
of independent objectivity altogether. At the 
same time there is a large element of such 


subjectivity in our thinking. The practical ap 
plication of the categories is largely formal 
only and relative to our intellectual conven 
ience. The unities and identities and substan 
tialities which appear in our human thought 
and speech are mostly our own products. They 
result from the application of the categories 
of thought to the fluent and unsubstantial 
manifold of sense, and have only relative val 
idity. Thus the unities we find in experience 
are mainly formal. This is the case with all 
spatial and temporal unities; for these can 
have only conceptual existence: Reality, or 
substantiality, also, is largely formal and rel 
ative in its application. Most of our substan 
tive conceptions present no real thinghood, but 
only processes or phenomena or activities to 
which the mind has given a substantive form, 
but which are never to be mistaken for things. 
Light, heat, electricity, magnetism, and a great 
multitude of abstract nouns are illustrations. 
Identity, too, is more often formal than real. 
We find very few real identities in experience, 
where certainly most things are in perpetual 


change and flow. In all such cases^fche idenl 
is formal, imposed by the mind for its own 
convenience and expressing no ontological 
fact. Our classifications also are largely rela 
tive, not representing any eternal ideas or ver 
itable cosmic groupings, but solely conven 
iences and points of view of our own. They 
are relative to our sensibility or to our pur 
poses, and can lay no claim to be looked upon 
as any abiding part of the cosmic furniture. 
They are what Herbart would call " accidental 
views." In calling attention to this fact, thus 
shutting off the hasty dogmatism of the pre- 
Kantian period, Kant has done a great service 
of lasting value. Hereafter we have to proceed, 
not dogmatically but critically, in seeking to 
eliminate the purely relative and accidental 
point of view. 

There is another limitation of knowledge 
springing out of phenomenalism which is of 
great value. This is the claim that the cate 
gories of thought have no application apart 
from the objects of a real or possible expe 
rience. This does not imply any things in 


themselves to which the categories may not 
be applied, but only that experience, real or 
possible, is the field of their fruitful applica 
tion. This is perfectly valid when by experi 
ence we mean the whole of experience, not 
merely the sense experience of the outer world 
but also the inner experience of the conscious 
self. With this understanding the doctrine is 
this. The categories in themselves are simply 
forms of mental arrangement and merely 
prescribe the form in which experience is to 
be ordered when it is given.. In this respect 
they are like the rules of grammar, which 
prescribe how we shall speak if we speak at 
all, but which in themselves have no concrete 
contents. Living speech, then, is not merely 
grammar, but definite meanings expressed 
according to grammatical rules, and when there 
is no specific meaning the grammar itself moves 
in a vacuum. All experience, according to 
Kant, is real only through some given fact, 
and apart from such facts is empty. Thus we 
might talk of sensations of a class we have 
never experienced, as the sensations of a tenth 


sense ; but it is plain that such talk, however 
learned it might be, would be formal and 
empty, as there would be no concrete sensa 
tion to give significance or substance to our 
words. In the case of real sensation, on the 
contrary, there is an actual experience which 
gives content to our reflection. Until the actual 
experience is given there is no security that 
there is anything whatever corresponding to 
our formal phrases ; but when experience is 
given we have no longer simple logical con 
cepts, but we have something lived and realized. 
Now Kant said that the categories are applied 
only to such sense experience and otherwise 
are empty. Here he made the mistake of limit 
ing experience to the physical sensations and 
did not extend his doctrine to the data of self- 
consciousness. When this limitation is removed 
it then becomes strictly true that the categories 
have simply the function of forming and ex 
pressing some matter which is directly experi 
enced or which can be assimilated to experi 
ence, and apart from that relation they are 
formal and empty. They must always be brought 


into contact with experience in some "way in 
order to acquire reality, or to make sure they 
represent any possible object for thought. 
Thus if we talk of the categories of being, 
unity, identity, causality, substance, etc., in 
abstraction from any given experience, they 
are utterly vacuous, so that we cannot tell 
whether there be any corresponding fact or 
not; and it is only as we find these categories 
realized in living self-experience that they ac 
quire other than a formal meaning, or pass for 
anything more than purely verbal counters. 
They are like grammar when there is no 
speech, or rules for saying something when 
there is nothing to be said. 

Thus, take the category of being. Suppose 
we ask what we mean by it. At last it would 
be found that it means either objectivity in 
experience, or else it means just our own con 
scious life. Any other conception passes into 
abstraction and emptiness. Similarly with 
identity. This may mean the formal identity 
of logical meaning or it may be taken to mean 
a continued existence through a period of 


time. In the latter case, which is supposed to 
be the metaphysical meaning, we really do 
not know by speculation whether such a thing 
be possible or not. Successive existence is not 
identity, and changeless existence cannot be 
found. Here again we have to fall back upon 
experience. Identity is given as the self -equal 
ity of intelligence throughout experience, and 
any other conception destroys itself. In like 
manner unity also may be purely formal, as 
when we call a thing one ; but when we come to 
real unity only experience can tell us whether 
it be possible and what form it must take on. 
There can be no real unity in anything exist 
ing in space and time, for in that case every 
thing would be dispersed in infinite divisi 
bility. We find the problem solved only in 
the unity of a conscious self, which is the only 
concrete unity that escapes the infinite disper 
sion of space and time. In like manner when 
we attempt to think causality abstractly and 
impersonally we find ourselves lost in the in 
finite regress, and if we escape it we have no 
means of telling whether there is anything 


corresponding to our ideas or not. It is abso 
lutely necessary to find in experience some 
thing that will insure that our ideas have some 
corresponding concrete existence; or else we 
are simply shuffling verbal counters, as when 
we speak of sensations of the tenth sense, or 
we are indulging in a calculus of imaginary 
quantities. In the latter cases there may be a 
certain formal grammatical and logical con 
sistency in our utterances, but there is no con 
tact with reality. In the case of causation we 
escape this mere conceptualism only as we find 
in the self-conscious causality of free intelli 
gence the meaning of causality and the assur 
ance that it represents a fact. 

This view might well be called transcen 
dental empiricism, in distinction from the 
traditional sense empiricism. The meaning is 
that all thought about reality must be rooted 
in experience and that apart from experience 
we never can be sure whether our concep 
tions represent any actual fact or not. The 
categories themselves are not something which 
precede the mind and found its possibility. 


They are rather modes of mental operation. 
They are the forms which the mind gives to 
its experience, but the mind is not to be under 
stood through them. Rather they are to be 
understood through the mind s living expe 
rience of itself. 

An important bearing of this result upon 
speculative thought should be noticed. Expla 
nation largely consists in classification ; that 
is, in gathering similar things into groups or 
series. Such explanation always remains on/ 
the surface and leaves the mystery of things 
absolutely untouched. No amount of classifi 
cation gives us any insight. It merely puts the 
new fact into a familiar class or refers it to 
a familiar law; but it leaves the fact itself 
as mysterious in its essential nature as ever. 
Thus when the fall of a body or the floating 
of a ship or the rising of smoke is referred 
to the law of gravity, we get no insight into 
the nature of gravitation. We simply see such 
facts to be cases of a familiar kind, but the 
kind itself in its inner nature is as opaque 
as ever. Whenever we transcend this type of 


explanation we pass into the causal realm ; 
and here again we get no real insight but only 
superficial classification, unless we somewhere 
come upon something which is capable of real 
explanation so as to give us rational insight. 
And this we find only in the case of free intel 
ligence. This is the only causality of which 
we have any knowledge and the only causality 
which really explains. Hence either we must 
content ourselves with superficial classifica 
tion, or else we must find in free intelligence 
the only principle of causal explanation. 

This result introduces great simplicity into 
speculative thinking and vacates a great deal 
of speculation as formal and empty. When 
our conceptions cannot be verified in spatial 
and temporal experience nor realized in self- 
consciousness, they make no connection with 
reality and are to be unconditionally rejected 
as fictitious or barren. When, then, any new 
speculative explanation of any fact whatever is 
offered us, we ask, Is the explanation classifica- 
tory or causal? If the former, we point out that 
it remains on the surface and really explains 


nothing. If the latter, we point out that it 
equally explains nothing unless the conception 
of causality admits of being verified in self- 
consciousness, as something actual and not 
merely formal. If it does not meet this require 
ment, then into the fire with it, along with the 
mob of verbal theories which have confused 
and deluded the human mind from the begin 

By this time, probably, we may begin to 
fear that there is not much basis left for 
objective knowledge, or possibly we may think 
when so much is made phenomenal, that we 
are not grasping reality at all ; and the query 
arises whether, after all, we are not living in 
the midst of illusion, and whether if we knew 
things as they really are we should not find 
them altogether different from what we think 
them to be. This thought springs out of the 
illusion that there is an absolute system of 
reality to which our thoughts ought to corre 
spond in order to be true. This is one of the 
dogmatic fictions. For us the real can never 
be primarily anything but the contents of 


experience and whatever we may infer from 
them. Back of experience we find no truly 
real of the noumenal type, but we infer or 
affirm a cause which is founding and maintain 
ing the order of experience. To ask whether 
this order he true is really meaningless, unless 
we suppose some absolute system of impersonal 
reality back of experience ; and this notion is 
baseless. When this is seen the only permis 
sible question becomes this: Does our experi 
ence exhaust the possibilities of experience and 
consciousness ? From a theistic standpoint the 
universe itself is no proper static existence, but 
only the divine thought finding realization 
through the divine will, and that thought for 
us must find expression in the order of our 
experience. But it is quite credible that our 
present experience does not exhaust the con 
tents of that thought and so does not exhaust 
the possibilities of experience. If further pos 
sibilities should unfold we should not have a 
truer experience, but a more extensive one. 
Our present experience is of a certain type, with 
certain contents and limitations, and it is en- 


tirely possible that there should be other beings 
with different types and contents of experi 
ence. It is equally possible that we ourselves 
shall pass into a new order of experiences, in 
which case we should have no right to say that 
the present order is false, but merely that it 
is not all and final. In like manner the new 
order would not be rightly described as more 
true than the present order, but only as perhaps 
higher and richer in content, giving a fuller 
and more abundant life. In this sense there 
may be any number of universes of experience, 
each of which is relative to its own subjects, 
and all of which are embraced in the thought 
or plan of the Infinite Mind and Will on which 
they all depend. 

Thus we dispense with the extra-mental uni 
verse of unreflecting thought. That view arises 
from confounding extra-human with extra- 
mental. We equally dispense with the unknow- 
ables of agnostic systems. These systems have 
a crudely realistic foundation and a self-de 
structive logic. We also set aside those anti- 
climactic notions of transfigured realism which 


attempts to define reality apart from intelli 
gence and ends by presenting us with a set Ox 
barren and worthless abstractions as the truly 
real, while the whole system of living experi 
ence is excluded from reality altogether. The 
static universe which eludes knowledge equally 
disappears, and in its place we have the known 
world of experience which points to intelli 
gence as its source. Thus we conserve the 
sense of reality and validity in knowledge, and 
at the same time recognize the results of criti 
cism. We remain where we began, in the world 
of personal experience, and with the strength 
ened conviction that this world can never be 
explained on any impersonal plane. The world 
of experience exists for us only through a ra 
tional spiritual principle by which we repro 
duce it for our thought, and it has its existence 
apart from us only through a rational spiritual 
principle on which it depends, and the rational 
nature of which it expresses. This is our second 
toward personalism. 



IN our last lecture we saw how complex 
is the process of knowledge. The object be 
comes an object for us only through a con 
structive activity of our own whereby we 
constitute the object for consciousness. But 
this fact in itself, while preparing the way for 
phenomenalism, does not establish it. We 
have now to consider the phenomenality of 
the physical world. This is the next step in 
the establishment of personalism. 

For spontaneous thought all sense objects 
exist as they seem, veritable substantial things 
in space and time. Later reflection, however, 
turns them into phenomena, that is, into 
things which exist only for and through in 
telligence. It must be noted, however, in ac 
cordance with our previous discussion, that 
this does not turn them into illusions or de- 


lusions. It allows them still to be real in their 
way, but finds that their reality is not a sub 
stantial and independent existence, but rather 
consists in their being forms and factors of 
our common experience. We have seen that 
there are two kinds of reality, phenomenal and 
x t< 1 ontolqgical. Only the latter is substantial ; the 
former is real for and in experience ; but re 
flective thought shows that it is properly phe 
nomenal, existing only in and for intelligence. 
Spontaneous thought, again, has no doubt 
that space and time exist as veritable things 
of some sort. Indeed, it generally regards them 
as the most undeniable of things. Things in 
the ordinary sense might conceivably be non 
existent. We can conceive that space which 
is now filled might be void, and that time in 
which events occur should be empty, but the 
void space and time would still, according to 
common sense, exist, the space in its boundless 
extension and the time in its continual flow. 
For the present we allow this belief to stand, 
and point out that even then many of the 
things which we suppose to exist in space and 


time cannot so exist apart from the mediation 
of intelligence. In this way we may possibly 
accustom ourselves to the thought that this 
world which is known only through intelligence 
also exists only through and for inteUigence. 
We shall see that very many things which we 
suppose exist apart from intelligence would 
really disappear if intelligence were away. 

Conceive a musical symphony. At first sight 
we might say the symphony exists in space 
and time. It is inclosed within the walls of 
the room and lies between certain temporal 
limits, and therefore has temporal and spatial 
existence. This, however, is superficial ; for the 
symphony, apart from the synthetic and uni 
fying action of intelligence, really cannot exist 
in any assignable sense. It exists, as anything 
articulate and intelligible, only for the com 
poser and performer on the one hand, and for 
the audience on the other. As something in 
space and time it would consist of air waves 
mutually external and without unity or con 
nection. The corresponding sounds are also 
mutually external as spatial or temporal events. 


If, then, one were bent on finding the sym 
phony within the walls of the room, and should 
proceed to chase the mutually external waves 
in space and the successive waves in time back 
and forth throughout the hall and the time of 
the playing, he would soon become aware that 
the symphony, apart from the unifying action 
of consciousness which unites the many and 
the successive into one, would be something 
strictly non-existent for intelligence. However 
real the waves or the coexistent and successive 
sounds may be in themselves, it is not until 
they are united in a consciousness which grasps 
and unifies them all in one complex musical 
apprehension that the symphony exists or can 
exist. All that can take place in space or time 
in connection with such music is but the means 
for making the musical conception pass into 
act and revealing it to other consciousnesses, 
the audience ; but the symphony itself exists 
primarily for the composer or performer, and 
secondarily for the audience, and all else is 
but a means for mediating the thought of the 
composer for the hearers. 


Probably all would admit this for a sym 
phony. We might say there is nothing sub 
stantial in a piece of music, and hence we can 
hardly regard it as anything abiding or exist 
ing objectively. But the same must be ad 
mitted for anything whatever that has its 
existence successively, that is, in time. Every 
such successive thing, in itself, is made up of 
mutually external existences, and these attain 
to any abiding existence only through the 
activity of some non-successive being which is 
able to unite the successive existences into the 
thought of something fixed and permanent. 
Every such successive thing must be phenom 
enal, for, like the symphony, it exists and can 
exist only for and through intelligence. Or if 
we prefer to say the thing exists, then the 
claim is that it exists only through intelligence. 
This we now proceed to show. 

Experience shows only two kinds of perma 
nence, fixity of meaning and permanence of 
the thinking subject. The first is logical same 
ness, or identity of meaning, and is absolutely 


necessary to any thought whatever. If the 
meaning of things could change from moment 
to moment, no thought would be possible. 
Sensation itself, as we have seen, is possible 
as anything articulate only as the flowing 
impression is fixed into an abiding meaning 
of which the impression may be the bearer or 
manifestation, while the meaning gives the 
significance of the impression. Without such 
fixed meaning even the simple sensation van 
ishes into an inarticulate impression, about 
which nothing whatever can be said. Simi 
larly in the case of any changing or develop 
ing thing, we form some conception which 
gathers up all the phases of the thing into 
one thought which expresses the true nature 
of the thing. If it were impossible to express 
the nature of the thing, however changing, 
by some abiding conception, then we should 
need a new thought for each new phase of 
the thing; and as the thing is incessantly 
changing, we should need an incessant stream 
of new conceptions, with the result that we 
should lose the thing altogether in the mul- 


tiplicity of conceptions which would be 

This formal or logical sameness, as the su 
preme condition of thought, is formulated in 
the law of identity : A equals A, which means 
that everything, whatever it may be, fixed or 
changing, must admit of being conceived in 
such a way as to be an abiding object or have 
an abiding meaning for intelligence. Without 
this, as said, it vanishes altogether. 

But it is plain that this formal sameness is 
only for intelligence. The fixed meaning, as 
such, does not and cannot exist in space and 
time, for there everything is flowing and 
changing. The fixed meaning is simply what 
the object is for intelligence, but the thing 
conceived of as temporal never at any instant 
realizes that fixed meaning. The meaning is 
only successively translated into the temporal 
form, and never really exists except for the 
mind, which by means of it masters the flow 
ing succession. The symphony again illustrates 
the fact. The symphony never exists in time, 
and never can so exist except for a non-tern- 


poral consciousness. In the same way the flow 
ing world of change exists for us only through 
the system of changeless ideas, and these are 
impossible and meaningless apart from intelli 
gence. Thus intelligence appears as the su 
preme condition of the existence of those things 
which seem to us independent of all intelli 
gence. If the things themselves are really pro 
cesses in space and time, they become any 
thing articulate for us only through the ideas 
by which we fix the processes into a meaning. 
But, on the other hand, it is plain that these 
processes could not be grasped through these 
ideas unless they were really the expressions 
of ideas. It would be incredible that we should 
know things by ideas essentially unrelated to 
them ; and as the ideas by which the things 
are constituted are independent of us, there 
must be a supreme intelligence behind the 
i things which makes them the bearer or ex 
pression of the ideas. We cannot understand 
noises unless they are informed with thought, 
and they can be informed with thought only 
as there is a thinker at the other end. In the 


same way things can be grasped by thought 
only as they are the produces of thought. 

The same problem reappears in the debate 
between nominalism and realism, and this also 
admits only of an idealistic solution. The 
realist rightly holds that the particular is 
nothing except as the expression of an idea, 
and the nominalist rightly holds that the idea 
is nothing apart from concrete realization. A 
pure particular, without any universal element, 
would disappear entirely from thought ; and 
a pure universal, with no local habitation or 
name, would float in the air without contact 
with reality. There can be no living experi 
ence without both elements, and there can be 
no experience apart from an immanent intel 

These formal identities of classification, 
also, common sense would be fairly ready to 
hand over to phenomenalism. Classes as such 
have only conceptual existence ; but the case 
is thought to be different with things. There 
is in them a substantial identity, which re 
mains the same through change. In addition 


to the formal fixity of meaning, there is also 
a real sameness of being. Here, then, we have 
not merely the identity of logic, but also the 
concrete and substantial identity of things; 
and this, common sense holds, cannot be argued 
away into any shadowy phenomenality. This 
brings us to consider the problem of change 
and identity in impersonal things. 

On this point there have been two posi 
tions since the earliest times in philosophy. 
One school, the Eleatic, has held to identity 
and permanence in things and has excluded 
change from their existence ; the other, the 
Heraclitic, has maintained the reality of 
change and has found it impossible to dis 
cover any permanence in existence. Change 
penetrates into being itself, so that all things 
flow. Each school has been able to convict 
the other of irrationality, but on the imper 
sonal plane neither school has been able to 
set its own house in order so as to satisfy 
reason and logic. 

In criticism of the Eleatic view, it is plain 


that the changing world of experience, which 
is the fact immediately given, can never by 
any possibility bring us to a world of change 
less existences in any literal and absolute sense 
of the term ; for if there were a world of such 
changeless character, it could never be brought 
into any assignable relation to the changing 
world. We could never logically reach it from 
that world, and we could never make any use 
of it for the explanation of the changing 
world. The common-sense view of the matter 
seeks to make a kind of division of labor in 
the case of the thing, putting the permanence 
or identity into some back-lying core, and put 
ting the change into the activities or qualities 
of the thing. These are supposed to change, 
while the permanent core simply abides and 
maintains its identity. But it is manifest that 
this view is altogether impossible ; for if there 
be no change in things, there is no assignable 
reason why there should be any changes in the 
activities of things or among things. The rigid 
monotony and identity of substance must lead 
to an equally rigid monotony and identity of 


activity or manifestation of whatever kind. But 
since the actual world is a world of change 
and motion, we cannot, reasoning backward by 
the law of the sufficient reason, come to any 
thing unchanging, and in that sense perma 
nent. Common sense may be perfectly correct 
in saying that there must be something per 
manent, but it is certainly incorrect in finding 
that permanence in some rigidly changeless 
and identical substance. 

But, on the other hand, the disciple of uni 
versal change has failed to inquire what the 
perception or existence of such change would 
. demand. Manifestly if all things changed, 
I the thinking subject among the rest, the no- 
1 tion of change could never arise ; for it is only 
as this change is projected upon and con 
trasted with an abiding background of some 
kind, possibly the self-consciousness of the 
thinking subject, that even the conception of 
change is possible. We have already seen 
that the formal identity of meaning is neces 
sary in order to think at all; and now it 
appears that in some way an identity of the 


subject is equally necessary in order to make 
even the conception of change possible. 

Thus it appears that the only identities we 
can find in the thing world are the formal 
identities of logical meaning, and when we 
attempt to find anything more in the way of 
concrete identity in the thing world we look 
for it in vain. All that we come upon is fixity 
of form or process, and the only concrete iden 
tity we can find anywhere turns out to be the 
unity of the conscious subject. But this iden 
tity is not to be viewed as any rigid core of 
being, but rather as the self-equality of intel 
ligence through its experience, and the change 
which we discover is not a successive running 
off of events in abstract time, but is rather 
and only the form under which the self-equal 
intelligence realizes its conceptions under the 
relation of succession. On the impersonal 
plane this problem of change and identity ad 
mits of no solution. We cannot find the ab 
stract identity, and we cannot find the abstract 
changes when we look for them. We have 
simply a world of experience in which the same 


ideas and forms remain valid, and through 
which the conscious subject remains as the 
only fixed point to which everything, both 
permanence and change, has to be referred. 
Self -consciousness is the origin of ordinates in 
this field, and whenever we transfer the prob 
lem to the impersonal world of space and time 
and abstract principles, we soon find it eluding 
us or vanishing in insoluble contradictions. 

Similar reflections on the problem of caus 
ation, as metaphysics shows, would compel us 
to regard the so-called world of things as 
merely processes of an energy not their own ; 
such processes, then, would be necessarily phe 
nomenal. Having in themselves no substan 
tiality, they would become only phases of an 
activity beyond them. As such they would 
have only the permanence of a process which 
is essentially successive, and as such, again, 
they can exist only for intelligence ; that is, 
these supposed substantial things become like 
our symphony. In the symphony a musical 
idea is successively unfolded, and in the unity 
of that idea and the continuity of its manifes- 


tation through the activity of the performer 
and the receptivity of the audience the sym 
phony has its only existence; but in itself, in 
abstraction from the idea and the performer, 
it breaks up into an inarticulate and chaotic 
mass of sounds. In the same way impersonal 
things are reduced to processes in which a 
phenomenal form may be maintained or an 
idea continuously or successively manifested, 
but which nevertheless exists only in and 
through the continuous process and the abid 
ing meaning, and in abstraction from these 
they also became meaningless and as empty 
of significance as the symphony would be in 
abstraction from the performer and the audi 

These considerations serve to show that in 
telligence plays no small part in the existence 
of those things which we regard as existing 
independently of intelligence in space and 
time. Upon analysis we fail to find the sup 
posed core of being or stuff upon which com 
mon sense relies in its picture logic in this 
matter, and in place of it we discover simply 


the idea, the process, the succession, which 
needs intelligence to sum it up and inform it 
with meaning, so that it becomes anything 
intelligible and articulate for us. 

This result would be valid for the world of 
things in space and time, even if we supposed 
space and time to be themselves real existences 
as common sense views them. Even then the 
things of experience could be helped to real 
existence only through a constitutive and syn 
thesizing intelligence. But there are many 
reasons for saying that space and time them 
selves are only phenomena, and that of course 
carries with it the phenomenality of everything 
that appears in them, that is, the phenomenal 
ity of the whole system of objective experience. 

This view, however, seems so great a para 
dox as to border on the limits of absurdity if 
it does not transcend them. Nevertheless, it is 
a view to which we seem to be shut up, and 
the view to which reflective thought is quite 
generally coming. We will seek, therefore, to 
explain it, so as to remove something of the 


paradox and help ourselves to a better under 
standing of what it means. 

And, first of all, we must distinguish between 
phenomenal and ontological reality in the case. 
For experience, space and time are perfectly 
valid as forms or laws of the same. We can 
not have experience of a certain type which is 
non-spatial, neither can we have experience 
into which the temporal form does not enter. 
Phenomenally, then, space and time are real, 
that is, they are valid in and for our experi 
ence, and there can be no thought of deny 
ing this validity. In this sense, spontaneous 
thought is quite correct in maintaining the 
reality of space and time; but when on the 
other hand they are taken to be something 
independent of experience, lying beyond and 
behind experience as its pre-condition, then 
common sense has wandered into metaphysics 
and has hypostasized the conditions of experi 
ence into independent existences. In this way 
the two great phantoms of space and time have 
been produced, which have exercised so per 
nicious an influence in the history of thought. 


To common sense it is at first sight incred 
ible that this view should ever be held by any 
one, because it would seem that we are im 
mediately aware of ourselves as in space and 
time. And therefore only a person insane or 
irredeemably frivolous would think of arguing 
about their existence ; and moreover the exist 
ence itself is so manifest, so obvious, so unde 
niable, that there is no mystery about it, and 
no question as to its reality. 

So indeed it seems, but first of all episte- 
mology points out that space and time, how 
ever real they may be in themselves, cannot 
become real to us except as they are principles 
of thought or principles immanent in our 
mental operation. For us space, like all other 
things, exists only through our own mental 
construction, and apart from that construc 
tion, however real it might be, it would not 
exist for us at all. The primary fact epistemo- 
logically is that we relate our objects in the 
spatial and temporal form because of the space 
and time law immanent in intelligence ; and 
all our experiences or intuitions respecting 


space and time must be understood from the 
side of the mental law. Thus, with regard to 
space, we have no original intuition of an 
existing space which is one and infinite and 
all-embracing, but we relate all our objects of 
a certain kind in a common scheme in which 
we can find our way from any one to any 
other by a continuous and homogeneous pro 
cess. Hence we regard space as one. Again, 
this synthesis applies to all objects of a cer 
tain kind, so that we cannot conceive any 
such objects as lying beyond its range. Hence 
we regard space as all-embracing. Finally, 
the synthesis admits of no exhaustion, but 
rather provides for indefinite repetition. As 
we cannot exhaust number by counting, so 
we cannot exhaust space by any progressive 
synthesis. Hence we regard space as infinite. 
But the unity, the infinity, and the all-em 
bracing character of space depend entirely 
upon the nature of the space law. They are 
but the results of the inexhaustibility and uni 
versal applicability of the space law within its 
own sphere. 


The same is true for the unity and eternity 
of time. There is no immediate apprehension 
of time as anything one and eternal, but the 
time law by which we relate the objects of ex 
perience to one another and the conscious self 
admits of no exhaustion, and hence we regard 
time as eternal ; but the unity and eternity of 
time, like that of space, mean only the one 
ness and inexhaustibility of the synthetic law 
by which we relate objects. Now, given this 
law, we should have temporal and spatial ex 
perience, whatever the independent fact might 
be. Or we should have temporal and spatial 
experience if there were no objective space 
and time whatever. Illustration of this occurs 
in every vivid dream. The dream time and 
space have nothing in common with the time 
and space of waking experience. They are 
simply the form of the dream, the form which 
the mind itself gives to its dream objects; and 
when the dream breaks up and vanishes, we 
do not suppose that the space in which the 
dream occurred is left over for later dreams, 
but the space and time vanish with the dream 


experience, as simply the space and time of 
that experience. 

That this is the case with the dream expe 
rience every one will admit. We see that the 
space and time relations of the dream have 
nothing in common with our waking space 
and time relations, and we also see that those 
space and time relations are instituted by the 
mind in its dream activity such that the ob 
jects often stand out for us with all the vivid 
ness of waking experience. In such cases we 
have a clear illustration of the fact that the 
mind can build for itself an experience in the 
space and time form out of its own resources 
without any corresponding space and time in 
existence. But the same general view must be 
taken of our so-called real space and time. 
They are really only the form of our outer 
and inner experience. They consist of rela 
tions among the objects of experience, and if 
we should conceive the experience itself to be 
canceled there would be nothing left behind 
corresponding to space and time, so that in 
stead of being veritable somewhats in which 


things exist and events occur, they are rather 
and only the forms of experience and have 
their being only in and through intelligence 

The general reason for this conclusion is 
the fact that as soon as we break space and 
time from their connection with experience as 
its form, and regard them as something inde 
pendent of it which contains experience, then 
all manner of contradictions emerge at once 
and existence itself is made impossible. Thus 
in the case of space, the general law of space, 
when space is conceived of as independently 
existing, would be the mutual externality of 
points and parts. Every point and part is out 
side of every other point and part, and the 
distinction of points and parts admits of no 
end, the result being that space, conceived 
of as independently real, admits of indefinite 
division, and in that case the things which 
are in space would likewise admit of indefinite 
division, and in that case, again, being itself 
would be dispersed into endless plurality with 
out unity through the endless divisibility of 


space. Thus, conceive a cubic foot of space. 
It has in itself no unity except the formal one 
which we give it by calling it a cubic foot ; 
but in itself, if we make the cubic inch a unit, 
the cubic foot is not one but seventeen hun 
dred and twenty-eight, and each cubic inch is 
in the same condition ; and, again, there can be 
no unity, but plurality and mutual externality 
without end. If, however, we conceive a sub 
stance to exist in a real space of this kind, the 
same fact applies. If there were a cubic foot 
of such substance, then the parts in the seven 
teen hundred and twenty-eight cubic inches 
would also be mutually external, and these 
again could be divided indefinitely; and thus 
once more we lose ourselves in the infinite 
divisibility. These mutually external parts 
could be no true units, as each would lie out 
side of every other, and they could be held 
together and held apart only as we make each 
part the centre of attractive and repulsive 
forces of some sort, whereby each should pre 
scribe to every other its place ; and thus again 
the supposed unitary being would disappear 


in an indefinite plurality, to which no limit 
could be assigned. No unit could be found, 
because in the nature of such a process there 
is no unit possible. The nature of the space 
law forbids any unit in such a case. If, how 
ever, we regard space as only phenomenal, we 
then have to continue our divisions only so 
far as experience may indicate. We are not 
required to affirm an infinite extension and 
divisibility of space, but an indefinite exten 
sion and divisibility of phenomena ; for while 
the space law itself, like the law of number, 
contains no provision for stopping, its concrete 
application, as in the case of number, must 
always depend upon the nature of experience 
and not upon the abstract law itself. In that 
case, as Kant showed in the first two antino 
mies, we escape the impossibilities involved in 
the notion of a finite or infinite space or a 
finite or infinite divisibility of space. 

Similarly in the case of time, the notion of 
time as the form of our experience is perfectly 
simple and level to every intelligence. As 
Berkeley has it, I may make an engagement 


to meet a person at a certain place and a cer 
tain time, and every one understands what this 
means. But when I abstract from these rela 
tions of concrete experience and begin to con 
sider space and time in themselves, then I am 
lost and embrangled in inextricable difficul 
ties. Berkeley added that the consideration 
of this abstract time led him to "harbor odd 
thoughts" of his own existence. 

In the case of time these "embrangling" 
difficulties appear in the fact that time itself, 
considered as a real something flowing along, 
is full of contradictions. Indeed this con 
ception of time is the chief source of those 
puzzles by which, to use another phrase of 
Berkeley s, speculative thought in all ages has 
been so "miserably bantered." As specimens 
of the "bantering," consider the difficulty in 
the notion of a standing or flowing time. If 
Sme stands, then time as a whole exists, that 
\s, past and future coexist. Thus the time 
idea disappears. But if time as a whole flows, 
we can form as little idea of this as we can of 
a moving space. An infinite space that moved 


to the right, and left a spaceless void on the 
left, would be no more absurd than a moving 
time. Such a time must move out of itself in 
the past and leave a timeless void behind it, 
and it must move into a timeless void before 
it, or it must move into itself and telescope 
itself all of which notions are impossible. 
Again, supposing time to be substantially real, 
rather than a form of experience, it is clear 
that things can exist only in the present. 
They cannot exist in the past and they cannot 
exist in the future. But on the other hand 
they cannot exist in the present, for the pre 
sent is only the timeless plane of separation 
between the past and the future. If we should 
conceive the present itself to have duration in 
it, either we should have a past and future in 
the present, or we should deny the continuity 
of the temporal flow. But if, on the other 
hand, the present has no duration, then things 
cannot exist at all. Results like these make 
plain to us that we are on the wrong track in 
seeking to make time and space independent 
somethings apart from experience. They are 


rather the forms of that experience. They have 
their meaning only in relation to that experi 
ence, and considered in abstraction from that 
experience they become simply the portentous 
phantoms of unreflective thought, and, like all 
phantoms, they disappear upon investigation. 
What was said of the finitude or infinitude 
of space may be repeated respecting time. If 
time were a veritable existence, we should have 
to regard it as either finite or infinite ; but the 
case is different when time is made phenomenal. 
The time law, indeed, makes no provision for 
beginning or ending, but its concrete applica 
tion must always depend upon the nature of 
experience and not upon the abstract law itself. 
On the basis of experience we can affirm 
neither the finitude nor the infinitude of the 
temporal series, but must confine ourselves to 
what we find in experience. Hence to the claim 
that space and time must be either finite or 
infinite, and finitely or infinitely divisible, the 
claim out of which Kant developed the first two 
antinomies, the reply is that as forms of expe 
rience they are neither finite nor infinite, and 


that experience finds no occasion to decide for 
one or the other of these alternatives. 

To this result thought assuredly comes ; but 
some further exposition is needed to bring it out 
into clearness. For we and all things seem to be 
so manifestly in space and time that any argu 
ment against it, however irrefutable it might 
be in logic, would still produce no conviction. 
This thought rests to some extent on the over 
sight of the distinction already made between 
phenomenal and ontological reality. As we 
have so often said ; there is no thought of deny 
ing the phenomenal reality of space and time, 
but only their ontological existence. If, then, 
we are asked, Are things in space and time ? we 
answer, Yes, or no, according to the standpoint. 
Things are in space and time as having space 
and time relations in our experience. They are 
not in space and time as something independ 
ent of experience, and which would be there if 
experience were away. For the rest, the diffi 
culty in accepting the view rests on the failure 
to observe the relativity in the spatial and tem 
poral judgment which arise from the limitations 


of the judging subject. The whole matter 
takes on a different aspect from this stand 

In the previous lecture, when speaking of the 
relation of our mental forms to the independ 
ent object, we pointed out that these forms 
cannot be arbitrarily imposed upon the object, 
but that the object itself must have an affinity 
for some forms rather than others ; otherwise 
the connection of thought and thing would be 
purely a random one. But we cannot see the 
square as round, or the crooked as straight, or 
change the forms and positions of things at 
pleasure. And, in general, in order that spatial 
phenomena shall appear as they are and where 
they are, there must be something in the dy 
namic relations of the system which demands 
just this order and no other. The space rela 
tions, then, are not arbitrarily imposed upon a 
system which is indifferent to them; they are 
rather the translation into intuitional forms 
of the unpicturable dynamism of the system. 
The same is true for time relations also. We 
cannot reverse the time order so as to make the 


antecedent the consequent, or put yesterday 
after to-day. Here is an order which, while 
phenomenal, is also fixed ; and this fact can 
be understood only as the time relation is con 
nected with a deeper dynamic relation. From 
this dynamic standpoint both the spatial and 
the temporal judgment in their concrete ap 
plication are greatly modified, and their rela 
tivity is placed in a clearer light. 

We note this first in the case of space. 
"When we attempt to locate the percipient mind 
in space, we find it impossible to do so. The 
unity of the mental subject will not unite 
with the spatial form of existence. Neverthe 
less we have in our experience the antithesis of 
here and there, and all concrete judgments of 
space depend upon it. In the purely geometri 
cal judgment there is nothing concrete, and the 
whole matter lies within the spatial intuition. 
But in concrete experience the matter is differ 
ent, and the position of the person himself be 
comes the origin of all space judgments. The 
subject establishes himself in a central here, in 
antithesis to an all-surrounding there. Into this 


judgment the organism itself enters to a not 
able degree, and the here of the subject cannot 
be determined as a point in objective space, as 
that would eliminate the subject altogether. 
On the contrary, the here is determined by the 
subject s immediate activity. Instead of saying 
we act where we are, we must literally reverse 
the proposition and say we are where we im 
mediately act. No other definition of presence 
or location can be given. In that case our 
presence, or our here, becomes relative to the 
range of our immediate action. If we could 
act as immediately and effectively on things 
beyond the sea as we do upon things at arm s 
length, we should be as present beyond the sea 
as we are in our immediate neighborhood. Or 
if our organic activities embraced the whole 
earth as immediately and intimately as they 
embrace what we call our body, we should be 
present to the earth in the same sense as we 
are now present to the organism. Thus we see 
that concrete presence is nothing that can be 
geometrically determined in an absolute space, 
but is rather a function of our dynamic rela- 


tions. It is the dynamic relation that deter 
mines the space relations. And we also see 
that presence in space is relative to our dy 
namic range. Immediate action is presence ; 
immediate action on all things is omnipre 
sence. But neither presence nor omnipresence 
is to be conceived as filling a spatial volume 
by a limited or unlimited bulk. Now from 
I this dynamic point of view, being in space ac- 
| quires an entirely new meaning. We are not 
| in space as existing somewhere in a boundless 
j void or in a void of any kind ; but we are in 
! space as limited in our dynamic range and as 
1 able therefore to work only mediately on most 
things. It is this dynamic relation and limita 
tion which underlies our spatial experience. 
And so long as the limitation continues, so 
long we shall have the corresponding spatial 
limitation in experience. The ideality of space 
therefore does not permit us to transcend space 
in experience, but it does enable us to dismiss 
the great phantom of an all-embracing void. 
But only the infinite and absolute being can be 
said to transcend space in the sense of limita- 


tion. On the other hand, while space relations 
obtain among the objects of experience, the 
totality of things does not exist in space at all, 
but rather and only in the infinite conscious 
ness and will. If we will ask for the place 
of the world, we must say the Divine Intelli 
gence is that place, and this in turn is space 
less but establishes space relations. And the 
system of things spacelessly and unpicturably 
depends on the spaceless and unpicturable 

Much the same thing is to be said of the 
time judgment. There is a great deal here also 
that is relative to our human limitations, and 
for understanding the ideality of time it is 
necessary to bear this in mind. Time can be 
interpreted only from the side of experience, 
and more especially from the standpoint of 
self-consciousness. Experience, we have seen, 
cannot be in the present as a separate point 
of time, but rather the present is in experience. 
We cannot define the present as a point in 
an independent time, and if we could it would 
be simply the plane of separation between past 


and future, and existence would be made im 
possible. The present of experience is simply a 
relation in self-consciousness which gives the 
origin for all time measures and judgments, 
and the range of this present depends solely 
upon the range of the apprehending activity 
of the mind. The present, therefore, is no 
fixed measure, but is relative to our mental 
power. Epistemology shows that to introduce 
a real objective succession into thought would 
destroy it. Subject and predicate must be 
simultaneously grasped in one timeless act, 
or they fall asunder and thought cannot even 
begin. The present of experience therefore is 
not in some independent time, but is only a 
special relation in consciousness. The person 
who can grasp only a few things has a small 
present ; one who can grasp many things has 
a larger present; and one who can grasp all 
things has an all-embracing present or a 
changeless now. 

This bringing of the present, with the re 
sulting time judgment, into relation to activity 
greatly modifies the subject. Supposing time 


to be an independent fact, our experience is 
all in the past, for as soon as it occurs it passes 
with its date. In that case what we call our 
present consciousness becomes a memory of 
things which no longer exist. This result 
would lead to some grotesque inferences if it 
were duly analyzed. Fortunately the fact is 
otherwise. We call those things present which 
we possess in a certain immediacy of con 
sciousness ; and if we possessed all our expe 
riences in a similar immediacy, the whole ex 
perience would he present in the same sense. 
There would still be a certain order of arrange 
ment among the factors of experience which 
could not arbitrarily be modified, but all the 
members of the series would be equally present 
to consciousness. If now there were a being 
who could retain all the facts of his experience 
in similar immediacy, he would have no past ; 
and further, if such being were always in full 
possession of himself so as to be under no law 
of development and possessing no unrealized 
potentialities, he would also have no future, at 
least so far as his own existence might be con- 


cerned. His present would be all-embracing, 
and his now would be eternal. 

Taking up once more the question, Are we 
in time? we see that it has several meanings 
and the answers must vary to correspond. If 
it means, Are things and events in a real time 
which flows on independently of them ? the an 
swer must be, No. If it means, Does our expe 
rience have the temporal form? the answer 
must be, Yes. If we further inquire concern 
ing the possibility of transcending temporal 
limitation, it is clear that this can be affirmed 
only of the Absolute Being, for only in Him 
do we find that complete self-possession which 
the transcendence of time would mean. In 
this sense temporality is a mark and measure 
of limitation. 

We may be helped to some extent in the 
reception of this view if we remember the 
large element of relativity in our time judg 
ment in any case. Without going deeply into 
2netaphysics, we can see that if our present time 
rate were modified our estimate of time might 
be profoundly affected. We can easily conceive 


the present rate to be so modified as to make 
a day seem a thousand years or a thousand 
years a day. The life of an ephemeron might 
be stretched out into ages, or the slow motions 
of the hills might be made to seem like the 
shifting of the clouds. Or, if we should think 
away the various periodicities of experience, 
which are no necessities of thought, the 
changes of day and night, the movements of 
the seasons, the alternations of rest and labor, 
sleeping and waking, youth and age, it is hard 
to tell how much would be left of the time 
judgment. In fact nothing would be left 
except our conviction of antecedence and se 
quence among the factors of our experience, 
and our estimate of this would have in it 
a large element of relativity. Thus, suppose a 
mind were engaged in a process of thought 
which it could conduct without weariness, it 
is hard to see what temporality such a process 
would have ; or if a mind were engaged in any 
activity into which the element of weariness 
did not enter, again it would be fairly difficult 
to tell what the temporal element would mean 


for the working mind. The relation of ante 
cedence and sequence would remain, but that 
would be only the form of the activity and 
would not implicate the agent any more than 
the temporal form of a romance or drama would 
implicate the author. 

Thus we see that the space and time of 
experience are very different from the space 
and time of the geometrical and numerical 
intuition, and that they are very largely rela 
tive to ourselves. This relative element must 
of course be eliminated from the divine relation 
to space and time. Immediate action on all 
things means spatial omnipresence, and com 
plete self-possession and self-realization mean 
temporal omnipresence. The Absolute there 
fore cannot be included in any necessary and 
successive development without speculative dis 
aster ; and any temporal relations we may affirm 
must be limited to the cosmic system. But if 
we attempt to view this system as the projec 
tion of a corresponding temporal system in 
the divine consciousness, we commit ourselves 
to the infinite regress and end in an impossible 


dualism. The successive can exist only for the 
non-successive ; and self-possessing, self-suffi 
cient intelligence is the only thing that can be 
non-successive. But we are not to think of this 
Supreme Intelligence as a rigid monotony of 
being, but rather as the perfect fullness of life, 
without temporal ebb or flow. Until we reach 
this view, thought must remain in unstable 
equilibrium. The antithesis of the permanent 
and the changing is unmediated ; the infinite 
regress yawns for us ; and we fall back from 
personality, which alone explains anything, 
into some impossible impersonal mechanism. 
But we must bear in mind that this non-tem 
porality for God means essentially his abso 
lute self-possession and lack of our human 
limitations which grow out of our dependence. 
Otherwise we shall eliminate God from the 
cosmic movement altogether, and put Him out 
of all relations of sympathy with the world of 
finite spirits. Then the last end would be worse 
than the first. We escape this result by re 
membering that our problem is to explain the 
world of experience, and this cannot be done by 


affirming a staticably immovable and intellectu 
ally monotonous being, but only by positing 
a self-sufficient, self-possessing, all-embracing 
intelligence, which, as such, is superior to our 
finite temporal limitations. 

Now, gathering up these considerations, we 
see how completely phenomenal the whole sys 
tem of objective experience is. It is not some 
thing running off in an infinite space and time 
by itself, but is rather a great mental function 
depending upon self-consciousness and the 
synthetic activity of intelligence. But as we 
have said before, things are not thereby ren 
dered illusions. They remain still undeniable 
factors of experience, only we have discovered 
that intelligence itself is the great constitutive 
factor and condition of this experience. Things 
are still real, but real for intelligence ; and those 
outlying things in themselves, the noumejia of 
Kant s philosophy, or the unknowable of other 
systems, are to be looked upon as fictions of 
unclear thought. The thought sphere is all- 
embracing, and beyond it is nothing. Of course 
this does not mean simply the thought of the 


finite individual, but cosmic thought, on which 
the cosmic movement itself depends. 

A final word may be added respecting 
the ontolooncal character of mechanics and 


mechanical science. Metaphysics shows that 
neither matter, force, nor motion has any such 
existence as common sense attributes to them. 
Mechanics, then, must be looked upon as at 
best only a science of phenomena, and a good 
part of it must be viewed as of the nature of 
a device for calculation. The compositions and 
decompositions of forces and motions, the an 
alysis of motion into abstract laws, the break 
ing up of complex facts into simple ones, are 
to be looked upon as devices of method, and 
not as some actual process in reality. They are 
purely relative to ourselves, as much so as the 
degrees of the circle, or the meridians and par 
allels of the geographer. Considered as an ab 
stract logical system, the science of mechanics 
is of course perfectly valid. The manipulation 
of the assumed data is entirely independent 
of concrete facts ; but when it sets up to be an 


account of what is actually going on in space 
and time, we then have to point out the mis 
take. At the same time we also insist upon the 
practical value of the science, for as a matter 
of fact phenomena have laws. They come to 
gether, vary together, and succeed one another 
according to rule. These laws are largely 
spatial and temporal, and admit of geometric 
and numerical expression. Every such expres 
sion is valuable if it helps us to a knowledge 
of the order of phenomena, and especially if it 
gives any practical control of them. As said, 
they are useful if they help us; but consid 
ered as veritable transcripts of reality, they are 
only hypostasized abstractions. They do not 
give us the essential dynamism of the system. 
The true efficient causality lies in a realm into 
which science as such has neither the call nor 
the power to penetrate. It follows, then, that 
science must always be classificatory and de 
scriptive. In this field it has absolute right of 
way, and it is one of life s most useful hand 
maids ; but when it claims to be more than 
this and becomes metaphysical, it is pretty 


sure to err and stray from the way, and some 
times it falls into the pernicious errors of ma 
terialism and atheism. 

Of course on this view nature is phenomenal, 
existing only in and for intelligence. Nature 
itself is process, and it has continuity only for its 
cause and for the observer. In some sense, then, 
we may say that nature is never the same from 
one instant to another, as in a progressive 
piece of music the performance is continually 
varying. In one sense it may be called the same 
and in another sense not the same, but it really 
has sameness and continuity only for the per 
former and the audience. And it continually 
takes on the form which the musical idea calls 
for, and hence is continually becoming some 
thing else. This is the general view which we 
take of the natural system. As process it has 
continuity only for its cause and for the ob 
server, and the continuity consists simply in the 
continuity of the laws according to which the 
process moves, and the unity of purpose which 
underlies it. In the strictest sense a moving 
world has no continuity in itself, but only for 


the observing or producing mind. Apart from 
this mind, nature, supposing it to exist at all, 
would be but the mirage of vanishing phan 
toms, each and all perishing in the attempt to 
be born. But granting the observer and the 
phenomenal world, the only continuity possible 
would be the continuous validity of the laws 
and purposes of the process. New phenomena 
as events would differ from the old. however 
similar they might be. as another day is a new 
day. notwithstanding the likeness to old days ; 
but all the phenomena, new and old alike, would 
be comprehended in the same scheme of law 
and relation, and this fact constitutes the unity 
and continuity of the system. It does not con 
sist, then, in any rigid identity and monotony 
of the facts of the system from everlasting to 
everlasting, but in a subordination of all. new 
and old alike, to the same laws. 

In the next place it may be pointed out 
that on this general view many systems may 
be conceived as possible. Our human world, 
when we look at it carefully, has after all a 
large element of relativity. We look upon its 


contents and rightly view them as objective, 
that is, as independent of our human wills. 
But when we inquire into its contents we find 
that they largely consist of our own sense life 
put into rational forms, yet in such a way 
that if we should conceive the sense element 
dropped out it might be exceedingly difficult 
to tell what would remain. Take away the 
sense qualities and the resistances and the 
distances, all of which are relative to our 
selves, and we should find nothing left that 
could be called a world ; and so, however 
much we may regard this human world of 
ours as being objectively founded, we must 
nevertheless query whether it be not after all 
a certain human world only and of such a sort 
that we are not able to affirm it to have any 
existence for beings who might be differently 
constituted from ourselves in their sensuous 
nature. The world of ether, for instance, is 
not adjusted to our senses, and it has there 
fore only a theoretical existence for us. We 
cannot make anything out of it for ourselves, 
beyond a somewhat obscure assistant of our 


optical equations; and, on the other hand, 
many of our solid things seem to be practi 
cally transparent for various influences which 
we seem to detect. It is, therefore, by no 
means an impossible thought that the things 
which are solid for us might be vacua for 
others, and the things which are vacua for us 
might be solid for others. 


This leads again to the surmise, mentioned 
in the last lecture, that there may be widely 
different systems of reality for beings who are 
differently constituted, or for the same beings 
in different stages of their development. Being* 
in this world means nothing more than having 
a certain form and type of experience with cer 
tain familiar conditions. Passing out of this 
world into another would mean simply, not 
a transition through space, but passing into a 
new form and type of experience differently 
conditioned from the present ; and how many 
of these systems are possible, or to what extent 
this change might go, is altogether beyond 
us. Of course these many systems would all 
be objectively founded ; that is, they would be 


rooted in the will and purpose of the Creator ; 
and they would also be one in the sense that 
the creative purpose would embrace them all 
in one plan ; but they would not be one in the 
sense of being only phases or aspects of one ab 
solute reality. They would be stages in God s 
unfolding plan, but not aspects of a static uni 
verse. This static universe is a phantom of ab 
stract thought. Apart from the finite spirit, 
the only reality is God, and his progressively 
unfolding plan and purpose and work. 

Thus we find reason, first, for limiting our 
affirmations in any concrete sense to our hu 
man world ; and, second, for keeping open the 
door of possibility. As we have said in the 
previous lecture, the possibilities of conscious 
ness seem unbounded. We have here and now 
only a simple experience, and it is permitted to 
us to think that we may yet pass into new types 
of experience in which new possibilities of con 
sciousness shall be realized. Of course, so far 
as positive conception is concerned, this is 
only a dream. But yet it may be well to keep 
the way open, for dreaming is sometimes a 


useful exercise, provided always we distin 
guish what we dream from what we know. 

For common sense the world of things is 
something which, for the present at least, 
exists by itself without any assistance from 
intelligence. But upon reflection it appears 
that this world is a function of intelligence 
in such a way that apart from intelligence it 
has neither existence nor even meaning. Space 
and time existence and self-conscious existence 
exhaust the possibilities for us. Any other 
conception is purely verbal and without any 
corresponding thought. But space and time 
existence is phenomenal only, existing only 
for and through intelligence. Thus the claim 
of personalism is being established. 



THE world may be considered from the stand 
point of contents and meaning. From this 
point of view a world of rational contents 
and meanings leads us to affirm a supreme 
reason behind it all as its essential source 
and abiding condition. The meanings we find 
are really there for intelligence, but they 
are there only through intelligence. But the 
world must be regarded also from the stand 
point of causality. It is not merely an idea, 
it is also a deed. It is not merely a pre 
sentation to us which ends in itself, it is also 
a revelation of the cosmic activity of the 
Supreme Will. Some idealists would seem to 
have held the former view, and it must be 
admitted that as a psychological possibility 
it cannot be disproved ; at the same time the 
total impression of experience is such that it 


cannot be allowed. The world has a history 
and an existence apart from us. God s cos 
mic activity is not confined to producing pre 
sentations in us, but is rather directed to pro 
ducing the great cosmic order itself, which 
thus has existence for Him apart from its 
relation to us. Thus the world becomes not 
merely a thought, but a thought expressed in 
act. It is God s idea ; it is also God s deed. 
Both elements are necessary for the full ex 
pression of our thought respecting the world. 
Of course, if any one chooses to say that the 
world is only a presentation in us and is no 
great system of activity apart from us, no 
sufficient logical injunction can be issued 
against him. But no injunction would be 
necessary ; simple contact with experience 
would soon dispose of the notion. 

This insight introduces us to the question 
of causality. We have now to extend our 
personal interpretation of the world into the 
field of causality, by showing that this cat 
egory also vanishes in contradiction until 
raised to the personal plane. By causality in 


the proper sense we mean dynamic deter 
mination. There is a logical determination 
of ideas and relations which is not dynamic. 
Such is the case with the premises which 
determine a conclusion, or with the sides of 
a figure which determine the angles. There 
is nothing dynamic here. But it is otherwise 
with antecedents and consequents, or with 
concomitant variations among things. Here 
there is more than a time relation of co 
existence or sequence ; there is also a rela 
tion of dynamic determination which we call 
causal. This we now proceed to examine. 

This notion of causality on examination 
proves so difficult that many have denied 
both the idea and the fact. This is generally 
due to some exigency of system. The em 
piricists have studied to reduce the idea to 
succession, saying that by causality we really 
mean invariable sequence, and if we think 
we mean more than this, it is due, as Hume 
said, to " a mental propensity to feign." This 
claim, of course, results from their empirical 


doctrine. According to that, sensation is the 
only original mental fact, and out of it all 
later conceptions are built. But as simple 
sensation has in it no causality, but is only 
a simple impression in the sensibility, there 
is no way of reaching the idea of causality 
from their data. Accordingly, it must be re 
duced to invariable sequence, because their 
system provides for nothing else. Again, 
some rationalists have taken offense at the 
idea as not fitting well into their logical 
scheme. Logic, simply as an order of inclu 
sion and exclusion, or the relation of pre 
mises to conclusions, makes no provision for 
dynamics, and equally no provision for time 
in any form. Accordingly, rationalists of this 
kind have their own manifest troubles with 
the idea, and conclude before long that the 
idea must be ruled out altogether. Any ra 
tionalistic theory must do this that seeks to 
construct a theory of intelligence without 
including the will. The traditional intuition- 
alists also have seldom been clear as to the 
form of the idea, and have oscillated con- 


fusedly between power and will and other 
conceptions even more abstract. Because of 
such confusion and the practical barrenness 
of the question in the concrete, Comte ad 
vised us, as we have seen, to give up causal 
inquiry entirely as useless in any case. The 
agnostics also recognize the causal inquiry 
as one we are bound to make, but one we 
can never answer. Practically, then, we must 
be positivists, as we have said, with, how 
ever, a sense of omnipresent mystery on 
which all things depend and to which we re 
fer whenever we get into speculative trouble. 
Common sense, however, has no difficulty in 
the case. It believes in causality and finds it 
permanently in sense objects, and there is no 
mystery about them or their activities. 

We must agree with common sense as to 
the necessity of affirming causality, and no 
theorist has ever escaped this necessity. Even 
those who deny causality always assume it in 
one place or another. Thus the thoroughgoing 
empiricist, who, like Hume, reduces causality 
to nothingness and unconnected succession, 


forthwith proceeds to deny his own view by 
explaining how our later ideas arise, or are pro 
duced by their antecedents. Of course on that 
theory this is hopelessly inconsistent, for no 
thing arises from anything, or is due to any 
thing; but certain things were, and certain 

O O 

other things are; but in the sense of a deter 
mining connection nothing is because anything 
was, but everything simply is, is for no reason 
whatever. This inconsistency, as said, is one 
that no empirical system has ever succeeded 
in avoiding, and, if it should avoid it, at once 
our thought system would become a curious 
sort of apriorism in which the influence of 
experience vanishes entirely, and any insight 
which we may have or acquire is not to be 
referred to any past experience, but stands 
absolutely in its own right. It is further plain 
that on such a view the system of objective 
thought would perish altogether, for in that 
case things, if real, would be mutually indif 
ferent and non-existent. Events would be 
groundless, and experience would fall asun 
der into chaos. Our perceptions, too, could 


never be related to a real world in any way, 
and would be only groundless phenomena in 
the individual consciousness. Thus perception 
would perish in solipsism, and being itself 
would become only the momentary and vanish 
ing presentation. Nihilism would be the end. 
We conclude, therefore, that the idea and 
fact of causation cannot be dispensed with in 
any philosophical system. 

At the same time, however, it is manifest 
that this does not decide the form of the idea 
and the location of the causality. Causality as 
the ground of cosmic changes is to be affirmed 
beyond any question, but whether it is to be 
located in the things of sense perception or in 
some power beyond them, is not yet apparent. 
And whether it is to be conceived as imper 
sonal power or as living active intelligence 
also remains to be decided. The phenomenal- 
ity of the sense world has a profound bearing 
on the location of causality and also on its 

But the subject itself is so complex that we 
need to distinguish the factors that enter into 


it lest we lose ourselves in confusion. In addi 
tion to the validity of the idea, we have, as we 
have just seen, the question of form and loca 
tion, and we have also a use of the word in 
popular speech and inductive science which 
must be noted if we would have the metaphys 
ical problem clearly before us* If we divide 
We may conquer. 

Let us distinguish, then, first of all, causal 
ity in the inductive sense from causality as 
dynamic or productive efficiency. The first 
may be called causality in the scientific sense, 
the second causality in the metaphysical sense. 

A large part of our speech into which the 
idea of causality apparently enters is con 
cerned only with inductive causality, and this 
is really a question of phenomenal relations 
merely, and does not touch the question of 
causality at all. We illustrate the distinction. 

As a matter of fact, we find that events 
occur under certain conditions. When the con 
ditions are fulfilled the event appears. We may 
call the total group of conditions the cause, 
and upon occasion we may call any one of the 


conditions the cause. The complete cause and 
the only adequate one is the whole group. 
Nevertheless, if the group were given with the 
exception of one member, we should call that 
member the cause of the event which would fol 
low its addition to the group. Any event with 
complex antecedents would have only one ade 
quate cause, but it might also be said to have 
as many causes as antecedents. Or any one of 
these might upon occasion complete the group 
and then be viewed as the cause. This is caus 
ality in the inductive sense. It has nothing to 
do with efficiency, but only with the order in 
which events occur. In other words, we find 
when we look into experience an order of con 
comitant change and an order of invariable 
succession. When we have change here, there 
is change yonder, fixed in kind and in degree. 
This for practical purposes may be called the 
interaction of the things, but it is really only 
the fixed order in which these concomitant 
changes occur together. Similarly, in the case 
of succession we find that when certain ante 
cedents are given, certain consequents result. 


And this we may call causation, again. But, 
in fact, it is merely the fixed order in which 
events succeed one another. 

That the study of this order, or the way in 
which things hang together in the order of 
change, is of the utmost importance, is plain 
upon inspection. The chief part of practical 
wisdom lies in our knowledge of it. This study 
must be pursued inductively, and not specu- 
latively. It can be prosecuted on any theory 
of metaphysics, and need not concern itself, 
except in the most general way, about meta 
physics at all. The phenomenal conditions 
under which events occur, are quite distinct 
from the metaphysical agency by which they 
are brought about, and they may be studied 
by themselves. By insisting on this distinction 
we make a field for inductive study unembar 
rassed by metaphysical scruples, and we also 
rescue the metaphysical problem from the ct)n- 
fusion which results from confounding the 
empirical and the metaphysical points of view. 

It is further plain that this is all that is 
needed for science and practical life. We may 


well believe that there is some hidden causa 
tion in play, but we do not need it for practi 
cal purposes. Neither do we observe it. It is 
a thought problem, and not a problem for in 
duction. In electricity we need not have any 
theory about the metaphysics of electricity. 
We need only to know that certain changes, 
which we call electric, follow upon certain 
other changes which we may produce, and 
that they in turn result in still other changes. 
When we know this law of succession we have 
all that we need for the practical application 
of what we call electricity. The thing itself 
may be never so mysterious, but whatever it 
may be, we know in experience that the order 
of sequence is such and such, and then by 
producing the antecedents we get the conse 
quents. The power at work finds out for it 
self how to produce the consequents, but we 
need to know only the actual order and law of 
change. Similarly in chemistry, we need have 
no theory of the elements themselves or no 
deep metaphysics. We need only to know 
that things which we call chemical bodies may 


be so manipulated that certain other things 
will result. Given this knowledge, we have 
all that we need to know for the complete de 
velopment of chemistry as a practical science. 
So also in astronomy, we need have no theory 
of gravitation in its metaphysical nature. We 
need only to know that the acceleration of 
bodies takes place according to the formu 
lated law of gravitation. Given this, we are 
able to construct our equations and find the 
whereabouts of the planets without any theory 
whatever of a metaphysical nature. We may 
still believe, or indeed may be sure, that there 
is causality in the case, but yet sense does not 
reveal it or locate it. We do not need any 
theory of it for practical purposes. Without 
doubt the underlying causality will find out 
for itself how to do the work. We need only 
to know the rules according to which the work 
is done. Milton had an angel leading the earth 
around the sun. The astronomer could get 
along just as well with the angel as with some 
theory of central forces, provided of course the 
angel brought his accelerations and motions 


under the law of the relative masses and the 
inverse square of the distance. In that case 
the astronomer could locate the angel as well 
as the planet, and would be quite indifferent 
whether the planets were moved by angels or 
by central forces of whatever kind, since all 
he needs to know is that the motions take place 
according to the law as formulated. Similarly 
in mechanics the causal idea is needless. This 
has long been thought to be a dynamic science, 
since one department of it bears the title of 
dynamics ; nevertheless it has been reduced to 
a set of equations of relation, from which all 
properly causal relations have been eliminated. 
And this is rightly regarded as a great ad 
vance by the masters of the science, so that 
there is no longer anything dynamic whatever 
in science, whether observational or theoreti 
cal, but simply a study of the way in which 
phenomena hang together in the observed or 
der of law. Of course, as said, this does not 
deny the idea of causation, but simply locates 
it in another realm. 


We now pass to causality in the sense of 
dynamic efficiency. The necessity of affirming 
a causal ground is stringent, and, as we have 
said, no theorist has ever succeeded in long 
maintaining a denial of it. But it is not so 
easy to fix the form and place of that ground 
as we might at first sight think. The tradi 
tional intuitionalist has been very strenuous 
in maintaining the reality of causation, against 
Hume and all his disciples, but he has been a 
little hasty in locating the causality he affirms, 
and quite unclear as to its meaning. In par 
ticular, he has located it with all assurance 
between the physical antecedent and the phys 
ical consequent. Under the influence of his 
crude realism, he has regarded both of these as 
things in real space and time ; and as he could 
see nothing else in the neighborhood, of course 
the antecedent must become the efficient cause. 
Hence this realism has had no end of causes, 
of which the existence is never to be doubted. 
But as soon as we come to distinguish be 
tween phenomenal and ontological reality and 
to reflect upon the antithesis of the phenome- 


nal and the real, this dogmatic assurance be 
gins to be shaken. It is possible antecedent 
to reflection that the cause is found in the 
things of perception, but it is equally possible 
that these things are only phenomenal pro 
cesses of an energy beyond them and mani 
festing itself in them, in which case the caus 
ality is no longer in them but elsewhere. This 
is the conception which physicists themselves 
now largely hold, and to which physical dis 
covery more and more lends itself. This view, 
it will be seen, does not question the reality 
of causation in the case. It only questions its 
location and the form in which we conceive 
it. That in interaction and causal sequence I 
we really see no causality but only changer 
according to rule for which we affirm and seekj 
causality, is a commonplace since the time of 
Hume and Kant. We may be sure that there 
is causality in play, but whether in the things 
themselves or beyond them is not plain. This 
brings us to consider the notion of efficient 
causality, its form and location. 

We have seen in the previous lecture how 


difficult it is to connect being at all with time. 
We there found that no being that has its 
existence successively and without any non- 
temporal principle can be said properly to 
exist at all. It is a flow in which nothing flows 
and nothing abides. The same applies to caus 
ality. In the universal flow we have a causing 
in which nothing causes, and a continual 
changing for which no abiding ground can 
be discovered. This view makes all thought 
impossible. There are no abiding subjects and 
no abiding predicates, but only a vanishing 
razzle-dazzle in the place of both. In addi 
tion some further puzzles emerge in the case 
of causality, arising from the relation of the 
past to the present and the future in any 
system of mechanical and realistic thought. 

First, it is plain that if the future is to be 
the product of the past or is to be explained 
by the past, it must in some way be included 
in the past. Otherwise it is a groundless be 
coming; the law of connection and reason van 
ishes, and experience falls hopelessly asunder. 
If we could exhaustively think the past without 


finding the future in it, in the sense of being 
necessitated by it, the future would be ground 
less ; and if on the other hand we find the 
future in the past, we are at a loss to know 
just what this means. The future was not in 
the past, in the sense of being present there, 
and yet must have been in the past in the 
sense of being necessitated by it or grounded 
in it. Otherwise it could never have risen out 
of it. Now how can these things be ? 

Manifestly this problem is not a fictitious 
one, but arises necessarily out of the attempt 
to think causality in relation to time. We 
cannot allow the future to be independent of 
the past without dissolving all connection so 
that thought itself would perish; but when 
we make the future dependent on the past we 
are bound to make some provision in the past 
for it, and it is not easy to see just what this 
will be. 

Here we help ourselves by a word which in 
one form or another has been with us since 
the time of Aristotle ; and no more striking 
illustration can be found of the ease with 


which problems can be verbally solved to ou/.> 
entire satisfaction, though the solution really 
solves nothing. The word in the case is 
J potentiality. The present and future were not 
in the past actually, but potentially ; and this 
word is to a great many so satisfying that 
no questions remain after it is pronounced. 
And yet manifestly this solution makes more 
problems than it solves. This potentiality 
must in some way have been an actual deter 
mination of the real ; otherwise it would ex 
plain nothing. It was, then, an actuality of 
some sort, and yet not an actuality of a strictly 
actual type. But how to represent the differ 
ence between a potential actual and an actual 
actual is something quite beyond us. If we 
have recourse to description and say that 
potential means only that future conditions 
develop out of past conditions, we see at once 
that " develop out of " in a strict sense has 
the same difficulties, for how can that come 
out which was in no sense in ? But if we mean 
only that new conditions temporally follow old 
conditions, then we affirm mere succession 


and miss the idea of ground and connection 

If our aim were only to talk without very 
much thinking, then probably the best method 
would be to write or pronounce the word 
potentiality and its derivatives with all pos 
sible gravity, and consider the problem as 
sufficiently solved ; but if in addition to talk 
ing we also desire to think, we might well in 
quire whether this notion of potentiality re 
presents any real thought whatever, or if so, 
then under what form it must be conceived. 
"We shall do well to recall here some things 
said in our second lecture. We there pointed 
out that all these terms of the understand 
ing in themselves are only forms of thought 
which leave it entirely undecided whether there 
be any concrete reality corresponding to them, 
and we said that they have application only as 
we find some concrete experience which illus 
trates them. Otherwise they are abstractions 
without any real content, or they are formal 
principles which float in the air until some 
concrete experience tells us what their actual 


meaning is. Now in the case of potentiality 
it is clear that when we are thinking on this 
problem of the relation of past and future, 
we must provide for this fact which we name 
potentiality. But when we thus name it we 
have not yet found the form under which it 
is to be conceived, and the further fact is that 
on the impersonal plane nothing whatever can 
be found which shows us that the fact is in 
any way thinkable. There is nothing whatever 
in experience which indicates to us that the 
problem contained in the word admits of any 
solution, and it is not until we bring the mat 
ter up from the plane of necessity and imper 
sonal causation to the personal plane that we 
get any hint that the problem can be solved 
at all. Potentiality is a clear notion only on 
the plane of freedom. Here it means the self- 
determination of the free agent. It is the fact 
that the free agent can do or not do, that he 
has therefore various possibilities open to him, 
and these we may speak of as potentialities. 
Here the problem is solved in experience, and 
we find a possible and permissible meaning to 


the words. But on the plane of the necessary 
it is pure opacity. It must be something which is 
at once real and not real, actual and not actual. 
Unless we can master this, the alternative is to 
refer all motion, progress, development, evolu 
tion, to a supreme self-determination which 
ever lives and ever founds the order of things. 
In that case the past is not potential of the 
future, any more than the summer is poten- 
tial of the winter, or the setting of the sun is 
potential of the rising of the moon; but both 
past and future are phases of a movement 
which abuts on freedom, and of which the suc 
cessive phases are but implications and mani j 
festations of the one thought which is the law 
and meaning of the whole. This is a meaning 
of potentiality that finds illustration in experi 
ence, and is understood through experience. 
In any other sense it eludes us altogether, and 
only expresses a problem for which on the im 
personal plane we can find no solution. 

In popular thought mechanical and voli 
tional causality are differentiated by their re- 


lation to time. The former is pushed out of 
the past, the latter looks toward the future. 
This is essentially the form of intellectual 
causality, the great mark of which is the for 
ward look. It is causality self-moving toward 
ends which lie before; hence, it is called final 
causality, or a causality which looks toward 
ends. In mechanical causality what was deter 
mines what is; in volitional causality free in 
telligence chooses things which are to be and 
works for their realization. It is between these 
conceptions that we have to decide. 

But before proceeding to the discussion we 
point out in passing that the inductive argu 
ment for intelligence in the power behind 
phenomena rests chiefly on this forward look 
on things. Mechanical causality in itself is a 
resultant of past conditions, and has no refer 
ence to future ends. Everything is product 
and nothing is purpose. But in final causality 
the movement is toward ends which are to be 
realized, so that the present is determined with 
reference to the future, and this is possible 
only as causality becomes free and purposive. 


The future as such cannot determine the 
present. This is possible only as the future 
results exist as present conceptions in con 
sciousness for the realization of which intelli 
gence is acting. Apart from intelligence final 
causality is literally preposterous, as Spinoza 
said ; for it turns the effect into a cause of 
itself. It is plain, too, that this inductive ar 
gument depends solely upon the relation of 
present and future, and not upon any details 
of method. Historically the argument has 
largely proceeded upon some particular con 
ception of method, and thus has seemed weak 
or worthless when the conception of method 
changed. Hence the doctrine of evolution has 
seemed to many to weaken the argument for 
purpose in nature. In fact, however, for all 
who see in the antecedent stages of evolution 
a preparation for things to come, or the earlier 
phases of a progressive movement, the facts 
of evolution become the most impressive of all 
the inductive arguments for purpose in the 
world ; for in that case the entire movement 
in its great outlines has the forward look, and 


is thereby marked as rooting in the causality of 
intelligence. And the argument becomes more 
impressive than the argument from detailed 
marks of special contrivance, by as much as its 
boundless range in space and time transcends 
the petty extensions and durations of the tra 
ditional discussion. We return now to the main 
question of mechanical or volitional causality. 
Mechanical causality for spontaneous 
thought is the great type. Such thought is 
busy mainly with material and mechanical ob 
jects, and hence its conception of causality 
necessarily takes on a material and mechanical 
form. Thus mechanical causation tends to be 
come the great type, if not the only type, of 
causation, while volitional causality is looked 
upon as something portentous and anomalous. 
And if it be allowed at all, the attempt is often 
made by some doctrine of determinism, or voli 
tional necessity, to reduce it to the mechanical 
form. This conception is manifestly dependent 
on the notion of an independently existent 
time, which is supposed to be the supreme 
law of all other existence. The things that 


were, were the causes of the things that are ; 
and all causality is from the past to the future, 
as a kind of universal parallelogram of forces 
according to which antecedents determine 
their consequents, and so the stream goes on 
unceasingly. When this is connected with the 
space form, material and mechanical causation 
seems to be the only possible type of causality. 
Thus the great space and time phantoms are 
seen to be the source of the mechanical con 
ception. But when we recall the ideality of 
space and time, this view at once begins to lose 
its self -evidence. Indeed, this ideality reduces 
every doctrine of mechanism to phenomenal 
significance, and deprives it of all claim to 
represent the essential dynamics of the world. 
Its value lies entirely in its practical conven 
ience, and it must never be allowed to intimi 
date us into supposing that it is the real fact 
of existence. We might, then, set the mechan 
ical doctrine aside without further discussion; 
but there are certain confusions in the doc 
trine, even on its own temporal basis, which 
it is worth while to point out. In this way we 


may succeed in loosening our dogmatic faith 
in the chimera. 

A little reflection soon reveals that this me 
chanical causality is far from being the easy 
notion it at first sight seems to be. By its es 
sential nature it is supposed to be conditioned 
by its antecedents. The effect cannot be given 
until the antecedents are given, and when 
they are given it is given. But this involves a 
pair of contradictions, neither of which can be 
removed. In such a scheme, and assuming the 
independent reality of time, the whole series 
of causal events must coexist or run off in the 
same instant. For unless we make the gro- 


tesque assumption that empty time does some 
thing, we must allow that when the dynamic 
conditions are completed the effect is there 
without delay. Hence in the mechanico-tem- 
poral series, as soon as the dynamic antece 
dents are given the consequents are given, and 
their consequents in turn are given, and so on 
to the end of the series, so that the beginning 
and the end temporally coincide. This is one 
member of the antinomy. 


The other member consists in the infinite 
regress which this conception of causality in 
volves. On this view everything refers to some 
thing behind it, and so on in endless regress. 
Hence the real ground of everything lies be 
yond and below the horizon and can never 
be reached. Thus the law of causation itself 
disappears. There can be no causality on this 
view without a first, and on the other hand 
this view forbids us ever to find a first. There 
can be no first moment in time, for back of 
any moment there is an indefinite number 
of moments. Likewise there can be no first in 
a mechanical order of conditioned causality, 
without assuming something non-mechanical 
beyond it. The causal idea demands com 
pleteness in the series of conditions, and it 
never can be completed on the mechanical 
plane. No first day or first night can be found 
by any regress along the series of days and 
nights as such, for each day has a preceding 
night and each night a preceding day. 

In the very old days, when animals had the j 
gift of speech, the cat waited on the owl to j 


know what philosophy deals with. The owl 
replied, "Philosophy considers such questions 
as this : Which was first, the hen or the egg?" 
" Why," said the cat, " that question admits 
of no answer." " Of course not," rejoined the 
owl, "and for that I give the gods very great 
thanks. For only consider : what would we 
philosophers have to do if the question were 

This fable well illustrates the impossibility 
of reaching a first by any regress in a condi 
tioned series, or a series of conditioned mem 
bers. We can indeed describe the temporal 
relations of the hens and eggs, and this serves 
all practical purposes; but the hen-and-egg 
series can never be explained in this way. Re 
gress, however long continued, does not even 
tend to explain it. It is like seeking to sup 
port a chain by adding extra links to the upper 
end, yet without providing any hook for the 
support of the whole. This is the second 
member of the antinomy. 

But here it may occur to us that there is 
no more need to affirm a dynamic first than 


there is to affirm a temporal first ; and since 
time itself is unbegun, causality also may be 
unbegun. This calls attention to a curious 
difficulty in the notion of an independently 
existing time. There certainly can be no first 
in an independent time, for back of any mo 
ment whatever in a temporal series an indefi 
nite number of earlier moments could be found. 
But if there be no real first there is equally 
no real second, or any other number, with the 
result that all finite time measures are purely 
relative and have no significance in the infini 
tude of time. The conclusion would be that 
the time of experience is relative to experience 
only, and we could never relate it to the infinite 
time of abstraction. We have simply another 
argument for the phenomenality of experienced 
time, and the non-existence of this self-exist 
ent time, which is but the phantom shadow 
of the temporal process abstracted from expe 
rience. Not in this way can we escape the ne 
cessity of a dynamic first, that is, a dynamic 
act which refers us to no other. In this sense 
every truly causal act is a dynamic first. The 


true cause is never to be sought at the unattain- 


able beginning of an infinite series, but is rather 
immanent throughout the series, as the living 
power by which all things exist and all events 
come to pass ; and this cause is as near and as 
active in the last as in the first. 

To the infinite regress, then, and the result 
ing failure of the causal idea we are certainly 
shut up if we adopt a temporal and linear con 
ception of the hen-and-egg type. The hen-and- 
egg series demands explanation as much as 
any particular hen or egg ; and no particular 
hen or egg is really explained until the hen- 
and-egg series is also accounted for which 
it never can be by any endless regress. This 
is so manifest that the general effort has been 
to exchange the linear causality for an abid 
ing cause, which was and is and is to come, 
and this cause abides from age to age, so that 
we have no succession of causes, but only one 
cause throughout the series of effects. We 
seem in this way to escape the infinite regress, 
also, as we have only to refer effects to this 
cause without further specification. We may 


also drop the word mechanical, which is a 
little too suggestive of the coarse machines 
of human contrivance to apply to this invis 
ible and unpicturable energy; and instead of 
it let us rather speak of necessary causality in 
distinction from volitional causality. Thus we 
find the fixed and abiding one in the chang 
ing and passing many. 

This looks well until examined, and it cer 
tainly sounds better than the previous putting; 
but it really shows good intentions rather than 
insight into the problem. In fact, we have in 
it once more the attempt of common sense 
to find something which abides through the 
world of change. It allows that a succession 
of causes as distinct things would never do, 
but it is quite clear that an impersonal cause 
might well exist as one and the same from 


everlasting to everlasting, and produce a great 
variety of effects without losing its proper 
identity. There is in the view, however, the 
common-sense oversight of the dialectic in the 
metaphysics of change and identity. In discuss 
ing that problem, we found in the last lecture 


that on the impersonal plane no identity can 
be discovered. We came to the phantasmagoric 
flux of Heraclitus, which is the destruction of 
both thought and thing. We also saw the 
impossibility of making any use of the world 
of rigid identity, in case we found it. In the 
view before us all this is overlooked, and it 
is assumed as a matter of course that both 
change and identity can be united in the 
impersonal. But when this is seen to be im 
possible, we no longer have one cause or one 
being, or indeed any cause or being whatever, 
but simply a causing in which nothing causes 
and nothing is caused, and a movement in 
which nothing moves and nothing is moved. 
We have a kind of metaphysical vermiform 
peristalsis, or peristaltism, in which nothing 
worms itself along from nothing to nothing, 
and is mistaken for something on the way. A 
moving body without continuity and identity 
would not be a moving body, but only a suc 
cession of optical phenomena ; and if there 
were no observer, not even this could exist. 
The impersonal changing cause is in this case. 


Its unity and identity are not in the flow it 
self, but in the observing mind ; and when that 
is removed, there is nothing articulate left. In 
addition, it is clear that the view does not 
escape the infinite regress if it assumes that 
this causing is in time ; for instead of an infi 
nite series of conditioned causes, we have an 
infinite series of conditioned causings, each of 
which points to an earlier causing, and we 
are no better off than before. 

All that we bring away from these crude 
notions is the conviction that causality must 
be affirmed, but that it cannot be conceived in 
the mechanical and temporal form. The sug 
gestions of uncritical common sense prove to 
be only phrases which contain a problem rather 
than a real solution. In every mechanical doc 
trine of causality every present change finds 
its causality in an infinite regress, which can 
never be completed and in which thought 
perishes. In volitional causality we trace the 
act to the personal purpose and volition, and 
there the regress ceases. 

Another difficulty in the mechanical notion 


is its tautology. Whenever we think of caus 
ality on the plane of mechanical necessity, we 
find ourselves forthwith reduced to motions 
which contain no progress. What may be 
called the law of the logical equivalence of 
cause and effect in all necessary schemes of 
thought at once confronts us. The cause 
which is to explain an effect in such a system 
must always be the cause which in principle 
contains the effect. If it did not contain it, it 
would not explain it. But if, on the other 
hand, it contains it, then the explanation is 
tautologous, because the explanation itself 
contains the very fact to be explained. If we 
could think the cause exhaustively without 
finding the effect provided for in it, it would 
not explain the effect ; but if we find the effect 
already provided for in the cause, then the 
effect is indeed explained, because the explain 
ing cause already contains it. This is the 
hopeless deadlock of all mechanical thinking 
along causal lines, and it can never be escaped 
by any device of logic whatever. Thus we see 
that the net result of all such thinking is tau- 


tology and infinite regress. The logical equi 
valence of cause and effect in such a scheme 
takes all progress out of it. In such a system 
there is nothing new, but only an unfolding of 
alleged eternal potentialities, and the notion 
of these potentialities we have already seen to 
be hopelessly obscure and contradictory. Thus 
once more the notion of mechanical causality 
shows itself as entirely unmanageable. If this 
is what causality means we might as well be 
come positivists at once, for surely there is no 
more barren business conceivable than this. 
Time and strength are wasted, and expenses 
are not paid. 

And this is not all, for a further difficulty 
emerges. No change of any kind is provided 
for in such a scheme. If the connection of 
antecedent and consequent is purely logical, 
the premises and conclusion must coexist, and 
all things are there at once and forever. If, 
on the other hand, there is some dynamic prin 
ciple which passes from form to form, we can 
not explain this without making the change 
all-inclusive ; and then all things flow. If we 


think to rest the change on necessity, we are 
not helped, for the necessity of change means 
a changing necessity. If the necessity re 
mained rigidly the same throughout the series, 
no reason for any change whatever could be 
found. The change, then, must penetrate into 
the necessity itself, and a changing necessity 
means another necessity, and once more our 
unity breaks up into indefinite plurality. There 
is no way of connecting the multitudinous ne 
cessities with any principle that unites them 
and makes them possible, or prescribes the order 
of their manifestation. In some way the many 
must be referred to the one, and change must be 
referred to the changeless, but this can never 
be done on the mechanical and impersonal 
plane. The only one we can find is the unitary 
intelligence, and the only changeless we can 
find is the self-equal intelligence. All other 
unities and identities vanish into plurality and 
the Heraclitic flow. There is, then, no one 
changeless necessity which explains all things, 
but an infinitude of necessities with nothing 
to coordinate them. 


And here again it may be well to remind 
ourselves once more that this is not a ques 
tion of inductive science or common-sense 
experience, but solely of consistent thinking. 
Nothing that we have said has any bearing on 
the study of succession and concomitant vari 
ation, which is the great field of practical sci 
ence. Neither does it concern the fact of caus 
ation, but only its form and nature. Unless 
we bear this constantly in mind, we might 
think it sufficient to say causality is there any 
way, and hence our objections are unavailing. 
Diogenes, in reply to Plato s arguments against 
motion, simply got up and walked. So here we 
may say the problem is solved by walking. But 
the answer to this is that the problem is not 
thus solved, for it is really not the question 
whether there be causality, but how we shall 
conceive it. It is a question between two com 
peting conceptions of causality, the mechanical 
or the volitional. As we have so often said, 
only the order of change is given. Its causal 
explanation is a problem for thought, and the 
explanation must be self-consistent. There is 


no doubt that causality is there, but how to 
conceive it is the problem. Shall we view it 
as mechanical or volitional, necessary or free, 
blind or seeing ? These are questions for 
thought to solve, and the value of competing 
solutions is to be found in their adequacy to 
the facts and to the demands of our reason. 

Thus we see that the way of mechanical 
causality is hard. Instead of being a manifest 
intuition, as at first seemed to be the case, it 
rather turns out to be a perfect nest of contra 
dictions and impossibilities. Volitional caus 
ality is the only causality of which we have 
experience. Of mechanical causation we have 
no experience whatever, and when we attempt 
to think it and note its implications and the 
difficulties into which it brings us in connec 
tion with the problem of time, the infinite re 
gress, the barren tautology, and the Heraclitic 
flux, we see that the notion itself is so full 
of difficulties as to be worthless, if it were 
otherwise possible. But with volitional caus 
ality the case is different. Here we have the 


causality of conscious intelligence which pos 
sesses and directs itself. Here we have a 
cause that can make new departures without 
losing itself in the infinite regress, a cause 
that was and that also is, a cause that does 
not lie temporally behind the process, but is 
immanent in the process as the abiding power 
on which it forever depends. Here is a unity 
which in the oneness of consciousness can 
posit plurality and remain unity still. Here is 
an abiding power which can form plans, fore 
see ends, and direct itself for their realization. 
Here is a cause which in the self-equality 
of intelligence remains identical across the 
changes which it originates and directs. And 
this is the only conception that meets the de 
mands of the causal idea. It is not only the 
only conception of which we have any con 
crete experience, and the only one, therefore, 
of which we can be sure that it represents any 
actuality at all, but it is the only one that does 
not shatter on its own inherent inconsistency 
and the only one that is really compatible with 
intelligence itself ; for, as will appear later on, 


will is an important and essential function in 
what we call intellect. Intellect, conceived 
simply as a logical mechanism of ideas, is 
something that is totally incompatible with 
rational thought, and lands us in the midst of 
antinomies worse than those of the Kantian 

This brings us to the question of freedom, 
a matter which has been very much misunder 
stood by most speculators. These have dis 
cussed it from the standpoint of the reality of 
time, and with various mechanical analogies 
and metaphors in their minds, and without 
any suspicion of the emptiness of mechani 
cal causality in general. Motives have been 
treated as mechanical forces of one kind or 
another, which may be quantitatively compared 
on a dynamic scale and their resultant deter 
mined. The great time phantom has lent its 
misleading suggestions further to confuse the 
matter, and so it has come to be an accepted 
dogma with many that freedom itself is a con 
siderable affront to reason, so much so that the 


pure reason left to itself is always determinis 
tic ; and belief in freedom, if held at all, is 
maintained only for moral or sentimental rea 
sons. This, however, is a fundamental miscon 
ception, as we have seen and shall further see. 
Freedom itself has the deepest speculative sig 
nificance for reason and science, as well as for 
morals and religion. 

Concrete problems can never be safely con 
sidered in the abstract. Many a proposition may 
seem self-evident when abstractly taken, which 
looks very different when put into concrete form. 
And many ideas are mutually contradictory 
when abstractly compared, which harmonize 
admirably when concretely realized. This is es 
pecially the case with the doctrine of freedom. 
The difficulties in it have largely arisen from 
an abstract consideration, which puts asunder 
things that belong together. Our first care, 
then, must be to decide what we mean by free 
dom in the concrete. If we succeed in vindi 
cating a real freedom, we may dispense with 
the abstract freedom of the closet speculator. 

By freedom in our human life we mean the 


power of self-direction, the power to form 
plans, purposes, ideals, and to work for their 
realization. We do not mean an abstract free- 
; dom existing by itself without relation to in 
telligence or desire, but simply this power of 
self-direction in living men and women. Ab- 
; stract freedom is realized only as one aspect of 
; actual life, and must always be discussed in its 
concrete significance. 

With this understanding of what freedom 
is, we recur to its speculative significance. This 
appears first in its bearing on the problem of 
error. That problem lies in this fact. First, it 
is plain that unless our faculties are essentially 
truthful, there is an end to all trustworthy 
thinking; but, secondly, it is equally plain 
that a large part of thought and belief is er 
roneous ; hence the question arises as a matter 
of life and death for rational thought, how 
to reconcile the existence of error with faith 
in the essential truthfulness of our faculties. 
Freedom is the only solution which does not 
wreck reason itself. If our faculties are es 
sentially truthful and trustworthy, but may be 


carelessly used or willfully misused, then we can 
understand how error should arise without 
compromising the truthfulness of our faculties. 
But on any other basis error becomes cosmic 
and necessary, and reason is overwhelmed in 

This matter has never been adequately con- 
sidered by necessitarians, or generally by phi 
losophers. They have been content to take 
knowledge for granted, and have failed to see 
that any philosophic theory must develop its 
doctrine of knowledge out of its own resources, 
and to see that many theories are suicidal and 
therefore are fatal to the first condition of all 
theorizing, trust in reason itself. Such is 
the case with all materialistic, atheistic, neces 
sitarian, and mechanical schemes of thinking 
in general. In any such system the distinction 
between truth and error disappears, and one 
notion is as good as another while it lasts, 
since all alike are equally necessary. Hence 
any one wishing to find his way into the prob 
lem of freedom will do well to consider first of 
all the relation of freedom to intelligence itself, 


and the collapse of rationality involved in the 
system of necessity. 

Necessity, on the other hand, is commonly 
supposed to be a perfectly clear and self-evident 
motion. This view is pretty sure to arise in the 
early stages of reflection, but deeper study dis 
pels it. The only clear conception we have of 
necessity is rational necessity, that is, the neces 
sity which attaches to the relation of ideas, as 
in logic and mathematics ; but this necessity is 
not found in experience, whether of the inner 
or outer world. The elements of experience 
and their connections are all contingent as far 
as rational necessity goes ; that is, we cannot 
deduce them from ideas or connect them by any 
rational bond. The necessity, then, if there be 
any, is metaphysical, and this logic finds to be 
an exceedingly obscure notion, and one which 
eludes any positive conception. It can be nei 
ther sensuously cognized nor rationally appre 
hended, and the more we wrestle with the idea 
the worse our puzzle becomes. We have already 
found it impossible to do anything with the 
notion without adding to it the further notion 


of potentiality, and what a necessary metaphys 
ical potentiality might be we have found it im 
possible to say. It must be in some sense an ac 
tuality, or it could never affect reality ; and yet 
it cannot be an actual actuality without^ante- 
dating itself. We are driven, then, to distinguish 
two kinds of actuality, potential and actual, 
without, however, the least shadow of insight 
into the distinction between them ; and in order 
to do this we have to make causality temporal, 
which is impossible. Non-temporal causality, 
on the other hand, would be motionless on the 
impersonal plane, and would lead to nothing. 
Thus the doctrine of necessity finds itself in 
unstable equilibrium, between the groundless 
becoming of Hume s doctrine, in which events 
succeed one another without having any inner 
ground or connection, and a doctrine of free 
dom, in which the ground of connection and 
progress is to be found, not in any unman 
ageable metaphysical bond which defies ah 1 un 
derstanding, but in the ever-present freedom 
which posits events in a certain order and thus 
forever administers all that we mean by the 


system of law, and founds all that we mean by 
necessity in things. 1 In addition, we recall the 
overthrow of rationality involved in all neces 
sary systems. 

Some traditional misunderstandings con 
cerning the meaning of freedom must next 
be considered. First, it is supposed that free 
dom asserts pure lawlessness. This is sheer 
fiction. Freedom everywhere presupposes a 
basis of fixity or uniformity, to give it any 
meaning. Without this, of course, thought 
perishes. Now that this freedom and uni 
formity can coexist, is something which can 
not be speculatively decided. The fact must 
be given as real before its possibility can be 
known. The abstract notion of freedom and 
the abstract notion of necessity are contra 
dictory, just as the abstract notion of unity 
and plurality, or simplicity and complexity, 
is a contradiction ; but then abstractions have 
no jurisdiction in the case. We must look 
away from the abstract notions to the concrete 

1 For a fuller discussion, see the Author s Metaphysics, re 
vised edition. 


facts, if we would get any light on this prob 
lem. There is no abstract freedom and no ab 
stract necessity. Turning now to experience, 
we find given a certain measure of self-con 
trol and a certain order of uniformity. The 
former represents the only concrete notion 
of freedom we possess, and the latter repre 
sents the only concrete notion of necessity. 
Anything beyond this is abstract and ficti 

The clearest illustration of the concrete* 
union of these antithetical elements is found j 
in thought itself. The laws of thought repre 
sent absolute fixities of mental procedure. 
They are the constants of the mental equa 
tion, representing no legislation of the will 
but the changeless nature of reason. They 
admit, then, of no abrogation or rebellion; 
and yet, while thus secure from all tampering 
and overthrow, they do not of themselves se 
cure obedience. For this there is needed an 
act of ratification by the free spirit. The mind 
must accept these laws and govern itself in ac 
cordance with them. Only thus do we become 


truly rational, and that by our own free act. 
Thus we discover freedom and uniformity 
united in reality, or rather we discover reality 
as having these opposite aspects. It is not com 
pounded of them as if they preexisted, but it 
manifests itself in this antithetical way. Thus 
we see that the assertion that freedom means 
lawlessness is mistaken. An element of uni 
formity must always be allied with freedom^ 
even in the absolute being; at the same time 
we see that this element becomes controlling 
only through freedom. 

The further objection that freedom would 
make science impossible is equally superficial. 
We must remind ourselves once more of the 
essentially practical nature of concrete science, 
and also of the hypothetical character of its 
deductions. Science exists to help us to under 
stand and master our living experience, and 
only so far as it does this has it any real value 
or logical foundation. When it is freed from 
this aim, it becomes simply a baseless dogma 
tism. The debate between empiricism and 
apriorism also shows that neither school can 


answer the question whether experience can 
be depended upon. The very stiff est apriorism 
can do no more than show that certain prin 
ciples represent our mental constitution and 
determine the general form of our experience, 
but they give no security for the actual order 
of life. Space and time are mental forms, but/ 
they do not decide what shall appear in space) 
and time. Causality is a necessity of thought, 
but it does not determine what events shall be 
caused or what the method of causality shall 
be. Thus all the laws of nature are contingent. 
They are specifications under certain apriori 
principles, but they are not necessary impli 
cations of any or all of thenio Accordingly 
Mr. Mill has told us that we may never erect 
them into absolute laws, but must rather limit 
them to a "reasonable degree of extension to 
adjacent cases." This is really the sum of 
wisdom in the case. We are to refrain from 
dogmatism about the infinities and eternities, 
and hold our science for what it is worth. And 
if we are asked to explain the formula and tell 
what constitutes "adjacency" and what "de- 


gree of extension" is "reasonable/ the an 
swer must be found in the range of our practi 
cal needs; that is, our faith must be practical 
rather than speculative, and must become 
vague and uncertain when the matter is far 
and permanently removed from any practical 

Now applying these considerations to the 
claim that freedom would make science im 
possible, we see how baseless it is when applied 
to any real science. Concrete science, as we 
have so often said, concerns itself solely with 
the modes of being and happening among 
things and events, or with the uniformities of 
coexistence and sequence to be found in expe 
rience. This work is entirely independent of 
the question of freedom. The belief in free 
dom vacates no science, whether of psychology 
or physics or chemistry. As we have seen, any 
actual freedom presupposes law and vanishes 
without it; and as we have also seen, no expe 
rienced law is incompatible with our freedom. 
We use the laws for the realization of our 
purposes. We govern the world and ourselves 


through the laws revealed in experience. The 
laws left to themselves would realize none 
of our plans and products, but just as little 
could we ourselves realize them apart from the 
order of law. Freedom, then, is not opposed 
to physics or chemistry or psychology or any 
other modest science which studies the laws 
of things and events, hut only to some abso 
lute "Science," that is, that speculative theory 
which ignores the indications of experience 
and the practical aim and foundation of con 
crete science, and seeks to bind all things to 
gether in a scheme of necessity; and this, so 
far from being science, is only inconsistent 
and illiterate dogmatism, a pseudo-science and 
an enemy of humanity. 

The abstract treatment of the subject has 
led to the fancy that the free person must be 
indifferent to all considerations of wisdom and 
knowledge. If he regards them at all, he shows 
that he is influenced by motives, and in so far 
is not free. This is pure abstraction. Suppose 
there were a free person with experience of 
life s meanings and insight into its values and 


obligations. There is nothing in his freedom 
to hinder his acting rationally or to excuse 
him for acting irrationally; but how he will 
act does not find its sufficient ground in the 
" antecedent phenomena " alone, but also in 
the mystery of self-determination. And this is 
something which cannot be mechanically an 
alyzed or deduced as a necessary resultant 
it can only be experienced. The attempt to 
analyze it contradicts it. The attempt to con 
struct it denies it. It can only be recognized 
as the central factor of personality, the con 
dition of responsibility, and the basis of the 
moral life. Criticism cannot hope to construe 
it ; it can only point it out as a fact, and show 
that the objections to it rest only on an im 
perfect understanding of thought itself. 

Persons untrained in philosophic reflection 
will likely think that this view makes a poor 
foundation for science and philosophy, but 
they must be told that really it is the best 
foundation there is ; and apart from closet in 
timidations it is good enough, and it works 
well enough in practice. We have no need to 


inquire what science as abstraction demands, 
but rather what we human beings may demand, 
or assume. And here it is plain that we may 
not assume anything beyond those practical 
uniformities which we find verified in life; 
and when we go beyond this we are ventur 
ing at our own risk, and commonly with the 
more hardihood the less we know. There is no 
security for anything in the notion of necessity, 
as we have so often said ; for as a matter of 
fact if the world be the expression of necessity, 
it is one which is compatible with change, and 
that being so, no one can tell how much change 
it may be compatible with. No reflection upon 
the pure notion of necessity tells us anything 
more than this, that whatever happens or 
may happen is necessary, but what it may be 
that will happen we can tell only by waiting 
and seeing. From our point of view, the reason 
for the uniformity of things, or the progress of 
things, or the coming or the going of things, 
must be found at last in the will and plan of 
God. There is no better security than this in 
any abstract speculative principle, for every 


such principle helps us only by begging the 
question. Indeed, there is really no other secu 
rity, for intelligence is the only foundation of 
uniformity of which we have any experience. 
We know that intellect in its self-conscious 
activity can maintain uniformity throughout 
change ; and when we thus assimilate the 
world order to self-consciousness we have a 
sense of insight and satisfaction which is lack 
ing on any other view, apart from the fact 
that every other view simplv begs the ques 
tion. Our confidence in the orderliness of 
nature is really of a semi-ethical character, 
and so far as its existence as a mental fact is 
concerned, it is less a logical warrant than a 
psychological expectation. We give up, then, 
the whole scientific apparatus, from mechanics 
on, as anything ontological, and hold it only 
for its practical value in mastering experience. 
The fancy that it is reality itself, the true 
existence and dynamics of the universe, has 
been definitely set aside. 

Now it is not science proper that opposes 
this view, but dogmatism ; and this dogmatism 


understands neither itself nor its problems. 
" We, the people/ have an interest in discov 
ering the practical uniformities in experience ; 
" we, the people," are equally interested in 
vindicating the rational and moral values of 
life which are also facts of experience ; 
and " we, the people," are the only realities 
in the case, and the final court of appeal. 

From this theistic point of view, as was 
pointed out in the second lecture, the universe 
is no fixed and completed static fact, but 
rather a process in which the divine thought 
is being progressively realized. When we com 
bine this view with the subjectivity and re 
lativity of time, we are freed from all the 
puzzles about the finitude or infinitude of the 
universe. Science is permitted to discover all 
it can about the space and time relations of 
events, and philosophy is permitted to discover 
all it can about the power and purpose behind 
events, but neither is permitted to erect the 
forms of our experience into absolute exist 
ences which would make experience itself im 
possible. The space and time laws, as we have 


seen, contain no provision for stopping, but 
that decides nothing as to the space and time 
contents. On this point only experience can 
decide, and experience gives no indication. 
Similarly, we cannot do much with the notion 
of the universe as a " whole " or a " totality." 
In a vague way we must believe that all things 
have their place in the divine thought, but 
when we go beyond this and analyze the no 
tion of a whole or totality as applied to the 
system of things, the air becomes so thin that 
breathing is difficult and flight impossible; and 
we fall a prey to logical chimeras and verbal 

Mechanical causality vanishes with the in 
dependent existence of time, which is its fun 
damental condition. There is a certain pic- 
turability to it when its objects and events 
are spatially and temporally separate, but this 
completely disappears when space and time are 
made subjective. After that the doctrine be 
comes only a formal shuffling of verbal phrases, 
and we have absolutely no means of showing 
that there is any corresponding reality. We 


have seen that any concept of the understand 
ing must be formal and empty until some ex 
perience certifies it as real. We have no such 
experience in the case of mechanical causality, 
and hence, even if it were a consistent notion, 
it could never be shown to be a fact. Expe 
rience certifies only volitional causality as real, 
and our thought of causality must be either 
that or nothing. 

And if it be asked how such causality is 
possible, the answer must be that the question 
itself is irrational. The basal fact, whatever it 
be, can never be construed in its possibility ; 
that would be a denial of its fundamental 
character. All that can be done in the nature 
of the case is to show it to be a fact, and a 
fact that accounts for all other facts. Here we 
come again upon our transcendental empiricism . 
Intellect explains everything but itself. It ex 
hibits other things as its own products and as 
exemplifying its own principles ; but it never 
explains itself. It knows itself in living and 
only in living, but it is never to be explained 
by anything, being itself the only principle of 


explanation. When we attempt to explain it 
by anything else, or even by its own princi 
ples, we fall down to the plane of mechanism 
again, and reason and explanation disappear 
together. But when we make active intelli 
gence the basal fact, all other facts become 
luminous and comprehensible, at least in their 
possibility, and intelligence knows itself as 
their source and explanation. 

When we consider the world as an object 
of knowledge, we come to personalism as the 
only tenable view. When we consider it from 
the standpoint of causality, we come equally 
to personalism as the only tenable view. 


IMPERSONALISM might rightly be ruled out, 
on the warrant of our previous studies. We 
have seen that when our fundamental philo 
sophic principles are impersonally and ab 
stractly taken, they disappear either in con 
tradiction or in empty verbalism. In all our 
thinking, when critically scrutinized, we find 
self-conscious and active intelligence the pre 
supposition not only of our knowledge but of 
the world of objects as well. We might, then, 
rest our case and demand a verdict. Peda- 
gogically, however, it seems better to con 
tinue the case. The naturalistic obsession is 
not easily overcome, and it takes time to form 
right habits of thinking, even when the truth 
is recognized. The present lecture, then, is 
devoted to showing somewhat more in detail 
the shortcomings of impersonal philosophy. 
Impersonalism may be reached in two ways. 


The sense-bound mind sees a great variety of 
extra-mental, impersonal things in the world 
about us, and these very naturally bulk large 
in thought. Thus things, with of course such 
modifications of the conception as a superficial 
reflection may suggest, tend to become the 
basal fact of existence. In this way naturalism 
arises, with its mechanical way of thinking 
and its materialistic and atheistic tendencies. 
This is one form of impersonalism. 

The other form of impersonalism arises 
through the fallacy of the abstract. Uncritical 
minds always attempt to explain the explana 
tion, thus unwittingly committing themselves 
to the infinite regress. Accordingly when they 
come to living intelligence as the explanation 
of the world, they fancy that they must go 
behind even this. We have the categories of 
being, cause, identity, change, the absolute, 
and the like ; and intelligence at best is only 
a specification or particular case of these more 
general principles. These principles, then, lie 
behind all personal or other existence, as its 
presupposition and source, and constitute a 


set of true first principles, from which all defi 
nite and concrete reality is derived by some 
sort of logical process or implication. This is 
a species of idealistic impersonalism. In its 
origin it is antipodal to naturalism, but in the 
outcome the two often coincide. Strauss said 
of the Hegelian idealism that the difference 
between it and materialism was only one of 
words ; and this was certainly true of Hegel- 
ianism of the left wing. 

These two forms of impersonalism we have 
now to consider, and we begin with natural 

As is the case with so many other terms, 
naturalism may have two meanings. It may 
be a principle of scientific method, and it 
may be a philosophic doctrine. In the former 
sense it is about identical with science itself, 
and is full of beneficence. By making the 
notion and fact of law prominent, it has given 
us control over the world and ourselves, and 
has freed the human mind from endless super 
stition and ignorance. Nature is no longer the 


seat of arbitrary caprice; and life no longer 
swarms with omens, portents, and devils. One 
must read at length in the history of human 
ity to recognize our debt to naturalism in this 
sense. We live in peace and sanity where our 
ancestors lived among dangerous and destruc 
tive obsessions, because a wise naturalism has 
displaced the false supernaturalism of earlier 
times. When, therefore, we speak of the fail 
ure of naturalism, we do not mean the failure 
of scientific naturalism, for this is one of 
humanity s best friends. 

But philosophical naturalism is another 
thing. This is not a science, but a philosophy, 
and it has to be subjected to philosophical 
criticism in order to estimate its value. This 
general view is closely allied to common-sense 
realism, and is indeed but a kind of extension 
or refinement of it. As the untrained mind is 
naturally objective in its thinking, the things 
and bodies about us are taken for substantial 
realities as a matter of course, and they tend 
in advance of reflection to become the stand 
ard by which all else must be measured and to 


which all else must conform. Things that we 
can see and handle are the undeniable reali 
ties. About them there can be no question; 
but things invisible are, for common sense, 
doubtful; and as these things of sense experi 
ence by an easy generalization may be gathered 
under the one head, matter, and their activ 
ities ascribed to the one cause, force, matter 
and force come to be the supreme and basal 
realities of our objective experience. When 
their realm is extended, they often come to be 
viewed as the sole realities. But these realities $ ^ * 
are in space and time, which are looked upon ^ 
as undoubted facts of a sort, and when they 
are combined with matter and force we get the 
fundamental factors of the scheme. Space and 
time furnish the scene; matter furnishes the 
existence; and force, manifesting itself in 
motion, furnishes the causality. These five fac 
tors constitute nature, and from them nature 
is to be construed and comprehended. Mr. 
Spencer presents them as the factors on which 
an interpretation of the world must rest, and 
according to him cosmic processes consist in 


an integration of matter and concomitant dis 
sipation of motion. Here space and time are 
implied, matter and motion are expressed, and 
force, as the backlying causality, is under 
stood ; and all interpretation of nature, it is 
said, must be in terms of these factors. This 
might be called the programme of philosophic 
naturalism. It aims to explain all the higher 
forms of experience, including life and so 
ciety, in terms of matter and force working in 
space and time under the forms of motion. 
To what extent this is a coherent and con 
sistent system we have now to consider, and 
for a time we shall limit our inquiry to its 
explanation of the objective world of bodies, 
postponing any inquiry into its explanation of 
life and mind and society. 

This system, as said, is allied in its begin 
nings with common-sense realism, and never 
gets entirely away from it. Whatever changes 
may be made in the common-sense view in the 
direction of transfigured realism, it still com 
monly holds on to the conception of an imper 
sonal order of things ; and even when it trans- 


forms things themselves into phenomena or 
processes, it still affirms the existence of energy 
under mechanical laws, producing a series of 
impersonal effects and moving from phase to 
phase according to the parallelogram of forces. 
It is an attempt to explain the world by imper 
sonal and mechanical principles. Of course 
there is no suspicion that transfigured realism 
and phenomenalism are veritable Trojan horses 
for the theory. 

This view was perfectly natural and almost 
necessary for spontaneous thought, when it 
became a little reflective and sought to un 
fold the implications of its crude sense meta 
physics. But in this view we have a double 
abstraction. First, the objects of experience, / 
which are given only in experience and which 
analysis shows are conceivable only as func 
tions of intelligence, are abstracted from all 
relation to intellect as the veritable fact in 
itself which is later to explain intellect. This 
is as much as if one should abstract language 
from intelligence and then adduce language 
as the explanation of intelligence. The second 


abstraction is that even in experience itself 
only one aspect is fixed on, that of extension 
and motion, and this is supposed to be the 
real. All else is accidental and subordinate, 
but matter and motion are beyond any ques 
tion. The world of qualities, all that gives life 
to experience, is ignored, and only the quan 
titative aspect is retained. But this is another 
product of fiction. There is no such world 
except among the abstractions of physicists. 
It is as little real as the forms of abstract 
mechanics by which we represent the relations 
of phenomena, without, however, pretend 
ing to reproduce the actual causality. Oddly 
enough, there is a strong idealistic factor in 
this naturalistic mechanism. Looking at the 
moving atoms with critical eye, nothing but 
quantitative distinctions and relations are dis 
covered to exist. Qualitative distinctions and 
relations are contributed by the spectator, and 
they are the chief part of the real problem. 
According to the theory, the fact would be a 
great multitude of elements falling apart and 
together according to the laws of motion, but 


then there is very much more than this in 
experience. Indeed, this is not experience at 
all. A mind which could completely grasp the 
moving elements as they are in themselves 
and not in the appearance, would miss the 
most important part in the system, that is, 
the whole world of sense qualities and dis 
tinctions, in the midst and enjoyment of 
which we live. Thus the most important part 
of experience is not explained at all, but is 
handed over to a kind of subjective experi 
ence somewhere in consciousness, while the 
theoretical explanation applies only to ab 
stractions. Thus we invert the true order of 
fact. We discredit the real experience, or ig 
nore it, and triumphantly solve an imaginary 
problem. As pointed out in a previous lec 
ture, we are shut up by this way of thinking 
to transfigured realism and all its fictitious 
problems, with the result that the world we 
experience becomes more and more subjective, 
while the alleged real world becomes less and 
less accessible and less and less worth know 
ing. This result we reach quite apart from 


the phenomenal! ty of the whole mechanical 
scheme as shown in Lecture III. 

A further reflection on this view as it com 
monly appears in popular discussion is that 
on its own realistic ground it is throughout 
ambiguous. There are two entirely different 
types of explanation in logic, explanation by 
classification and explanation by causality ; and 
naturalism oscillates confusedly between them. 
At times we are told that explanation consists 
entirely in discovering the uniformities of ex 
perience, and that the ultimate explanation 
must consist in discovering the most general 
uniformity of experience. At other times, 
however, the causal idea shuffles in and the 
attempt is made to explain by causality. We 
must consider both types in our criticism. 

Explanation by classification always remains 
on the surface. Things are grouped together 
by means of some common factor of likeness, 
but we never get any insight into the inner 
nature of things in this way. Such explana 
tion has only a formal convenience, but we 
never can reach causes or reasons by this road. 


We merely unite similar things in groups or 
series, and thus rescue them from their iso 
lation and get a common name for them all. 
Such explanation merely drops out the differ 
ences of things and retains the point or points 
in which they are similar, and then regards 
that as their true explanation. How little this 
in itself helps us to insight is manifest upon 
reflection. We may gather all living things 
under the one head, organism, but in this case 
we simply find a common term for a multi 
tude of things, which are not identified in any 
way by the classification, but simply brought 
under a simple head for purposes of logical 
convenience. Organism applies to every living 
thing whether animal or vegetable, spore or 
tree, microbe or elephant; and these differ 
ences, which are really the essential things in 
the case, are simply dropped out of sight, and 
we have the one term, organism, by which we 
are to understand the multitudinous plurality 
of living things. In the same way we may 
regard all objects as cases of matter and mo 
tion. But we get by such classification exceed- 


ingly little information. The generalization is 
so vague as to include all things at the ex 
pense of meaning practically nothing. We get 
very little valuable insight by classing all the 
products of human invention in the world as 
machines, or by classing all living organisms 
as integrations of matter and motion. It may 
be that they all come under the head of mat 
ter and motion in some aspects of their being, 
but even then we have no valuable informa 
tion. It is, indeed, possible that some sciences 
would need to consider only the matter and 
motion aspect, just as a shoemaker might con 
sider men only as shoe-wearing animals, and 
no harm would be done if this aspect were 
seen in its partial and superficial character. 
In some respects our human life is a case of 
matter and motion, and in some other respects 
it is not a case of matter and motion. There 
may be matter and motion in connection with 
thought, but thought is not matter and motion. 
If the naturalistic formula, then, confines 
itself simply to such classification, it is plain 
that it might be in a way true, and equally 


plain that it would be at best only a partial 
view and might be worthless, inasmuch as it 
would leave all the differences of things, which 
constitute their special peculiarities and the 
leading problem in dealing with them, out of 
consideration, and merely find their explanation 
in some one point in which they should agree. 
It would be scarcely more absurd if we should 
decide to explain all human bodies by the fact 
that they all had noses and ears, and should 
then leave out of consideration the multitud 
inous personal peculiarities whereby each is 
constituted a separate and incommunicable 

It is plain, then, that if the naturalistic ex 
planation is to be of any use to us, it must go 
beyond these superficial generalities of classi 
fication, and must descend into the realm of 
causation, and also give account of the specific 
peculiarities or differentia of concrete things. 
And here difficulties begin to thicken. 

Objects in space, large or small, can be pic 
tured, and it seems at first as if the natural 
istic view admitted of being really conceived. 


We can easily imagine a variety of bodies in 
space variously grouped and moving, and 
these bodies might conceivably be very small, 
so as to give us the molecules or atoms of 
theoretical physics. These also admit in a way 
of being pictured in their spatial relations or 
combinations; but when we come to add to 
these the notion of causality, so as to explain 
the order of spatial and temporal change, we 
find grave difficulties arising. With bodies of 
the kind described, the only thing we can ex 
plain is amorphous masses ; that is, with bare 
lumps we can explain only heaps. Unless we 
assume a mover without, we must posit moving 
forces within; and unless these forces are un 
der some structural law, they will explain only 
amorphous masses again. Simply pulling and 
pushing in a straight line, as central forces are 
supposed to do, make no provision for organi 
zation. Assuming, then, the existence of such 
forces, we have a double order of facts, one of 
spatial change and one of a metaphysical na 
ture. The former is a change among things ; 
the latter is a change in things. The former 


depends on the latter. All substantial changes 
among things must be viewed as translations 
into phenomenal form of dynamic relations in 
things, and the spatial system can be under 
stood only through the dynamic system. No 
spatial change explains itself or anything else 
until it is referred to a hidden dynamism. If 
we subtract a chemical element from a given 
molecule no one can see the slightest reason 
in that fact for the resulting chemical change, 
unless we assume a system of dynamic rela 
tions within the elements themselves which 
determines the form of their manifestation 
and interaction, and this system must be as 
complex and various as the phenomena them 

If we had a great mass of type no one 
would be dull enough to suppose that that 
would explain literature, even in its mechan 
ical expression. It might indeed be said that 
literature in its mechanical form arises through 
the differentiation and integration of type; but 
while this would be true it would hardly pay 
expenses, for the work of the compositor can- 


not be done by polysyllabic words. But if we 
were determined to get along without the type 
setter, we should have to endow the type with 
highly mysterious forces if they are to be equal 
to their task. Plain pushes and pulls would 
simply give us type in heaps or scattered 
about, as the pushes or pulls predominated, 
and this would not meet the case. We must 
have type which will pull and push themselves 
into the order demanded by the thought. Thus 
if the type were to set up " Paradise Lost," they 
would have to be such that sundry type would 
come to the front and arrange themselves in 
the following order : 

" Of man s first disobedience and the fruit 
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste 
Brought death into our world and all our woe, 
Sing, heavenly muse." 

The other type must likewise march to their 
proper positions in order to make up the work. 
But in that case it is plain that the idea of the 
work is already immanent in the constitution 
of the type, otherwise we should be seeking to 
explain the orderly result by the chance jos- 
tlings of the type. That this is impossible every 


one can see in the case of typesetting. Every 
one sees here that the arrangement of the type 
is as much a part of the problem as their exist 
ence, and that the existence does not imply 
the arrangement. But if we insist on making 
the existence imply the arrangement, we must 
carry the arrangement into the existence in 
the form of " subtle tendencies " and " mys 
terious potentialities ; " and these, in addition 
to being of exceedingly elusive meaning, do 
not illumine the problem at all, but rather 
darken it. To complete the parallel we must 
suppose that the type themselves were not 
originally given in their separate character, 
but only an indefinite, incoherent, unknowable 
homogeneity, which through continuous differ 
entiations and integrations produced the type 
with all their specific characters and subtle 
tendencies and mysterious potentialities. This 
gives us an idea, on the naturalistic basis, of 
the necessity of a hidden dynamism for the 
explanation of spatial grouping and also of its 
unmanageable complexity. 

This invisible dynamic system is overlooked 


altogether by spatial thought. Such thought 
has only the atoms and the void as data, and 
it can easily conceive the atoms as variously 
grouped within this void. The spatial imagina 
tion serves for this insight and nothing more 
is demanded ; but when thought is clarified to 
the point of seeing the necessity of forming 
an unpicturable dynamism behind the system 
of spatial changes, then the dark impenetra 
bility of our physical metaphysics begins to 
appear. Spatial combination we can picture ; 
volitional causality we experience ; but what 
that is which is less than the latter and more 
than the former is an exceedingly difficult 
problem. The fact is, w r e are simply using 
formal counters here, and are unable to tell 
whether there is anything whatever corre 
sponding to them. We believe that there must 
be cause and ground, and then we suppose 
that the atoms themselves can be causes; but 
when we attempt to think the matter through, 
then we soon find that we are applying the 
categories, as Kant would say, in a region 
where we have no experience, or rather no in- 


tuition. The result is, our thought may be in 
a way formally correct, but we have no assur 
ance that it represents any actual fact what 
ever. This, then, shows first of all the dark 
unpicturability of naturalistic metaphysics 
from the dynamic side ; and remembering the 
results of the discussion of the previous lec 
ture, we find reason for saying that this meta 
physics is entirely fictitious. It is an attempt 
to apply the notion of causality under circum 
stances, and in a form, which it is impossible 
for us to construe. 

Can life and mind and morals and society 
be explained on a naturalistic basis? These 
questions were warmly debated in the last gen 
eration, but seldom understood. How naive it 
all was, is manifest as soon as we look at the 
matter from a more critical standpoint. The 
space and time world of phenomena explains 
nothing ; it is rather the problem itself. The 
real account of anything must be sought in 
the world of power ; and this world eludes us 
altogether, unless we raise power to include in 
telligence and purpose. The unpicturable no- 


tions of the understanding, as substance, cause, 
unity, identity, etc., elude all spatial intuition, 
and vanish even from thought when imperson 
ally taken. Concerning life and mind and man, 
it is permitted to look for all the uniformities 
we can find among 1 their antecedents and con- 


comitants, but this is only classification and 
reveals no causality. And any fairly clear- 
minded critic is willing to have anything what 
ever discovered in the space and time realm ; 
for he knows that the only question of any 
real importance is that of causation. Those per 
sons who expect to find matter to be the suffi 
cient cause of life, and those who fear it may 
be, reveal thereby such profound ignorance of 
the true state of the problem that, while charity 
is called for, they merit no further considera 
tion. Even if so-called spontaneous generation 
proved to be a fact, it would only mean that 
living things may arise under other phenome 
nal conditions than those that generally obtain ; 
it would not mean that " material causes" are 
able of themselves to produce living beings. 
The wonder would lie altogether in the phe- 


nomenal realm, and would leave the question 
of the power at work as obscure as ever. Thus 
as soon as we distinguish the question of clas 
sification and spatial arrangement from that of 
causality, we see how superficial naturalistic 
philosophy has been. Classification has passed 
for identification, phenomena have been made 
into things, and sequence has been mistaken 
for causality. This naive confusion has made 
speculation very easy. 

But supposing this dynamic difficulty in a 
way removed, we next meet another puzzle 
arising from overlooking the distinction be 
tween concrete and exhaustive thinking and 
symbolic or shorthand thinking. In other 
words, popular naturalism assumes that we have 
the simple physical elements in simple spatial 
relations, and that they are endowed with cer 
tain central forces of no very complex kind, 
but such that they admit of producing a great 
variety of complications, thus passing from the 
simple to the complex and from the homo 
geneous to the heterogeneous. Every one will 
recall at this point the current formula of evo- 


lution, which claims to proceed from the like 
to the unlike, from the simple to the complex, 
from homogeneity to heterogeneity, through 
continuous differentiations and integrations. 
This difficulty is only a specification in detail 
of the tautology which inheres in every me 
chanical doctrine of causation, as pointed out 
in the last lecture. 

This fancy is almost the sum of naturalistic 
philosophizing. If the infinite complexity of 
the concrete problem, in spite of all the sim 
plifications and identifications of words, were 
seen, naturalism would lose all credit. The fancy 
in question is simply the fallacy of the univer 
sal, and rests upon mistaking the logical pro 
cess for an ontological one, or from mistaking 
logical application for ontological implication. 
The class term applies to every member of 
the class, but it implies no one of them. Thus 
the term man applies to every human being, 
but it does not imply any living human being 
whatever. Bat this is overlooked by the spec 
ulator, and he thinks it very possible to pass 
from complexity to simplicity, from heteroge- 


neity to homogeneity, and in this way he suc 
ceeds in reaching some simple, almost content- 
less, terms, and these, which are really the last 
terms of logical abstraction, are supposed to be 
the first terms of real existence. Then these 
terms, because very simple and vague and in 
definite in themselves, seem to raise no ques 
tions and excite no surprise. They may well, 
then, be taken as original starting-points for 
world building and similar cosmological ex 
ploits. In this way, then, such abstractions as 
matter and force are reached, and they take the 
place of the physical elements, which are the 
only realities in the case. But in all this we 
simply forget the concrete facts. They remain 
as complex and multiform as ever. There is no ^ 
simple thing, matter, and no simple fact, mo 
tion, to be distributed, but rather an indefinite 
number of moving things of various quantity 
and quality and in the most complex and mys 
terious dynamic relations. When we pass to 
the concrete we see the difference between the 
logical concept and the concrete reality, and 
we also see that logical simplification does not 


affect the reality at all. When, then, we re 
place the physical elements by the logical ab 
straction, matter, we do not reach anything 
indefinite or incoherent or homogeneous. Each 
of these elements has its own definite qualities 
definitely related in a definite system of defi 
nite law. There is no incoherency in the real 
system, and no progress toward greater cohe 
rency, except in relation to standards which 
we impose upon the system. If we take the 
solar system as a standard, we may call the 
nebulous period incoherent. If we take a solid 
body as a standard, we may call a gas incoher 
ent. If we take a mature organism as a stand 
ard, we may call the embryo incoherent. But in 
all these cases the incoherency is relative to an 
assumed standard, and is non-existent for the 
underlying nature of things and the system of 
law. The homogeneity and heterogeneity, the 
coherence and incoherence, are relative to the 
speculator and his point of view, and in fact 
are but shadows of himself. 

We may, then, admit the evolution formula 
as a description of the order in which things 


come along, such that the earlier forms were 
simple and homogeneous and the later forms 
more complex and differentiated; but we can 
not admit that this represents any possible 
order of mechanical causality or any simplifi 
cation of the concrete problem. We can never 
by classification reduce our problem to lower 
terms. If we begin with the complex no logic 
will enable us to escape into the simple on the 
impersonal plane, and if we begin with the 
simple we can never advance to the complex. 
Whatever we begin with, we are compelled to 
retain, however far back we may reason. The 
law of the sufficient reason compels us to find 
in the premises full and adequate preparation 
for the conclusion ; and if the conclusion be 
complex, then there must be corresponding 
complexity in the premises. We may call it po 
tential rather than actual, but all the same we 
are compelled to make our antecedents such 
that when they are exhaustively understood 
they are seen to contain, even to the minutest 
detail, all that will ever appear in the conclu 
sion. The logical equivalence of cause and 


effect in any necessary scheme to which we 
referred in the last lecture makes this abso 
lutely necessary, and hence makes it forever 
impossible to look upon the evolutionary doc 
trine as valid in causation. If we suppose a 
cause apart from the movement, which is suc 
cessively manifesting a plan beginning with 
the early and simple forms and then proceeding 
to higher and more complex and differentiated 
forms, we can understand that by assimilating 
it to our own intellectual life ; but apart from 
that the doctrine is absolutely impossible. We 
are compelled on the impersonal plane to as 
sume everything either actually or potentially 
at the beginning, or, if there was no begin 
ning, then to assume it from everlasting. 

The two conceptions of evolution, evolu 
tion as a description of the phenomenal order 
and evolution as a doctrine of causation, have 
never been sufficiently distinguished by the 
rank and file of speculators in this field. They 
have taken the phenomenal order for the 
causal order, and have seldom raised the ques 
tion as to what their evolution really means and 


what its conditions may be. Accordingly we 
have the proposition to evolve the atoms, with 
all the familiar formulas about passing from 
the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, etc. 
Nowadays that the supposedly fixed elements 
seem to be combinations of something simpler, 
this attempt is frequently met with. It is sug 
gested that the atoms of those substances 
which lie in the same chemical group are per 
haps built up from the same ions, or at least 
from ions which possess the same mass and 
electric charge, and that the differences which 
exist in the materials thus constituted arise 
more from the manner of the association of 
the ions in the atom than from differences in 
the fundamental character of the ions which 
build up the atoms. Well, here we have the 
same thing the attempt to explain qualita 
tive by quantitative difference, and the same 
failure to inquire what the attempt really pre 

If we should conceive a half-dozen bricks 
placed one at each angle of a pentagon and 
one at the centre, and should then conceive 


an additional brick added so as to have one at 
each angle of a hexagon and one at the centre^ 
we see no reason whatever for any particular 
change of quality of the combination arising 
from the addition of the new brick. And that 
is all that bare quantity can do. No variations 
of quantity contain any explanation of quali 
tative change, unless we assume a qualitative 
system in connection with the quantity. We 
can add elements to atomic groups or sub 
tract them ; but unless the elements them 
selves stand in definite dynamic relations which 
imply particular groups and qualities, to the 
exclusion of other groups and qualities, we 
cannot deal with the problem at all. If the 
atoms are not in such relations, the problem is 
of course insoluble ; and if they are in such 
relations, we assume the fact to be explained 
from the start. It is then conceivable that 
our present elements might be analyzed into 
other elements which might be called simpler, 
but the thing which is not possible is by such 
an analysis to escape from the complexity of 
the existing system, because we should have 


to trace into those antecedents which are to 
produce the present complexity and difference 
the same complexity and difference in one 
form or another. 

Moreover, in thinking the matter through 
we should have to inquire whether evolution 
as such assumes anything or not. Does it 
begin with something vague, formless, and 
lawless, or does it begin with a definite sys 
tem and reign of law, so that everything is 
determined in its place and relation ? In the 
former case we can take no step whatever in 
the way of understanding anything. It would 
be simply the notion of pure being, which is 
nothing, and which, if it were anything, could 
never be used for the understanding of ex 
perience. But if %e begin with a definite sys 
tem of law, in which all the factors are sub 
ject to the reign of law, then it is plain we 
never can introduce anything new into the 
system, for everything is determined from 
the beginning ; and if there was no begin 
ning, everything was determined from ever 
lasting. In any mechanical system, under the 


law of the logical equivalence of cause and 
effect, it is forever impossible to make new de 
partures or to reach anything essentially new. 
We can only oscillate between the present 
actuality and the past potentiality, potential- 
izing the present as we go back in our thought, 
and actualizing the potentiality as we come 
forward in our thought, but always so that 
potential plus actual must remain a constant 
quantity. In popular thought about this 
matter there is a continual oscillation, for 
the most part unsuspected, between the two 
points of view. We try to explain everything 
by antecedents, and so by the aid of the fal 
lacy of the universal as we go backward we 
succeed in reaching to our satisfaction some 
indefinite, incoherent homogeneity. But logic 
forthwith shows the emptiness of this notion 
and the impossibility of reaching it. Then we 
begin again, mindful this time of the reign of 
kw, and assume an order of law, and then fail 
to notice that as soon as we do that, on the im 
personal plane we have determined everything 
for all future time, so that nothing new may 


| hereafter be introduced without some irrup- 
. tion from without. No new departures are 
/ possible in a mechanical scheme. 

The same difficulty appears when we work 
the question forward instead of backward. 
Here again the naturalistic speculator has com 
monly been under the influence of sense 
bondage and has tacitly assumed that what 
he could not see was not there, so that differ 
ences which did not manifest themselves to the 
senses might be regarded as non-existent. But 
the same law which we have been referring to 
makes it clear that no developing thing can 
ever be understood or defined by what it mo 
mentarily is, but only by all that which it is 
to become. It can be explained, then, not by 
reference to its crude beginnings, but only by 
reference to the finished outcome. Aristotle 
reached this insight two thousand years ago. 
When, then, the biological speculator tells us, 
as if it were a very conclusive fact, that the 
embryos of many of the higher animals look 
alike in their earliest stages, we are not so much 
impressed as perhaps we are expected to be; 


for, however much things may look alike, if 
they are under different laws of development 
they are, to the eye of reason, even in the 
earliest phases, unlike with all the unlikenesses 
that later appear. The human embryo, when 
it is undistinguishable by sight from the em 
bryo of a dog or sheep, is after all a human 
embryo, and not the embryo of a sheep. It is 
already under the law of human development, 
; and when it quickly passes into the human 
form this is not something adventitiously taken 
on through some verbal hocus-pocus about 
differentiation and integration, but is simply 
the manifestation of the immanent organic laws 
under which it holds its existence and its de 
velopment takes place. 

The whole question of the transformation 
of species has been equally confused in natu 
ralistic discussion. There are really two ques 
tions to be considered. One is, Can existing 
organic forms be genetically traced to earlier 
forms so that the lines of descent as we go 
backward converge to some common origin, as 
the branches of a tree all meet in a common 


trunk ? The other question is, What are the 
individual things themselves, and what is the 
power that produces them? The former ques 
tion belongs to science, the latter belongs to 

The former question has only a subordinate 
interest, and philosophy is content to have the 
answer fall out as it may, provided fact and 
logic be duly regarded. Its supposed impor 
tance is due to the implicit assumption of a 
self-running nature which does a great many 
unintended things on its own account, and to 
the fancy that such genetic connection would 
mean identity of nature in the successive mem 
bers of the series. 

The second question is the only one of any 
real importance. In considering it we must 
first note the nominalism of the doctrine of 

A species as such is nothing but a group 
of individuals which more or less closely re 
semble one another. In the case of the more 
prominent living species we should probably 
add the notion of genetic connection, but this 


would in no way affect the nominalism of the 
doctrine. If, then, the so-called transformation 
of species took place, the objective fact, apart 
from our logical manipulation, would be this : 
If individuals were taken from points widely 
apart in a Hue of descent, they would be so un 
like that we should not class them together. 
But this would not identify individuals, or 
higher and lower forms. The fact would be 
a power producing individuals in such a way 
that they could be variously classified, possibly 
on an ascending scale and in adaptation to 
higher and fuller life. In that case we should 
have the familiar progress from the simple 
to the complex, from the low to the high, and 
all the rest ; but it would be entirely free from 
all those fearsome identifications of man with 
the monkey, etc., which have so infested the 
popular imagination. For one holding the 
phenomenality of nature and the volitional 
character of all so-called natural causality, 
there is nothing to excite alarm in any per 
missible doctrine of the transformation of spe- 




We find naturalism, then, entirely in its right 
when it seeks to give a description of the 
phenomenal order according to which things 
have appeared, but we find it as a philosophy 
exceedingly superficial and uncritical. Apart 
from the critical doubts which we have discov 
ered in the previous lecture respecting mechan 
ical causality in general, and the necessity of 
lifting the problem of causation to the personal 
plane in order to keep it from vanishing in 
the Heraclitic flux, we find that this doctrine 
vanishes in complete and barren tautology as 
soon as we take it concretely and exhaustively, 
instead of symbolically and in a shorthand 
way. This way of thinking is compelled to 
carry the present into the past, or into its ma 
chinery of whatever sort, in such a way as to 
empty it of all progress of any kind. When, 
then, in such a scheme we make a cross section 
of the cosmic flow or any part of it anywhere, 
we are compelled to find potentially or actually 
present all that ever will be ; and if we choose 
to carry the regress never so far back, the same 
necessity attends us; and if at last we reach 


some nebulous period of dispersed matter or a 
fiery cloud, even there, when we look around 
upon the situation with our eyes open, we are 
compelled to find latent and potential all that 
will ever emerge in all the future through which 
the system may endure. In addition, when 
naturalism becomes mathematical and seeks to 
reduce all qualitative distinctions to quantita 
tive ones, it leaves the real world altogether, 
and becomes a pure abstraction like the 
world of abstract mechanics. Like that world, 
it has only representative value, and is never 
to be mistaken for the world of real existence. 
These are the leading difficulties of natural 
ism as a philosophy. There are numberless 
difficulties of detail, but into these we forbear 
to enter. The doctrine is sufficiently convicted 
and judged by its doctrine of causality, and 
the hopeless tautology and endless regress to 
which it is condemned, and also by the impos 
sibility of verifying as actual any of its lead 
ing conceptions. They must forever remain, 
at best, mere conceptual forms, to which no 
reality can be shown to correspond. 


Naturalism may be dismissed as a failure. 
It remains to show that impersonalism as 
idealism is equally so. When we approach the 
metaphysical problem from the side of know 
ledge, it is easy to overlook the fact of will and 
causality in existence, and conclude that things 
are only ideas. And then, since the mind also 
is an object of knowledge, it is easy in the 
same way to reach the conclusion that it too 
is only an idea or group of ideas. The next 
thing is to eliminate the personal implication 
from these ideas, and then we forthwith reach 
the conclusion that the mind itself is a func 
tion of impersonal ideas. Thus impersonalism 
is once more installed. 

It is easy to see how this view arises. The 
epistemological interest makes us unwilling to 
admit anything that cannot be conceptually 
grasped. Accordingly it seeks to make ideas 
all-embracing. At the same time it is clear 
that this view is a tissue of abstractions. The 
impersonal idea is a pure fiction. All actual 
ideas are owned, or belong to some one, and 
mean nothing as floating free. We have al- 


ready seen that the various categories of 
thought, apart from their formal character as 
modes of intellectual procedure, get any real 
significance only in the concrete and self-con 
scious life of the living mind. Apart from this, 
when considered as real they become self- 
destructive or contradictory. The idealism of 
the type we are now considering assumes that 
these categories admit of being conceived in 
themselves, and that they are in a measure 
the preconditions of concrete existence, and in 
such a way that we might almost suppose that 
a personal being is compounded of being plus 
unity plus identity plus causality, etc. Thus 
personal existence appears as the outcome and 
product of something more ultimate and fun 
damental. The fictitious nature of this view 
has already appeared. When we ask what we 
mean by any of these categories, it turns out, as 
we have seen, that we mean the significance we 
find them to have in our self-conscious life. In 
the concrete the terms have no meaning except 
as it is abstracted from our own personal experi 
ence. The only unity we know anything about, 


apart from the formal unities of logic, is the 
unity of the unitary self ; and the only identity 
we know anything about is no abstract con 
tinuity of existence through an abstract time, 
it is simply the self-equality of intelligence 
throughout its experience. And the change 
which we find is not an abstract change run 
ning off in an abstract time, but is simply the 
successive form under which the self-equal in 
telligence realizes its purpose and projects the 
realizing activity against the background of 
its self-consciousness. Similarly for being it 
self ; in the concrete it means the passing ob 
ject of perception, or else it means existence 
like our own. 

So much for the nature of the categories. 
But still graver difficulties arise when we in 
quire concerning the place of their existence 
and the ground of their combination and 
movement. If we suppose them to precede 
personality, we must ask where they exist. 
The only intelligent answer that can be given 
would be that they exist either in space and 
time, or in consciousness. The former supposi- 


tion would turn them into things, and then they 
would dissolve away in the dialectic of spatial 
and temporal existence ; the latter is contrary 
to the hypothesis, which is that they are pre 
conditions of consciousness. Thus they retreat 
into some kind of metaphysical nth dimension, 
where we cannot follow them because they 
mean nothing. 

A further difficulty emerges when we ask 
for the ground of grouping and movement of 
these ideas. If we conceive their relations to 
be purely logical we should make immediate 
speculative shipwreck. The intellect conceived 
of as merely a set of logical relations is totally 
incapable of explaining the order of experi 
ence, for logic is non-temporal. Conclusions 
coexist with the premises. There is no before 
or after possible in the case. If, then, the uni 
verse as existing were a logical implication of 
ideas, it and all its contents would be as eter 
nal as the ideas. There would be no room 
for change, but all their implications would 
rigidly coexist. In this view also finite minds, 
with all their contents, as implications of eter- 


nal ideas, would be equally eternal; and as 
error and evil are a manifest part of these 
contents, it follows that they likewise are ne 
cessary and eternal. Hence we should have to 
admit an element of unreason and evil in the 
eternal ideas themselves ; and by this time 
the collapse of the system would be complete. 
There is no escape from this result so long as 
we look upon the intellect as a logical mech 
anism of ideas. Only a living, active, personal 
intelligence can escape this fatalism and sui 
cidal outcome of the impersonal reason. A 
purely logical and contemplative intellect that 
merely gazed upon the relations of ideas, with 
out choice and initiative and active self-direc 
tion, would be absolutely useless in explaining 
the order of life. 

The claim that thought must comprise 
everything is itself unclear in its meaning. In 
our human thinking of course there is a world 
of objects which we do not make but find, and 
this dualism can never be eliminated from our 
thinking. But this world of objects is retained 
within the thought sphere by being made the 


product and expression of intelligence, and as 
such it is open to apprehension and compre 
hension by intelligence. But when it comes 
to the self-knowledge of intelligence, there 
is always an element which mere conceptual 
knowing can never adequately grasp. We have 
seen that concepts without immediate experi 
ence are only empty forms, and become real 
only as some actual experience furnishes them 
with real contents. Hence there is an element 
in self-knowledge beyond what the concep 
tions of the understanding can furnish. This 
is found in our living self-consciousness. We 
conceive some things, but we not only con 
ceive, we also live ourselves. This living in 
deed cannot be realized without the concep 
tion, but the conception is formal and empty 
without the living. In this sense intelligence 
must accept itself as a datum, and yet not 
as something given from without, but as the 
self-recognition of itself by itself. Intelligence 
must always have a content for its own recog 
nition. The recognition would be impossible 
without the content, and the content would be 


nothing without the recognition. In this fact 
the antithesis of thought and being finds re 
cognition and reconciliation ; but the fact itself 
must be lived, it cannot be discursively con 
strued. Thought and act are one in this mat 
ter, and neither can be construed without the 

In closing this discussion we recall once 
more our doctrine of transcendental empiricism. 
The meaning and possibility of these terms 
must finally be found in experience itself, and 
not in any abstract philosophizing. When the 
terms are abstractly taken without continual 
reference to experience, it is easy to develop 
any number of difficulties and even contradic 
tions in our fundamental ideas. No better 
proof of this can be found than Mr. Bradley s 
work on Appearance and Reality. This is a 
work of great ability, but written from the 
abstract standpoint. The result is that it 
might almost be called a refutation of im- 
personalism, although such refutation was far 
enough from Mr. Bradley s purpose. He finds 
all the categories and relations of thought 


abounding in contradiction. Inherence, predi 
cation, quality, identity, causality, unity, space, 
time, things, and even the self, swarm with 
contradictions. Mr. Bradley seems to think 
that these difficulties are all removed in the 
absolute, but he fails to see that his logic 
would pursue him even into the absolute, un 
less it be personally conceived. Otherwise the 
absolute is simply a deus ex machina kept 
strictly behind the scenes, and worked only by 
stage direction from the manager. 

But the difficulties urged by Mr. Bradley 
! do exist for all impersonal philosophy; and 
they can be removed only as the problem is 
raised to the personal plane, and we take the 
terms in the meaning they have in living ex 
perience. Thus identity is entirely intelligible 
as the self-identification of intelligence in 
experience. We can easily give identity a 
meaning according to which the soul is not 
identical, but there is no loss in this, as we have 
no interest speculative or practical in such 
identity. Again, unity is entirely intelligible 
as the unity of the self in the plurality of its 


activities. Here again it is easy to define unity 
in such a way as to exclude plurality ; but 
here also nothing is lost, for we have no in 
terest of any sort in such a unity. The same 
may be said of the other categories. They 
may easily be defined in such a way as to in 
volve contradictions or make them worthless, 
but philosophy is not concerned over the fate 
of such abstractions ; it cares only to know 
the forms the categories take on in living ex 
perience. And here we find, as we pointed out 
in discussing freedom, that many things which 
when abstractly taken seem contradictory prove 
quite compatible in the concrete. 

Finally, the notion of the self can easily be 
taken in such a way as to be worthless. We 
are asked of what use the self is, after all, in 
explaining the mental life. How does its unity 
explain the plurality and variety of conscious 
ness ? And the answer must be that in some 
sense it does not explain it, and yet the unity 
is no less necessary. For the consciousness of 
plurality is demonstrably impossible without 
the fact of conscious unity. This unity does 


not indeed enable us to deduce plurality, and 
hence the plurality must be viewed as an as 
pect of the unity, but not as an aspect of an 
abstract unity without distinction or difference, 
bat a living, conscious unity, which is one in 
its manifoldness and manifold in its oneness. 
Taken verbally this might easily be shown to 
be contradictory, but taken concretely it is the 
fact of consciousness, and none the less so 
because our formal and discursive thought 
finds it impossible to construe it. And in gen 
eral the self taken abstractly is indeed worth 
less, as all causes are on the impersonal plane. 
The law of the sufficient reason, which is sup 
posed to demand causation, always shuts us 
up to barren tautology when impersonally 
taken. In such cases all our explanations only 
repeat the problem. But the self is not to be 
abstractly taken. It is the living self in the 
midst of its experiences, possessing, directing, 
controlling both itself and them ; and this 
self is not open to the objection of barrenness 
and worthlessness, being simply what we all 
experience when we say me or mine. This self 


can never be more than verbally denied, and 
even its verbal deniers have always retained 
the fact. The language of the personal life 
would be impossible otherwise. 

On all of these accounts, then, we affirm 
that impersonalism is a failure whether in the 
low form of materialistic mechanism or in the 
abstract form of idealistic notions, and that 
personality is the real and only principle of 
philosophy which will enable us to take any 
rational step whatever. We are not abstract 
intellects nor abstract wills, but we are living 
persons, knowing and feeling and having vari 
ous interests, and in the light of knowledge 
and under the impulse of our interests trying 
to find our way, having an order of experi 
ence also and seeking to understand it and 
to guide ourselves so as to extend or enrich 
that experience, and thus to build ourselves 
into larger and fuller and more abundant per 
sonal life. 

The metaphysics of impersonalism is cer 
tainly impossible, but it may be objected that 


personalism itself is open to at least equal 
objection. Some of these have become tradi 
tional and conventional, and seem to call for 
a word in passing. 

In cruder thought the attempt is always 
made to solve the problem by picturing, and 
this ends by confounding the person with the 
physical organism. Of course it is easy to 
show that personality as thus conceived is im 
possible. The more significant objections arise 
from an abstract treatment of the subject and 
an attempt to construe personality as the out 
come of impersonal principles. But abstrac 
tion can do nothing with the question, as the 
indications of living experience are the only 
source of knowledge in this matter. Person 
ality can never be construed as a product or 
compound ; it can only be experienced as a 
fact. It must be possible because it is given 
as actual. Whenever we attempt to go behind 
this fact we are trying to explain the explana 
tion. We explain the objects before the mir 
ror by the images which seem to exist behind 
it. There is nothing behind the mirror. 

When we have lived and described the per 
sonal life we have done all that is possible in 
sane and sober speculation. If we try to do 
more we only fall a prey to abstractions. This 
self-conscious existence is the truly ultimate 

Of course our human existence, with its 
various limitations and its temporal form, 
readily lends itself to the thought that per 
sonality develops out of the impersonal. If 
we should allow this to be the fact in our own 
case, we should still have to admit that the 
impersonal out of which our personality de 
velops has already a coefficient of personality 
as the condition of the development. The 
essentially impersonal can never by any logi 
cal process other than verbal hocus-pocus, 
which is not logical after all, be made the 
sufficient reason for a personal development. 
But our existence does not really abut on, or 
spring out of, an impersonal background; it 
rather depends on the living will and purpose 
of the Creator. And its successive phases, so 
far as we may use temporal language, are but 


the form under which the Supreme Person 
produces and maintains the personal finite 

The objections to affirming a Supreme Per 
son are largely verbal. Many of them are 
directed against a literal anthropomorphism. 
This, of course, is a man of straw. Man him 
self in his essential personality is as unpic- 
turable and formless as God. Personality and 
corporeality are incommensurable ideas. The 
essential meaning of personality is selfhood, 
self-consciousness, self-control, and the power 
to know. These elements have no corporeal 
significance or limitations. Any being, finite 
or infinite, which has knowledge and self-con 
sciousness and self-control, is personal ; for the 
term has no other meaning. Laying aside, 
then, all thought of corporeal form and limi 
tation as being no factor of personality, we 
must really say that complete and perfect per 
sonality can be found only in the Infinite and 
Absolute Being, as only in Him can we find 
that complete and perfect selfhood and self- 
possession which are necessary to the fullness 


of personality. In thinking, then, of the Su 
preme Person we must beware of transferring 
to him the limitations and accidents of our 
human personality, which are no necessary 
part of the notion of personality, and think 
only of the fullness of power, knowledge, and 
selfhood which alone are the essential factors 
of the conception. 

Thus impersonalism appears as doubly a 
failure. If we ask for the positive foundation 
of its basal conceptions, we find that there is 
none. They are empty forms of thought to 
which no reality can be shown to correspond, 
and upon criticism they vanish altogether. If 
we next ask what insight impersonalism gives 
into the problems of experience, we find 
nothing but tautology and infinite regress. 
Such a theory surely does not pay expenses. 
The alternative is personalism or nothing. 



ONE great difficulty in bringing popular 
thought to better philosophical insight lies in 
its bondage to sense objects. Things that can 
be seen and handled are preeminently real, and 
there is always a tendency to think that only 
such things are real. In this state of mind 
it is exceedingly difficult for any doctrine of 
idealistic type even to get a hearing, as it 
seems so plainly absurd. Some relief from 
this obsession may be obtained by pointing 
out how large a proportion of our human life 
is even now invisible and impalpable. In this 
way the sense-bound mind may be made more 
hospitable to the thought of invisible and non- 
spatial existence in general. 

First of all, we ourselves are invisible. The 
physical organism is only an instrument for 
expressing and manifesting the inner life, but 
the living self is never seen. For each person 


his own self is known in immediate experience 
and all others are known through their effects. 
They are not revealed in form or shape, but 
in deeds, and they are known only in and 
through deeds. In this respect they are as 
formless and invisible as God himself, and 
that not merely in the sense of being out of 
sight, but also in the sense of not lying within 
the sphere of visibility in any way. What is 
the shape of the spirit? or what the length 
and breadth of the soul? These questions re 
veal the absurdity of the notion without criti 

Indeed, the most familiar events of every 
day life have their key and meaning only in the 
invisible. If we observe a number of persons 
moving along the street, and consider them 
only under the laws of mechanics, and notice 
simply what we can see or what the camera 
could report, the effect is in the highest de 
gree grotesque. A kiss or caress described in 
anatomical terms of the points of contact and 
muscles involved would not be worth having 
in any case, and would be unintelligible to 


most of us. And all our physical attitudes 
and movements seem quite ridiculous whenever 
we consider them in abstraction from their 
personal meaning or the personal life behind 
them. What could be more absurd than a 
prayer described in physical terms of noise and 
attitude, apart from the religious meaning? 
Or what could be more opaque than a descrip 
tion of a scientific experiment in terms of 
bodies and instruments, apart from a know 
ledge of the problem and of the unseen per 
sons who are trying to solve it? But the gro- 
tesqueness in these cases does not exist for us, 
because we seldom abstract from our know 
ledge of personality so as to see simply what 
sense can give. These physical forms we re 
gard as persons who are going somewhere or are 
doing something. There is a thought behind 
it all as its meaning and key, and so the matter 
seems to us entirely familiar. Thus out of the 
invisible comes the meaning that transforms 
the curious sets of motions into terms of per 
sonality and gives them a human significance. 
Indeed, our estimate even of the body itself 


depends largely upon its connection with the 
hidden life of the spirit. A human form as an 
object in space, apart from our experience of 
it as the instrument and expression of personal 
life, would have little beauty or. attraction; and 
when it is described in anatomical terms there 
is nothing in it that we should desire it. The 
secret of its beauty and value lies in the invis 
ible realm. 

The same is true of literature. It does not 
exist in space or time or books or libraries, 
but solely in the invisible and non-spatial 
world of ideas and consciousness. A person 
looking for literature in a book or in a library 
would hopelessly err and stray from the way, 
because all that can be found there would be 
black marks on white paper and collections of 
these bound together in various forms, which 
would be all that eyes could see. But this 
would not be literature, for literature has its 
existence only in mind and for mind as an ex 
pression of mind, and is simply impossible and 
meaningless in abstraction from mind. Sim 
ilarly with history. Our human history never 


existed in space and never could so exist. If 
some visitor from Mars should come to the 
earth and look at all that goes on in space in 
connection with human beings, he would never 
get any hint of its real significance. He would 
be confined simply to integrations and dissi 
pations of matter and motion. He could de 
scribe the masses and groupings of material 
things, but in all this he would get no sugges 
tion of the inner life which gives significance 
to it all. As conceivably a bird might sit on 
a telegraph instrument and become fully 
aware of the clicks of the machine without 
any suspicion of the meaning or existence of 
the message, or a dog could see all that eyes 
can see in a book yet without any hint of its 
meaning, or a savage could gaze at the printed 
score of an opera without ever suspecting its 
musical import, so this supposed visitor would 
be absolutely cut off by an impassable gulf 
from the real seat and significance of human 
history. The great drama of life, with its likes 
and dislikes, its loves and hates, its ambitions 
and strivings, and manifold ideas, inspirations, 


and aspirations, is absolutely foreign to space, 
and could never be in any way discovered in 
space. So human history has its seat in the 

Similarly with government. The govern 
ment does not exist in state-houses or halls of 
Congress. It is a relation of personal wills, as 
all society is likewise a relation of personal 
wills, with their background of conscious af 
fection, ideas, and purposes. It is in this hid 
den realm that we live, and love or hate, obey 
or disobey, and live in peace or strife. Wars 
have not existed in space, and real battlefields 
are in the unseen. They are the conflicts of 
ideas, of aspirations, of mental tendencies, and 
all the fighting that ever took place in space 
was but a symbol and expression of the inner 
unpicturable strife. And this illustrates what 
is true of the whole life of man. Love and 
hate, desire and aspiration, exaltation and de 
pression, the whole contents of human life, in 
short, are invisible, and the spatial is merely 
the means of expressing and localizing this 
unpicturable life ; it has only symbolical sig- 


nificance for the deeper life behind it. All 
this our Martian visitor would miss, that is, 
he would miss man and his history alto 

Thus we see to what a large extent human 
life is now in the invisible realm, and that, as 
said, not merely in the sense of being out of 
sight, but as something that does not admit 
in any way of being pictured. It may use 
spatial phenomena as a means of expression, 
but in itself it is strictly unpicturable. And 
for this great world of reality, if we must have 
a whereabouts, we must say that not space but 
consciousness is its seat. These things belong 
not to a space world, but to the world of con 
sciousness, which is something very different. 
This is the seat of the great human drama 
of individual life and of human history. This 
would be the case on any view of space what 
ever, but it is self-evidently the case when we 
view space as subjective, for then the world of 
consciousness becomes the seat of all worlds, 
not merely the world of history and personal 
relations, but also and equally the seat of the 


world of space appearance and the world of 
physical science. It will be noted, however, 
that this view in no way denies the reality of 
the human world. It merely relocates it. That 
world remains all that it was before and is just 
as real as ever. We have simply discovered 
that it is not to be thought of in phenomenal 
terms of space and time, but rather in terms 
of itself, in the incommensurable terms of life 
and feeling, and love and hate, and aspiration 
or dejection, and hope and despair, etc. Simi 
larly the space world is not made unreal by 
this general view. We simply mean that it is 
not a self-sufficient something by itself, but is 
rather a means of expression of the underly 
ing personal life which is the deepest and only 
substantial fact. 

The more we dwell upon this view the more 
mysterious our life becomes for the imagina 
tion. We see that our life now actually goes 
on in the invisible, and that space has only a 
symbolical function with respect to this hidden 
life. We impress ourselves upon the spatial 
system and manifest our thought and purpose 


in it and through it, but the actors never 
appear. So far as concerns man, the space 
world has the ground of many of its deter 
minations in the invisible world of human 
thought and purpose, and is constantly tak 
ing on more and more our human image and 
superscription. In its relation to man the 
space world is largely a potentiality, waiting 
for realization by man himself. There are 
harvests waiting to grow and flowers waiting 
to bloom, but it cannot be until man sets his 
hand to the work. The flora and fauna of the 
earth are increasingly taking their character 
from our will and purpose. Even climate itself 
is not independent of our doings or misdoings. 
So far as we are concerned, the space world is 
nothing complete and finished in itself, but is 
forever becoming that which we will it to be. 
And when we recognize our own invisibility 
and the symbolical character of space as only 
a means of expressing our hidden thought 
and life, we find a growing hospitality toward 
the view that there is a great invisible power 
behind the space and time world as a whole, 


which is using it for expressing and communi 
cating its purpose. 

Unless, then, appearances are unusually 
deceitful in this case, it is plain that man is 
no impotent annex to a self -sufficient mechani 
cal system, but is rather a very significant fac 
tor in cosmic ongoings, at least in terrestrial 
regions. He is an inhabitant of the invisible 
world, and projects his thought and life on 
the great space and time screen which we call 
nature. But naturalism, in its sense bond 
age, misses all this, and seeks for man in the 
picture world of space images, where, in the 
nature of the case, he can never be. With 
this initial blunder, man becomes less and less 
in the system, first a phenomenon, then an 
" epiphenomenon," and finally he tends to 
disappear altogether. Meanwhile matter and 
motion go on integrating and dissipating as 
per schedule, and | M V 2 remains a constant 
quantity. The whole history of thought con 
tains no more grotesque inversion of reason. 

A world of persons with a Supreme Per 
son at the head is the conception to which we 


come as the result of our critical reflections. 
The world of space objects which we call na 
ture is no substantial existence by itself, and 
still less a self-running system apart from in 
telligence, but only the flowing expression 
and means of communication of those per 
sonal beings. It is throughout dependent, in 
strumental, and phenomenal. But a problem 
remains in the relation of these finite spirits 
to the Absolute Spirit. This problem also has 
suffered from an abstract treatment, which has 
led to many pernicious errors. 

Metaphysics shows that we cannot explain 
the existence and community of the many 
without affirming a fundamental reality which 
is truly one, and which produces and coordi 
nates the many. When we ask for the relation 
of the many to the one, the imagination tries 
to solve the problem by some quantitative 
conception, as that the many are made out of 
the one, or are included in the one, as the 
parts are included in the whole. The multi 
tudinous suggestions of this kind are set aside 
by the insight that these quantitative ideas 


are incompatible with the true unity of the 
one. Metaphysics shows that the fundamental 
reality must be conceived not as an extended 
stuff, but as an agent to which the notion of 
divisibility has no application. When we fur 
ther recall that this agent must be regarded 
as self-conscious intelligence, the untenability 
of any quantitative conception becomes self- 
evident. The conception of the many as made 
out of the one, or as resulting from any fission 
or self-diremption of the one, or as being the 
parts of the one, its " internally cherished 
parts/ is seen at once to be an attempt of 
the uncritical imagination to express an unpic- 
turable problem of the reason in the picture 
forms of the spatial fancy. When these reflec 
tions are continued, we reach the result that 
the unpicturable many must be conceived as 
unpicturably depending on the unpicturable 

This result has been perhorresced by many 
able thinkers in recent times as committing 
us to a destructive and pernicious pantheism, 
and they have taken refuge in an impossible 


pluralism. Some have gone so far as to hold 
that the many have always existed, as the 
only means of rescuing finite personality. But 
surely this is to throw the child out with the 
bath. The dangers against which these think 
ers protest are indeed real, and their perni 
cious character is clearly seen in the Vedanta 
philosophy of India. But there is no relief in 
such a despairing pluralism. The way out 
must be sought in a careful scrutiny of our 
terms and a resolute adherence to experience 
itself in its form of transcendental empiricism. 
It would be easy to fall into pantheism at 
this point by emphasizing the dependence of 
the finite spirit, or by taking that dependence 
in an abstract and absolute sense. We must 
guard against this by observing that words here 
can never be adequately defined by the diction 
ary, but only by carefully noting the facts they 
are meant to express. Now when w r e consider 
our life at all critically, we come upon two facts. 
First, we have thoughts and feelings and voli 
tions which are inalienably our own. We also 
have a measure of self-control, or the power 


of self -direction. Here, then, we find in our 
experience a certain selfhood and a relative 
independence. This fact constitutes our per 
sonality. The second fact is that we cannot 
regard ourselves as self-sufficient and inde 
pendent in any absolute sense. And a further 
fact is that we cannot interpret our life with 
out admitting both of these facts, and that to 
deny either lands us in contradiction and non 
sense. Now our independence means just that 
experienced limited self-control ; and our de 
pendence means just that experienced lack 
of self-sufficiency. How these two aspects of 
experience can be combined in the same being 
we cannot tell, any more than we can tell how 
freedom and uniformity can be united in the 
same being. But we find them thus united 
nevertheless. It is only as we take the ideas 
abstractly that we find them contradictory ; 
what they may be in reality can be learned 
only from experience. We have no insight 
whatever into real possibility or impossibility 
which will enable us to decide one way or 
the other apart from experience. The depend- 


ence, then, of the finite spirit, in the sense 
of its non-self-sufficiency, does not prove its 
nothingness or unreality ; and this depend 
ence, as said, must be interpreted by the facts 
and not by the dictionary. It is permitted to 
mean only what we find it to mean in living 

The pantheistic view, on the other hand, has 
insuperable difficulties. The problem of know 
ledge, we have before seen, is insoluble except 
as we maintain the freedom of both the finite 
and the infinite spirit. That all things depend 
on God is a necessary affirmation of thought, 
but that all things and thoughts and activities 
are divine is unintelligible in the first place, 
and self-destructive in the next. That God 
should know our thoughts and feelings and 
should perfectly understand and appreciate 
them is quite intelligible, but that our thoughts 
and feelings are his in any other sense is a 
psychological contradiction. If, however, we 
insist on so saying, then reason simply commits 
suicide. It is God who thinks and feels in our 
thinking and feeling, and hence it is God who 



blunders in our blundering and is stupid in our 
stupidity, and it is God who contradicts him 
self in the multitudinous inconsistencies of 
our thinking. Thus error, folly, and sin are 
all made divine, and reason and conscience as 
having authority vanish. 

In addition to these difficulties the divine 
unity itself disappears. What is God s relation 
as thinking our thoughts to God as thinking 
the absolute and perfect thought ? Does he 
become limited, confused, and blind in finite 
experience, and does he at the same time have 
perfect insight in his infinite life ? Does he 
lose himself in the finite so as not to know 
what and who he is, or does he perhaps ex 
haust himself in the finite so that the finite is 
all there is ? But if all the while he has per 
fect knowledge of himself as one and infinite, 
how does this illusion of the finite arise at all 
in that perfect unity and perfect light ? There 
is no answer to these questions so long as the 
Infinite is supposed to play both sides of the 
game. We have a series of unaccountable il 
lusions, and an infinite playing hide and seek 



with itself in a most grotesque metaphysical 
fuddlement. Such an infinite is nothing but 
the shadow of speculative delirium. These 
difficulties can never be escaped so long as 
we seek to identify the finite and the infinite. 
Their mutual otherness is necessary if we are to 
escape the destruction of all thought and life. 1 
This mutual otherness is equally demanded 
by the moral and religious relation which we 
have next to consider. Pantheism is not a re 
ligion, but an inconsistent philosophical specu 
lation. Religion demands the mutual otherness 
of the finite and infinite, in order that the rela 
tion of love and obedience may obtain. Both 
love and religion seek for union, but it is not 
the union of absorption or fusion, but rather 
the union of mutual understanding and sym 
pathy, which would disappear if the otherness 
of the persons were removed. Any intelligible 
or desirable longing after God or identifi 
cation with him would vanish if we should 
" confound the persons." The extravagant 
language of mysticism on this point is the 

1 See Author s Metaphysics, revised edition, p. 102. 


expression of religious desire, and is never to 
be literally taken. 

The metaphysical relation of dependence in 
itself has no religious quality. It applies to all 
finite things alike, and is compatible with com 
plete lack of spiritual sympathy and fellowship, 
as it equally comprises both the good and the 
bad. But while it does not imply a religious 
relation, it is nevertheless a pre-condition of it. 
There would be no religion in a world of self- 
sufficient beings. The religious relation, then, 
is something superinduced upon the more gen 
eral relation of dependence. 

In general, the question of religion has a 
much better standing in the intellectual world 
than it had years ago. The sensational philo 
sophy long held that religion, as a late growth, 
is to be understood through its psychological 
antecedents as a product of evolution. Thus 
it was largely regarded as an adventitious ex 
crescence upon human nature and without any 
real significance for human life, and many 
held that it would be a decided gain for hu 
manity, and especially for the treasury, if re- 


ligion could be finally exorcised. In all this the 
essential ambiguity of empirical and evolution 
doctrine was completely overlooked, and it was 
assumed as a matter of course that that which 
was temporally first in psychological develop 
ment was the truly real, or the material out of 
which all later developments were made. Ac 
cordingly, as the earlier phases of religion, like 
the earlier phases of all things human, were 
pretty crude, it was supposed that these were 
the true originals and essential meaning of 
religion. Now all this has passed away. We 
have come to see that this historical study at 
best could give only the order of temporal 
development, without deciding whether there 
was not some immanent law underlying the 
unfolding. We have equally come to see that 
no development is possible without assuming 
such a law, and that the true nature of a de 
veloping thing can be learned, not by looking 
at the crude beginnings, but only by studying 
the full unfolding of the finished product. If 
we would know what intelligence is, we must 
consider it in its mighty works and not in its 


first, blind gropings. So if we would know 
what religion is, we must consider it in its 
great historical manifestations, rather than in 
the dim imaginings of undeveloped men. 

On all these accounts religion has come to 
be recognized as a great human fact. It is not 
an invention of priests or politicians, nor an 
unimportant annex of life, but it is deep rooted 
in humanity itself. Neither is it something 
that has significance only for the future life; 
for religion is clearly seen to have profound 
significance for this life, either for good or 
evil. There are religions that debase and de 
file; there are religions that industrially cripple 
and politically paralyze the people. The forces 
that make for evil or for obstruction have 
in many cases incarnated themselves in the 
people s religion, and there can be little in 
dustrial progress, or social development, or po 
litical improvement, until the grip of these 
religions has been broken. And, on the other 
hand, religion may be a great source of pro 
gress, of illumination, of inspiration, both for 
the individual and for the people. This 


changed point of view is everywhere apparent 
to one acquainted with the course of thought 
in the last twenty-five years. I never so fully 
realized it before as I did at the World s Fair 
in St. Louis. I attended there an International 
Congress of Arts and Sciences, the members of 


which were scholars from all over the civil 
ized world, and I was greatly impressed by the 
fact that whenever religion was mentioned, or 
whenever any question arose that directly or 
indirectly bore upon it, the references to re 
ligion were all of a friendly kind. It was taken 
for granted as a great human fact, as a fact 
in which human nature culminates, and as a 
fact having the same warrant as all other hu 
man facts. It is to be studied sympathetically, 
therefore, and with an open mind. This is 
indeed progress. 

It is equally gratifying to note that the 
Christian attitude also toward the non-Chris 
tian religions has greatly changed in recent 
years. Christians themselves have been slow 
in understanding the truth and glory of the 
Gospel, the good news of God. For a long 


time it was held that God was good only to 
those to whom the Christian revelation had 
come, and that all others were uncondition 
ally lost. But at last we have learned that| 
God is not made good by the Christian reve 
lation, but only declared and shown to be 
good ; he has always been good ; he has 
always been the Father Almighty, and has 
always had purposes of grace concerning his 
children, whether they knew him or not. 
The insufferable blasphemy that condemned 
the whole non-Christian world indiscriminately 
has utterly disappeared among intelligent 
Christians. The God who has been dealing 
with all past generations is the God of grace 
whom our Lord has revealed, and they are 
still in his hands, whether in this world or in 
any other. 

Similarly, Christian thought has changed 
concerning the great outlying non-Christian 
systems. These also were thought at one 
time to be evil and only evil, and without any 
value whatever for their adherents. Accord 
ingly, it was the fashion to deride and decry 


these religions, to emphasize their shortcom 
ings and failures, and to oppose to them 
Christianity in its ideal form. But further 
study has revealed how unjust all this was, 
and now we have come to believe that the 
great non-Christian systems also had their 
place in God s providential plan for men. We 
find it possible to think of Confucius, Men- 
cius, and Buddha, and many another as veri 
table prophets of the Most High, and as hav 
ing done an important work among the people 
for whom they wrought; not indeed making 
anything perfect, but preparing the way and 
contributing much to the organization and 
development of the people. And this, too, 
should not surprise, still less offend, any 
Christian, for we are told that " a portion of 
the Spirit is given to every man," that "there 
is a light which lighteth every man that com- 
eth into the world ; " that " God is no respec 
ter of persons, but that in every nation he 
that feareth God and worketh righteousness 
is accepted of him." With this faith and our 
conviction that the world always has been in 


the hands of God, we are not surprised but 
rather delighted to find traces of divine guid 
ance and inspiration in other than Christian 
lands ; and when we read the Sacred Books of 
the East we rejoice to find indications of the 
Holy Spirit s presence. This does not mean, 
of course, that these systems are perfect or 
final ; on the contrary, criticism shows how 
far from perfect they are, and that they never 
could build humanity into its best estate ; but 
it does mean that God has not been absent 
from the religious history of the race, and has 
never left himself anywhere without a wit 
ness. The sun does not envy the stars, yet 
they disappear in the brightness of its shin 
ing ; so Christianity does not envy any of 
these lesser lights, but gathers up into itself 
all their illumination so that they, too, disap 
pear in the brightness of its shining. And if 
one should point to the aberrations of these 
other religions in disproof of this view, the 
obvious remark is that Christianity itself has 
gone astray in not a few times and places, 
sinking now and then to as utter supersti- 


tion as could be found in sorcery or incanta 

Any one inclined to emphasize as decisive 
the failure of the non-Christian religions to 
reach their ideal might profitably reflect on 
the history of the Christian churches of west 
ern Asia and northeastern Africa, or on the 
religious rabble that gather and fight, except 
as restrained by Turkish soldiery, about the 
church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

So, then, religion also is a fact of human 
experience, and must receive its recognition 
and interpretation as belonging to reality. 
This fact preeminently leads to a personal 
conception of existence. Pantheism, as said, 
is a philosophy rather than a religion, and 
whenever it is held as a philosophy the need 
of personality soon vindicates itself by some 
form of polytheism. We must now consider 
the direction the normal development of re 
ligion must take. 

Eeligion can begin with almost nothing, 
but it can have a normal unfolding only un 
der appropriate conditions. Keligion is no sim- 


pie and changeless thing, but it is a func 
tion of our whole nature and varies with our 
development. Intellect, heart, conscience, and 
will alike contribute to our religious concep 
tions. Hence when there is little mental or 
moral development the religious instinct can 
cling to a stick or a stone or some low and 
hideous animal. But as life unfolds and intel 
lect is clarified and conscience becomes reg 
nant in our religious thinking, it then appears 
that there are certain conditions that must 
be met by any religion that is to command 
the assent of developed humanity. First of 
all, the object worshiped must be something 
which satisfies the intellect. As I have just 
said, when intellect is asleep almost anything 
can be made a religious object, but when in 
tellect is awake and alert and thought has 
done its work, it then becomes impossible for 
the intellect to worship any being lower than 
the Highest. Religion in idea aims at the per 
fect, and will have the perfect or nothing. 
When our insight is scanty we may content 
ourselves with very imperfect notions; but 


when once the larger vision comes, the older 
conception must either be abandoned or must 
be enlarged to meet the newer insight. This 
fact does away with all low superstitions ; they 
flourish only in the darkness of ignorance. 
But when the mind has been nourished on 
the great truths of science, the great revela 
tions of world study and historical and philo 
sophical study, it becomes simply impossible 
for that mind to rest in any of the forms of 
polytheism and idolatry. Such a mind may 
make the motions of religion for selfish or 


other reasons, but it never really worships in 
any temple where the god is lower than the 
Highest. And if it be said that these images, 
etc., are but symbols, the answer is the same. 
No developed mind can find any worthy sym 
bol of the Highest in animal forms and idola 
trous rites and practices. The intellect stands 
in such a temple either silent or scoffing, and 
this is equally true whether the temple be 
Christian or non-Christian. Intellect has its 
inalienable rights in religion ; and when they 
are not regarded, religion is sure, sooner or 


later, to grovel in abject and paralyzing super 
stition. The history of the Christian religion 
furnishes abundant illustration. 

And equally religious development must take 
the direction of affirming not only a supreme 
reason but also a supreme righteousness. As 
a matter of fact, humanity has been distress 
ingly slow in uniting the ethical and religious 
ideal, and historically there has been a great 
deal of religion that was either non-ethical or 
immoral, the two factors, the religious and the 
ethical, being brought into no vital union. We 
see this in both the ethnic religions and the 
non-Christian universal religions, and we see it 
also even in Christian lands. A great many 
people who are nominally Christians and who 
verily believe themselves to be really such, 
seem to have little thought that their religion 
makes any demands upon their conscience and 
that it should root and result in righteousness. 
Mechanical devices of ritual and the repetition 
of verbal forms appear to be the sum of their 
religion. They differ from other idolaters, not 
in the spirit of their worship, but in the acci- 


dent of its form. But there can be as genuine 
idolatry with words and phrases as with wood 
or stone images. " God is a spirit, and they 
that worship him must worship him in spirit 
and in truth." " He hath showed thee, man, 
what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with thy God ? " These 
great words strike with doom all superstitions 
and all immoral and mechanical religion. It is 
manifest that nothing can claim to be the per 
fect religion in which the religious and ethi 
cal factors are not indissolubly blended. The 
failure to unite these two factors is the great 
source of the hideous and destructive aberra 
tions that have defiled religious history and 
made many religions the enemies of humanity. 
All these must wither away under the rebuk 
ing gaze of the developed intellect and con 

And not only must the object of worship 
be supreme reason and supreme righteousness, 
it must also be supreme goodness. This is a 
continuation of the somewhat negative con- 


ception of righteousness into the positive con- 
ception of ethical love. It is at this point 
that religious thinking has oftenest come 
short. If God is to be of any religious value to 
us and an object of real and adoring worship, 
he must be supremely good. This demand 
has by no means always been understood, 
and in consequence we find a kind of sub 
conscious effort in religious development to 
think a truly ethical thought about God in^ 
connection with a world like this. The outly 
ing religions have largely conceived God as 
indifferent and selfish. The gods of Epicurus 
were deaf or indifferent to human sorrow. 
The God of philosophy has largely been of 
the same sort, a kind of absolute metaphysi 
cal being, with no active moral quality, or if 
moral at all, in an abstract and unreal way. 
Likewise the God of theology for a long time 
hardly attained to any real active goodness, 
such as the thought of ethical love implies. 
This God, too, was rather metaphysically con 
ceived, and his holiness consisted mainly in 
making rules for men and in punishing their 


transgression. He was conceived largely after 
the fashion of the medieval despot, and the 
conception of any obligation on his part to 
his creatures would have been looked upon 
almost as blasphemy. But now we have begun 
to think more clearly and profoundly as to 
what ethical love demands, and with this 
thought the immoral, selfish, and indifferent 
gods have disappeared, and the God of theo 
logy, also, has been greatly modified. We see 
that the law of love applies to power as well 
as to weakness, that the strong ought to bear 
the burdens of the weak and not to please 
themselves ; that the greatest of all must be 
the servant of all, and the chief of burden 
bearers. This insight has already wrought a 
great change in our traditional theology, and 
the end is not yet. We are no longer con 
tent with an absolute being selfishly enjoying 
himself, or with a simply benevolent being 
who gives gifts to men at no cost to himself. 
Such a being falls below the moral heroes of 
our race, and even below the ordinary man and 
woman who live lives of devotion and sacri- 


fice. We cannot worship any being who falls 
below our human ideals of love and good 

It is but an extension of the same thought 
to add that the final religion must be one that 
has a worthy thought of man, and provides a 
task for him which will furnish the will with 
an adequate object and a supreme inspiration. 
We might conceivably get along without any 
religion, but when thought is once awake we 
see that a religion which is to command our 
lives must be one which brings man also to 
his highest estate. We cannot believe in man 
without believing in God, and we cannot be 
lieve in God without believing in man. God s 
goodness itself would disappear if the religion 
did not mean our highest life and blessing ; 
and if our life is to end with the visible scene 
and we are to be cast aside like the worn-out 
straw sandals of the coolies, then religion it 
self collapses ; the universe is a failure, and 
God is a failure, too. It is not a selfish interest 
on our part which dictates thoughts like this. 
It is rather the desire to think worthily of 


God and of his work, and that is impossible 
so long as we fail to think worthily of man 
and of his destiny in God s plan. 

Here again the non-Christian religions have 
largely come short : they have not been able 
to think consistently, and in such a way as to 
carry conviction, of the destiny of man. They 
have wavered between annihilation and a 
dreary round of undesirable existence, with 
no power to awe or attract. And here again 
Christianity is a revelation of supreme signifi 
cance and magnificent audacity. Looked at 
from the outside we are animals like the other 
animals, having the human form, indeed, and 
yet subject to the same general laws as the 
animal world, birth and death, hunger and 
pain, labor and weariness. But our Christian 
faith holds that this is only the outward ap 
pearance, not the inward spiritual fact. We 
are now the children of God, and it doth not 
yet appear what we shall be, but we know 
that when he shall appear we shall be like 
him, for we shall see him as he is. And thus 
our life is transformed. We are not simply the 


highest in the animal world, we are also and 
more essentially children of the Highest, made 
in his image likewise, and to go on forever- 
more with him ; made, as the old catechism 
had it, to glorify God and to enjoy him for 
ever, growing evermore into his likeness and 
into ever deepening sympathy and fellow 
ship with the eternal as we go on through 
the unending years, until we are " filled with 
all the fullness of God." This is the true 
evolution. Man is making, he is not yet 

" All about him shadow still, but, while the races flower and 

Prophet eyes may catch a glory slowly gaining on the 


There is darkness enough in the valleys, 
no doubt, but there is also a gleam upon the 
hills and a glow in the upper air. 

These are great dreams. They are not 
dreams that speculation can justify, neither 
are they dreams that speculation can discredit. 
They are rooted in the spiritual nature and 
historical life of our race. If criticism denies 
knowledge it equally overthrows unbelief, and 


leaves all room for belief if life and its un 
folding needs point that way. This is no small 
service. This is not a machine and dead world, 
but a world of life and personality and morals 
and religion ; and in such a world it is per 
mitted to see visions and dream dreams, to 
form ideals and live in their inspiration, and 
to venture beyond knowledge in obedience 
to those " high instincts " which have always 
been, and still remain, the " fountain light " of 
all our spiritual day. 

Reference was made in the beginning to 
Comte s doctrine of the three stages of human 
thought, the theological, the metaphysical, 
and the positive. Comte held that the first two 
must disappear, and only the last remain. He 
was right as respects the abstract metaphysical, 
but we retain the other two. We are positivists 
in respect to science, and theologians as re 
spects causation. This view conserves and sat 
isfies all our essential human interests in this 
field, and vacates a mass of impersonal philo 
sophizing which criticism shows to be baseless, 


and which in experience has often proved itself 
to be an enemy of humanity. 

And now I wish, with expressions of apology 
for the repetition it will involve, to consider 
the practical bearing and application of per- 
sonalism in dealing with our concrete problems. 
The abstract method, with its resulting abstrac 
tions, has taken such hold of popular thinking 
that no single exhortation will serve to root it 

We have again and again pointed out that 
experience is first and basal in all living and 
thinking, and that all theorizing must go out 
from experience as its basis, and must return 
to it for verification. With this understanding, 
we see that science of the saner and deeper 
type is in no way disturbed by our phenome- 
nalistic teaching. We know that there are 
various ways of behavior among things, or 
ways of being and happening among the facts 
of experience, and that science has the func 
tion of investigating these, and of discover 
ing, describing, and registering them for the 
guidance of life. This study can go on practi- 


cally on the basis of any metaphysical scheme ; 
for even our metaphysics, while of use in un 
derstanding life, does not really in any way 
make or modify it. As was pointed out in our 
first lecture, if we should become nihilists or 
agnostics it would not alter the way in which 
things actually do hang together in the order 
of experience, and would leave the practical 
work of life untouched. What would really 
follow in that case would be simply that by 
way of speculation we could not interpret life, 
but life itself with its practical expectations 
and their practical verifications in experience 
would still remain, and we should be practi 
cally no worse off than before. The only thing 
that is forbidden by our general view is sci 
ence as a dogmatic system, which, however, is 
not science, but merely a species of philosophy 
without foundation. 

As was said in treating of empiricism and 
apriorism, both doctrines leave a very impor 
tant question untouched, namely, whether the 
order of life can be practically depended upon. 
No system of philosophy gives any answer to 


this except a dogmatic one, which simply mis 
takes the monotonies of dogmatic thinking 
for the fundamental laws of existence. Our 
view, therefore, leaves science in no worse 
plight than it is on any other scheme of 
thought. The practical trustworthiness of life 
can be learned only from experience and 
verified only in experience. When then our 
affirmations respecting the order of nature 
are far and permanently removed from any 
practical bearing, they must become vague 
and insecure. This insight must be regarded 
as a distinct advance in philosophical reflec 
tion. Those dogmatic systems that deal with 
the infinities and eternities never had any 
proper foundation, as Kant taught us to see, 
and they were continual sources of theoretical 
onslaughts on the practical interests of life. 
It is therefore something to be clear of them. 
At the same time all fruitful practical science 
remains untouched. We may go on looking 
for the uniformities among things and events, 
and applying the knowledge thus gained to 
the control of life, with all practical confi- 


dence. Yet we must always remember that 
the space and time world of phenomena roots 
in a mysterious world of power, and that we 
must therefore refrain from erecting our space 
and time system into anything absolute and 

The question of the warrant of knowledge 
has never been conceived with perfect clear 
ness. The debate between the empirical and 
the apriori school has been carried on on the 
assumption that the validity of knowledge 
absolutely depended upon it. This is only 
partly true. There are two questions at issue 
between these schools, the form, and the val 
idity of knowledge ; and these two are to some 
extent independent. The empiricist seeks to 
explain the subjective form of knowledge by 
the association of sensations, and here his 
failure is complete. The rationalist rightly 
points out that the form of experience, even 
as mental fact and without any reference to 
its validity, cannot be explained in this way. 
Hume himself could not account for this form 
without assuming a very active " mental pro- 


pensity to feign," that is, without admitting 
the rational nature. Thus sensationalism is 
canceled ; it cannot explain the form of know 
ledge and still less the validity of knowledge. 
As between the two schools, then, we must 
side with the rationalists. But, unfortunately 
for our speculative peace, it turns out when 
the question of validity is raised that the two 
schools are not so far apart ; for the apriori 
doctrine itself has been used for limiting 
knowledge to appearances only. Kant and 
Hume were far enough apart in their doctrine 
of knowledge, but they agreed more nearly in 
their metaphysics than is commonly recog 
nized. Hume said that reason is a weak faculty, 
so that by way of speculation we can attain to 
no knowledge or science. Kant said that the 
reason is full of illusions when it transcends 
experience, so that a knowledge of things in 
themselves, or other than appearances, is for 
ever denied to us. But both Hume and Kant 
admitted that we cannot practically rest in 
this result, but must fall back on faith in the 
practical needs and interests of life. Thus the 


two men, who were antipodal in their epistem- 
ology, practically coincided in their metaphys 
ics. Again, Kant belabored Berkeley for his 
subjective idealism, but here, too, the differ 
ence was rather epistemological than meta 
physical ; for Kant s own doctrine of pheno 
mena, when made consistent, differs little from 
Berkeley s view. And, in general, as we have 
seen, the apriorist can never do more than out 
line the general forms of experience, without 
giving any security for its concrete contents 
and relations. But without this security it is 
plain that knowledge is theoretically exposed 
to doubt, and thus, it may be said, skepticism 
finally triumphs. 

The answer is that this is only a formal tri 
umph of no practical significance. For a uni 
versal skepticism is really none. It casts equal 
doubt upon everything, and thus leaves all our 
beliefs in the same relation to one another as 
before. The only significant skepticism is one 
which finds ground for special doubt, and the 
only dangerous skepticism is one that discred 
its the higher interests of our nature in the 


name of the lower. But to doubt everything 
is practically to doubt nothing. Such a doubt 
is only a question of the general trustworthi 
ness of life, and this question can be solved 
only in living. Theoretically it is always in 
consistent, and practically it becomes only a 
pretext for rejecting anything we dislike. For 
the inferences that have been drawn from uni 
versal skepticism have generally been illogical 
and partisan. One of the humors of the his 
tory of thought is the zeal with which Hume s 
doctrine has been played off against religion, 
in complete unconsciousness of the fact that 
it is quite as effective against science. In both 
cases the true conclusion is that by way of 
speculation we can justify neither religion nor 
science ; but since speculation itself is discred 
ited, we need not be concerned at its failure. 
But life still remains with all its practical in 
terests, and we are permitted to believe and 
assume whatever this practical life may suggest 
or demand, and that without being molested 
by speculative philosophy. It is true that no 
thing can be speculatively justified, and just as 


little can anything be speculatively discredited. 
Logic and reason being set aside as guides of 
life, our instincts remain and we may live by 
them if we choose. As was pointed out in the 
first lecture, we might even become nihilists 
in metaphysics without changing any practical 
belief or expectation. For life is as it is and 
may well be worth living, whatever our meta 
physics ; and for all we can say life may go on 
through an indefinite variety of future forms, 
whatever our metaphysics. The fearsome con 
clusions drawn by the skeptic are due to the 
attempt to reason after reason has been dis 

We are greatly helped in this matter by the 
growing insight into the practical nature of 
belief. One of the superstitions of a superfi 
cial intellectualism has been the fancy that 
belief should always be the product of formal 
logical processes. But, in fact, the great body 
of our fundamental beliefs are not deductions 
but rather formulations of life. Our practical 
life has been the great source of belief and 
the constant test of its practical validity, that 


is, of its truth. Such beliefs are less a set of 
reasoned principles than a body of practical 
postulates and customs which were born in 
life, which express life, and in which the fun 
damental interests and tendencies of the mind 
find expression and recognition. In this way 
the great organism of belief is built up. It 
grows out of life itself. It is wrought out in\ 
action rather than in speculation, and has the 
significance of any other great natural pro 
duct. As soon as we bring the order of life 
and belief under the notion of law, we see 
that it has in a way cosmic significance. It 
is no accident or whim of the individual, but 
is rooted in the nature of things. Thus the 
great catholic beliefs of humanity become ex 
pressions of reality itself, and on any theory 
of knowledge they must be allowed to stand, 
unless there be some positive disproof. Their 
teleological nature is manifest. They are not 
here for themselves, but for what they can 
help us to. They are the expressions of life 
and also the instruments by which life realizes 
itself. This insight is a great advance upon 


the method of rigor and vigor, which sought 
formally to deduce whatever is to be believed. 
At last life and experience themselves are in 
stalled as the great source of practical belief, 
and we have sufficiently recovered from the 
superstition of intellectualism to be able once 
more to trust the order of life and our moral 
and spiritual instincts.^ 

Science, we have before said, must always 
be classificatory and descriptive, and can never 
deal with the true causes and reasons of things. 
This, we have pointed out, is true even for 
dynamical science, which many think gives the 
real agencies of the world. It should be added 
as an implication of this fact, that the several 
sciences should deal with their various classes 
of facts as they are given in experience, with 
out distorting them to make them fit some 


other group. What we really desire is a deal 
ing with the facts in accordance with their 
true nature, and not a wresting of the facts for 
the sake of some all-inclusive generalization 
which explains nothing. Oversight of the rel 
ative and nominalistic nature of much of our 


classification, together with the unchastened 
hankering after totality and systematic com 
pleteness, is perpetually leading the dogmatic 
mind to sweep all things together into some 
vague but pretentious generalization which 
promises to make all things one, but which 
succeeds only by ignoring all the essential 
characters of things. 

This resolute adherence to experience is a 
counsel of perfection which cannot be too 
much insisted upon. In the mental realm it is 
of such importance that we may be excused 
for further dwelling upon it. In this realm 
beyond all others there has been a tendency 
to distort the facts, or to substitute something 
else for them. In fact there has been com 
paratively little properly logical and scientific 
work done in psychology. A truly scientific 
procedure under the guidance of a critical 
logic would aim of course to find what the 


psychological facts are without any admixture 
of theory, and to determine their laws in their 
own terms. This would give us at least the 
psychological facts, and might also give us 


some of the uniformities that obtain among 
them. Unfortunately, for various reasons, 
another method has been largely followed. 
The result is that theories about the facts have 
very largely been substituted for the facts, and 
various metaphors, drawn from the physical 
realm, have wrought no small damage. It is 
plain that language in this region must be fig 
urative or metaphorical. We have no direct 
means of telling or describing our internal 
states except by the use of physical figures, 
which never accurately represent the facts, but 
which we set forth as symbols of the facts, in 
the hope that others may understand us. But 
when, as often happens, the figure itself is 
mistaken for the fact, then confusion lieth at 
the door. There is really no physical fact or 
analogy that rightly represents any intellect 
ual fact or process whatever. But by identi 
fying the physical figure with the mental fact, 
it becomes easy to mistake an exegesis of the 
metaphor for a dealing with the fact. Thus 
language has been a great source of aberration 
in psychology. Another source of error closely 


allied to this is the fact that we tend to think 
of things under space forms and to substitute 
the body for the personality. This tendency 
also serves to hide the mental facts from us 
in their true nature, and when it is finished 
it not infrequently bringeth forth materialism. 
The mythologies of cerebral psychology serve 
as illustration. For errors of this kind the 
sufficient prescription is to adhere to the con 
crete experience. When the mental facts are 
seen in their true nature, the impossibility of 
assimilating them to any kind of physical fact 
is at once obvious. 

The same prescription must be observed in 
dealing with the physical conditions of the 
mental life. The relations of mind and body 
can be described only in terms of concomitant 
variation. From an inductive standpoint the 
causality between them is mutual; that is, 
physical states are accompanied by various 
mental states, and conversely various mental 
states are accompanied by physical states. 
There is a field here for study of these con 
comitant variations, a knowledge of which 


may have considerable practical value. But 
we must be equally careful here to confine 
ourselves to the data of experience and not 
proceed to romantic excesses of theory as has 
often been done. A misunderstanding of the 
doctrine of the conservation of energy has led 
to some very naive work on the part of psy 
chologists and physicists alike. It has been 
thought that we must never hold that the 
mind affects the body or that the body affects 
the mind, because to do so would be to violate 
this great doctrine, which is often mentioned 
as the corner-stone of science. If we take this 
notion in earnest it would imply that our 
thoughts have nothing whatever to do with 

c? o 

the control of our bodies, and that our physi 
cal conditions contain no reason for our men 
tal states. Of course the scientific doctrine 
contains no warrant for any such romantic 
nonsense as this. The doctrine itself simply 
affirms a certain quantitative equivalence in 
the transformation of energy, and that only 
on certain assumed conditions. It does not 
tell us, for instance, that there might not be 


direction of our bodies from some spiritual 
principle in interaction with them ; it leaves 
that to be decided by experience. Within the 
inorganic realm there is good reason for be 
lieving that this equivalence is maintained, 
though even here we must beware of erecting 
the doctrine into an absolute principle. This 
would be to fall a prey to the uncritical dog 
matic desire for totality in the physical realm. 
But whether our thoughts and purposes have 
any influence upon our physical states is to 
be determined by experience only, and in con 
ducting experiments for deciding the matter 
almost any one is as wise as the wisest physi 
cist. If anything more than a small measure 
of good sense were needed, sufficient evidence 
would be found in the emphasis which the 
medical world is now placing on mental states 
as cause or cure of disease. Discounting, then, 
the vagaries of continuity theorists, we may 
look for such laws as we may discover for the 
interaction of physical and mental states, and 
make what use we can of them without being 
disturbed by the conservation of energy. In 


general we must maintain a somewhat agnostic 
attitude towards all speculation on this sub 
ject, which goes beyond some few principles 
which may be verified in experience. Such are 
the laws of concomitant development, laws of 
habit, laws of health, laws of rest and repair, 
general laws of the mutual influence of body 
on mind and mind on body. We know the 
physical echoes the mental, and that the men 
tal varies with the physical. Laws of this kind 
lie open to investigation, but whatever lies be 
yond them in the way of abstract speculation 
must be received with the utmost caution. 

Not to form abstract theories but to formu 
late and understand this personal life of ours 
is the first and last duty of philosophy. This 
must be done in its own terms. To tell us 
that this life as lived is a case of matter and 
motion is nonsense. To tell us that this life 
is explained by matter and motion is equally 
nonsense. This is simply to introduce an ab 
straction from experience as the explanation 
of experience. We must indeed be careful to 
recognize the order of law which we call na- 


ture, but we must also be careful not to erect 
it into any self-sufficient existence or power 
that does things on its own account. For us 
nature is only an order of uniformity, estab 
lished and maintained by an ever-living and 
ever-acting Intelligence and Will. Nature is 
a function of the will and purpose of the ever- 
present God. And this uniformity, so far from 
oppressing us or destroying our freedom, is 
the absolute pre-supposition of our having 
any freedom or rational life whatever. It is a 
fancy of dogmatic naturalism that a system 
of law shuts up everything to a rigid fixity 
which can be modified only by irruption and 
violence ; but this is true only for a fictitious 
system, the product of the dogmatic imagina 
tion. In actual experience we find an order 
of law and we also find that order within cer 
tain limits pliable to our will and aims. The 
order of law is the one thing that founds 
our control of nature, and by means of it we 
continue to bring to pass many things which 
the system of law, left to itself, would never 
accomplish. All machines of human invention 


owe their value to the order of law, but that 
order alone would never have produced any 
of them. We plant some wheels and shafting 
at the foot of a waterfall, and the force of 
gravity is at our service for the driving of 
looms, the grinding of flour, the lighting 
of a city, etc., but gravity alone would never 
have done it. The order of law is a pre-sup- 
position of it all, but we count for something 
after all. 

This is the way the facts lie in experience, 
and when we duly consider it we see that the 
uniformity we call law is by no means incom 
patible with the self-direction we call freedom. 
Even in thought itself, as we saw in discuss 
ing freedom, uniformity can as little dispense 
with freedom as freedom can dispense with 
uniformity. The laws of thought, which are 
absolute uniformities of reason, do not insure 
right thinking without the self-control of the 
free spirit. There is no self-control without 
the laws, and there is no effective rationality 
without the self-control. And in the mental 
life as a whole we find the same fact ; there 


are laws which found self-control, and there 
is self-control which realizes itself through 
these laws. If there were no dependable order 
in our mental states, all self -direction, educa 
tion, mental development, mutual intercourse 
would cease. 

When it comes to combination, the order of 
law merely prescribes the outcome or result 
ant of the component factors. If magnets are 
revolved under certain conditions, there will 
be an electric current. If a lighted match be 
touched to dry gunpowder, there will be an 
explosion. If a certain law is passed under 
given social conditions, it will have certain 
consequences. The consequences are at once 
uniform and conditional. The laws will apply 
to all conditions if they arise, but do not pre 
scribe how the conditions shall arise nor what 
they shall be. In this respect they are like 
the rules of grammar, which never tell us 
what shall be said, but only how it shall be 
said. The system of law, then, as experienced, 
is no self -inclosed system, but one capable 
of receiving modifications from without, yet 


without any violation of the laws. Thus for 
every believer in freedom there are mental 
states or acts which cannot be deduced from 
the antecedent mental states. By their very 
nature they lie beyond scientific explanation, 
yet when they have arisen they become subject 
to the fundamental laws of mental action. 
So with our sensations, they cannot be de 
duced from the antecedent state of mind, but 
are excited from without. But after they have 
been excited they then combine according to 
certain laws inherent in the nature of the 
mind. Hence the integrity of the mental order 
does not consist in a self-inclosed continuity 
of mental states, but in the identity of the 
mental laws which determine the combina 
tion and succession of mental states, however 
produced. The same must be said of the cos- 
mical order. Here, too, there is much which 
cannot be explained by antecedent states of 
the system. Human thought and purpose have 
realized themselves in the physical world, and 
have produced effects which the system, left 
to itself, would never have reached. But these 


interventions violate no laws of nature. The 
effect produced enters at once into the great 
web of law, and is combined with other effects 
according to a common scheme. Hence the 


integrity of the cosmic order does not con 
sist in a self-inclosed movement, but in the 
subjection of all its factors to the same gen 
eral laws. It is only in this sense that we 
can speak of the continuity of nature. The 
continuity is not in any substantial something 
called nature, but solely in the sameness of 
the laws according to which nature is admin 
istered, and of the purpose which is being 
realized through it. 1 

In the strict sense of the word, nothing what 
ever can be explained by the antecedent state 
of the system. When we have had experience 
of the order the antecedents may often be such 
as to lead us to expect certain consequents, 
but they are never such that we can deduce 
the consequents as any necessary implication. 
Even the familiar order of life is opaque to 
us, and we know not the ways of the power 

1 See Author s Metaphysics, revised edition, p. 267. 


at work. We can as little deduce the later 
phases from the earlier as we can deduce . the 
later parts of an opera from the first act. It 
all depends on what is going on in the invisi 
ble world of powers ; and for even the show 
of real insight we must have recourse either 
to the empty notion of the " nature of things/ 
or to the conception of purpose which is guid 
ing the power. Temporal and spatial antece 
dents explain nothing so long as we remain 
in the phenomenal realm. Suppose two per 
sons of traditional ways of thinking, but one 
traditionally religious and the other tradition 
ally irreligious, should discuss the question 
whether a cold and rainy season, with resultant 
bad crops, were a divine admonition to men, 
lest they forget. They would likely wrangle 
indefinitely over the adequacy or inadequacy 
of the "antecedents," whereas the only real 
question would be whether the event, taken 
in connection with all its circumstances, sug- 


gested purpose on the part of the hidden 

Thus I have sought to explain and illustrate 


what is meant by speaking of nature as a func 
tion of will and purpose, and to do it in such 
a way as shall conserve the interest of all sane 
and sober science of the non-dogmatic type, 
and at the same time provide for the higher 
moral and spiritual interests of humanity. Na 
ture is not here for its own sake, or to keep 
\M F 2 a constant quantity. If we are in 
a personal world, the final cause of nature 
must be sought in the personal and moral realm. 
Criticism frees us from all the naturalistic night 
mares of necessity and a self -running material 
world, and allows us to trust our higher human 
instincts once more. Philosophy replaces the 
infinitely far God by the God who is infinitely 
near, and in whom we live and move and have 
our being. But for the practical realization 
of this divine presence, logic and speculation 
can do little for us. This belief must be lived 
to acquire any real substance or controlling 
character. This is the case with all practical 
and concrete beliefs. If we ignore them prac 
tically we may soon accost them skeptically ; 
and they vanish like a fading gleam. Or we 


may build them in to life and organize our livesi 
around them, and they become " truths that 
wake to perish never." "To as many as re 
ceive him) to them gives he power to become 
the sons of God." 





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The Outlook 

" A suggestive and helpful discussion of a 
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thinkers to-day." 

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and the Bible, and God and Religion, con 
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