Arthur Kenyon Rogers.

English and American philosophy since 1800, a critical survey online

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Student's History of Philosophy
The Religious Conception of the World
Brief Introduction to Modern Philosophy
Essays in Critical Realism (in collabora-
tion with six others)






All rights reserved


Copyright, 1922,

Set ttp and printed. Published May, 1922.

Press of

J. J. Little & Ives Company

New York, U. S. A.


In making an attempt to estimate the philosophical ideas
of the last century and a quarter, I have endeavored as a his-
torian to be accurate, and as impartial as nature will permit
a philosopher to be when dealing with opinions more or less
out of harmony with his own. But it may prevent misleading
anticipations if I confess at the start that the tracing of his-
torical affiliations and historical causes has had only a second-
ary interest for me, and that the book as a whole is frankly
propaganda, and designed to recommend one particular atti-
tude as against competing attitudes; apart from this critical
interest, it is not very likely that the work would have been car-
ried through. If it were urged that fewer pages of criticism, and
more attention to historical and descriptive data, would have
resulted in a more generally useful volume, I do not know
that I should be prepared to combat the claim; though I think
it might be argued that one way, and at times the only way,
to give an intelligible account of a philosophical doctrine, es-
pecially of the more esoteric sort, is by pointing out its limita-
tions and obscurities. My real excuse however for writing a
book in which criticism plays so large a part is that I wanted
to do so.

The particular philosophical standpoint which the following
pages presuppose as a background, is one which, I am regret-
fully aware, many philosophers, perhaps most of them, will
regard as lamentably crude and unadventurous. Typically
two conceptions have been predominant in the history of
thought — the psychological, and the logical. For the one,
reality is to be interpreted as experience, beyond which the
philosopher should not attempt to pry, "experience" stand-


vi Preface

ing for the actual stuff of human living, to the exclusion of
any more ultimate or "metaphysical" source in the nature of
things. For the other, the traditional demands of the dia-
lectician are supreme, with the result that reality itself tends
to turn into a system of logical relations such as will satisfy
these demands. As against both these ideals of method, I
have assumed constantly that the business of philosophy is
to clarify and to bring into harmony, but also in the end to
justify substantially, the fundamental beliefs that are implicated
in our normal human interests; and that this reference to the
needs of living, in a wide and generous interpretation, furnishes
the touchstone by which alone the sanity of philosophical rea-
sonings and conclusions can be tested. And put to such a
test, both empiricism and rationalism, in their more technical
sense, seem to me to stand condemned. While philosophy
aims of course at logical consistency, thought, or logic, is an
instrument, and not the constitutive stuff out of which the
world is made; and even as an instrument its conclusions, in
the hands of human thinkers, are tog fsdlible and precarious
to be safely substituted for the convictions by which human
life and human values are sustained. Empiricism, on the other
hand, in spite of its laudable insistence on translating meta-
physical reality into homely concrete matter of fact, is clearly
guilty of a paradox when it denies the right of anything to set
up as a fact unless it be a part of some human experience-
process. In assuming that belief, rather than experience, is the
starting-point of our cognitive contact with the world, — or, if
one prefers, that "experience" includes a reference to the nat-
ural setting within which life goes on, as well as to the im-
mediate facts of experiencing, — I conceive that I am really
moFe empirical than the empiricists. Of course I know that
the assumption will not approve itself to all philosophers. But
if, as seems unavoMable, any fundamental criticism in phi-
losophy must start with the acceptance of an attitude, or a

Preface vii

notion of what is reasonable and convincing, which is itself
debatable, I do consider it an advantage when this attitude
comes naturally to the human mind, and does not have to be
induced by a special training in some school of metaphysics.

I ought perhaps also to say that philosophy here, in line
with the purpose I have just set forth, is taken in a some-
what restricted sense, to the exclusion of certain matters which
a history of philosophy might be expected to cover. For the
most part I propose to deal only with those central and illumi-
nating points of view which constitute a man's "philosophy" in
the distinctive sense; and the special philosophical disciplines,
accordingly, receive attention only as they have some pretty
direct bearing upon this. There are, for example, technical
developments in the realm of logic and scientific method, that
many would rate as of large importance for the history of
thought, of which no account in detail will be found in these
pages. Even in the field of ethics, and of metaphysics itself,
such technical problems as are separable from a comprehensive
philosophic outlook are relatively neglected.

After some hesitation, it has seemed to me best also to make
no attempt to cover recent developments in philosophy which
so far are confined to the pages of the philosophical journals.
This does not indicate my opinion of their value; the last few
years have seen an imusual amount of acute and original think-
ing, some of which conceivably may bulk large in the immedi-
ate future.




Section i. Reid. Thomas Brown

I. Introduction i

^^2-6. Thomas Reid . , 3

7. Dugald Stewart 12

8. Thomas Brown 13

Section 2. Hamilton. Mansel. The Edinburgh

^^^ 1-7. Sir William Hamilton 16

8. Dean Mansel 29

9. Francis Jeffrey 32

10. Sydney Smith 33

11. Sir James Mackintosh 34

Section 3. Other Intuitionalists. Calderwood.
Martineau. Ferrier

1. The Scottish School 36

2. Henry Calderwood 38

3. James McCosh 39

^^^ 4. James Martineau 40

^^ 5-7. James Ferrier 41


Section i. Bentham. James Mill

I. Introduction 49

^^ 2-4. Jeremy Bentham 50

' ^.- 5-1 1. James Mill 55


X Contents


Section 2. John Stuart Mill 64

Section 3. The Philosophical Radicals. Bain.
Austin. J. F. Stephen. Sidgwick

I. George Grote 86

^ 2. Alexander Bain 87

3. John Austin . 91

4. J. F. Stephen 92

,. 5. Henry Sidgwick 93


Section i. Thomas Arnold. The Oxford Move-
ment. Newman

1. Richard Whately 96

2. Thomas Arnold 97

3. The Oxford Movement 100

4-9. John Henry Newman loi

10. W. G. Ward 109

Section 2. Liberalism in Theology. Coleridge.
Maurice. Matthew Arnold

I. Wordsworth no

2-3. Coleridge in

4. F. D. Maurice 116

Chas. Kingsley 120

J. R. Seeley 121

Benjamin Jowett 122

The Rationalists 123

J. A. Froude 125

Matthew Arnold 125


Section i. Thomas Buckle. Darwin and Evolu-

Contents xi


I. Robert Owen. Thomas Buckle 128

2-4. Darwin 131

Section 2. Herbert Spencer 135

Section 3. G. H. Lewes 166

Section 4. Thomas Huxley . 174

Section 5. Other Representatives of Naturalism.
Clifford. Naturalistic Ethics

1. John Tyndall 184

2. George Meredith. Grant Allen 184

3. Henry Maudsley 185

4. W. K. Qifford 186

5. W. W. Reade 189

6. The Positivists 189

7. George Meredith 191

8. Edith Simcox 193

9. Leslie Stephen 194

Section 6. Evolution and Religion. Browning

1. Evolution and Theism 197

2. John Fiske 198 yi

3. Joseph Le Conte 199

4. G. J. Romanes 199

5. The Duke of Argyle. Henry Drummond . . 200

6. Benjamin Kidd 201

7-9. Browning . 202


Section i. Transcendentalism in Literature. Car-
LYLE. Emerson

I. Introduction 207

2-4. Carlyle 208

5-8. Emerson 213

xii Contents


^^^^ECTiON 2. T. H. Green

I. Hutchinson Stirling 220

' ^^2-17. T. H. Green 220

18. John and Edward Caird 248

^^^ Section 3. F. H. Bradley 250

^^ Section 4. Bernard Bosanquet 264

^:. Section 5. Josiah Royce 283^^

Section 6. The Idealistic School. McTaggart.
HowisoN. Hocking. Laurie. Seth

1. English Idealists 297

2. American Idealists 298

3. H. H. Joachim 299

4. J. M. E. McTaggart ........ 300

5. G. H. Howison 303

/ 6. W. E. Hocking 304

^ 7. S. S. Laurie 307

^ 8. Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison 309


Section i. Personality and Religion. Personal

1. Introduction 315

2. Tennyson 317

3. A. C. Eraser 319

4. A. J. Balfour 320

5. W. R. Sorley. Personal Idealism . . . . 322

6. John Grote 323

7. Theism 324

Section 2. Panpsychism

^ I. Introduction 325

Contents xiii


2. Samuel Butler 326

3. James Hinton 326

^. Carveth Read 327

^^5-9. James Ward 328

10-13. C. A. Strong 335

Section 3. Realism. Hodgson. Hobhouse. San-


1. Epistemological Realism . . . . . . . 339

2. Physical Realism. Thomas Case .... 341

3-5. Shadworth Hodgson 343

6-7. L. T. Hobhouse 348-

Y^^8-ii. George Santayana 351-

^ 12. Robert Adamson 357


Section i. Peirce. Schiller

I. Introduction 359

^ 2. C. S. Peirce 360

3-6. F. C. S. Schiller 362

Section 2. William James 368

ECTioN 3. John Dewey 388

Section 4. Other Pragmatists. Pearson. Baldwin

1. Other Pragmatists 406

2. Karl Pearson 407

^ 3. J. M. Baldwin 409


Section i. English Neo-realism. G. E. Moore

/^ 1-2. Introduction 411

3-6. G. E. Moore 413

xiv Contents


Section 2. S. Alexander

1-5. S. Alexander 421

6. Other Neo-realists 428


ECTiON 3. Bertrand Russell 429

Section 4. American Neo-realism. Perry. Holt

I. The New Realism 440

2-3. R. B. Perry 441

''^ 4. E. B. Holt 446

5. E. G. Spaulding 448

Section 5. Conclusion . . . • • • . . . 449




§ I. Reid. Thomas Brown

I. The close of the eighteenth century in England was one
of those recurrent periods when speculative curiosity about the
bases of human existence and human belief seems almost to
have vanished from the mind. It is only in the field of po-
litical philosophy that genuine creative activity is visible; here
indeed three names lend to the period real distinction. In
William Godwin, a thin but acute intelligence, we find a sin-
cere pyassion for liberty and equal justice that is still not unim-
pressive, though it is turned into the somewhat shallow chan-
nels of a rationalistic and individualistic logic which renders
it an easy prey to the scornful. Quite at the opposite extreme
from Godwin stands the powerful and florid personality of
Burke, who was uttering noble truisms to prove that liberty
is an overrated blessing, and that reforms are only justified
when they involve no element of risk to men of property and
breeding. Meanwhile Jeremy Bentham, engaged in trying to
get an English ministry interested in the good work of re-
forming law and building model prisons, was already beginning
to suspect that something besides ignorance and inattention lies
back of that lack of passionate regard for the greatest good of

' 2' ' ' ' English and American Philosophy

the greatest number which rulers sometimes display, and was
laying the foundation for the hardheaded and non-Utopian
radicalism about which cluster the most influential intellectual
tendencies of the first half of the nineteenth century. But
even Bentham, although there are to be found in him the roots
of a comprehensive utilitarian philosophy that later becomes
explicit in James Mill, has almost no interest in first principles
except as they lend themselves directly to practical ends.

Two opposing tendencies of thought were in possession of the
field at the opening of the new century. Both of these had
their center of gravity in an empirical observation of the
human mind, and both were marked by a plodding patience of
analysis rather than by any inspired sense for the vitalities of
the human spirit. In a little group of literary men, influenced
partly by their own genius, and in part also by the new Ger-
man romanticism, a more humanistic attitude toward things
of the mind was already making its appyearance; but it was not
till later that this came to have any wide influence on prevalent
ways of thought. For the present, the few who took an in-
terest in philosophy at all found themselves divided chiefly on
the question of whether mental processes are to be explained by
the laws of association at work upon the material of sense, or
whether there is need to call in besides certain ultimate and un-
explainable truths of intuition. The first tendency, to which
the Utilitarian movement was presently to attach itself, had its
chief prophet in David Hartley; and its most vigorous ex-
ponent in the latter part of the century was the radical Uni-
tarian minister Joseph Priestley. The other and opposing
tendency goes back to the revolt of Thomas Reid against the
sceptical idealism of Hume. It was this second school — of
Scottish intuitionalism — which occupied the most commanding
position at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Profess-
ing as it did to stand as the champion of religion and morality
against scepticism and materialism, it was naturally in better
odor in academic circles, and for the time being it had an

Thomas Reid 3

advantage also in the comparative talents of its defenders. It
will be convenient, therefore, to take the so-called Scottish
school as the starting point for the present exposition. And
this will prove unintelligible without going back to Reid him-
self, though Reid of course belongs wholly to the preceding

2. Since the vogue of German Idealism, it has been com-
monly assumed that all earlier forms of intuitionalism have
been superseded once for all by the work of Kant and his suc-
cessors. That the Scotch philosophers were far less subtle in
their metaphysics is obviously true; but this is not in every
way a disadvantage. Kant approached his problem under the
sway of highly elaborated and technical prepossessions, and he
felt compelled to shape his answer with these always in view.
He was in much the same case as the liberal theologian who
sets out to free religion from its dogmatism, but who feels at
liberty to do so only by a revaluation of the accepted formu-
lations of the past. In both instances the task might have
been easier, and better done, if it had been approached in a
simpler and more direct way.

The exaltation of the part which underived and undebatable
principles play in knowledge might easily lend itself, as later
critics were fond of pointing out, to a readiness to accept as
final whatever is familiar and congenial to the mind, and so to
an illiberal conservatism in politics and religion. In calling
itself the philosophy of Common Sense, the Scottish school did
nothing to lessen this danger. Interpreted cautiously the
phrase is not objectionable, even if it is not altogether felici-
tous. The intuitionists wanted to repudiate merely reasoned
or speculative conclusions, in favor of those first principles,
shown ultimate and general in analysis, which we are under the
necessity of taking for granted in the business of life without
being able to give for them a logical proof. Judgments of
"common sense," in addition to the fact of their general accept-
ance and their importance for conduct, have also this char-

4 English and American Philosophy

acter of sure immediacy. They go straight to the mark by a
sort of quick intuitive decision, and in consequence may serve
to supply a title for a philosophy which seeks to emphasize
the fundamental and unreasoned foundations of belief. But
if we grow a little careless, an appeal to common sense may
well tend to encourage habits of mind that are scarcely to be
approved. Instead of merely standing for the endeavor to
sift out what are in fact the simple underlying assumptions of
experience in general, it may mean a slovenly habit of shirking
difficult analysis, and accepting on their own terms the dicta
of average uncritical opinion, using the common man's dislike
of any strenuous exercise of the intellect to discredit the more
exacting claims of philosophy. And in some of the lesser
lights of the Scottish school such a tendency is indeed plainly
in evidence. Reid himself, however, is open to criticism in
nothing like the same degree. Reid is far from interpreting
common sense in terms of a general plebiscite. "To the candid
and discerning Few," he remarks, "I appeal as the only com-
petent judges. If they disapprove, I am probably in the
wrong, and shall be ready to change my opinion upon con-
viction. If they approve, the Many will at last yield to their
authority, as they always do." As a matter of fact Reid is
putting his trust, not in the formulated opinions of mankind,
but in those underlying assumptions "so necessary in the con-
duct of life that a man cannot live and act according to the
rules of common prudence without them," though these as-
sumptions may have to wait upon careful philosophic analysis
to get recognition and expression. What at bottom he is main-
taining is, that life is more fundamental than reason or logic;
that our most inexpugnable beliefs grow directly out of the
needs of life, and are not grounded upon argument, because ar-
guments are grounded upon them; and that when the case is
so, we are only discrediting philosophy by the pretense that it
is not so, and that conviction is to be made to wait upon
reasoned demonstration. Belief, in a word, is prior to reason-

Thomas Reid 5

ing, and supplies it with its necessary material; "I am per-
suaded that the unjust live by faith as well as the just.'* In
carrying out his program, Reid it is true leaves much to be de-
sired. Frequently his analysis stops a good deal short of the
needs of the case; and he does not always distinguish as clearly
as he might the practical postulates of experience, from the
traditional philosophical machinery of self-evident and non-
contingent "truths of reason." His meaning, however, is
sound; and in his demand that our reasonings should presup-
pose and keep true to the practical assurances by which men
live, he provides the only possible check against the aberra-
tions of philosophy.

3. Reid's own work centers about one problem in particu-
lar — our knowledge of the external world. Originally an ad-
herent of Berkeley's doctrine, the sceptical results to which this
led in Hume had startled his common sense, and caused him to
retrace his steps. The fundamental vice of the new "way of
ideas" he thought himself to have discovered in its uncritical
acceptance of a traditional philosophical opinion — that in
knowledge there is need of some intermediary between the ob-
ject and the perceiving mind. Locke's ideas, as Reid interprets
them, are simply the remnants of the old and ungrounded
theory of substantial images that pass into the mind, or the
brain, from the things themselves. So far is it from being so,
however, that we know directly nothing but ideas, that we do
not know ideas at all, for the excellent reason that there are no
such things. All that a true analysis reveals is the mental act,
— the idea is not something on which this activity is per-
formed, but, if it is anything at all, the activity itself, — and the
real object. There is an original principle of the mind, to be
accepted without explanation because it is already involved in
all explanation, whereby there is attached to a sensation a be-
lief in the present existence of the thing perceived, just as there
is present in memory a belief in the past existence of the thing
remembered. This belief is a simple act of the mind, which

6 English and American Philosophy

cannot be further analyzed or defined; we can give no reason
for believing, other than the fact that this is the way our minds

When one starts to scrutinize however Reid's position more
in detail, it becomes apparent that it is not in every respect
clearly conceived, and that it contains elements of unequal
value. As against subjectivism, it is clearly in the right in
maintaining that what anyone really believes himself to know
is, not his own idea, but an independent object — in perception,
the reality of an external world. Reid is successful in showing
not only that this is the correct analysis of our actual con-
viction, but that if we take a different starting point, and hold
that to begin with we only know the mental, we shall end up
also by knowing only the mental, and so land in practical
scepticism. It seems clear that if nature — or, as Reid himself
would put it, if God — had not taken things into its own hands,
and provided us with a belief in the existence of the physical
world more primitive than an uncertain inference from mental
data, our chance of ever attaining it would have been pre-
carious. When, however, we ask for a more exact account of
the nature of the situation, difficulties and obscurities begin to
creep in. One can perhaps best start from the point which is
clearest, calling attention to complications as they arise.

4. Now in connection with the so-called secondary qualities
of matter, Reid's meaning is plain enough. It starts by em-
phasizing the sharp distinction between sensation, and objec-
tive quality. A sensation, say the smell of a rose, can be known
to exist on occasion when an object acts upon the sense organ.
But this sensation is not the thing we know in perception.
What we perceive is "some power, quality or virtue in the
rose"; the sensation is merely a sign which nature has consti-
tuted with the capacity for calling up or suggesting the rose
which produces the sensation. Furthermore for one who, like
Reid, accepts unquestioningly the science of his day, it is just
as certain that the sensation of smell is not like any quality in

Thomas Reid 7

the object, as that it is not the quality in the object. It is this
fact on which the so-called "representative" theory of knowl-
edge suffers shipwreck, since, if the sensation is not like the
quality, it cannot represent it. In the case of secondary attri-
butes, accordingly, the nature of "perception" is easily defined;
the perception of an odor is the sensation of smell, plus the
intuitive and unreasoned belief that an external cause exists
which is producing it.

The primary qualities, however, introduce a complication;
for the difference between primary qualities and secondary, ac-
cording to Reid, is just this, that the former involve the recog-
nition, not merely of a cause, — in itself unknown, — but of a
specific character attaching to this cause and constituting its
nature. It is the distinction between an obscure and occult
quality, and one of which we have a clear and distinct con-
ception. And the question thereupon arises, whence comes this
new and positive knowledge of objective qualities. Here also
Reid's answer is plain up to a point; the quality is "suggested"
to the mind, and a belief in it induced, by the appropriate sen-
sation. This is to be sure suggestion of a rather special sort.
Ordinarily when one thing suggests another, the two have both
been in experience together before; in perception the fact is,
rather, that a power acts by nature to bring about directly the
appearance of new notions, conjure them up "by a natural kind
of magic." Thus touch sensations suggest the new qualities of
extension, solidity, and motion. In the case of visible figure,
sensation is even dispensed with altogether, and the quality is
suggested by the material impression on the nervous system
merely. But now the important thing to notice is, that in any
case, between the new quality and the sensation there is always
a total difference. A pin has length, thickness, figure and

Online LibraryArthur Kenyon RogersEnglish and American philosophy since 1800, a critical survey → online text (page 1 of 42)