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scriptive and classificatory rather than explanatory in the
causal sense. The description and classification of the men-
tal facts, however, are important ; and when the work is ac-
curately done, it is much more valuable than fictitious ex-
planations. The facts will remain mysterious in their inner
ground and genesis, but they will be known as facts. And
real mysteries are more valuable than unreal fictions, or
sham knowledge.

It is important, however, that in the classification of the
mental states we be ever on our guard against the fallacy
of the universal. A vast amount of psychological literature
has been made irrelevant or barren by this fallacy. The
fancy has been held that in classifying the mental facts we
come upon their true essence, or original from which they
spring. Hence, if we class them all together, they are sup-
posed to be unified and traced to a common source. This
illusion has been discussed at length in the Theory of Thought
and Knowledge. We there saw that classifying things does
nothing to the things but leaves them all they ever were.
We unify our thoughts or get a more convenient expression
for many things, but the things remain as distinct as ever.
And when we come to deal with the things as existing we
have to pick up all concrete individual elements which we
dropped out in the classification.

All that lies beyond this description and classification in


the way of explanation must be taken as we find it, or for
what we can make out of it. There are sundry psycholog-
ical laws revealed in experience, and by means of them we
can get a kind of understanding of many facts, and can lay
down various practical rules for the guidance of life. But
this understanding, even when it is more than simple classi-
fication, must be psychologically, not mechanically, inter-
preted. That is, it must not be interpreted by some me-
chanical scheme of interacting forces which have a resultant
in time, but it must rather be interpreted by our knowledge
of human nature, or of the way in which the mind works.
In the latter case it is not a mechanical resultant under
some law of necessity, but rather the kind of thing which
our psychological experience leads us to expect. How this
kind of thing is possible may lie entirely beyond us, being
as unanswerable as the question how being itself is possible ;
but as we find it given in experience, we practically build
on it.

For instance, suppose a new interest or a new idea arising
in the mind either of the individual or of the community.
"We get absolutely no insight by endowing the new idea
with dynamic attractions and repulsions whereby it modi-
fies other ideas and makes a place for itself. "We may in-
deed use such language, but when we enter into ourselves
we find it impossible to make out any tenable meaning.
But by our general knowledge of human nature, and of the
way in which the mind works, we are enabled to form some
notion of what to expect. Or, after the fact has declared
itself, we are able to assimilate it to our general knowledge
of humanity so that it falls into line with the continuity of
experience. This is the only explanation possible in the
case, and the only one we ever get. Such insight as we
possess into personal character, the social structure, the
philosophy of history, is obtained in this way, and not from


a fictitious mechanism of ideas. Of course no one denies
the laws which are actually found in experience. Protest
is directed only against distorting these laws into a fictitious
mechanical dynamism.

Understanding of this type is further complicated by the
fact of freedom. We have to understand the action of a
free being, and not the movements of an automaton, or the
resultant of a mechanical combination. But here, too, some-
thing can be done, not in the way of mechanical deduction ;
but by combining our knowledge of the psychological con-
stants with our general knowledge of the way in which
men act, we can form some practical expectation for the
future and get some idea of the way in which life and his-
tory hang together.

In estimating this result, two things must be borne in
mind. The first is the emptiness of most general terms un-
til they are illustrated in concrete reality. All terms which
have to do with the actual remain bare forms until they re-
ceive their contents from experience. This is especially the
case with the conscious life. Here the understanding forms
and names a content which it does not generate, and which
can be realized only in life itself. The understanding can
name a certain feeling a sensation, a color sensation, a sen-
sation of red, and can locate it in the category of quality;
but all this is empty and formal without the original feel-
ing. And when we are dealing with the latter, we see what
a gulf there is between anything the understanding can ex-
press in its formulas and the actual experience. All warmth,
richness, vividness, and immediacy are found in the living
experience ; and the logical form is only an instrument for
its realization. Logic and epistemology give the general
laws of thought and conditions of knowledge, and these are
of great importance for the understanding of the thought
life ; but apart from these, scientific psychology has exceed-


ingly little value for the knowledge of the inner life or of
human nature. It furnishes a terminology, but only scanty
insight. It reduces the multiplicity of life to a few general
heads, as thoughts, feelings, volitions. But what of it?
These terms are vague and empty, until we return to life
again. And when it comes to a real insight into life and
human nature, a professional psychologist would be about
the last man that could supply it. A novelist, a poet, a
dramatist, a lawyer, a pettifogger, a stump-speaker, a society
woman, a confidence man, might well have a knowledge of
human nature beyond anything that all the psychologies
in the world could furnish. This knowledge must be gained
from the study of life and literature, and not from formal
psychological treatises. One able lecturer on experimental
psychology, indeed, in setting forth its advantages, urges all
lawyers to take a course in the psychological laboratory for
the sake of greater effectiveness with juries. And prophecies
of good and great things to come from this line of investi-
gation have abounded and still abound; but up to date there
has been so alarming and distressing a tendency to elaborate
the obvious and discover the familiar that one is compelled to
discount the high expectations created by the advertisement.
The other thing to be borne in mind is the fact already
often referred to, the impossibility of understanding the
mental life in terms of anything but itself. There are no
back-lying categories by which the mental life is to be
tested, and through which it is to be understood. It is its
own test and standard. The phenomenality of all mechan-
ism and the relative and methodological nature of much
mechanical reasoning must put us on our guard in this Held
against all theorizing which cannot be verified in living ex-
perience. And in any case, we may never view the mental
mechanism as containing the productive causality of the
mental life.


It is on this practical basis that human life and history-
are to be understood, so far as we can understand them.
In this way it is possible to deal with the individual for
practical purposes ; and in this way we may get some in-
sight into the philosophy of history. Not by fictitious me-
chanical constructions, nor by feigning unintelligible neces-
sities, but by applying our knowledge of mental laws to the
conditions of human life, we can get some idea of the un-
folding of life and history as a function at once of human
nature and of human freedom. To be sure this will not
give us an " exact science," but it will give us all the sci-
ence we are likely ever to have. The " exact science " in
this region up to date consists mainly in flourishes about
the reign of law. The rest is largely prophecy and adver-
tisement; and these two are one.

The reign of law is an excellent phrase and represents an
important fact, but we have to use it critically, not dog-
matically. We must inquire what the laws are which reign,
how they are to be understood, and what insight they fur-
nish. Laws are to be interpreted in their own field and in
accordance with their own subject matter, rather than by
analogies borrowed from incommensurable departments.
Until this is done we shall have ignorant and flighty per-
sons giving mechanical interpretations of life and history,
and setting forth that due reflection upon the instability of
the homogeneous, or the conservation of energy, or the fact
that motion is always along the line of least resistance, will
find therein a complete solution of all our problems. But
when we remember that there are laws and laws, and take
the laws as we find them, we may hope for some practical
insight, and in particular we may hope to be relieved from
the mass of sham knowledge which now oppresses us. Any
interpretation of phenomena which the facts themselves
compel will always be accepted; but grave suspicion at-


taches to all deductions from abstract phrases, or from the
reigning cosmological or biological speculation. When the
fashion changes the old phrases lend themselves equally well
to any other deduction whatever. For instance, any one in-
clining to write on the philosophy of history can reproduce
the familiar contention that history is a science, that social
phenomena are subject to law, and then naively assume that
his lucubrations are thereby made science and law ; and he
will not be so far off from the beaten track.

Beyond the purely psychological laws lie the laws of
logic. These are the great formal constants of thought;
and they are independent of all mechanism. They admit
of no dynamic expression or representation.


IN the previous chapter we have discussed the notion of
law and mechanism, in mind. We have now to consider
the general problem of freedom.

In popular thought the conviction of freedom manifests
itself chiefly in connection with moral responsibility and ex-
ecutive moral activity; and the traditional argument for
freedom consists in appealing to the sense of responsibility,
and in pointing out that freedom is a manifest implication
of this and other facts of our moral nature. This argument
is by no means without weight. For common sense if is
the chief argument ; and for the critic who has got beyond
the superficial dogmatism of mechanical thinking, the argu-
ment has no small value. In the study of various classes of
facts we are not required to deal with them all in the same
way, unless the facts themselves admit of it. Our funda-
mental obligation is to deal with the facts in accordance
with their proper nature. If, then, in studying the facts
of the physical world we are led to the assumption of an
all-embracing uniformity of law, we may make that assump-
tion for the physical system. But if in studying the facts
of life, of conduct, of society, we find it necessary to assume,
in connection with law, a factor of freedom, a power of
choice and self - direction within certain limits, we have
equal right to assume it. It is only a mind misled by false
notions of continuity, and without a due appreciation of


logical method, which can take offence at such an assump-

But this argument from moral experience is by no means
the only one. The assumption of^ freedom ha manifested
itselfagain and again in our previous discussion as a neces-
sary factor of rationality. There has been a very general
conviction in speculative circles that the belief in freedom
is an offence to reason. If we hold it at all it must be out
of deference to moral interests, and at a very considerable
sacrifice of our intellectual peace. How completely this in-
verts the truth has appeared in our previous discussion. It
has there appeared that faith in reason itself is involved in
freedom, and that the denial of freedom must lead to the
collapse of reason. "We purpose now to gather up these vari-
ous considerations into a connected statement, in order that
we may see at once the speculative importance and neces-
sity of freedom, and also the superficial conception of the
categories out of which the speculative objections to free-
dom spring.

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
freedom existing by itself, but this power of self-direction
in living men and women. Abstract freedom exists as little
as abstract necessity. Actual freedom is realized only as
one aspect of actual life ; and it must always be discussed
in its concrete significance.

A very large part of the discussion of this subject has
been vitiated and often made void by failure to keep the
concrete definition in view. Freedom has been abstracted
as a function of the will without any light from intelligence,
or impulse from desire. This is a fictitious problem, and, as
such, can receive only fictitious solutions. At best it is a
mathematics of imaginary quantities.


Actual freedom is no such fiction. It is the freedom of
thinking and feeling human beings with some insight into
values, and a complex body of practical interests ; and this
freedom means simply their power of self-direction within
certain limits set by their own nature and the nature of

Such freedom is presupposed in every department of life.
It is implicit in the assumption of responsibility on which
society is built. The moral nature in both its mandatory
and its retributive aspect is absurd without it. Moreover,
this power seems to be involved in the very thought of a
personal and rational life. A life of the Punch and Judy
type, in which there is a deal of lively chattering and the
appearance of strenuous action, yet without any real thought
and effort, is not a personal or rational life at all. A life,
also, in which consciousness is merely the stage on which
underlying mechanical impulses masquerade is likewise no
rational life. The purest illustration we have of self-direc-
tion is in the case of thinking itself. We direct and main-
tain attention, we criticise the successive steps of the argu-
ment, we look before and after, we think twice and reserve
our decision. The process goes on within reason itself, rea-
son supplying the motive, the norm, and the driving force.
Thus life itself spontaneously takes on the form of freedom ;
and if freedom were an unquestioned fact it could hardly
manifest itself more unambiguously than it seems to do

With this understanding^^: what freedom is we recur to
its speculative significance. This appears first in its bear-
ing 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 erroneous. Hence the question arises, as a matter


of life or death for rational thought, how to reconcile the
existence of error with faith in the essential truthfulness of
our faculties. In discussing this problem in the Theory of
Thought and Knowledge we saw that freedom is the only
solution which does not wreck reason itself. In a scheme
of necessity error becomes cosmic and necessary, and reason
is overwhelmed in scepticism.

These considerations make it plain that the question of
freedom enters intimately into the structure of reason itself.
It is a question not merely of our executive activities in the
outer world, but also of our inner rational activity. Hence
the advantage of changing the venue from the court of
ethics to the court of reason. In the former there is always
room for speaking of the weight of motives, or of the strong-
er impulse, and thus we fail to get the clear illustration of
freedom involved in the passionless operations of thought
itself. There is the further advantage that every one prac-
tically allows this self-control in thought. We are able to
think twice, to return upon the argument, to tear asunder
the plausible and misleading conjunctions of habit and asso-
ciation, and to reserve our decision until the crystalline con-
nection of reason has been reached. The necessitarian is
impatient of bad logic in his opponent, calls upon him to
clear up his thoughts, and wonders why he is so slow in
drawing a manifest conclusion. Even the materialist, for
whom thinking is but the mental shadow of certain nervous
processes, expects logic, and to that extent attributes free-
dom. For there is no hesitation, no thinking twice, no re-
serving of judgment in an order of necessary movement.
There might possibly be to an outside observer a mimicry
of such hesitation ; but the reality could not exist. In such
an order the resultant is at once and irrevocably declared,
as in the movement of a pair of scales. If we should make
the grotesque assumption of a series of mechanical forces


endowed with consciousness, what possible meaning could
we attach to their demands upon one another for logic, or
to their mutual reproaches for failure to think clearly, or
for failure to hold this, that, or the other view ? Or if we
suppose the scale-pans or their loads to become conscious,
while remaining under the law of mechanical resultants,
what meaning could be attached to their thinking twice and
reserving their opinion as to which should sink or rise?
Imagine a scale-pan debating whether to rise or fall, and
finally deciding to follow the heavier weight. The farcical
nature of the performance would be apparent to the dullest.

In the field of thought proper, every one, in spite of him-
self, assumes that reason is a self-controlling force. Free-
dom in thought cannot be rationally disputed without as-
suming it. Such is seen to be the real standing of the
necessitarian argument as soon as we transfer the discussion
to the field of thought. If, then, we were looking for the
most important field of freedom we should certainly find it
in the moral realm ; but if we were seeking the purest il-
lustration of freedom we should find it in the operations of
pure thought. Here we have a self -directing activity which
proceeds according to laws inherent in itself and to ideals
generated by itself. And any one wishing to find his way
into this problem 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.

Thus far on the significance of freedom in relation to the
human subject. We next recall our conclusion that with-
out assuming a free cause as the source of the outer world
the mind is unable to satisfy its own rational nature or to
bring any line of thought to an end. We found the con-
ception of causality eluding us in the infinite regress and
vanishing into the absolute flux, where thought perishes,
until we raised the conception to the volitional form. We


also found that the search for unity and the desire for ex-
planation and for the unification of the system of things in
a common source are alike frustrated until we pass beyond
the order of necessary and mechanical thinking, and rise to
the conception of free intelligence as the source and abiding
seat of all existence. As we need the conception of free-
dom in man for the solution of the problem of error, so we
also need the conception of freedom as the source of the
cosmos to make it amenable to the demands of our intelli-

Freedom, then, has deep significance for life, for science,
for philosophy, for reason itself. This significance will
further appear if we next recall our conclusions respecting
the opposite idea of necessity. This is commonly supposed
to be clear and self-evident, while freedom is the difficult
notion. This illusion is pretty sure to arise in the early
stages of reflection; but deeper reflection dispels it. We
have seen that the only clear conception we have of neces-
sity is rational necessity ; that is, the necessity which at-
taches to the relations of ideas, as in logic and mathematics.
But this necessity is not found in experience, whether of
the inner or the outer world. The elements of experience
and their connections are all contingent, so 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, one which eludes any
positive conception. It can be neither sensuously cognized
nor rationally comprehended ; and the more we wrestle
with the idea the worse our puzzle becomes. In discussing
the categories in the Theory of Thought and Knowledge we
found it impossible to do anything with the notion without
adding to it the further notion of potentiality ; and what a
necessary metaphysical potentiality might be we found it


hard to say. It must be in some sense an actuality, or it
could never affect actuality ; and yet it cannot be an actual
actuality without antedating itself. We found ourselves
driven, then, to distinguish two kinds of actuality, potential
actuality and actual actuality, 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 necessity, on the other
hand, would be motionless 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 any inner ground
or connection, and a doctrine of freedom, in which the
ground of connection and progress is to be found, not in
any unmanageable metaphysical bond which defies all 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 the necessity in things.

The metaphysics of necessity is certainly very obscure,
and it is even hard to keep the notion from vanishing under
our hands. Mr. Mill felt so strongly both the difficulty of
the notion and the lack of proof of any corresponding fact
that he proposed to banish the term entirely from philosophy,
and replace it by the empirical notion of uniformity. But
this may be only the obscurity which attaches to all ulti-
mate facts ; and the metaphysics of freedom may be equally
or more obnoxious to criticism. This indeed is very gener-
ally declared to be the case. The difficulties alleged con-
sist mainly of misunderstandings.

And, first, it is supposed that freedom asserts pure law-
lessness. This is a closet contention. It is not born of any
observation of life and experience, or of any profound re-
flection, but only of a verbal exegesis. Freedom every-


where presupposes a basis of fixity or uniformity to give
it any meaning. An absolute freedom, unconditioned by
any law whatever, is simply our old friend pure being, and
cancels itself. Even for the absolute being, we must affirm
a fixed nature as the condition of freedom; and without
this, thought perishes.

Now to the superficial thinker and dealer in abstractions
this smacks of contradiction ; and so it must as long as we
discuss the question abstractly. The abstract notion of
freedom and the abstract notion of necessity are contradic-
tory ; just as the abstract notions of concavity and convex-
ity are contradictory. But as the latter notions, though
contradictory, do yet contrive to coexist, so successfully in-
deed that they cannot exist apart, so it may be that the
other contradictions may be reconciled in reality. We must
then look away from the abstract notions to the concrete
facts, if we would get any light on this problem. There is
no abstract freedom and no abstract necessity. We are
thrown back upon experience to discover what the facts
realty are.

And here we find a certain measure of self-control and a
certain order of uniformity. The former represents the
only concrete notion of freedom which we possess ; and the

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