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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES





A REALISTIC UNIVERSE



AN INTRODUCTION TO METAPHYSICS



BY

JOHN ELOF BOODIN

PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, CARLETON COLLEGE



ffotfe

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1916

All rights reserved



13G580



COPYRIGHT, 1916,

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.



Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1916.



NortoooT)

3. B. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



5925



MY FRIEND AND TEACHER
JOSIAH KOYCE



PREFACE

THIS volume on metaphysics is the sequel of a volume on the
theory of knowledge, entitled "Truth and Reality," which was
published in 1911. The two volumes furnish a survey of the
field of general philosophy from the point of view of pragmatic
realism. This attitude which the author has been champion-
ing for several years is an attempt to apply scientific method
to philosophic problems. The term pragmatic is used in the
sense which was first advocated by C. S. Peirce, and which is
defined by the author in his own terms in "Truth and Reality."
As applied to metaphysics the pragmatic method means that
we must judge the nature of reality, in its various grades and
complexities, by the consequences to the realization of human
purposes, instead of by a priori assumptions. Some may pre-
fer the older adjectives of "empirical" or "critical"; but
these terms seem definitely associated with certain historical
doctrines, and a new term seems to be preferable in designating
the scientific tendency of to-day. There is need in every age
of retranslating the perennial problems of philosophy into terms
of living human interest; and the author hopes in a meas-
ure to further this movement at the present time through these
volumes. In "A Realistic Universe" the author has tried to
make vital the fundamental problems of metaphysics in terms
of our present thought-world, without the cant of the past, but
with a deep sense of indebtedness to the masters of all time.
While the book is intended primarily for the philosophic stu-
dent, the aim has been to make the style as clear and simple
as the problems would permit. In the use of scientific material,
an effort has been made to find sources which would be intel-
ligible to the layman rather than to make an appearance of
erudition. Some portions, such as the introductory chapter
and part five on Form, may be of special interest to the general
reader.

vii



viii PREFACE

The work as it now stands, imperfect as it may be in execu-
tion, has had a long history. The oldest portion is that re-
lating to time. The author's theory of time was first outlined
in a paper on that subject, written for Professor Royce's Semi-
nary in 1897-1898. It found fuller statement in his doctor's
thesis on "The Concept of Time" in 1899; and was further
expounded in a monograph entitled "Time and Reality,"
published in the Psychological Review monograph series, No.
26, in 1904. A brief statement in the Journal of Philosophy,
Psychology and Scientific Methods in 1905 has been partly made
use of in this book. As there has been no material change in
the author's attitude since the publication of the monograph,
the reader may be referred to this for supplementary treatment.
Preliminary studies of the concepts of Space, 1906, Con-
sciousness, 1908, and Energy, 1908, have been published in
the Journal of Philosophy, etc. While the main view-point re-
mains in each case, the material has been thoroughly restated
and should be judged by its present form. The same applies
to the article, "The Ought and Reality," which appeared in
the International Journal of Ethics, 1907, and which in the
present volume has been restated under the title "Form and
the Ought." Other papers which have been made use of, in
whole or in part, are: "Do Things Exist?" 1912, and "In-
dividual and Social Minds," 1913, from the Journal of Phi-
losophy, etc.; "Knowing Things" from the Philosophical Re-
view, 1911; "Knowing Selves," Psychological Review, 1912;
"The Identity of the Ideals" from the International Journal of
Ethics, 1912; "A Rehabilitation of Teleology," under the
title of " Teleological Idealism," from the Harvard Theological
Review, 1912; "Pragmatic Realism the Five Attributes,"
under the title of "The Five Attributes" from Mind, 1913;
and "The Divine Fivefold Truth" from the Monist, 1911.
The author wishes to express his appreciation to these journals
for their cooperation and encouragement, which have meant a
great deal to a man working in comparative isolation. The
work, however, is in no sense a compilation of articles, but
was early conceived as a systematic unity, though he wished
the advantage of the objectivity and time perspective furnished
by preliminary publication, as well as the incentive that comes



PREFACE ix

from feeling a part of the social consciousness with the informal
reactions thus made possible. In this connection, he wishes
to express also his appreciation to the Western Philosophical
Association, before which many of the preliminary studies were
first read.

As regards his indebtedness to other workers in the field, the
book itself will have to bear testimony. Among philosophers,
his indebtedness is greatest to the standard masters, not only
because of their intrinsic merit, but because they have been
most accessible. In all things speculative, we must still sit
at the feet of the Greek masters. His first systematic training
in philosophy the author received under the tutelage of the
great German idealists, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, thanks to
his first guide in philosophy, James Seth. From the British
empiricists he has learned, he hopes, a homely regard for the
facts of experience. Of French thinkers, he owes most to
Poincare, whose phenomenal grasp of science and transparent
genius place him in a class by himself among philosophers of
science. Of the author's immediate environment, he hopes
there may appear in this work something of the inspiration
of the great leader in American philosophy, William James,
and of its recent laureate, Josiah Royce. Nor could one
escape the vitalizing influence in our country of its great teacher,
John Dewey, and the Chicago School. . When the author was
working out his theory of time, he did not have the good for-
tune to be acquainted with the brilliant work of Bergson on
that concept. Not even William James seemed conscious of
Bergson's contribution in the later '90's. While the author's
theory agrees with that of Bergson in aiming to establish the
reality of time, both the fundamental intuition and the method
are different. The concept as set forth in this volume, and in
previous discussions, must be regarded, therefore, as a different
concept. In the later revision of the work, the author has
been stimulated by the recent realistic discussions, both in Great
Britain and America. Since the first draft of this work was
completed in 1912, and most of it antedates the movement some-
times called " the new realism," perhaps more properly called
analytical realism, its development has been comparatively
independent of this movement, and has little in common with



X PREFACE

it either in spirit or method. As between the extreme anti-
intellectualism of Bergsonism, and the extreme intellectualism
of analytical realism, pragmatic realism steers a middle course.
While maintaining, as against analytical realism, that reality
is more than a congeries of abstract logical entities, it insists
as against intuitionism on the relevancy of thought to reality.
Only thus could thought furnish valid leadings in our practical
and theoretical conduct. This attitude is in line with com-
mon sense and empirical science.

The present work does not aim to be a compendium of cur-
rent literature. There are books which serve this purpose in
an admirable way. It must be judged rather as a personal
reaction to the permanent problems of human experience, for,
whether we will it or no, our systems are after all personal re-
actions. If they are sincere and thorough, we may hope that
they will further the total movement of truth. The time seems
peculiarly auspicious for such an attempt at synthesis. While
there has been much of suggestion and inspiration in recent
discussion, the constructive efforts have been disappointing.
This is due, no doubt, to the magnitude of the task. In the
complexity of modern thought and life, we cannot perhaps hope
for an Aristotle. What could once be accomplished by in-
dividual genius, must now be carried out piecemeal by the
interstimulation and supplementation of a collective mind.
The author will be satisfied if he can count as even an infinites-
imal part in this infinite task. As this work has grown up for
the most part on the western prairies, may it reflect the homely
sanity of the great West.

NOBTHFIELD, MINNESOTA

September 14, 1916



TABLE OF CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION. THE MEANING OF METAPHYSICS
I. PERSPECTIVE. THE DIVINE FIVE-FOLD TRUTH



PAGE

xiii-xxii
3-12



PART I. ENERGY AND THINGS

n. BEING MATTER AND THE ABSOLUTE . . . 15-32

III. PRAGMATIC ENERGISM 33-61

IV. Do THINGS EXIST? 62-73

V. KNOWING THINGS 74-91

VI. KNOWING THINGS (Continued) 92-112



PART II. CONSCIOUSNESS AND MIND

VII. THE CONCEPT OF CONSCIOUSNESS .... 115-133

VIII. THE CONCEPT OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Continued) . . 134-150

IX. KNOWING MINDS 151-163

X. KNOWING MINDS (Continued) 164-190

XI. INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL MINDS 191-204



PART III. SPACE AND REALITY

XII. PSYCHOLOGICAL AND GEOMETRIC SPACE . . . 207-224
XIII. THE NATURE OF REAL SPACE . . 225-247



PART IV. TIME AND REALITY

XIV. THE NATURE OF TIME 251-282

XV. TIME AND THE PROBLEMATIC 283-303

xi



xii TABLE OF CONTENTS



PAET V. FOKM AND REALITY

CHAPTER PACK

XVI. THE IDENTITY OF THE IDEALS .... 307-325

XVII. FORM AND THE OUGHT 326-359

XVTIL TELEOLOGICAL IDEALISM 360-384

XIX. RETROSPECT THE FIVE ATTRIBUTES . . . 385-404



INTRODUCTION
THE MEANING OF METAPHYSICS

The Place of Metaphysics, In this age of narrow special-
ization and absorbing immediate interests, it is well that we
should try to recover what Plato called " the love of the whole-
ness of things, both human and divine." By doing so, we shall
gain greater insight into our special problems and greater
sanity in practical life. For philosophy is merely sustained
thinking about the things that are of vital and permanent con-
cern to the human race in the whirl of circumstance in which
we find ourselves.

There are many reasons for the disrepute into which the
noblest of sciences has fallen in our own day. One of these is
the bias of words. Metaphysics has been confused with ob-
scurantism and occultism ; and professional philosophers are
in a large degree to blame for this. They have been victims
of a traditional vocabulary which once was significant in the
history of thought, but which has ceased to be relevant to
our special matrix of problems. The tendency has been to
substitute counters for things, antique phrases for clear and
distinct ideas. Whenever philosophy has been vital, it has
always followed close upon the heels of science and human in-
terest. It was so that metaphysics originated as a science in
the days of Aristotle. It is so that it has maintained itself
ever since, whether translated into the theological atmosphere
of the Middle Ages, or into the scientific spirit of the age of
Descartes and Locke. To be vital to-day, metaphysics must
clarify our own scientific and social problems.

Another reason is to be found in our narrow emphasis on the
practical. The most dangerous sophist in any age, as Plato
pointed out, is the public sophist, the prevailing emphasis
of the social mind. To-day, the emphasis is on immediate
material results rather than on the calm contemplation of the

jdii



xiv INTRODUCTION

meaning of things. We are bent on producing weather rather
than on examining its whither. We seem to have raised weather
enough ; and if we persist there will be nothing much to con-
template but ruins. Bitter after-reflection may teach us that
the question is not merely of efficiency ; but to what end ?

Not the least important reason is the slovenliness and laziness
in our present day thinking, which, particularly in our country,
is the outcome of our new education. This is rapidly making
this generation incapable of sustained reflection. Religion has
become a matter of sentimentalism instead of the systematic
interpretation that characterized the Middle Ages and the
Reformation. In philosophy we have substituted intuition
for serious reflection; in science, narrow specialization for
comprehensive perspectives. There is danger that we may
prove unfit for the task of meeting the great social problems of
the day, which will require the most stubborn sort of thought
for their solution. In such an age, we need to hearken back to
Plato's warning that things can only be set right when philoso-
phers are kings; and philosophers are men who can think in
terms of the whole. Indeed, the great masters, whether in the
world of thought or of action, have always been philosophers,
even if they have not always been conscious of the fact.

Though we may neglect metaphysics, we cannot get away
from it. Being of the very nature of reflective thought, it can
say: "When me you fly, I am the wings." Metaphysics, as
Comenius pointed out, begins at the mother's knee. "Thus,
from the moment he begins to speak, the child comes to know
himself, and by his daily experience, certain general and ab-
stract expressions; he comes to comprehend the meaning of
the words something, nothing, thus, otherwise, where, similar,
different; and what are generalizations and the categories
expressed by these words but the rudiments of metaphysics?"
We are thus introduced by social suggestion to the distinctions
of things and qualities, mind and matter, cause and effect,
space and time, the conscious and unconscious. We are taught
to construct a scale of values and to believe in a world of ideals.
Our common sense and science are shot through with meta-
physical concepts. The difference between such metaphysics
and that of the philosophic thinker lies in the degree of thorough-



INTRODUCTION XV

ness with which we pursue such matters. It is clear then that
metaphysics has a permanent claim on human nature. We
may well agree with Aristotle: "All the sciences indeed are
more necessary than this, but none is better."

It must be said, too, that in spite of the shallowness of our
thinking, there is, in our age, a strong feeling for ideals, a sound
faith in melioration which persists undismayed in the baffling
complexity of our problems, and which furnishes the one ray
of hope in a great international tragedy a promise of better
things. It is at heart an idealistic age an age of reconstruc-
tion, of profound awakening to human claims. This should
give philosophy a new opportunity in the building out of the
meaning of life.

The Presuppositions of Metaphysics. A few years ago it was
fashionable to advertise a philosophy without presuppositions.
This would indeed be radical empiricism; but it would be
suicidal at the outset, since to philosophize we must think ;
and thought has its own presuppositions which are implied in
all its procedure, whether metaphysical, or more narrowly
scientific. Metaphysics, as a systematic treatment of ex-
perience, impllies~TogicT It assumes that there are valid rules
of thought, that we can arrive aT common understandings.

BmTmetaphysics, as a final evaluation of experience, implies
more than the laws of thought. It implies a faith in their
fitness or relevancy to our world. We must trust the instru-
ment at the outset. The mute faith in the possibility of knowl-
edge is the very spring of the process. This is fundamentally
an attitude of the will. But it is a constructive attitude, and
justifies itself in the progress of human experience. To criti-
cize the instrument in the abstract is at best a futile task.
Some philosophers have concluded, from certain a priori con-
siderations, that thought is contradictory or inadequate. Kant
finds it suspicious that thought is equipped with certain cate-
gories at the outset. These seem somehow arbitrary; they
carry on their face no guaranty that they fit into the empirical
structure of things. The British agnostics have noted the
relational character of thought, and have assumed for some
traditional or temperamental reason that reality is the un-
conditioned or non-relational. But the fruitfulness of such



xvi INTRODUCTION

thinkers as Kant and Spencer lies, not in their a priori assump-
tions, but in the contribution which they have made to the
correlation of the values of experience by means of the instru-
ment which they mistrusted. Somehow, the laws of thought
must be the laws of things if we are going to attempt a science
of reality. Thought and things are part of one evolving matrix,
and cannot ultimately conflict.

Hegel here shows himself a saner pragmatist. The cate-
gories of thought must be tested by their success in actual use.
If the values of experience can be correlated and unified in
terms of the categories of thought, then thought requires no
other credentials. Its validity is guaranteed by the outcome,
not by any a priori test, which is a mere hewing in vacuo.
We may object to Hegel's own formulation of the fundamental
concepts; we may not share his confidence in the abstractly
logical character of the process thus to be manipulated. His
triadic relations may appear arbitrary and stilted. His sys-'
tern may seem too much like the staging of abstract categories,
and as lacking real movement and zest. But that, after all,
is because he fails as measured in terms of his own criterion
the success of thought in realizing its concrete leading from part
to part, from corridor to corridor within the complex structure
of reality. The real world is more fluent and complex and
baffling and tragic than Hegel's logic with all its interesting
paradoxes could comprehend. His faith, however, is invincible
and immortal. Let us give thought a fair field at the outset.
Let us not discredit the instrument because it has a character
of its own. It could not be an instrument otherwise. The
universe in its own selective movement forged it, in the long
ages, for just such a world as ours and such needs as ours. The
possibility of its conquests are but dimly foreshadowed as yet.

The important thing is that our concepts shall work; that
they shall blend into the concrete process of life for which they
are made, and out of which they are selected. If they are
relevant, they cannot be arbitrary, not "appearances" in
the sense of unreal, even though they are at best abstract
aspects of reality. They are not only convenient tools, but
part and parcel of the world which they enable us to predict,
use, and appreciate. To criticize thought independently of its



INTRODUCTION xvii

function in experience is as senseless as would be a baby's
criticism of its fitness for walking by an abstract examination
of its anatomy. The impulse to walk and the development
of the anatomy are part of a single movement. We learn to
walk by following the impulse to walk ; and we learn the nature
of things by repeated efforts to use the instrument of thought.
In each case, the implied faith is justified by its success.

While we must have faith in the relevancy of thought, we
must not prejudice the outcome of thought's experiment by
our assumptions. Perhaps it is not true that the object, in
order to make a difference to our reflective purposes, must it-
self be purposive through and through. Perhaps, on the other
hand, reality is more rational than our ignorance and im-
patience assumed. Perhaps there are no simple entities, ex-
cept as we so treat them for our pragmatic purposes. Perhaps
relations cannot be resolved into either the internal or external
type exclusively. Perhaps our values may be guaranteed, or
at any rate have all the guarantee they do have, in a pluralistic
and temporal world as well as in an absolutistic and eternal.
At any rate we must be free to follow the leading of our ex-
periments. The postulates of thought and the postulate of
their relevancy seem to be all that are required in so funda-
mental an inquiry. And these too must be justified by their
success, for the laws of thought can rise to clearness and dis-
tinctness only through their use.

For the dogmatic method, too often applied in matters of
philosophy, we must substitute the empirical or critical method
the method which the special sciences have proved so fruit-
ful in their own domain. It is not the province of metaphysics
to dictate to reality what it must be, but to discover its funda-
mental meaning. It is only when pursued in this spirit that
metaphysics can take rank as a science, and, at least in its
ideal, as the science of sciences.

THE FUNCTION OF METAPHYSICS

It has been asserted that the acceptance of philosophies has
nothing to do with their truth, but with their congeniality to
people's passions and prejudices. This seems indeed to be
true to a large extent in our imperfect and uncertain evolution,



xviii INTRODUCTION

where our mutual blindness plays such a large part in the
acceptance of beliefs. It often seems, in the snail's pace of
the many, that ideas only gain acceptance after they are an-
tiquated and then as obstacles to further progress. Thus
Aristotle is accepted as a dogma to defeat the progress of
modern science. It would seem that society, by the very
law of its development, is bound to feed upon the illusions of
yesterday. Its progress is ever unwilling. It is ever moving
with its back to the light. It is ever making martyrs of its
prophets.

In thus arraigning society, however, we are losing sight of
the fact that human nature has other claims to satisfy beside
those of pure truth. The primitive law of society, as of the
individual, is self-preservation ; and to this end it must ever
watch with jealous care the introduction of new gods. In-
dividual insight is ever the disturber of the social equilibrium,
which insists on standardized beliefs. The human Prometheus,
therefore, must pay the penalty of his profanity in stealing fire
from heaven. The new claims must be put upon the rack and
tried out with reference to the other claims of human nature,
before the social instinct of self-preservation is set at rest. It
is useless to rail against this law of nature. We are all part of
it. Our tolerance extends merely to the trivial. When any
profound revolution is threatened, we agree that it is expedient
that one man suffer rather than the whole people perish.

If we were merely logic machines, materialism as a philoso-
phy would doubtless triumph. The mechanical view has cer-
tainly the advantage of simplicity. But the simplest theory
is not necessarily true. A theory must be sufficient as well as
simple. It must be capable of harmonizing all the claims.
And the facts may be richer than materialism, with its mathe-
matical models, assumes. The universe is not merely a place
for the play of our logical faculty. It must in some way own
our other ideal demands. Philosophies must do justice to
our whole human nature. They must satisfy our emotional
and volitional nature, as well as our intellectual. And society
has always regarded logic as secondary to its security and
happiness. We build philosophies and air castles for the
spirit, as we build houses for the body, to keep out the blast



INTRODUCTION xix

and cold of an unfriendly and fickle cosmic weather. Philosophy
has its value in appealing to our sentiments of courage and
justice, of love and hope, as well as to our sense for fact. When
we are hit by the blind vicissitudes of fortune, whether the
scourges of nature in the form of pestilence and famine or the
human curses of envy, hatred, and malice, it is well if we can
say with Socrates : "No evil can happen to a good man either
in life or after death."

And so it is that the agnostics and sceptics, brilliant though
they may have been, and though the advantage of logic has
often been on their side, have scarcely counted in the history
of society. They are the mere curios of the philosophical
closet. If they have been preserved, it has been only through
the social indignation and refutation which they have occa-
sioned. The effective systems of philosophy are tremendous
affirmations of faith faith in human society and its under-
lying ideals. While one set of facts may apparently be as true
as another, some facts are worth more than others in the economy



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