Mo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint Louis.

Congress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 online

. (page 19 of 68)
Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 19 of 68)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the unexpected, and in case of Miss Puffer's research, quite unin-
tended, appearance of group theory in recent aesthetic analysis is to
me an impressive instance of the use of relatively new mathematical
conceptions in philosophical regions which seem, at first sight, very
remote from mathematics.

That both the group concept and the concept of the self just sug-
gested are sure to have also a wide application in the ethics of the
future, I am myself well convinced. In fact, no branch of philosophy is
without close relations to all such studies of fundamental categories.

These are but hints and examples. They suffice, I hope, to show
that the workers in this division have deep common interests, and
will do well, in future, to study the arts of cooperation, and to regard
one another's progress with a watchful and cordial sympathy. In a
word: Our common problem is the theory of the categories. That
problem can be solved only by the cooperation of the mathema-
ticians and of the philosophers.



{Hall 6, September 20, 11.15 a. m.)

Chairman: Professor Borden P. Bowne, Boston University.
Speakers: Professor George H. Howison, University of California.
Professor George T. Ladd, Yale University.

In opening the Department of Philosophy, the Chairman, Pro-
fessor Borden P. Bowne, LL.D., of Boston University, made an
interesting address on the Philosophical Outlook. Professor Bowne
said in part : —

I congratulate the members of the Philosophical Section on the improved out-
look in philosophy. In the generation just passed, philosophy was somewhat at
a discount. The great and rapid development of physical science and invention,
together with the profound changes in biological thought, produced for a time a
kind of chaos. New facts wereshowered upon us in great abundance, and we had
no adequate philosopliical preparation for dealing with them. Such a condition is
always disturbing. The old mental equilibrium is overthrown and readjustment
is a slow process. Besides, the shallow sense philosophy of that time readily lent
itself to mechanical and materialistic interpretations, and for a while it seemed
as if all the higher faiths of humanity were permanently discredited. All this has
passed away. Philosophical criticism began its work and the naive dogmatism of
materialistic naturalism was soon disposed of. It quickly appeared that our trouble
was not due to the new facts, but to the superficial philosophy by which they had
been interpreted. Now that we have a better philosophy, we have come to live in
perfect peace with the facts once thought disturbing, and even to welcome them as
valuable additions to knowledge. . . .

The brief naturalistic episode was not without instruction for us. It showed
conclusively the great practical importance of philosophy. Had we had thirty
years ago the current philosophical insight, the great development of the physical
and biological sciences would have made no disturbance whatever. But being
interpreted by a crude scheme of thought, it produced somewhat of a storm.
Philosophy may not contribute much of positive value, but it certainly has an
important negative function in the way of suppressing pretentious dogmatism
and fictitious knowledge, which often lead men astray. It is these things which
produce conflicts of science and religion or which find in evolution the solvent of
all mysteries and the source of all knowledge.

Concerning the partition of territory between science and philosophy, there
are two distinct questions respecting the facts of experience. First, we need to
know the facts in their temporal and spatial order, and the way they hang together
in a system of law. To get this knowledge is the fimction of science, and in this
work science has inalienable rights and a most important practical function. This
work cannot be done by speculation nor interfered with by authority of any kind.
It is not surprising, then, that scientists in their sense of contact with reality


should be indignant with, or feel contempt for, anj;- who see'i to limit or proscribe
their research. But supposing this work all done, there remains another question
respecting the causality and interpretation of the facts. This question belongs to
philosophy. Science describes and registers the facts with their temporal and
spatial laws; philosophy studies their causality and significance. And while the
scientist justly ignores the philosopher who interferes with his inquiries, so the
philosopher may justly reproach the scientist who fails to see that the scientific
question does not touch the philosophic one. ...

In the field of metaphysics proper I note a strong tendency toward personal
idealism, or as it might be called, Personalism; that is, the doctrine that sub-
stantial reaUty can be conceived only vmder the personal form and that all else is
phenomenal. Tliis is quite distinct from the traditional idealisms of mere concep-
tionism. It holds the essential fact to be a commimity of persons with a Supreme
Person at their head while the phenomenal world is only expression and means
of commimi cation. And to this view we are led by the failure of philosophizing on
the impersonal plane, which is sure to lose itself in contradiction and impossi-
bility. Under the form of mechanical naturalism, with its tendencies to mate-
rialism and atheism, impersonalism has once more been judged and found want-
ing. We are not likely to have a recurrence of this view unless there be a return
to philosophical barbarism. But impersonalism at the opposite pole in the form
of abstract categories of being, causality, unity, identity, continuity, sufficient
reason, etc., is equally untenable. Criticism shows that these categories when
abstractly and impersonally taken cancel themselves. On the impersonal plane we
can never reach unity from plurahty, or plurality from \mity; and we can never
find change in identity, or identity in change. Continuity in time becomes mere
succession without the notion of potentiality, and this in turn is empty. Exist-
ence itself is dispersed into nothingness through the infinite divisibility of space
and time, while the law of the sufficient reason loses itself in barren tautology and
the infinite regress. The necessary logical equivalence of cause and effect in any
impersonal scheme makes aU real explanation and progress impossible, and shuts
us up to an unintelligible oscillation between potentiality and actuality, to which
there is no corresponding thought. . . .

Philosophy is still militant and has much work before it, but the omens are
auspicious, the problems are better understood, and we are coming to a synthesis
of the results of past generations of thinking which will be a very distinct progress.
Philosophy has already done good service, and never better than in recent times,
by destroying pretended knowledge and making room for the higher faiths of
humanity. It has also done good service in helping these faiths to better rational
form, and thus securing them against the defilements of superstition and the
cavilings of hostile critics. With all its aberrations and shortcomings, philosophy
deserves well of humanity.





[George Holmes Howison, Mills Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philo-
sophy and Civil Polity, University of California, b. Montgomery County,
Maryland, 1834. A.B. Marietta College, 1852 ; M.A. 1855 ; LL.D. ibid.
1883. Post-graduate, Lane Theological Seminary, University of Berlin,
and Oxford. Headmaster High School, Salem, Mass., 1862-64; Assistant
Professor of Mathematics, Washington University, St. Louis, 1864r-66; Tile-
ston Professor of Political Economy, ibid. 1866-69; Professor of Logic and
the Philosophy of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1871-79;
Lecturer on Ethics, Harvard University, 1879-80; Lecturer on Logic and
Speculative Philosophy, University of Michigan, 1883-84. Member and vice-
president St. Louis Philosophical Society; member California Historical
Society; American Historical Association; American Association for the
Advancement of Science ; National Geographic Society, etc. Author of
Treatise on Analytic Geometry, 1869; The Limits of Evolution, 1901, 2d edi-
tion, 1904; joint author and editor of The Conception of God, 1897, etc. Editor
Philosophical Publications of University of California; American Editorial
Representative Hibbert Journal, London.]

The duty has been assigned me, honored colleagues, of address-
ing you on the Fundamental Conceptions and the Methods of our
common pursuit — philosophy. In endeavoring to deal with the
subject in a way not unworthy of its depth and its extent, I have
found it impossible to bring the essential material within less com-
pass than would occupy, in reading, at least four times the period
granted by our programme. I have therefore complied with the rule
of the Congress which directs that, if a more extended writing be
left with the authorities for publication, the reading must be re-
stricted to such a portion of it as will not exceed the allotted time.
I will accordingly read to you, first, a brief summary of my entire
discussion, by way of introduction, and then an excerpt from the
larger document, which may serve for a s'pecimen, as our scholastic
predecessors used to say, of the whole inquiry I have carried out.
The impression will, of course, be fragmentary, and I must ask
beforehand for your most benevolent allowances, to prevent a judg-
ment too unfavorable.

The discussion naturally falls into two main parts: the first
dealing with the Fundamental Conceptions; and the second, with
the Methods.

In the former, after presenting the conception of philosophy
itself, as the consideration of things in the light of the whole, I take up
the involved Fundamental Concepts in the following order : —
I. Whole and Part;

II. Subject and Object (Knowing and Being, Mind and Matter;
Dualism, MateriaHsm, Idealism) ;

III. Reality and Appearance (Noumenon and Phenomenon) ;


IV. Cause and Effect (Ground and Consequence; Causal System);
V. One and Many (Number System; Monism and Pluralism);

VI. Time and Space (their relation to Number; their Origin and

Real Meaning) ;
VII. Unconditioned and Conditioned (Soul, World, God; their
Heinterpretation in terms of Pluralism) ;
VIII. The True, the Beautiful, the Good (their relation to the
question between Monism and Pluralism) .

These are successively dealt with as they rise one out of the other
in the process of interpreting them and applying them in the actual
creation of philosophy, as this goes on in the historic schools. The
theoretic progress of philosophy is in this way explained by them,
in its movement from natural dualism, or realism, through the
successive forms of monism, materialistic, agnostic, and idealistic,
until it reaches the issue, now coming so strongly forward within
the school of idealism, between the adherents of monism and those
of pluralism.

The importance of the Fundamental Concepts is shown to increase
as we pass along the list, till on reaching Cause and Effect, and
entering upon its full interpretation into the complete System of
Causes, we arrive at the very significant conception of the Reci-
procity OF First Causes, and through it come to the Primacy of
Final Cause, and the derivative position of the other forms of cause.
Material, Formal, Efficient. The philosophic strength of idealism,
but especially of idealistic pluralism, comes into clear light as the re-
sult of this stage of the inquiry. But it appears yet more decidedly
when One and Many, Time and Space, and their interrelations,
are subjected to analysis. So the discussion next passes to the
higher conceptions. Soul, World, God, by the pathway of the cor-
relation Unconditioned and Conditioned, and its kindred contrasts
Absolute and Relative, Necessary and Contingent, Infinite and
Finite, corroborating and reinforcing the import of idealism, and,
still more decidedly, that of its plural form. Finally, the strong
and favorable bearing of this last on the dissolution of agnosticism
and the habilitation of the ideals, the True, the Beautiful, and the
Good, in a heightened meaning, is brought out.

This carries the inquiry to the second part of it, that of the Philo-
sophical Methods. Here I recount these in a series of six: the
Dogmatic, the Skeptical, the Critical, the Pragmatic, the Genetic,
the Dialectic, These, I show, in spite of the tendency of the earlier
members in the series to over-emphasis, all have their place and
function in the development of a complete philosophy, and in fact
form an ascending series in methodic effectiveness, all that precede
the last being taken up into the comprehensive Critical Rationalism
of the last. Methodology thus passes upward, over the ascending


and widening roadways of (1) Intuition and Deduction; (2) Ex-
perience and Induction; (3) Intuition and Experience adjusted by
Critical Limits; (4) Skepticism reinforced and made g^ias^-affirm-
ative by Desire and Will; (5) Empiricism enlarged by substitu-
tion of cosmic and psychic history for subjective consciousness;
(6) Enlightened return to a Rationalism critically established by
the inclusion of the preceding elements, and by the sifting and the
grading of the Fundamental Concepts through their behavior when
tested by the effort to make them universal. In this way, the
methods fall into a System, the organic principle of which is this
principle of Dialectic, which proves itself alone able to establish
necessary truths; that is, truths indeed, — judgments that are seen
to exclude their opposites, because, in the attempt to substitute the
opposite, the place of it is still filled by the judgment which it aims
to dislodge.

And now, with your favoring leave, I will read the excerpt from
my larger text.

The task to which, in an especial sense, the cultivators of philo-
sophy are summoned by the plans of the present Congress of Arts
and Science, is certainly such as to stir an ambition to achieve it.
At the same time, it tempers eagerness by its vast difficulty, and the
apprehension lest this may prove insuperable. The task, the officers
of the Congress tell us, is no less than to promote the unification of
all human knowledge. It requires, then, the reduction of the enor-
mous detail in our present miscellany of sciences and arts, which to
a general glance, or even to a more intimate view, presents a con-
fusion of differences that seems overwhelming, to a system never-
theless clearly harmonious, — founded, that is to say, upon uni-
versal principles which control all differences by explaining them,
and which therefore, in the last resort, themselves flow lucidly from
a single supreme principle. Simply to state this meaning of the task
set us, is enough to awaken the doubt of its practicability.

This doubt, we are bound to confess, has more and more impressed
itself upon the general mind, the farther this has advanced in the
experience of scientific discovery. The very increase in the multi-
plicity and complexity of facts and their causal groupings increases
the feeling that at the root of things there is " a final inexplicability "
— total reality seems, more and more, too vast, too profound, for us
to grasp or to fathom. And yet, strangely enough, this increasing
sense of mysterious vastness has not in the least prevented the modern
mind from more and more asserting, with a steadily increasing in-
sistence, the essential and unchangeable unity of that whole of things
which to our ordinary experience, and even to all our sciences, appears
such an endless and impenetrable complex of differences, — yes, of
contradictions. In fact, this assertion of the unity of all things, under


the favorite name of the Unity of Nature, is the pet dogma of modern
science; or, rather, to speak with right accuracy, it is the stock-in-
trade of a philosophy of science, current among many of the leaders
of modern science; for every such assertion, covering, as it tacitly
and unavoidably does, a view about the absolute whole, is an asser-
tion belonging to the province of philosophy, before whose tribunal
it must come for the assessment of its value. The presuppositions
of all the special sciences, and, above all, this presupposition of the
Unity and Uniformity of Nature, common to all of them, must thus
come back for justification and requisite definition to philosophy —
that uppermost and all-inclusive form of cognition which addresses
itself to the whole as whole. In their common assertion of the Unity
of Nature, the exponents of modern science come unawares out of
their own province into quite another and a higher; and in doing so
they show how unawares they come, by presenting in most instances
the curious spectacle of proclaiming at once their increasing belief
in the unity of things, and their increasing disbelief in its pene-
trability by our intelligence : —

In's Inner e der Natur,
Dringt kein erschaffner Geist,

is their chosen poet's expression of their philosophic mood. Curious
we have the right to call this state of the scientific mind, because
it is to critical reflection so certainly self-contradictory. How can
there be a real unity belonging to what is inscrutable? — what evi-
dence of unity can there be, except in intelligible and explanatory

But, at all events, this very mood of agnostic self-contradiction,
into which the development of the sciences casts such a multitude
of minds, brings them, — brings all of us, — as already indicated,
into that court of philosophy where alone such issues lawfully belong,
and where alone they can be adjudicated. If the unification of the
sciences can be made out to be real by making out its sole sufficient
condition, namely, that there is a genuine, and not a merely nominal,
unity in the whole of reality itself, — a unity that explains because
it is itself, not simply intelligible, but the only completely intelligible
of things, — this desirable result must be the work of philosophy.
However difficult the task may be, it is rightly put upon us who belong
to the Department listed first among the twenty-four in the pro-
gramme of this representative Congress.

I cannot but express my own satisfaction, as a member of this
Department, nor fail to extend my congratulations to you who are
my colleagues in it, that the Congress, in its programme, takes
openly the affirmative on this question of the possible unification of
knowledge. The Congress has thus declared beforehand for the


practicability of the task it sets. It has even declared for its not
distant accomplishment; indeed, not impossibly, its accomplishment
through the transactions of the Congress itself; and it indicates, by
no uncertain signs, the leading, the determining part that philosophy
must have in the achievement. In fact, the authorities of the Congress
themselves suggest a solution of their own for their problem. In their
programme we see a renewed Hierarchy of the Sciences, and at the
summit of this appears now again, after so long a period of humiliating
obscuration, the figure of Philosophj^, raised anew to that supremacy,
as Queen of the Sciences, which had been hers from the days of Plato
to those of Copernicus, but which she began to lose when modern
physical and historical research entered upon its course of sudden
development, and which, until recently, she has continued more and
more to lose as the sciences have advanced in their career of discover-
ies, — ever more unexpected, more astonishing, yet more convincing
and more helpful to the welfare of mankind. May this sign of her
recovered empire not fail! If we rejoice at the token, the Congress
has made it our part to see that the title is vindicated. It is ours to
show this normative function of philosophy, this power to reign as the
unifying discipline in the entire realm of our possible knowledge; to
show it by showing that the very nature of philosophy — its ele-
mental concepts and its directing ideals, its methods taken in their
systematic succession — is such as must result in a view of universal
reality^that will supply the principle at once giving rise to all the
sciences and connecting them all into one harmonious whole.

Such, and so grave, my honored colleagues, is the duty assigned to
this hour. Sincerely can I say, Would it had fallen to stronger hands
than mine! But since to mine it has been committed, I will undertake
it in no disheartened spirit; rather, in that temper of animated hope
in which the whole Congress has been conceived and planned. And
I draw encouragement from the place, and its associations, where
we are assembled — from its historic connections not only with the
external expansion of our country, but with its growth in culture,
and especially with its growth in the cultivation of philosophy. For
your speaker, at least, can never forget that here in St. Louis, the
metropolis of the region by which our national domain was in the
Louisiana Purchase so enlarged, — here was the centre of a move-
ment in philosophic study that has proved to be of national import.
It is fitting that we all, here to-day, near to the scene itself, com-
memorate the public service done by our present National Commis-
sioner of Education and his group of enthusiastic associates, in
beginning here, in the middle years of the preceding century, those
studies of Kant and his great idealistic successors that unexpectedly
became the nucleus of a wider and more penetrating study of philo-
sophy in all parts of our country. It is with quickened memories


belonging to the spot where, more than five-and-thirty j^ears ago, it
was my happy fortune to take some part with Dr. Harris and his
companions, that I begin the task assigned me. The undertaking
seems less hopeless when I can here recall the names and the con-
genial labors of Harris, of Davidson, of Brockmeyer, of Snider, of
Watters, of Jones, — half of them now gone from life. They " builded
better than they knew; " and, humbly as they may themselves have
estimated their ingenuous efforts to gain acquaintance with the great-
est thoughts, history will not fail to take note of what they did, a;S
marking one of the turning-points in the culture of our nation. The
publication of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy , granting all
the subtractions claimed by its critics on the score of defects (of
which its conductors were perhaps only too sensible) , was an influence
that told in all our circles of philosophical study, and thence in the
whole of our social as well as our academic life.

[Here I enter upon the discussion of the subject proper, beginning,
as above indicated, with the Fundamental Conceptions. Having
followed these through the contrasts Whole and Part, Subject and
Object, Reality and Appearance (or Noumenon and Phenomenon),
and developed the bearing of these on the procedure of thought from
the dualism of natural realism to materialism and thence to idealism,
with the issue now coming on, in this last, between monism and
pluralism, I strike into the contrast Cause and Effect, and, noting
its unfolding into the more comprehensive form of Ground and Con-
sequence, go on thence as follows : ]

It is plain that the contrast Ground and Consequence will enable
us to state the new issue with closer precision and pertinence than
Reality and Appearance, Noumenon and Phenomenon, can supply;
while, at the same time, Ground and Consequence exhibits Cause and
Effect as presenting a contrast that only fulfills what Noumenon and
Phenomenon foretold and strove towards; in fact, what was. more
remotely, but not less surely, also indicated by Whole and Part,
Knowing and Being, Subject and Object. For in penetrating to the
coherent meaning of these conceptions, the philosophic movement,
as we saw, advanced steadily to the fuller and fuller translating of
each of them into the reality that unifies by explanation, instead of
pretending to explain by merely unifying; and this, of course, will
now be put forward explicitly, in the clarified category of Cause and
Effect, transfigured from a physical into a purely logical relation.
What idealism now says, in terms of this, is that the Cause (or, as
we now read it, the Ground) of all that exists is the Subject; is

Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 19 of 68)