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

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Mind, the intelligently Self-conscious; and that all things else, the
mere objects, material things, are its Consequence, its Outcome, —



FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTIONS AND METHODS 179

in that sense its Effect. And what the new pluralistic idealism says,
is that the assemblage of individual minds — intelligence being
essentially personal, and individual, and never merely universal
and collective — is the true total Cause of all, and that every mind
thus belongs to the order of First Causes; nevertheless, that part,
and the most significant part, of the nature of every mind, essential
to its personality and its reason, is its recognition of other minds in
the very act of its own self-definition. That is to say, a mind by its
spontaneous nature as intelligence, by its intrinsic rational or logical
genius, puts itself as member of a system of minds; all minds are put
by each other as Ends — completely standard and sacred Objects,
as much parts of the system of true Causes as each is, in its capacity
of Subject; and we have a noumenal Reality that is properly to be
described as the eternal Federal Republic of Spirits.

Consequently, the relation of Cause and Effect now expands and
heightens into a system of the Reciprocity of First Causes; causes,
that is, which, while all coefficients in the existence and explanation
of that natural world of experience which forms their passive effect,
their objects of mere perception, are themselves related only in the
higher way of Final Causes — that is, Defining-Bases and Ends —
of ^ach other, making them the logical Complements, and the Ob-
jects of conduct, all for each, and each for all. Hence, the system
of causation undergoes a signal transformation, and proves to be
organized by Final Cause as its basis and root, instead of by Efficient
Cause, or Originating Ground, as the earlier stages of thinking had
always assumed.

The causal relation between the absolute or primary realities
being purely Final, or Defining and Purposive; that is to say, the
uncoercive influence of recognition and ideality; all the other forms
of cause, as grouped by Aristotle, — Material, Formal, and Efficient,
— are seen to be the derivatives of Final Cause, as being supphed
by the action of the minds that, as absolute or underived realities,
exist only in the relation of mutual Complements and Ends. Accord-
ingly, Efficient Cause operates only from minds, as noumena, to
matter, as their phenomenon, their presented contents of experience;
or, in a secondary and derivative sense, from one phenomenon to
another, or from one group of phenomena to another group, these
playing the part of transmitters, or (as some logicians would say)
Instrumental Causes, or Means. Cause, as Material, is hence defined
as the elementary phenomenon, and the combinations of this; and
therefore, strictly taken, is merely Effect (or Outcome) of the self-
active consciousness, whose spontaneous forms of conception and
perception become the Formal Cause that organizes the sum of
phenomena into cosmic harmony or unity.



180 PHILOSOPHY

• Here, accordingly, comes into %'iew the further and in some respects
deeper conceptual pair, Many and One. The history of philosophic
thought proves that this antithesis is darkly obscure and deeply
ambiguous; for about it have centred a large part of the conflicts
of doctrine. This pair has already been used, implicitly, in exhibiting
the development of the preceding group, Cause and Effect; and
in so using it we have supplied ourselves with a partial clarification
of it, and with one possible solution of its ambiguity. We have seen,
namely, how our strong natural persuasion that philosophy guided
by the fundamental concept Cause must become the search for the
One amid the wilderness of the Many, and that this search cannot
be satisfied and ended except in an all-inclusive Unit, in which the
Many is embraced as the integral and originated parts, completely
determined, subjected, and controlled, may give way to another
and less oppressive conception of unity; a conception of it as the
harmony among many free and independent primary realities,
a harmony founded on their intelligent and reasonable mutual
recognition. This conception casts at least some clearing light upon
the long and dreary disputes over the Many and the One; for it
exposes, plainly, the main source of them. They have arisen out of
two chief ambiguities, — the ambiguity of the concept One, and the
ambiguity of the concept Cause in its supreme meaning. The normal
contrast between the One and the Many is a clear and simple con-
trast: the One is the single unit, and the Many is the repetition of
the unit, or is the collection of the several units. But if we go on to
suppose that there is a collection or sum of all possible units, and
call this the Whole, then, since there can be no second such, we call
it also "one" (or the One, by way of preeminence), overlooking the
fact that it differs from the simple one, or unit, in genere; that it is
in fact not a unit at all, not an elementary member of a series, but
the annulment of all series; that our name "one" has profoundly
changed its meaning, and now stands for the Sole, the Only. Thus,
by our forgetfulness of differences, we fall into deep water, and,
with the confused illusions of the drowning, dream of the One and
All as the single pu7ictum originationis of all things, the Source and
Begetter of the very units of which it is in reality only the resultant
and the derivative. Or, from -another point of view, and in another
mood, we rightly enough take the One to mean the coherent, the
intelligible, the consistent, the harmonious; and putting the Many,
on the misleading hint of its contrast to the unit, in antithesis to
this One of harmony, we fall into the belief that the Many cannot
be harmonious, is intrinsically a cluster of repulsions or of collisions,
incapable of giving rise to accord; indeed, essentially hostile to it.
So, as accord is the aim and the essence of our reason, we are caught
in the snare of monism, plurahsKn having apparently become the



FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTIONS AND METHODS 181

equivalent of chaos, and thus the bete noir of rational metaphysics.
Nay, in the opposed camp itself, some of the most ardent adherents
of pluralism, the liveliest of wit, the most exuberant in literary re-
sources, are the abjectest believers in the hopeless disjunction and
capriciousness of the plural, and hold there is a rift in the texture of
reality that no intelligence, " even though you dub it ' the Absolute,' "
can mend or reach across. Yet surely there is nothing in the Many, as
a sum of units, the least at war with the One as a system of harmony.
On the contrary, even in the pure form of the Number Series, the
Many is impossible except on the principle of harmony, — the units
can be collected and summed (that is, constitute the Many), only
if they cohere in a community of intrinsic kindred. Consequently
the whole question of the chaotic or the harmonic nature of a plural
world turns on the nature of the genus which we find characteristic
of the absolutely (i.e., the unreservedly) real, and which is to be taken
as the common denomination enabling us to count them and to sum
them. When minds are seen to be necessarily the primary realities,
but also necessarily federal as well as individual, the illusion about
the essential disjunction and non-coherence of the plurally real dis-
solves away, and a primordial world of manifold persons is seen
to involve no fundamental or hopeless anarchy of individualism,
irreducible in caprice, but an indwelling principle of harmony,
rather, that from the springs of individual being intends the control
and composure of all the disorders that mark the world of experien-
tial appearance, and so must tend perpetually to effect this.

The other main source of our confusions over the Many and the
One is the variety of meaning hidden in the concept Cause, and our
propensity to take its most obvious but least significant sense for
its supreme intent. Closest at hand, in experience, is our productive
causation of changes in our sense- wo rid, and hence most obvious
is that reading of Cause which takes it as the producer of changes
and, with a deeper comprehension of it, of the inalterable linkage
between changes, whereby one follows regularly and surely upon
another. Thus what we have in philosophy agreed to call Efficient
Cause comes to be mistaken for the profoundest and the supreme form
of cause, and all the other modes of cause, the Material (or Stuff),
the F9rm (or Conception), and the End (or Purpose), its conse-
quent and derivative auxiliaries. Under the influence of this strong
impression, we either assume total reality to be One Whole, all-
embracing and all-producing of its manifold modes, or else view it
as a duality, consisting of One Creator and his manifold creatures.
So it has come about that metaphysics has hitherto been chiefly
a contention between pantheism and monotheism, or, as the latter
should for greater accuracy be called, monarchotheism; and, it
must be acknowledged, this struggle has been attended by a con-



182 PHILOSOPHY

tinued (though not continual) dechne of this later dualistic theory
before the steadfast front and unyielding advance of the older
monism. Thus persistent has been the assumption that harmony can
only be assured by the unity given in some single productive causa-
tion: the only serious uncertainty has been about the most rational
way of conceiving the operation of this Sole Cause; and this doubt
has thus far, on the whole, declined in favor of the Elder Oriental
or monistic conception, as against the Hebraic conception of extra-
neous creation by fiat. The frankly confessed mystery of the latter,
its open appeal to miracle, places it at a fatal disadvantage with the
Elder Orientalism, when the appeal is to reason and intelligibility.
It is therefore no occasion for wonder that, especially since the rise
of the scientific doctrine of Evolution, with its postulate of a univer-
sal unity, self-varying yet self-fulfilling, even the leaders of theology
are more and more faUing into the monistic line and swelling the
ever-growing ranks of pantheism. If it be asked here. And why not 9
— where is the harm of it ? — is not the whole question simply of what
is true? the answer is, The mortal harm of the destruction of personal-
ity, which lives or dies with the preservation or destruction of individual
responsibility; while the completer truth is, that there are other and
profounder {or, if you please, higher) truths than this of explanation
by Efficient Cause. In fact, there is a higher conception of Cause
itself than this of production, or efficiency; for, of course, as we well
might say, that alone can be the supreme conception of Cause which
can subsist between absolute or unreserved realities, and such must
exclude their production or their necessitating control by others.
So that we ought long since to have realized that Final Cause, the
recognized presence to each other as unconditioned realities, or De-
fining Auxiliaries and Ends, is the sole causal relation that can hold
among primary realities; though among such it can hold, and in
fact must.

For the absolute reality of personal intelligences, at once indi-
vidual and universally recognizant of others, is called for by other
conceptions fundamental to philosophy. These other fundamental
concepts can no more be counted out or ignored than those we have
hitherto considered; and when we take them up, we shall see how
vastly more significant they are. They alone will prove supreme,
truly organizing, normative; they alone ch,n introduce gradation in
truths, for they alone introduce the judgment of worth, of valuation;
they alone can give us counsels of perfection, for they alone rise
from those elements in our being which deal with ideals and with
veritable Ideas, So let us proceed to them.

Our path into their presence, however, is through another pair,
not so plainly antithetic as those we have thus far considered. This



FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTIONS AND METHODS 183

pair that I now mean is Time and Space, which, though not ob-
viously antinomic, yet owes its existence, as can now be shown,
to that profoundest of concept-contrasts which we earher considered
under the head of Subject and Object, when the Object takes on its
only adequate form of Other Subject. But in passing from the con-
trast One and Many towards its rational transformation into the
moral society of Mind and Companion Minds, we break into this
pair of Time and Space, and must make our way through it by
taking in its full meaning.

Time and Space play an enormous part in all our empirical thinking,
our actual use of thought in our sense-perceptive life. And no wonder;
for, in cooperation, they form the postulate and condition of all our
possible sensuous consciousness. Only on them as backgrounds can
thought take on the peculiar clearness of an image or a picture ; only
on the screens which they supply can we literally depict an object.
And this clarity of outline and boundary is so dear to our ordinary
consciousness, that we are prone to say there is no sufficient, no real
clearness, unless we can clarify by the bounds either of place or of
date, or of both. In this mood, we are led to deny the reality and
validity of thought altogether, when it cannot be defined in the metes
and bounds afforded by Time or by Space: that which has no date
nor place, we say, — no extent and no duration, — cannot be real;
it is but a pseudo-thought, a pretense and a delusion. Here is the
extremely plausible foundation of the philosophy known as sensa-
tionism, the refined or second-thought form of materialism, in which
it begins its euthanasia into idealism.

Without delaying here to criticise this, let us notice the part that
Time and Space play in reference to the conceptual pair we last con-
sidered, the One and the Many; for not otherwise shall we find our
way beyond them to the still more fundamental conceptions which
we are now aiming to reach. Indeed, it is through our surface-appre-
hension of the pair One and Many, as this illumines experience, that
we most naturally come at the pair Time and Space; so that these are
at first taken for mere generalizations and abstractions, the purely
nominal representatives of the actual distinctions between the mem-
bers of the Many by our sense-perception of this from that, of here,
from there, of now from then. It is not till our reflective attention' is
fixed on the fact that there and here, now and then, are peculiar dis-
tinctions, wholly different from other contrasts of this with that, —
which may be made in all sorts of ways, by difference of quality, or of
quantity, or of relations quite other than place and date, — it is not
till we realize this peculiar character of the Time-contrast and the
Space-contrast, that we see these singular differential qualia cannot
be derived from others, not even from the contrast One and Many,
but are independent, are themselves underived and spontaneous



184 ^ PHILOSOPHY

utterances of our intelligent, our percipient nature. But when Kant
first helped mankind to the realization of this spontaneous (or
a priori) character of this pair of perceptive conditions, or Sense-
Forms, he fell into the persuasion, and led the philosophic world into
it, that though Time and Space are not derivatives of the One and
the Many read as the numerical aspect of our perceptive experiences,
yet there is between the two pairs a connection of dependence as
intimate as that first supposed, but in exactly the opposite sense;
namely, that the One and the Many are conditioned by Time and
Space, or, when it comes to the last resort, are at any rate completely
dependent upon Time. By a series of units, this view means, we really
understand a set of items discriminated and related either as points or
as instants: in the last analysis, as instants: that is, it is impossible
to apprehend a unit, or to count and sum units, unless the unit is taken
as an instant, and the units as so many instants. Numbers, Kant
holds, are no doubt pure (or quite unsensuous) percepts, — dis-
cerned particulars, — therefore spontaneous products of the mind
a priori, but made possible only by the primary pure percept Time,
or, again, through the mediation of this, by the conjoined pure per-
cept Space; so that the numbers, in their own pure character, are
simply the instants in their series. As the instants, and therefore the
numbers, are pure percepts, — particulars discerned without the
help of sense, — so pure percepts, in a primal and comprehensive
sense, argues Kant, must their conditioning postulates Time and
Space be, to supply the "element," or "medium," that will render
such pure percepts possible.

This doctrine of Kant's is certainly plausible; indeed, it is impress-
ively so; and it has taken a vast hold in the world of science, and
has reinforced the popular belief in the unreality of thought apart
from Time and Space; an unreality which it is an essential part of
Kant's system to establish critically. But as a graver result, it has
certainly tended to discredit the belief in personal identity as an
abiding and immutable reality, enthroned over the mutations of
things in Time and Space; since all that is in these is numbered and
is mutable, and is rather many than one, yet nothing is believed real
except as it falls under them, at any rate under Time. And with this
decline of the belief in a changeless self, has declined, almost as rapidly
and extensively, the belief in immortality. Or, rather, the per-
manence and the identity of the person has faded into a question
regarded as unanswerable ; though none the less does this agnostic
state of belief tend to take personality, in any responsible sense of
the word, out of the region of practical concern. With what is un-
knowable, even if existing, we can have no active traffic; 't is for
i our conduct as if it were not.

So it behooves us to search if this prevalent view about the relation



FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTIONS AND METHODS 185

of One and Many to Time and Space is trustworthy and exact. What
place and function in philosophy must Space and Time be given? —
for they certainly have a place and function; they certainly are
among the inexpugnable conceptions with which thought has to
concern itself when it undertakes to gain a view of the whole. But
it may be easy to give them a larger place and function than belong
to them by right. Is it true, then, that the One and the Many — that
the system of Numbers, in short — are unthinkable except as in
Space and Time, or, at any rate, in Time? Or, to put the question
more exactly, as well as more gravely and more pertinently. Are
Space and Time the true prindpia individui, and is Time preemi-
nently the ultimate principium individuationis ? Is there accordingly
no individuality, and no society, no associative assemblage, except
in the fleeting world of phenomena, dated and placed? Simply to ask
the question, and thus bring out the full drift of this Kantian doc-
trine, is almost to expose the absurdity of it. Such a doctrine, though
it may be wisely refusing to confound personality, true individuaUty,
with the mere logical singular; nay, worse, with a limited and special
illustration of the singular, the one here or the one there, the one now
or the one then ; nevertheless, by confining numerabihty to things
material and sensible, makes personal identity something unmeaning
or impossible, and destroys part of the foundation for the relations
of moral responsibility. Though the vital trait of the person, his
genuine individuality, doubtless lies, not in his being exactly num-
erable, but in his being aboriginal and originative; in a word, in his
self-activity, in his being a centre of autonomous social recognition;
yet exactly numerable he indeed is, and must be, not confusable with
any other, else his professed autonomy, his claim of rights and his
sense of duty, can have no significance, must vanish in the universal
confusion belonging to the indefinite. Nor, on the other hand, is it at
all true that a number has to be a point or an instant, nor that things
when numbered and counted are implicitly pinned upon points or, at
all events, upon instants. It may well enough be the fact that in our
empirical use of number we have to employ Time, or even Space, but
it is a gaping non sequitur to conclude that we therefore can count
nothing but the placed and the dated. Certainly we count whenever
we distinguish, — by whatever means, on whatever ground. To
think is, in general, at least to "distinguish the things that differ;"
but- this will not avail except we keep account of the differences;
hence the One and the Many lie in the very bosom of intelligence,
and this fundamental and spontaneous contrast can not only rive
Time and Space into expressions of it, in instants and in points, but
travels with thought from its start to its goal, and as organic factor
in mathematical science does indeed, as Plato in the Republic said,
deal with absolute being, if yet dreamwise ; so that One and Many,



186 PHILOSOPHY

and Many as the sum of the ones, makes part of the measure of that
primally real world which the world of minds alone can be. If the
contrast One and Many can pass the bounds of the merely phenome-
nal, by passing the temporal and the spatial; if it applies to universal
being, to the noumenal as well as to the phenomenal; then the abso-
lutely real world, so far as concerns this essential condition, can be
a world of genuine individuals, identifiable, free, abiding, responsible,
and there can be a real moral order; if not, then there can be no
such moral world, and the deeper thought-conceptions to which we
now approach must be regarded, at the best, as fair illusions, bare
ideals, which the serious devotee of truth must shun, except in such
moments of vacancy and leisure as he may venture to surrender,
at intervals, to purely hedonic uses. But if the One and the Many
are not dependent on Time and Space, their universal validity is
possible; and it has already been shown that they are not so de-
pendent, are not thus restricted.

And now it remains to show their actual universality, by exhibiting
their place in the structure of the absolutely real; since nobody calls
in question their pertinence to the world of phenomena. But their
noumenal applicability follows from their essential implication with
all and every difference: no difference, no distinction, that does not
carry counting; and this is quite as true as that there can be no count-
ing without difference. The One and the Many thus root in Identity
and Difference, pass up into fuller expression in Universal and Par-
ticular, hold forward into Cause and Effect, attain their commanding
presentation in the Reciprocity of First Causes, and so keep record of
the contrast between Necessity and Contingency. In short, they are
founded in, and in their turn help (indispensably) to express, all the
categories, — Quality, Quantity, Relation, Modality. Nor do they
suffer arrest there; they hold in the ideals, the True, the Beautiful,
the Good, and in the primary Ideas, the Self, the World, and God.
For all of these differ, however close their logical linkage may be;
and in so far as they differ, each of them is a counted unit, and so they
are many. And, most profoundly of all. One and Many take footing
in absolute reality so soon as we realize that nothing short of intelli-
gent being can be primordially real, underived, and truly causal, and
that intelligence is, by its idea, at once an /-thinking and a universal
recognizant outlook upon others that think /.

Hence Number, so far from being the derivative of Time and Space,
founds, at the bottom, in the self-definition and social recognition of
intelligent beings, and so finds a priori a valid expression in Time and
in Space, as well as in every other primitive and spontaneous form in
which intelligence utters itself. The Pythagorean doctrine of the rank
of Number in the scale of realities is only one remove from the truth :
though the numbers are indeed not the Prime Beings, they do enter



FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTIONS AND METHODS 187

into the essential nature of the Prime Beings; are, so to speak, the
organ of their definite reality and identity, and for that reason go
forward into the entire defining procedure by which these intelli-
gences organize their world of experiences. And the popular impres-



Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 20 of 68)