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Hlllil! ii I



THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO



THE ESSENTIALS OF
PHILOSOPHY



BY
R. W. SELLARS

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY,
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN



fork

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1917

All rights reserved



COPYBIGHT, 1917

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and electrotyped. Published August, 1917.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

PAGE
WHAT PHILOSOPHY Is 1

1. A Preliminary Definition. 2. The Attitude of the
Philosopher. 3. The Difference between Scientists and
Philosophers. 4. The Competency of the Philosopher. 5. The
Older and the Newer Conceptions of Philosophy. 6. The
General Philosophical Disciplines. 7. The Special Philosoph-
ical Disciplines. 8. The Topics which need Stress.

CHAPTER II

COMMON SENSE AND PHILOSOPHY 17

1. The Common-Sense View of the World. 2. Natural
Realism. 3. The Recognition of Natural Realism in Philos-
ophy. 4. Philosophy must start from Natural Realism.
5. Natural Realism and Science. 6. Natural Realism not a
System. 7. Difficulties Confronting Natural Realism.

CHAPTER III

THE BREAKDOWN OF NATURAL REALISM .... 30

1. A Systematic Attack upon Natural Realism. 2. Per-
ceived Objects are Functions. 3. The Physical Thing and
its Appearance. 4. The Lack of Correspondent Variation.

5. The Differences between the Perceptions of Individuals.

6. Can Natural Realism account for Memory? 7. What is
Perceived involves Construction. 8. The Physiological
Theory of Perception. 9. Conclusion and Warning.

CHAPTER IV

REPRESENTATIVE REALISM ....... 42

1. The Value of an Historical Approach. 2. Representa-
tive Realism follows Natural Realism. 3. Rationalistic



vi CONTENTS

PAGE

Representative Realism. 4. Cartesian Metaphysics. 5. Des-
cartes' Method. 6. Representative Realism raises New Prob-
lems. 7. Locke's Position. 8. Locke's View of Knowledge.
9. Doubts Confronting Representative Perception.

CHAPTER V

THE RISE OF IDEALISM 55

1. What is Idealism? 2. Berkeley's Position. 3. The First
Stage. 4. Berkeley attacks Locke's Philosophy. 5. Berke-
ley's Animus. 6. Berkeley's Disproof of Representative
Realism. 7. Berkeley's Construction. 8. Idealism does not
change our Experience. 9. Gaps in Berkeley's System.

CHAPTER VI

SKEPTICISM 65

1. Bewilderment. 2. Hume's Summary of Results. 3.
Hume's Attack upon Mental Substance. 4. Consciousness
is a Flux. 5. Hume's Rejection of Berkeley's Spiritualism.
6. Taking Stock.

CHAPTER VII

THE PERIOD OF PREPARATION 74

1. Kant tries to meet Hume's Skepticism. 2. Kant Stresses
Conceptual Knowledge. 3. Two Meanings of the Word
Knowledge. 4. Kant and Hume Skeptical of the First Kind of
Knowledge. 5. Kant's Doctrine of the Categories. 6. Kant
Thinks of the Categories as Subjective.

CHAPTER VIII

THE FIELD OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S EXPERIENCE ... 86

1. From Natural Realism to Descriptive Empiricism. 2.
Whose Experience? 3. Mental Pluralism and Solipsism.
4. Kant's Appeal to Consciousness In General. 5. The
Standpoint of Descriptive Empiricism. 6. The Subject-
Object Contrast. 7. The Elementary Unity of Togetherness.
8. Is the Self Dominant in the Field of Experience?



r






CONTENTS vii

CHAPTER IX

PAGE

DISTINCTIONS WITHIN THE FIELD ...... 98

1. Two Dimensions of the Field. 2. The Coexistential Di-
mension favors Realism. 3. The Temporal Dimension op-
poses Natural Realism. 4. Things and Ideas. 5. Sense and
Imagination. 6. A Thing and the Thought of it. 7. Reflec-
tion on these Distinctions.

CHAPTER X

THE REFLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE DISTINCTIONS . 108

1. What is a Percept? 2. The Logical Function of Percep-
tion. 3. Scientific Knowledge an Achievement. 4. A Re-
statement of the Distinction between Things and Ideas.
5. The False vs. the Correct Form of this Question. 6. Is the
Distinction between Consciousness and a Realm outside Jus-
tifiable? 7. Analysis of the Term Extra-Mental. 8. A Defini-
tion of Critical Realism. 9. Theory of Knowledge needs
Logic.

CHAPTER XI

THE REFERENCE OF KNOWLEDGE 122

1. Knowledge involves Judgment. 2. Judgment Defined.

3. Logic takes both Knowledge and Reality for Granted.

4. The Reference of Judgment. 5. Reference for Critical
Realism. 6. Is Reality present to Thought? 7. Is each Indi-
vidual Confined to his Consciousness? 8. Being distinct from
Knowledge. 9. We want to be the Reality known. 10. Knowl-
edge our only Escape from Individuality.

CHAPTER XII

TRADITIONAL ASSUMPTIONS AND ATTITUDES .... 135

1. Important Distinctions. 2. Rationalism. 3. Sensation-
alism. 4. Apriorism. 5. Empiricism. 6. Attitudes toward
Knowledge.



viii CONTENTS

CHAPTER XIII

PAGE

EPISTEMOLOGICAL THEORIES 146

1. The Value of an Epistemological Summary. 2. The
Nature of Epistemology. 3. Idealism. 4. Objective Idealism.

5. Realism. 6. Gnostic vs. Agnostic Realism.

CHAPTER XIV

TRUTH AND ERROR 157

1. Knowledge and Truth. 2. The Meaning of Knowledge.
3. Three Common Theories of Truth. 4. The Correspondence
Theory. 5. The Coherence Theory. 6. Pragmatism. 7. Truth
as a Cognitive Value. 8. The Criteria of Truth. 8. How
Non-apprehensional Realism Avoids the Copy View. 10.
Knowledge is a Utility.

CHAPTER XV

MATERIALISM AND SPIRITUALISM 171

1. Epistemology and Metaphysics. 2. Materialism and
V Spiritualism. 3. Materialism. 4. Spiritualism. 5. Two

Types of Spiritualism.

CHAPTER XVI

DUALISM AND CRITICAL NATURALISM 183

1. Natural Dualism. 2. What are Mind and Matter?
3. Why Mind and Matter are held to be distinct. 4. The
Setting of Physical Science. 5. The Setting of Psychology.

6. Is this Contrast Justified? 7. Cartesian Dualism. 8. We
do not Apprehend the Physical World. 9. A Monistic Inter-
pretation of the Distinction between Consciousness and the
Physical World. 10. Critical Naturalism.

CHAPTER XVII

THE WORLD AS KNOWN BY THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES: SPACE . 195

1. About the Categories. 2. Space a Category of the Phys-
ical Sciences. 3. Five Kinds of Space. 4. Sensational Space.



CONTENTS ix

PAGE

5. Perceptual Space. 6. Conceptual Space. 7. Mathematical
Space. 8. Is Space Infinite and Infinitely Divisible? 9. Space
as a Category. 10. Is the Physical World Finite? 11. Is
Consciousness Extended?

CHAPTER XVIII

TIME 205

1. About Time. 2. Three Kinds of Time. 3. Perceptual,
or Personal, Time. 4. Mathematical Time. 5. Time as a
Category of Scientific Knowledge. 6. Change the Objective
Basis of Scientific Time. 7. Had the World a Beginning?
8. Conclusions. 9. Consciousness and Time.

CHAPTER XIX

SUBSTANCE AND SUBSTANTIALITY 216

1. The Physical World consists of Things. 2. The more
Abstract Idea of Matter. 3. Descartes and Locke. 4. Em-
pirical Things and their Attributes. 5. Knowledge-About vs.
Being. 6. Nature is Substantial. 7. Properties express
Knowledge about Nature. 8. Constant Properties. 9. Mat-
ter for Physics. 10. What is Energy?

CHAPTER XX

MIND, SOUL AND CONSCIOUSNESS 229

1. The Nature of Mind a Problem. 2. Primitive Notions
of Mind. 3. Mind in Ancient Philosophy. 4. Mind in Mod-
ern Philosophy. 5. Consciousness displaces Soul. 6. Mind
and Consciousness.

CHAPTER XXI

REFLECTIONS ON PSYCHOLOGY 230

1. The Subject-Matter of Psychology. 2. Orthodox Psy-
chology. 3. The Purpose of the Psychologist. 4. A Current
Paradox. 5. Psychology as the Study of Behavior. 6. The
Value of Behaviorism. 7. An Inclusive Definition of Psy-
chology. 8. What is Mind? 9. Consciousness and Mind.



x CONTENTS

CHAPTER XXII

PAGE

THE RELATION BETWEEN MIND AND BODY .... 252

1. The Mind-Body Problem. 2. Solutions Offered. 3. Du-
alistic Theories. 4. Interactionism. 5. Parallelism. 6. Epi-
phenomenalism. 7. Monistic Theories. 8. Psychical Monism.
9. The Double-Aspect Theory. 10. The Unity Theory.
11. What is the Mind?

CHAPTER XXIII

PURPOSE AND MECHANISM ....... 268

1. The Presence of sharp Contrasts. 2. The Mechanical
View of the World. 3. The Teleological View of the World.
4. The Present Situation. 5. The Criticism of Mathematical
Rationalism. 6. The Ambiguity of the Mechanical View.
7. The Revival of Vitalism. 8. Are there Levels of Causality?
9. Efficient Causality and Purpose. 10. Is the Brain as Mind
a Mechanical System? 11. How shall we Conceive of the
Efficacy of Consciousness?






CHAPTER XXIV



THE PLACE OP VALUES 284

1. Knowledge and Valuation. 2. Naive Realism and
Values. 3. A Realism still more Primitive. 4. The Stand-
point of Non-apprehensional Realism. 4. The Place of Values
for these Levels. 5. The Science of Axiology. 6. The Objec-
tivity of Values.



THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY



THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY

CHAPTER I
WHAT PHILOSOPHY IS

A Preliminary Definition. Speaking in general terms,
we may say that philosophy is a persistent attempt to
understand the world in which we live and of which we
are a part. This preliminary definition stresses the broad-
ness of aim characteristic of philosophy. It is an effort
of the intellect of man to answer fundamental problems
and gain a comprehensive view of the universe.

The conception of the exact nature of philosophy has
varied from period to period as man's view of the world
and of his place in it has changed. Hence the history of
philosophy has usually been the best index of those gradual
alterations in the dominant interpretation of man and
reality in which science and religion find their focus.
Plato believed that a supersensible realm of ideas existed
apart from the world of perceptual appearance, and his
philosophy was at once a cause and an effect of this out-
look. It explained what reality was and how the human
mind obtained valid glimpses of it. During the Middle
Ages, man was prone to consider earthly things the crea-
tion of a supernatural deity, and his philosophy was
simply the earnest search for a systematic and consistent
answer to such riddles as forced themselves upon his
attention. In the eighteenth century, men were con-

1



2 TH2 F-SSFNTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY

vinced that there was an external physical world and that
their knowledge of it was contingent upon the sensations
produced in their minds by the stimulation of their sense-
organs. Certain general problems immediately resulted,
and philosophy was the persistent reflection upon these
general problems. Thus philosophy has always been reflec-
tion upon basic problems such as the nature of reality, the
distinction between the apparent and the real, the conditions
of human knowledge. It has always been the conviction of
the philosopher that these questions are unavoidable and
that they can be solved only by intensive reflection. A
definite part of our task in the present introduction will
be to explain the specific nature and inevitableness of
these problems with which the philosophers of all ages
have busied themselves. Only in proportion as a concrete
understanding of philosophical problems grows upon the
student will he really understand what the veritable
function of philosophy is.

The Attitude of the Philosopher. The attitude and
ideals of the philosopher are essentially the same as those
of the scientist. Both have the same mental curiosity
and keen desire for valid knowledge, the same willingness
to bend theories into line with experience, the same faith
in methodical analysis and persistent investigation and
reflection. Were we defining philosophy by reference to
the trained mental attitude and intellectual habits de-
manded, we should identify it with science. In this sense
it is a science. Probably the philosopher ought to em-
phasize this aspect of his subject in this day in which so
many people know something of the spirit of science.
The philosopher at his best is inspired with the same dis-
interested zeal to solve intellectual problems as is the
specialist in some branch of theoretical science.



WHAT PHILOSOPHY IS 3

In this age of early instruction in the special sciences,
the student who finally comes to philosophy with mixed
feelings of hope and doubt has already some acquaintance
with the lives of such men as Newton, Galileo and Darwin.
He knows and admires in them their whole-hearted en-
deavors to solve problems in the domain of nature. It is
this spirit, as much as what they have accomplished in
the solution of specific problems, which attracts the gen-
erous minded. We can, therefore, best convey to the be-
ginner a true idea of the philosopher by saying that he
has the outlook of the scientist. Both concern themselves
with knowledge and both seek it openly and in disregard of
consequences. The philosopher is not a mystic nor the
champion of some esoteric cult; he is a scientist.

The Difference Between Scientists and Philosophers.
And yet there is a difference. When a man is called a
scientist, we tend to ask whether he is a botanist or a
physicist or a mathematician or a chemist and so on, with
the other alternatives in view. We don't think of a man
as being a scientist-in-general. We suppose that he is
pursuing some particular kind of investigation which is
easily classified as along with other lines of investigation.
But to a good many a philosopher is just such a strange
creature, a man who wants to be a scientist-in-general.
Let us see whether we can explain the difference between
the work of a specialist in science, a devotee of some
particular science, and the work of a philosopher, without
leaving the impression that the philosopher is a sort of
jack of all trades and master of none, a man who wants to
be a scientist and yet won't adopt a specific field.

The real question is this, Do the special sciences exhaust
science? Philosophy is not a special science with a par-
ticular subject-matter as a field for exploitation outside



4 THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY

of and coordinate with the subject-matters of other special
sciences. "The important distinction is that the sciences
concentrate attention on particular parts or aspects of the
knowable world, abstracting from the rest; while it is, in
contrast, the essential characteristic of philosophy that it
aims at putting together the parts of knowledge thus at-
tained into a systematic whole; so that all the methods
of attaining truth may be grasped as parts of one method;
and all the conclusions attained may be presented, so far
as possible, as harmonious and consistent." H. Sidgwick,
Philosophy, Its Scope and Relations, p. 11. Philosophy
has for its aim, then, not the discovery of some province
which has not already been worked by the usual methods
of observation, experimentation and conjecture, but the
interpretation in a critical and coordinating fashion of the
principles, assumptions and conclusions of the special
sciences.

Philosophy attempts to round out and develop the con-
tributions of the special sciences into a consistent view of
the world and of our knowledge of it. Let us take the
latter point first. All of the sciences assume that man can
gain knowledge of the world; but none of them investigate
the nature and conditions of knowledge. Yet surely science
cannot be complete until this fundamental assumption of
all science is investigated. Again, the sciences employ such
concepts as space, and time, and matter, and mind, and
causality without always giving a searching examination
of the meanings these terms ought to have. Philosophy
regards such a critical investigation of commonly used
terms as imperative if a harmonious and satisfactory view
of the world is to be achieved. Why? Because it has
found again and again that no synthesis can be begun
without running up against general problems involving



WHAT PHILOSOPHY IS 5

the interpretation of such terms. "What the metaphysi-
cian asserts is not that there are facts with which the
various special branches of experimental science cannot
deal, but that there are questions which can and ought to
be raised about the facts with which they do deal other
than those which experimental inquiry can solve." Taylor,
Elements of Metaphysics, p. 9. The student will be intro-
duced to these questions in the main part of the book and
will be able to judge for himself how necessary and real
they are. He will see that they are problems which can
be met only by reflection. The senses and the devices
of the laboratory will not help. We conclude that philos-
ophy must not be contrasted with science but only with
the particular sciences. It seeks to perform a work of
supplementary reflection.

The Competency of the Philosopher. To-day we
associate science with a method, that of detailed investiga-
tion and tested conjecture. Has philosophy a method or
is it forced to rely on unmethodical inspiration? Is the
philosopher more like a poet than like a scientist? Much
has been said about the speculative method and about
speculation in a derogatory way. It is often hinted that
the philosopher spins his conclusions out of his own con-
sciousness and that they can, therefore, have little tested
validity. Such statements are, however, of tenest made by
those who know practically nothing about philosophical
systems and, themselves, entertain the strangest ideas
about the world at large. The chapters that follow must
justify philosophy to the serious reader if anything can
that is written in this book; but a few words can be
said in anticipation of the proof by eating.

Just because philosophy is a reflective criticism and
synthesis of the theoretical conclusions of the sciences, it



6 THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY

cannot test its conclusions by detailed facts of its own
finding. It can, however, and must test them by the
theories and principles put forward by the various sciences.
In a very real sense, these are its data. Just as a particular
hypothesis in any field must be comprehensive enough to
cover all the facts, so a philosophical hypothesis must be
capable of covering the better founded theories. It goes
farther than this, so far as it criticises concepts and dis-
tinctions which are not well founded. The method of the
philosopher is to raise necessary questions of a general
character, examine the concepts employed, suggest modi-
fications and adjustments, and so to assist the process of
unification which is all the time under way. The philos-
opher must have a well-trained and instructed mind and
be in close touch with science. The logic of his method
does not differ from the logic of systematic conjecture, for
even the specialist needs a creative imagination. His data
are principles and distinctions which conflict more or less
and must be so changed as to result in an adequate and
consistent view. His speculation is reflection, and he re-
fuses to believe that even the laboratory has made reflec-
tion unnecessary.

But the philosopher possesses a peculiar advantage by
reason of his training in logic and psychology. These af-
ford him a knowledge of knowledge and of its conditions
and genesis that is extremely valuable. Why this is so
will become clearer as we proceed. But a couple of points
may be noted here.

Logic is a science of thinking and has given much atten-
tion to the mental processes involved in all investigation.
It is an abstract science which stresses the foundations of
knowledge and makes the enquirer more aware of the
relative strength of the different parts of a science. There



WHAT PHILOSOPHY IS 7

is also a comparative side to logic. The assumptions and
methods of the different types of sciences are compared.
It is easy to see why training in logic gives the philosopher
an advantage over the narrow specialist.

A knowledge of psychology is of advantage because it is
the fundamental mental science. A thinker who knew
only the physical sciences would be unable to gain as
comprehensive a view of reality as one who was also ac-
quainted with mind. We shall see that psychology throws
a deal of light upon many problems.

But the philosopher has another advantage in his knowl-
edge of past attempts at solving world-problems. Distinc-
tions have grown up gradually which are of the greatest
assistance to reflection. What men like Plato, Aristotle,
Kant and Leibnitz thought cannot help but be of value
to the thinker of to-day. There can be little doubt
that training in the understanding of the various sys-
tems of the past develops the power of abstract thought.
It likewise warns the thinker what mistakes to avoid
and what concepts have been outgrown. Thus the
history of philosophy gives an invaluable perspec-
tive.

The Older and the Newer Conceptions of Philosophy.
As we have hinted, philosophy is a very old subject and
its view-point has changed from age to age while yet re-
taining a certain continuity. "The word philosophy is of
Greek origin. It was first employed, not as a technical
term, but as a word in general use. The reader of Herodo-
tus will find it in the well-known story of Solon's meeting
with Croesus. Croesus welcomes the Athenian with the
remark that the fame of his wisdom and of his travels has
already reached him, 'that thou, philosophizing, hast
visited a vast part of the world for the sake of reflection.'



8 THE ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY

Evidently, the expression 'for the sake of reflection' in-
tends to explain the word * philosophizing.' What makes
Solon a * philosopher ' traveller is the surprising circum-
stance that he does not, like the merchant or soldier, pursue
a practical object in his journeys. Thucydides, Isocrates,
and others use the word philosophy in a like sense, to
characterize a general theoretical education as distin-
guished from the technical or practical one." Paulsen,
Introduction to Philosophy, p. 20.

The first technical philosophers were men who sought
to offer a general theory of reality as a whole. These men
were called physicists because they speculated about the
stuff and constitution of nature. Their advent was im-
portant because they were the first to turn their backs on
mythology or the account of the world in terms of super-
personal agency and to assume the possibility of natural
processes in an independent world. Their guesses were
crude and yet daring. Sometimes, indeed, they showed
a remarkable measure of insight into principles of explana-
tion which have since been re-discovered and developed
by the special sciences. The physicists were metaphysi-
cians who did not have the precious advantage of the
knowledge since painfully gleaned by the methodical in-
vestigations of science. They made rational hypotheses
about nature on the basis of such experience as they could
gather. Every student should read the fragments of the
teaching of Heraclitus in order to realize how much a keen
mind can discern by reflecting upon the broad aspects of
human experience. Everything is in flux; yet there is
measure and law in this constant flow of things. Later
came the system of Democritus who first clearly broached
the hypothesis that all things are made of atoms, of small
bits of matter whose external relations can change. Even



WHAT PHILOSOPHY IS 9

mind was for him made up of the finer, smoother, subtler
atoms. He is the first materialist.

Gradually more specific knowledge was gathered and
men became more accustomed to reflective thought.
Mathematics and astronomy began to grow and take
shape. Observations in meteorology, medicine, anatomy,
psychology were made and held together by theories. But
there was little division of labor and one man often made
himself master of nearly all the fields. The philosopher
was the investigator and speculative genius who sought
to bring such knowledge as he had into line with some
unified view of the world as a whole.

As time passed, the social and mental sciences were
added to the subjects investigated and theorized about
by the philosopher. Such geniuses as Plato and Aristotle
created wonderful intellectual systems purporting to or-
ganize together in one comprehensive view the various
aspects and implications of human experience. Thus
Aristotle's system covered physics, zoology, psychology,
ethics, politics, economics, rhetoric, poetics and meta-
physics. He endeavored to advance these special disci-
plines and yet bind them together into a system which
would furnish an interpretation of the world.

For the Middle Ages, also, philosophy was synonymous
with human knowledge. The philosopher was both the
lover of wisdom and its possessor. Abelard, Albertus
Magnus and Thomas Aquinas were learned men and keen
thinkers; but the task they set themselves would appear
to the man of the twentieth century impossible. How


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