Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

. (page 14 of 19)
Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 14 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


problems, psychological, moral, logical, aesthetic, and
that we should suggest or imply a solution, wherever
the problem itself seemed to have been misconceived
from the cause which we were endeavouring to counter-
act, the isolation of the faculties of personality from one

170



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Conclusion 171

another. In a discussion covering so wide a range,
where each subject of consideration as it comes before
our view engages our interest for its own sake, it is not
likely that I have altogether avoided the treatment of
questions that were extraneous to the main subject of
this essay. The danger of my straying from the proper
field of inquiry was, no doubt, increased by the fact
that, in every region of inquiry, I wished, above all
things, to keep in touch with the living facts of experi-
ence as it is. Facts have a fascination of their own —
above all, the facts of human life and experience. We
cannot turn to them for the illustration of a theory
without being caught up into the stream of the complex
experience which we recall, and carried away from the
remoter truth which we desire to illustrate. If it were
possible, I should be glad in these concluding words to
divert attention from this or that particular point of
controversy, in any branch of the subjects on which I
have touched, in order once more to return to the main
thesis, which it has been my object throughout to
envisage and commend to attention, as a view of experi-
ence deserving the first consideration of those who care
for philosophy.

Incidentally, and sometimes more than incidentally,
I have indicated the lines of argument by which I should
endeavour to establish this hypothesis as a truth in
the various regions of philosophy. Nor would I attempt
to divert criticism from any argument which I have
used, or from any conclusions which I have indicated in
psychology, morals, logic, or aesthetics, in so far as they
are essential points in the presentation of the hypothesis
as to the nature of experience. But this, the conception



Digitized by VjOOQIC



172 An Essay on Personality

of the nature of experience, is the thing that I have
desired to make clear. And it is in order to mark the
outcome as to the essential nature of experience, that I
wish now to review our consideration of the different
fields of experience. In summarising the result attained
as to the primary nature of fact and reality, it will be
essential to note, as a subordinate element in the main
conclusion, the part that is played in the experience
of reality by the neglected members of the threefold
capacity of personal life.

In the course of the endeavour to define experience,
as it is experienced, I have been constantly impelled to
ask myself the question, which may probably have
occurred to the reader no less frequently than to myself :
" This subtlety of psychology or metaphysic, this vague
and wide generalisation, this refinement of religious
emotion, has it anything whatever to do with the
experience of the ordinary man ? " And my answer to
the reader must be that which has been my answer to
myself — that the experience of the ordinary man is, even
to the ordinary man, part and parcel of the experience
of mankind. I cannot attempt to present the experience
of the ordinary man without following out into their
most characteristic expression the various elements of
experience which are, after all, to be found represented in
the experience of the ordinary man. And I should not
truly represent the experience of the ordinary man, if I
did not recognise the great efforts of human reason and
human .endeavour, in which the ordinary man, as an
ordinary man, does not profess, as an individual, to
share, but which are a part, and no unimportant part,
of the world in which and for which he lives. The



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Conclusion 173

ordinary man is not a hero, or a philosopher, or a
theologian; he is not at all scientific; he is probably-
mistaken in believing himself to be artistic. But the
self-devotion of heroes, and the speculations of philoso-
phers, and the visions of theologians, and the discoveries
of science, and the glories of art are facts to him all
the same, part of the general human experience to
which he feels himself to belong. And while I do not
profess to withdraw from the position which the whole
argument of this essay demands, that the experience
with which philosophy begins is not the experience of
any individual man, but the experience of mankind,
I may nevertheless here point out that our inquiry
has led us to lay stress on elements in experience
in which the most ordinary man feels himself to be
at home.

To the English mind two things are obviously and
indisputably real — matter, and the fellowship of meiL
Each of these is a type of reality, and represents an
element in reality, more markedly present it may be at
this or that point in experience, but present presumably
in some degree throughout the whole of experience.
The undeniable reality of matter has often been repre-
sented as due to the undeniable testimony of feeling
and sense. I do not believe that this is the element in
our experience of material reality which makes that
experience seem undeniable. The appeal to present
feeling is the appeal of the introspective philosopher
rather than of the practical man. Dr. Johnson's kick
represents an appeal, not to the sentient subject, but to
the thing — there, outside you, over against you. This is
the primary view of reality with which the Englishman



Digitized by VjOOQIC



174 -^^ Essay on Personality

instinctively declines to part company.* And it is
not even to a merely material reality that he clings. It
is the thing as a thing, as a thing that exists, as a thing
that resists you or compels you, as a thing that affects
you. The essential element in the reality of material
things remains with us as the essential reality of things
that are least material. Not only is it essential to the
reality of perception that it is the perception of a thing,
which is the subject of sensible qualities (Part II.
ch. iv. p. 76) ; not only is it essential to the moral
reality of desire that it is directed outwards to an
object of desire (Part II. ch. iii. p. 55) ; not only is
it essential to pleasure that it should take us out of
ourselves (Part 11. ch. v. p. 129), and arrest our atten-
tion upon the thing that pleasantly affects us. At this
first stage of self-consciousness throughout it is un-
doubtedly true that fact and reality demand that there
shall be something for the will to grit its teeth upon,
something that stands out over against us as existing in
its own right, something that affects us in this way or
in that, but affects us only because it is beyond and
independent of our feeling. But in the final stages of
the moral, intellectual, and emotional life, that which we
have seen in every case to be the final and convincing
reality would disappear unless this first apprehension
of reality as distinct fi^om the self were presupposed.
The final moral motive we saw to be the society into
which the individual gives himself, with whose will he
identifies his own (Part 11. ch. iii. p. 60). The final
reality for the intellect is the whole— the world, the

* The positive element in Agnosticism is the belief that, in the tmiyerse
at large, there is something ih/crt^ something, though we know not what.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Conclusion 175

truth, the God — ^in which the individual finds himself
to be included and to have his being (Part 11. ch. iv.
pp. 110-124). The final stage of the emotional life
is the emotion embodied in a social life, in which it
is our delight to be taken out of ourselves (Part 11.
ch. V. p. 154). The surrender of self to some over-
mastering reality is possible only if the reality is there,
and is separate from, over against the self which it
comes upon and includes.*

And it is in this element in reality wherever we
recognise its presence, from the rude contact with matter
to which Dr. Johnson appealed up to the highest
spiritual experience, that I think we must see the moral
or volitional element in reality to be most conspicuous
and most indispensable (Part II. ch. iv. pp. 90, 92).
Matter is so convincingly real to us, because it resists,
because it is impenetrable, insubordinate, in the long
run irresistible. Force is the secret of its reality, and
force is a volitional reality. Desire, the most invincible
reality of the moral life, though it seems to stir within
us, is always a response. What moves the desiring will
is the experienced and anticipated contact with reality
(Part II. ch. iii. p. 68), the grappling of the force
within with some encountering force without. Pleasure,

* The line of thought here suggested as to matter and spirit might be
pursued much further. What I say here amounts to no more than this,
that the mutual externality of the parts of matter is an analogue to the mutual
otherness of the personal members of the human fellowship— that otherness
which is essential to the fellowship itself. Of. '' Man's Place in the Cosmos/*
pp. 176, 177, where Mr. Seth, commenting on Mr. Bradley's " Does not the
self lose itself in love ? Absolute self-fruition comes only when the self
bursts its limits and blends with another finite self,'* replies, " Of love, whether
Bexual or divine, the poet's words (in another sense) are true, that 'Its
dearest bond is like in difference.* *'



Digitized by VjOOQIC



176 An Essay on Personality

as we have said, takes us out of ourselves, and the
will to maintain pleasure, of which we have spoken
(Part II. ch. V. p. 132), is the will to keep in touch
with that which affects us, the refusal to let it go, the
protest against subsiding into ourselves.

Reality is that which is other than ourselves, and
only as other than ourselves enables us to identify our-
selves with it. That is the character of all spiritual
experience, represented first by the ineradicable belief
in matter, but to be traced throughout the various
fields of experience which we have surveyed.

On the other hand, the fellowship of mankind in
which we live is the supreme and urgent reality of
human experience, and the fact that man is capable of
this fellowship is, to the Englishman perhaps above all
men, the dominant principle of his practical philosophy
of life. In the survey of experience which we are now
bringing to a close, the principle of fellowship has taken
its place as the motive, the rationale, and the close of
the whole development of the life of experience.

The highest principle of the moral life we have seen
to be the ideal of communion, of mutual helpfulness,
mutual sympathy, social affection (Part 11. ch. iii.
pp. 69, 70). And we have viewed this principle as the
result of a moral development, which, starting firom
desire, as desire of life^ desire for communion with our
environment (Part II. ch. iii. p. 68), has reached this
social ideal as its necessary and predestined result.

The highest ideal after which the intellect has
aspired we have seen to be the conception of a com-
munion with the ultimate reality of things, such as
is suggested by the analogy of the communion



Digitized by VjOOQIC



H - JI4PMIW I W -



Conclusion 177

undoubtedly achieved between mind and mind, the
ultimate reality of the Universe of Knowledge and
Existence being conceived to be itself the inspiration
and the source of the communion of knowledge which
actually subsists between mind and mind, where man
knows his fellowman (Part II. ch. iv. p. 122). And
this communion with the ultimate principle of the
communion of knowledge is the outcome again of an
intellectual development continuous from the first per-
ception in which the perceiving mind finds common
ground of existence with the thing perceived (Part II.
ch. iv. p. 85).

Finally, in the emotional region of experience we
have passed from pleasures of life (Part IL ch. v.
p. 130) to pleasures of love (Part IL ch. v, p. 136),
from pleasures in bodily communion with the outer
world to pleasures in which the lover takes pleasure in
the loved, and the loved not only takes pleasure in the
lover, but takes pleasure in the fact of giving pleasure
to the lover. And from the family life, to which this
love gives birth, the life that makes us delight to live
in others (Part II. ch. v, p. 155), we have passed on
to the conception of a life in God Who is Love, a life
pervaded by the communion with the Personal principle
of communion, ajoimated by the love of the Personal
principle of love (Part IL ch. v. p. 163). In other
words, we have claimed for this, the emotional principle
of communion, that from the first achievement to the
highest aspiration of the life of man, it is the dominant
factor in experience. To this deep and comprehensive
principle of human life we have given the name of
love, — widening, no doubt, strengthening and deepening

N



Digitized by VjOOQIC



178 An Essay on Personality

the meaning of the word beyond its common accep-
tation. But of love in this sense it may be said,
not only ^that it pervades the whole of life — nihil
hwfnanum a se alienum pulat, — ^but that it represents
that character of common experience which gives to
philosophy what is at once a challenge and a vocation —
to be adequate to experience.

Of all these final apprehensions of reality it is true
to say that they satisfy that which I should describe as
the characteristic demand of the English mind in
philosophy. The Englishman will never be content to
be told that reality means what I feel, or even that
reality means what I am obliged to think. Rather, he
will hold it to be true that it is the reality itself which
is the cause of his knowing it as real, and this, whether
he is a materialist or a CShristian, is what he does hold
to be true.

The statement of the metaphysical problem which
is here set forth leaves the way open to a solution,
which shall neither explain away the primary reality
of the experience of sense, nor yet ignore the cardinal
reality of the experience of human life, but which,
taking the latter as the key to the former, shall enable
man to attain to the spiritual apprehension of a spiritual
universe.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



APPENDIX



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Digitized by VjOOQIC



^^P^i^^gl I li^l W ,,11



NOTE A {page 3)
Proof *

We are to look for reality within, and not beyond
the field of experience. This is, as we have said, the
limitation of philosophy. Experience is the beginning
and end of philosophy. We accept, to start with, the
fact of experience as it stands. We ask what it in-
volves, what it implies, what it reveals, and philosophy
in the end is only the rationale of experience discovered
in experience itself.

But at this point a question arises about the
knowledge of reality. Experience is the beginning and
end of philosophy. But the view of experience with
which philosophy ends is not the same as the view of
experience with which it began. How does the tran-
sition come to be made from the one view to the other
— ^from the knowledge of the primary realities to the
knowledge of the final reality — ^from experience as it
presents itself to philosophical inquiry, to experience
as it emerges from the inquiry ? What is the " method "
of philosophy, the " way by which we pass " from the
beginning to the end ?

* This expansion of the summary statement in the text is a transcript
from a former work, " Experience, a Chapter of Prolegomena."

181



Digitized by VjOOQIC



1 82 Appendix

The question challenges consideration mainly because
there is a kind of knowledge — "science" — claiming,
by its very titie, the prerogative of knowledge, and
basing the claim on its method — the method of proof.
Science professes to be science, because its method is
to pass from irrefragable premisses by unimpeachable
reasoning to what are accordingly undeniable conclu-
sions. And science would seem to demand of philosophy
that it should not be less than scientific, that it should
justify its conclusions by proof.

And knowledge does involve proof. When we say
that philosophy aims at the knowledge of reality, the
knowledge of which we speak is proved knowledge.
That which is known means that which is proved.
BLUOwledge, i.e., is the result of a process starting from
premisses, ending in conclusions ; starting from beliefs
which We are justified in assuming, ending in other
beliefs assured as the consequence of the former.

But how do we guarantee the transition from
premiss to conclusion ? Does the method of proof give
us the guarantee ? If we wish for scientific proof, eg-.
that a certain bacillus is the cause of a certain disease,
the rule for the most certain method of proof would
tell us that if a case in which the disease occurs, and
a case in which it does not occur, have every circum-
stance in common, except that in the one case the
bacillus in question was received into the system, and
in the other it was not, this would give us the proof
we desire. There is no doubt that this rule indicates
the lines on which a certainty, for practical purposes
absolute, is to be looked for. But is it the method
that gives the certainty ?



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 183

As a matter of fact, the method does not describe
an actual process of thought at all. (1) It is theo-
retically impossible to be sure that the two cases have
every circumstance in common save one. The method
is inapplicable to facts ; its conditions can never be
satisfied.* And (2) if they were satisfied, if the two
instances had every circumstance in common save one,
there would be no process from premiss to conclusion.
We should have already arrived at the conclusion. The
premisses are only a description of the conclusion in
different words. It is not the method, then, that gives
certainty to the conclusion.

If this is the case in inductive reasoning, in the pro-
cess of generalisation by which science establishes laws,
no less may it be shown to be the case in the deductive
reasoning by which generalisations are applied. (1) We
cannot be theoretically certain that any given individual
is a " man " in the precise sense in which we say that
all " men " must die. The circumstances in which men
agree and differ cannot be exhaustively known. The
method is inapplicable to facts. And (2) it has been
shown in a fanaUiar logical criticism f that the premisses
of a syllogism, as formally stated, assert the conclusion.
Here, again, it is not by the method that the conclusion
is assured.

But this is only to say that proof is not
mechanical A method such as the syllogism, or the
method of 'difference, is not a truth-making machine.
The conclusion is not proved hy the method. It is
proved in accordance with the method. Even this

* Balfour, " Defence of Pbilosophic Donbt,** Part I. ch. ill.
t That of Mm.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



184 Appendix

statement, however, must be interpreted in the sense

(1) that the rules of the method describe a standard
at which we aim, but to which we never attain ; and

(2) that if we did attain it, there would no longer be
any process of proof. We endeavour to attain to a
collocation of facts, which enables us to ^ee the law in
the facts. We endeavour to attain to an apprehension
of the law such as enables us to anticipate the facts.
The method only supplies a formula as a guide in
framing the evidence for a given conclusion.

None the less is it a fact that proof takes place.
There is such a thing as proof, reasoning, or connected
thought, in which, certain truths being assumed, a truth
distinct from them becomes manifest as a consequence
of the truths assumed,* and in which it is essential
that the conclusion should be (1) distinct from the
premisses, but (2) involved in them. We find, as a
matter of fact, that when we entertain certain judg-
ments as true, they inevitably point to some further
judgment, to a conclusion, which, on a survey of the
premisses, it is impossible to deny without also denying
the premisses. This is what we mean by proof, and
proof, in this sense, is not only essential to our idea
of knowledge, but is an actually experienced fact

But the method and its formula are only a
general description of such and such a kind of inference.
Each particular inference is not valid because it con-
forms to the method. It is the witness of its own
validity. An inference may be called a self-evident
mediate perception. Experience presents us with self-
evident mediate perceptions. A method of proof is a

* Aristotle, ?.c.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 185

description of the way in which, as a matter of fact,
truths thus become manifest by means of other truths.
This is the nature of experience, the character of truth
— mediate manifestation. Begin where you like, you
pass from truth to truth. Through the truths you
know other truths are evidenced, or reveal themselves
to you.

And proof, or mediate perception, gives, if not a
greater degree of certainty than inmiediate perception,
at any rate a higher kind of certainty; as we may
say that an act of self-sacrifice gives a higher kind
of pleasure than, e.^., the innocent satisfaction of a
bodily appetite. The first instinctive recognition of
the character of a person, or the truth of a principle,
however free it may be from doubt or hesitation, does
not partake of the same certitude and assurance as the
knowledge of the same person or principle, through all
the various touching points and relations through which
its nature and significance are manifest in experience.

Nor is the relation between premiss and conclusion
exhausted when we say that the conclusion follows
from the premisses. The conclusion reacts upon the
premisses. It is natural that the premisses of an
argument should primarily be regarded as stable and
immutable principles, which never add to their content
or increase their certainty. But the fact is rather that
the original premisses of an argument are imperfectly
significant, and provisionally sure; and their signi-
ficance and certainty are never fully seen except in the
conclusions which follow from them.

There are many and various way sin which the
conclusion of an argument reacts upon the premisses.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



1 86 Appendix

The conclusion may confirm the premisses, and make
assurance doubly sure ; it may amplify their meaning ;
it may absorb them into a wider truth ; it may limit
and define their first and vague significance; it may
deepen a shallow and inadequate conception; it may
correct the primary misapprehension of their purport.
The one thing which reasoning never does is to leave
the premisses as they were.

In fact, we do not leave our premisses behind.
We take them with us. Premiss and conclusion inter-
penetrate one another. There is a perpetual give-and-
take between them as the argument proceeds. They
mutually support and interpret one another. It repre-
sents an inadequate view of reasoning to say that we
reason from premiss to conclusion. Rather the pre-
misses are transformed into and reappear in the con-
clusion. They stand to the argument not so much in
the relation of the foundation to the building, laid once
for all, and then buried out of sight; rather in the
relation of the seed to the living growth of thought,
expanding into that which issues firom them.

When we say, then, that knowledge is proved know-
ledge, we mean that we experience truths by means
of other truths, that one stage of intellectual appre-
hension carries us to another. But what is the secret
of the advance? What justifies the expansion of the
partial view into the completer apprehension? The
answer appears to be only that the completer appre-
hension itself justifies the advance by which we reach
'it, that the conclusion becomes self-evident in the pre-
misses, and that it is itself the source of assurance in
the process by which it manifests itself in them.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 187

If this be true of proof in general, it will not less
be true of the supreme instance of proof, of the method
in which, starting from the primary, partial, superficial
view of experience as it is, we reach the deeper and
completer apprehension of supreme reality. Philosophy
has been described as the rationale of proof. It* is, in
fact, the search for that ultimate truth of things —
that truth the impulse towards apprehension of which is
the animating spirit of all reasoning. And philosophy is


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 14 of 19)