Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

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it is, in fact, to him the reality of both alike.

Philosophy sometimes affords examples of a similar

itisseenasaphiio- ^^^^ ^^ reality, where the ultimate

sophicai principle in truth of things is regarded as realising

itself in the world of experience. Mid the

method of its self-realisation, the motive or the medium

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Intellect loi

of the passage from idea to idea, is itself conceived
as the reality.

More obvious are the examples of the philosophical
temper of mind which finds repose in resolving facts
It is tometimes into ideas and ideas into one another,
SCSiTt^^ ^^®^® *^® balance against one another
of mind, of the different elements of reality

seems reflected in an equipoise of the mind, a calm
more unmoved than the conviction of ordinary men,
though detached from all the definite truths and
realities with which conviction is usually concerned,
ofteninastiniiar ^^ ®^®^ among ordinary practical
temper of mind in folk there is often a contented repose
** of judgment, which seems to an out-
sider to be without any adequate ground, where some
dim and half-worked-out perception of the relation
to one another of the various aspects of a truth, or of
the members of some group of facts, is in itself a
satisfying experience — the sense that there is an inter-
dependence between the members, the elements, the
aspects of the reality, being itself the source of satis-
faction. Hence arises the habit, common to philosophers
and to practical folk, and to scientific men as well, and
in all alike irritating to those who interchange ideas
with them, the habit of slurring over inconsistencies, or
disregarding facts which seem to clash with their theory
or their practice, the imperturbable contentment with
which they return to the facts from which their course
of reasoning starts, or in which it is envisaged, facts
whose primA fade reality has unfolded into this larger
and vaguer reality of related facts or ideas, in which
it seems now to be merged.

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102 An Essay on Personality

For it does not wholly and finally represent the

facts to say that we pass from the mere fact to the

• M ^- ^- A relation between the fact and other
u. Mediatton and

explanation issue in facts, and that this relation between
verification, ^j^^ ^^^ becomes the reaUty. When

the relation between the facts becomes the reality, the
facts themselves in whose relation the reality consists,
modified by having taken their place as parts of an
inchoate system of relations, reappear as elements in
the new reality. It is an incidental feature of the
reality of mediation that it reaflGbrms the original facts
of perception as parts of the concatenation of reality, as
entering into and helping to constitute the nexus of
verification, i.c of relations. It is an essential part of
perceived fiact in mediation that, when we explain a fact,
reason tru ^^ analyse it into the conditions on

which it depends, in which it consists, we verify the first
assertion of perceptive judgment, when we come back
to it, no longer as an assertion of perception, but as an
element in the truth of the world. The assurance of
sense is supported and replaced by the assurance of
Verification as com- D^^^iation. Verification, in the sense
moniy spoken of is in which the word is commonly used,
^^^^^ald^. g<>«s beyond this. Verification in the
firm incompletely sense of prediction fulfilled, where a

reasoned tmtli. . v i r j. * • • j.

theory or a law is shown to anticipate

the facts, brings the assurance of perception once more

to warrant the assurance of mediation. What happens

is this. The facts perceived give rise on analysis to a

law or truth which comprehends them. And in so far

as this is so, the assurance of fact is merged in the

assurance of truth. If the system of relations to which

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Intellect 103

the fact is referred were complete, if the connection of
the fact with other facts were convincing and secure,
the explanation of the mediated fact adequate and
exhaustive, no further confirmation would be needed.
Verification in the common sense is of service to sup-
plement imperfect and inadequate ratiocination. But
in proportion as the mediation of the fact perceived is
adequate, it restores to us the assurance of perception
in a new shape, in the assurance, namely, of mediation,
and thus the fact is in this, the proper sense, verified,
merged in truth, confirmed by being rediscovered as an
element in the connected system of things.

And mediation not only thus restores to us the sense
of communion wjith reality, in giving us the verification

liL Mediation and ^^ ^^^* *^ truth ; it also restores to us
explanation further the coUective assurance of knowledge,
uaue in proo . which in the moment when it challenges

analysis and mediation vanishes from the perception of
fact. Mediation is verification; it is also proof In
the perception of fact we assume, as we saw, that our
mind is the organ of the collective mind, and this is a
part of the assurance of fact. This assurance has failed.
The fact has subsided and collapsed into its explanation.
But once more, when the fact returns to us as truth,
through the perception of the essential connection
between the elements of the connected world of reality,
of which the fact forms a part, it returns to us assured.
Ti,- .«i.,«i«-,- ^t And in this assurance of truth, as in

i ne assurance oi '

truth is an appeal to every step of reasoning or mediate per-
a coUective standard, ^gp^j^j^ ^y which we approach it, we

appeal, and it is essential to the very nature of the
process that we appeal, to a social or collective standard.

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104 -^^ Essay on Personality

Proof which was merely proof to the individual — an
argumentum ad hunc hominem — would not be proof at
all. It was necessary to vindicate the social or collective
character of perception. Of truth, which is the result
of mediation, and of reasoning itself, it may surely be
said that they never profess to be individual. When I
demand proof to myself of the truth of my perception,
I am appealing jfrom a perception of feet which has
momentarily, at any rate, ceased to be collective, to a
standard of reasoning and of truth which is unques-
tionably social. This is the relief we experience in
attaining to proof. In the normal process of experience
there is only a momentary shrinking into self, and the
proved experience is an escape from the abnormal doubt
of the reality of perception to the sure footing of a
reasoned apprehension, reasoned because it is common,
convincing us with a conviction which satisfies us, only
because we feel that it ought to convince any ona Even
the *'solipsist," who proves that you cannot escape
from your individual impression, in proving it, does
escape, by appealing to a standard which is beyond the
individual consciousness and is essentially social. The
-'ism cannot be " solipsist." This conviction is higher
a higher assonuice in kind than the assurance of fact, as
SSL'S^SJ*^ *^^ reality with which we are in con-
highest tact is deeper, and the truth of which

we are convinced is more comprehensive. That there
is a higher conviction yet, a more intimate contact with
reality, will appear when we see the complexity of the
truth, of the world of relations, round into the whole
which is already implied in the very conception of it as
a world.

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Intellect 105

Meanwhile we have to show once more at this stage
the contribution of the moral and emotional factors in
Thissti^eofiiitci. personaUty to this stage in the intel-
lectiiai life inyoives lectual result. Will and emotion, not
wUi and emotion. ^ accompaniments of reasoning, but as
elements in the intellectual process of mediation, are
more explicitly and obviously present than in per-

Any process of reasoning is a movement, and the
passage from premiss to conclusion, from fact to fact.
In the act of reason- from idea to idea, is an act of will.
SJh^^ottl^^iiSS •'^^ analysis of perception, " breaking
becomes the con- it up " into its causes, its conditions,
dasion is the motive: j^g explanation, or again the synthesis,
by which the elements of perception are " built up "
into a conclusion, a law, — these plainly imply not
merely action, but motived action, action directed to
an end. This end is supplied by perception itself. The
mere succession of perceptions, to go no further, suggests
a dissatisfaction with the simplicity, the apparent
wholeness, of the single perception. The connection of
perceptions passes before the mind as an hypothesis to
be realised, a reduction to unity once more of what
seemed to be one, and has now become diverse, dis-
connected, multitudinous. And as the process of
reasoning or mediation advances, more definite hypo*
theses, more clearly shaped conclusions, emerge from
the premisses, from the facts, correcting themselves
into the forms in which they compel assent, and are
not merely temporarily tested, but finally adopted
by the intellectual will as the motive of the act of

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io6 An Essay on Personality

I have spoken here as though the steps in reasoning,

the tentative or final conclusions, presented themselves

. ,^ to the mind of their own accord for
it presents itseu,

acceptance. This is a view of the facts

which is in accord with a good deal of popular and

unreflecting language on the subject. We talk of the

view of the subject which presents itself, we talk of a

theory suggesting itself, of a conclusion, as we said just

now, emerging from the premissea And such language

represents, it seems to me, the actually experienced

fact. When we think, not merely images, but thoughts,

connections, groupings of facts or of ideas, arise of their

own accord and challenge assent Sometimes, when we

are listless or out of tune, mere fanciful comparisons,

fruitless concatenations, are the best we have to deal

with. But the better and truer our thought, the more

it squares with the facts and explains them, the more

is it spontaneous, presenting itself to the mind rather

than presented by the mind to itself.

Not the less is it true that the mere spontaneous

presentation of a thought, a course of reasoning, a con-

^ . _, ^ ^ elusion, does not itself constitute the

ftnd IS adopted.

fact described in the words " I think."

The thought thus presented is adopted; the mind

identifies itself with it. Sometimes what presents

itself does not commend itself. Even where it

commends itself most readily, the two aspects of the

thought, as presenting itself, and as adopted, are

clearly distinguishable from one another. Plainly

here we are giving a description of the intellectual

process, very closely corresponding with the definition

of will.

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Intellect \Qr]

As an illustration of the presence of will in reason-
ing, we may note the familiar diflGiculty we find in
rousing people to depart from or to
question their habitual view, a reluc-
tance which is not quite truly described as a mere
unwillingness to use their minds. Often there is a
general reluctance to ih%n\ to face the intellectual
eflfort of mediate perception, to rouse the energy of the
reasoning power. More often there is an unwillingness
to turn the effort of thought in a particular direction.
Or, again, there is a difficulty in bringing a conclusion,
a view of the facts, effectively before the minds of
others, in inducing them to entertain it as appealing to
their judgment, as challenging their assent. Those who
teach young children know well the state of mind in
which an ol:^tinate reluctance to think, to take in this
or that particular idea, has to be conjured away. The
child listens, attends, understands, but at a certain point
he stops, and (with the strange sincerity of a child)
he will afterwards tell you himself that he could have
understood, but would not. Again, there is an exhila-
ration about the exercise of the reasoning power, a
pleasure quite apart from any satisfaction in the con-
clusions reached, like the exhilaration of a physical
exercise or a moral victory. Often, again, there is a
difficulty in following a long course of reasoning. Partly
it is a difficulty of attention — the form in which some
psychologists recognise the moral element in the intel-
lectual life. Partly it is a difficulty in the sustained
effort of memory, keeping the Daind in touch with a
whole series of ideas. But far more it is the sheer
effort of thought, the difficulty of reasoning proper, of

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io8 An Essay on Personality

maintaining the electric thrill of vital and perceived
connection throughout the whole train of ideas which are
gathered into one. Again, in all reasoning at the point
where it becomes cogent, there is a sense, of which the
word " cogency " is the record, a sense of compulsion,
especially when we are being led to conclusions alien
from our usual habits of thought, rising sometimes to
the point of pain, demanding from us a definite self-
sacrifice. But always we speak, and speak truly, of
being driven to a conclusion, compelled to think of the
matter in such and such a way — we do not say the
conclusion is^ we say the conclusion must he — ^we are
using language which describes the phenomena of will.

And as the act, the energy of reasoning, is moral, so
the acquiescence in the conclusion, in the relation of a

The acquiescence in °^^ ^^ mediated facts to one another,
the condiisioa is is emotional. It is €0 even in cases,
emohonai, ^^^ ^^ those to which we have alluded

above, where there does not appear to be jany tangible
or definite conclusion, where the interdependence of the
facts or ideas which make up the intellectual world is
reflected in a balanced repose, an equipoise of mind, a
condition sometimes miscalled a suspense of judgment,
which is rather a judgment of suspense, an acceptance
of the balance of things against one another as the
fundamental and absolute fact. Even here, and still
more markedly in the normal reasoning of the mind
untouched by sceptical and metaphysical considerations,
whose processes are always more difficult to describe,
the true character of emotion appears — the characterisa-
tion, i.e., of the self as qualified in such and such a way,
because the object is qualified in such and such a way.

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Intellect 109

Conviction, the assurance which is produced by proof,
convictioii in the teif is the correlative of causality as attach-

SISSi*S;?SS. ^g ^ t'^^ ^'^•' of certainty, "tied
of fact by the tie of the cause," in the related

truths which commend themselves to the reasoning

But the conviction which we associate with proof,

though it rightly claims to be higher than the assurance

of perception, is not the highest degree

Bat the convictioii of assurance known to experience. The

of proof fa not the causallv connected elements of experi-

hi«:hest degree of -i ^ ^. r w

assurance. ence do not satisfy us as a causally

dSiSteSSS connected mass or congeries, until we

ence must round into feel that they in some way round into

a whole, as truth, ^ ^^^^^ - Truth," which is the aim

of intellectual eflfort, implies an apprehension which

passes beyond the merely relative conviction of proof,

and returns to the simplicity of perception. "The

world," the name by which we describe

the connected elements of experience

in general, is regarded not merely as connected causally

or otherwise from end to end ; it is regarded as a whole.

^d these two wholes ^d these two— " truth," the aim

must become one in towards which proof points, and " the

world," the unity of experience which

lies beyond the causal connection of its facts — confront

one another, and demand some further whole which shall

include them both, otherwise than as each comprehends

;and is comprehended by the other. It is this need of a

further unification of experience, which is answered to

•the ordinary man, so far as it is answered at all, by his

ibelief in God.

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no An Essay on Personality

I propose, then, to take each of these familiar aspects
of experience as a whole — the world, truth, and God ;
to consider what is this character of "wholeness"
which they aim at realising in experience, and, in so
far as they attain it, to consider what part the other
faculties of personality play in this final effort of

In speaking of the scientific view of experience we
have already inevitably spoken of it as the scientific

L The world may ^^^ ^^ " *^^ ^^^^<^" ^^ ^^ »P^^^ ^^

stand for the mutiud the causally connected elements of
^^^Tf£^t^' experience in general, it is inevitable
or for the wholeness to use of them the Collective name,
**^^*'^^*°** ■ the world, even though it is not on

the wholeness of experience, but on the mediation of its
elements by one another, that the mind is at the time
intent. This term, then, " the world," covers this degree
of ambiguity. It is used to describe the connected
elements of reality, when the prominent idea is their
connection, when the fact is mediation ; and it is used
more properly to denote the wholeness of experience,
towards which the contemplation of the connection of
its elements leads the way. Even in this latter sense
the application of the word is fluctuating and various in
the extreme. But, nevertheless, its use indicates, in all
its various applications, a certain tendency of thought,
a tendency which may be disengaged and defined.

To the unreflecting mind the world means perhaps
most obviously the aggregate of things existing in
space. "There is no such thing in the vnyrld as a
unicorn " means primarily, " You may go from place to
place, and nowhere will you find a unicorn." But " the

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Intellect in

world " as space is, first of all, not a whole including
the elements of experience, but rather the relation of
e.g. tfae^voridM *^®®^ elements to one another. Space
space may stand for is not, it is needless to say, appre-
of au things, or ^ hended by the ordinary uneducated man
eiM^t indudins: aU as an entity at all. But when he talks
of " in the world," he means primarily
" in space." Even here, perhaps, we should distinguish
two stages in his thought : first, the stage at which the
world means to him something which involves the
spatial relations of things to one another; secondly,
the stage at which things as spatially related to one
another are thought of as a whole including the
elements of experience, though they are not definitely
apprehended as a whole. It will not, at any rate, be
disputed that he does attain to this latter point of view,
and that this is to him the primary and obvious mean-
ing of " the world " when he uses such a phrase as " in
the world." But even as a unifying idea, as presenting
experience as a whole, space means to him rather
spatiality than space. If you offer him as a definition
of space that it is an empty box, without top, bottom,
or sides, no doubt he will accept the definition ; but
" in the world " means to him not in the limitless con-
taining medium, but in a sphere of relations of nearness
and distance of things from one another, of inwardness
and outwardness of things to one another, etc. The
fact, however, that the box has neither top, bottom,
nor sides, does enter into the meaning of the " world "
as he comes to think of the world, as, in this sense,
a whole. It helps to make the spatial unity dominate
in the imagination the elements which it unites. The

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112 An Essay on Personality

picture of space stretching on and on without the
thought of definite contents of space makes a kind of
imaginative substitute for abstraction, and helps the
mind to grasp the idea of the relatedness of things as
the universal fact. This imagination does not reach
its highest point of impressiveness, and the thought
which it embodies is not complete, until we add to the
which fimOiy indades idea of what is commonly called the
"t^t.t^t^t infinity of space the further perception
that apprehends it of our own inclusion in the world we
apprehend. By our own inclusion in it we mean
primarily the inclusion of our own bodily selves. But
even so, our own bodily self is only a specimen self,
and when we think of ourselves as included in the
world, the world impresses us as the place, the sphere,
the theatre, in which this contemplation of the world
takes place. The idea, the perception, upon which we
are engaged returns upon us, and we find it in a sense
comprehending the very perception that apprehends it.
I am not dwelling upon this, it is needless to say, as
a satisfactory philosophical statement of the relation
of thought to space. I am only pointing out that, to
the ordinary unreflecting mind, the world is a place
within which all thinking minds operate, within which
God Himself operates, and that the world is not to the
ordinary man in the fullest sense a whole, until it thus
returns upon and includes the mind that perceives it.

It is not necessary for our present purpose to do
more than indicate by examples what are the essential
points in the apprehension of experience as a whole.
The causal connection of things, for instance, though it
is instinctively assumed, is not explicitly apprehended,

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Intellect 113

in the ordinary consciousness of the unreflecting man,
as a principle which binds the world of experience into
Theworidasacansai » whole. It appears, however, in the
whole is popularly ioTEd of a recognition of the inevitable-

apprelie&ded in the . ^

<*mevitabieness"of ness of all that happens in the' world
*^*"*'» And though the world, as the whole

of experience, does not represent an idea familiar to
the unreflecting man, he does think of experience
and reality as a causal whole. Not only would he
demur to any suggestion of facts which were real and
yet had no causes or effects, but, as he is conscious of
an assurance in perception — the thing must be, because
he perceives it — so he is conscious of a general " must "
gathering to a ^^^ pervades the facts of life. We

umversai "must," may be right or wrong in calling this
general view of the world, on its moral side, a kind of
fatalism, but, on its intellectual side, it involves the recog-
nition that the world is, as a matter of fact, bound together
by this iron bond. He is even, I think, dimly conscious
of this apprehension of the world, as a great " must be,"
as an intellectual achievement, and smiles at any sug-
gestion of an attempt to escape from the universal law
finally including the of fact as a sign of mental inferiority.

^ bS^SS JiJ* ^^ ^* ^ ^ P^^* ^^ *^® assurance which
apprehended. gives him this sense of intellectual

achievement, that the mind itself, in the recognition of
the world as law, yields to the compulsion of the universal
" must." Not that he conceives the mind to be forced, to
yield an assent that is unwilling, or in which the spon-
taneity of the mind is crushed. The mind remains to him
a mind ; otherwise he would not feel the characteristic
elation which accompanies any discovery or intellectual

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114 ^^ Essay on Personality

achievement. But, in his perception, his own conviction
and his own thinking self is included in his world, and
the inevitableness of the laws of the world owes its final
impressiveness to the fact that it is so.

In the scientific view of the world these principles
are less difficult to disengage and to discern. There is
Totfaeadentificmmd, no need to dwell further upon the fiftct

ned^^— ^^' that causation, law, the mutual con-
(z) an aii-pervmding nection of the elements of experience
(2)TSing agency ^*^ ^^^ another, is the vital point in
in experience, the scientific view of the world. Nor
is it necessary to insist that, to the scientific imagination
at least, the mutually connected elements of experience,
which are the field of law and causation, do round into
a whole, and that science thus claims to give a fuller
and truer meaning to the term we are considering, " the
world." Causal connection is to the scientific mind
(1) an all-pervading medium, (2) a unifying agency in
experience. The strength of scientific conviction, the
satisfying character of scientific experience, depends on
the apprehension of causal connection sometimes in the

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Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 9 of 19)