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calls a thing — an existence placed half-way between the ' thing ' and
the ' representation.' This conception of matter is simply that of
common sense." ..." For common sense, then, the object exists in
itself, and, on the other hand, the object is in itself pictorial, as we
perceive it : image it is, but a self-existing image." Now, this very idea
of a " self-existing image " implies to me the whole idealism of philo-
sophy, and Bergson is not free of it And, of course, as we have surely
seen, his " creative-evolution " philosophy is a stupendous piece of
idealism, but an idealism moreover to which the science of the day is
also inclining.



past and the present. It is necessary to speak
here with the utmost caution if we would avoid
doing injustice 1 to Bergson. We cannot mean,
for example, that he does not do justice 2 to the
social factor in human development of which we
have heard so much, perhaps too much, from the
sociologists. 3 We might mean, however, and we
do in a sense mean that he has not made as much
as he might have done of this factor, by develop-
ing for the thought of to-day the reality of that
world of " spiritual communion " and " inter-

1 There is so much that is positive and valuable in his teaching,
that he is but little affected by formal criticism.

2 Cf. " We have now enumerated a few of the essential features of
human intelligence. But we have hitherto considered the individual
in isolation, without taking account of social life. In reality man is a
being who lives in society. If it be true [even] that the human intellect
aims at fabrication, we must add that, for that as well as other purposes,
it is associated with other intellects. Now it is difficult to imagine a
society whose members do not communicate by signs," etc. etc.
(Creative Evolution, p. 166). Indeed all readers of Bergson know
that he is constantly making use of the social factor and of " co-opera-
tion " by way of accounting for the general advance of mankind. It
may be appropriate in this same connexion to cite the magnificent
passage towards the close of Creative Evolution in which he rises to the
very heights of the idea [Schopenhauer and Hartmann had it before him,
and also before the socialists and the collectivists] of humanity's being
possibly able to surmount even the greatest of the obstacles that beset
it in its onward path : " As the smallest grain of dust [Creative Evolution,
pp. 285-6] is bound up with our entire solar system, drawn along with
it in that undivided movement of descent which is materiality itself,
so all organised beings, from the humblest to the highest, ... do but
evidence a single impulsion, the inverse of the movement of matter,
and in itself indivisible. All the living hold together, and all yield to
the same tremendous push. The animal takes its stand on the plant,
man bestrides animality, and the whole of humanity, in space and in
time, is one immense army galloping beside and before and behind
each of us in an overwhelming charge to beat down every resistance
and clear the most formidable obstacles, perhaps even death."

3 Cf. p. 160 and p. 262.


subjective intercourse " of which we have spoken
more than once.

Then we might also contend that Bergson has
not as yet, in his philosophy of human life, taken
much cognizance of the deeper x experiences of
life, of the specifically ethical and religious feelings
and thoughts of men. With the pragmatists he
is unduly optimistic about the free expansive
development of the individual. Against this
objection it may be replied, that he has so
thoroughly assimilated into the very texture of
his thought and feeling some of the finest things in
the spiritualism and the idealism of the reflective
thought of France 2 that we would not, if we could,
wish the germinal or fructifying elements in his
system to be different from what they are. His
" social ' message is perhaps after all the best
thing that it can be — the need of the inward
spiritualization of the life and thought of the

Lastly, in addition to the fine traditional

1 He comes in sight of some of them, as he often does of so many
things. " It is as if a vague and formless being, whom we may call,
as we will [C.E., p. 281], man or superman, had sought to realise him-
self, and had succeeded only by abandoning a part of himself on the
way. The losses are represented by the rest of the animal world, and
even by the vegetable world, at least in what these have that is positive
and above the accidents of evolution."

2 From what has been said in this chapter about Bergson, and from
the remarks that were made in the second chapter about Renouvier
and the French Critical Philosophy, the reader may perhaps be willing
to admit that our Anglo-American Transcendental philosophy would
perhaps not have been so abstract and so rationalistic had it devoted
more attention, than it has evidently given, to some of the more repre-
sentative French thinkers of the nineteenth century.



spiritualism and libertarianism of French philo-
sophy, we may think of the voluntarism of Kant
and Schopenhauer as also militating somewhat
against the idea of Bergson's originality 1 in
philosophy. Despite this it is still possible to
regard him as one of important, modern, exponents
of just that development of the Kantian philosophy
that became imperative after Darwinism. He
has indeed inaugurated for us that reading of the
' theory of knowledge " in terms of the " theory
of life " 2 which is his true and real continua-

1 We must remember that nowhere in his writings does Bergson
claim any great originality for his many illuminative points of view.
He is at once far too much of a catholic scholar (in the matter of the
history of philosophy, say), and far too much of a scientist (a man in
living touch with the realities and the theories of the science of the day)
for this. His findings about life and mind are the outcome of a broad
study of the considerations of science and of history and of criticism.
By way, for example, of a quotation from a scientific work upon
biology that seems to me to reveal some apparent basis in fact (as seen
by naturalists) for the " creative evolution " upon which Bergson bases
his philosophy, I append the following : " We have gone far enough
to see that the development of an organism from an egg is a truly
wonderful process. We need but go back again and look at the marvel-
lous simplicity of the egg to be convinced of it. Not only do cells
differentiate, but cell-groups act together like well-drilled battalions,
cleaving apart here, fusing together there, forming protective coverings
or communicating channels, apparently creating out of nothing, a whole
set of nutritive and reproductive organs, all in orderly and progressive
sequence, producing in the end that orderly disposed cell aggregate,
that individual life unit which we know as an earthworm. Although
the forces involved are beyond our ken, the grosser processes are evident "
(Needham, General Biology, p. 175; italics mine). Of course it is
evident from his books that Bergson does not take much account of
such difficult facts and topics as the mistakes of instinct, etc. And
I have just spoken of his optimistic avoidance of some of the deeper
problems of the moral and spiritual life of man.

2 " This amounts to saying that the theory of knowledge and theory
of life seem to us inseparable [Creative Evolution, p. xiii. ; italics
Bergson's]. A theory of life that is not accompanied by a criticism of
knowledge is obliged to accept, as they stand, the concepts which the


tion of the critical work of Kant. Hypothetical
although it may be in many respects, it moves
(owing to his thorough absorption in the many
facts and theories of the biology of recent years)
in an atmosphere that is altogether above the
confines of the physical and the mathematical *
sciences with which alone Kant was (in the main)
directly acquainted. It is time that, with the
help he affords in his free handling of the facts
of life and of the supposed facts and theories of
science, we should transform the exiguous " epis-
temology" 2 of the past generation into the more
perfect hold upon " criticism " and upon the life of
things that is represented in his thought.

understanding puts at its disposal : it can but enclose the facts, willing
or not, in pre-existing frames which it regards as ultimate. It thus
obtains a symbolism which is convenient, perhaps even necessary to
positive science, but not a direct vision of its object."

1 I more than agree with Bergson that our whole modern
philosophy since Descartes has been unduly influenced by physics
and mathematics. And I deplore the fact that the " New Realism "
which has come upon us by way of a reaction (see p. 53) from the
subjectivism of Pragmatism, should be travelling apparently in this
backward direction — away, to say the very least, from some of the
things clearly seen even by biologists and psychologists. See p. 144.

3 As I have indicated in my Preface, I am certainly the last person
in the world to affect to disparage the importance of the thin end of the
wedge of Critical Idealism introduced into the English-speaking world
by Green and the Cairds, and their first followers (like the writers in the
old Seth-Haldane, Essays on Philosophical Criticism). Their theory
of knowledge, or " epistemology," was simply everything to the im-
poverished condition of our philosophy at the time, but, as Bergson
points out, it still left many of us [the fault perhaps was our own, to some
extent] in the position of " taking " the scientific reading of the world as
so far true, and of thinking that we had done well in philosophy when
we simply partly " transformed " it. The really important thing was
to see with this epistemology that the scientific reading of the world is
not in any sense initial " fact " for philosophy.


Enough has now been said in the foregoing
pages about Pragmatism and the philosophy
of Actionism in relation to Rationalism, and
to the Personalism and the Humanism that
they would substitute for it and for Absolutism.
Indications have been given too of the short-
comings and the defects of this very Personalism
or Humanism, and of some of the different
lines along which it would require to be re-
considered and developed to constitute a satis-
factory philosophy. In addition to some of the
greater names in the history of philosophy, I
have referred — in the footnotes and elsewhere — to
the thoughts and the works of living writers who
might be profitably studied by the reader in this

Pragmatism is in some respects but a sociological
or an anthropological doctrine significant of the
rediscovery by our age of the doctrine of man,
and of its desire to accord to this doctrine the
importance that is its due. It represented, to

begin with (in its Instrumentalism chiefly), the



discontent of a dying century with the weight of
its own creations in the realm of science and
theory along with a newer and fresher conscious-
ness of the fact that there can be no rigid separa-
tion of philosophy from the general thought and
practice of mankind. And even if we accept this
idea of the supremacy of the doctrine of man over
both philosophy and science, this does not mean
that we exalt the worker and the prophet over
all knowledge, but simply that philosophy must
have a theory of reality that provides for their
existence and function alongside of those of the
thinker or the student as such. The true philo-
sophy is in fact the true doctrine of man.

Another lesson that we may learn from Prag-
matism and Humanism is the truth of the con-
tention that there can be no philosophy without
assumptions of one kind or another, without facts
and intuitions and immediate experiences. A
philosophy itself is an act or a creation, repre-
sentative of the attention of the thinker to certain
aspects of his experience and of the experience of
the world which he shares with other thinkers and
with other agents. And, as Bergson has reminded
us, it is often the great intuition underlying the
attention and the thought of a philosopher that
is of more worth to the world than the dialectic, or
the logic, through the aid of which it is set forth
and elaborated. This latter he may frequently
have inherited or absorbed from the schools of
his time.


The reason why the idealists and the dialecti-
cians of our time have so often fought shy of
beginning with the immediate or the " given," is
partly that they are not yet in their thoughts
perfectly free of some taint or tincture of the
supposed realism or dualism of the common-sense
philosophy or the correspondence view of truth.
They seem to have the fear that if they admit a
given element of fact in speculation they will
unconsciously be admitting that there is something
outside thought and immediate experience in the
true sense of these terms. In this fear they are
forgetful of the great lesson of Idealism that there
is nothing " outside ' thought and consciousness,
no " object " without a " subject," that the world is
'phenomenal" of a great experience, which they
and other men are engaged in interpreting, and of
which we may all become directly conscious. And
while to God the end of all experiences and pro-
cesses is known from the beginning, or apart from
the mere time and space limitations that affect us
as finite beings, it is still true that for us as men
and as thinkers the reality of things is not " given "
apart from the contribution to it that we ourselves
make in our responsive and in our creative activity.
In contending, therefore, for the reality, in every
philosophy, of this assumption of ourselves and
of the working value of our thought and of our
activity, Pragmatism has been contending in its
own fashion for the great doctrine of the sove-
reignty of the spirit which (when properly inter-


preted) is the one thing that can indeed recall the
modern mind out of its endless dispersion and dis-
traction, and out of its reputed present indiffer-
ence. It is in the placing of this great reality
before the world, or, rather, of the view of human
nature that makes it a possibility, and in intelligi-
bility, that (in my opinion) the significance of
Pragmatism consists, along with that of the various
doctrines with which it may be naturally associ-
ated. There are many indications in the best
thought and practice of our time that humanity is
again awakening to a creative and a self-deter-
minative view of itself, of its experience, and of
its powers. Of the presuppositions and the con-
ditions under which this idea may be regarded
as true and intelligible I have already spoken.
Its proper interpretation, however, along with the
exposition of the metaphysic upon which it must
be made to repose, is at least part of the work
of the philosophy of the future — if philosophy is
true to its task of leading and guiding the thought
of mankind.


Absolutism, 13, chap. viii.
Action, 91 n., 105, chap. iv.
Activity-Experience, 105, 109
Alexander, S., 163
Anti-Intellectualism, 73, 239
Appearance and Reality, 84
Arcesilaus, 155
Aristotle, 155
Armstrong (Prof.), 49 n.
Attention, 119
Augustine, 107
Avenarius, 41

Bain, 120

Baldwin, J. M., 156, now.

Bawden (Prof.), 17, 85

Belief, 64, 65, 229 n., 251

Bergson, 72, 104, 126

Berthelot, 117

Blondel, 32, 34

Bosanquet, B., no, 185, chap, viii

Bourdeau, 26, 133 »., 193

Boyce-Gibson (Prof.), 154

Bradley, F. H., 74, 75, 91

Browning, R., 117

Brunschvig, 30

Bryce, James, 193

Butler, 119

Caird, E., 112

Carlyle, 125

Chesterton, W. K., 117, 156

Cohen, 48 n.

Common-sense Beliefs, 7

Common-sense Philosophy, 117

Comte, 120

Contemplation, 96

Cornford, 184

Curtis (Prof. M. M.), 22

Dawes-Hicks (Prof.), 163

De Maistre, 170

Descartes, 66, 121

Desjardins, P., 37

Dewey, J., 16, 17, 37, 62, 147,

173. 175
Du Bois Reymond, no
Duncan (Prof.), 122
Duns Scotus, 119

Eleutheropulos, 43
Elliot, H. S. R., 66
Epicureanism, 118
Eucken, 39, 154
Ewald (Dr.), 44, 48

Flournoy, 180
Fouillee, 37 n.
Fraser, A. C, 112
Futurism, 26

Geddes, P., 123
Goethe, 195, 215
Gordon, A., 152-3
Green, T. H., 199
Gregory (Prof.), 24

Inge (Dean), 29, 31
Invention, 192

James, W., 3, 4, 24, 35, 39, 45.

5°. 65, 135, 182, 192 n.
Jerusalem, W., 43
Joachim, 56
Jones, Sir H., 56
Joseph, 57

Kant, 119, 121, 247
Kant and Hegel, 183
Knox (Capt.), 15

Lalande, A., 29, 33, 164
Lankester (Sir R.), 167




Lecky, 70

Leighton (Prof.), 133
Le Roy, 31
Locke, 61, 119
Lovejoy (Prof.), 49

MacEachran (Prof.), 49 n.
Mach, 40

Mackenzie, J. S., 112
Maeterlinck, 90
Mallarme, 214
Marett, 160

Mastermann, G. F. G., 118
M'Dougall, 104
McTaggart, J. M. E., 92
Meaning, 21, 51, 149
Mellone, 57
Merz, 157
Munsterberg, 46

Natorp, 48

Needham (Prof.), 101, 260
New Realism, 53
Nietzsche, 118, 139, 151

Ostwald, 40, 41

Pace (Prof.), 187

Paleyism, 247

Papini, 24, 135

Pascal, 119

Pater, W., 124

Peirce, 3, 22

Perry (Prof.), 53, 185

Perry, Bliss, 171, 179

Plato, 57, 61, 121, 150, 151

Pluralism, 87

Poincare, 30

Pradines, 36 n.

Pragmatism, and American philo-
sophy, 49, chap. vii. ; and
British thought, 54 ; and
French thought, 28 ; and Ger-
man thought, 38 ; and Italian
thought, 23 ; a democratic
doctrine, 105 ; its ethics, 136 ;
its pluralism, 162 ; its socio-
logical character, 164, 262 ; its
theory of knowledge, 131 ; its

theory of truth, 127 ; its theory
of reality, 135
Pratt (Prof.), 51, 127

Radical Empiricism, 85

Renan, no

Renouvier, 29

Rey, 31

Riley, W., 26 n.

Ritzsche, 45

Royce, J., 54

Russell, B., 61, 66 n., 169

Santayana, 171, 181, 190

Schellwien, 44

Schiller, F. C. S., 12, 14, 16, 132,


Schinz, 192 n.

Schopenhauer, 28, 119, 151, 260

Seth, James, 14 n.

Seth-Haldane, 260

Shaw, Bernard, 124

Sidgwick, H., 56, 118, 119 n., 140

Sigwart, 42

Simmel, 44

Spencer, 41 m,

Starbuck, 28

Stoicism, 118

Stout, G. F., 55

Subjective Idealism, 259

Taylor, A. E., 57, 77, 78, 199 n., 2 19

Teleology, 88, 198

Tertullian, 119

Theism, 215 n.

Themistius, 155

Thompson, J. H., 144

Titchener, 157

Truth, 59, 81, 163

Tufts, 147

Tyndall, no

Vaihinger, 39

Walker, L. J., 31
Ward, James, 30, 55, 143, 162
Wells, H. G., 123
Westermarck, 145
Windelband, 46, 150
Wollaston, 224

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Online LibraryWilliam CaldwellPragmatism and idealism → online text (page 21 of 21)