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of James and his philosophy upon Bergson, and
of that of the possible return influence of Bergson
upon James, 1 the evidence produced by Lalande
from Bergson himself is certainly all to the effect
that both men have worked very largely in-
dependently of each other, although perfectly
cognisant now and then of each other's publica-
tions. Both men, along with their followers
(and this is all that needs interest us), have
obviously been under the influence of ideas that
have long been in the air about the need of a philo-
sophy that is "more truly empirical" 2 than the
traditional philosophy, and more truly inclined
to " discover what is involved in our actions in
the ultimate recess, when, unconsciously and
in spite of ourselves, we support existence and
cling to it whether we completely understand it
or not." 3

As for Pragmatism and pragmatist achieve-
ments in Germany, there is, as might well be
supposed, little need of saying much. The genius
of the country is against both ; and if there is any
Pragmatism in Germany, it must have contrived
somehow to have been " born again " of the



1 See also the recent book by Flournoy on the Philosophy of James
(Paris, 191 1), in which this interesting special subject is discussed as
well as the important difference between James and Bergson.

2 Rey in his Philosophic Moderne, 1908, speaks of the "gleaning of
the practical factors of rationalistic systems " as the " new line " in
French philosophy (Journ. of Phil., 1911, p. 226).

3 From the Lalande article already mentioned.



THE PRAGMATIST MOVEMENT 39



n



spirit ' before obtaining official recognition. 1
So much even might be inferred from the other-
wise generous recognition accorded to the work
of James by scholars and thinkers like Eucken
and Stein 2 and the rest. Those men cannot



1 This can be seen, for example, in the Preface to Die Philosophic
des A Is Ob, the quasi-Pragmatist book recently edited by Vaihinger, the
famous commentator on Kant. " We must distinguish in Pragmatism,"
it is there stated, " what is valuable from the uncritical exaggerations.
Uncritical Pragmatism is an epistemological Utilitarianism of the worst
sort ; what helps us to make life tolerable is true, etc. . . . Thus
Philosophy becomes again an ancilla theologiae ; nay, the state of
matters is even worse than this ; it becomes a meretrix theologorum."
This, by the way, is a strange and a striking book, and is perhaps the last
conspicuous instance from Germany of the vitality, and of the depths
of the roots of some of the principles of the pragmatists. The very
appearance of the name of Vaihinger in connexion with it (as the editor)
must be a considerable shock to rationalists and to Kantians, who have
long looked upon Vaihinger as one of the authoritative names in
German Transcendentalism. Here, however, he seems to agree with
those who treat Kant's ethical philosophy of postulates as the real
Kant, making him out, further, as the author of a far-reaching
philosophy of the " hypotheses " and the " fictions " that we must
use in the interpretation of the universe. With Dr. Schiller, who
reviews this work in Mind (19 12), I am inclined to think that it
travels too far in the direction of an entirely hypothetical concep-
tion of knowledge, out - pragmatising the pragmatists apparently.
The student who reads German will find it a veritable magazine of
information about nearly all the thinkers of the time who have prag-
matist or quasi-pragmatist leanings. All the names, for example, of the
German and French writers to whom I refer in this second chapter are
mentioned there [I had, of course, written my book before I saw
Vaihinger], along with many others. It is as serious an arraignment of
abstract rationalism as is to be found in contemporary literature, and
edited, as I say, by the Nestor of the Kant students of our time.

3 Especially in the open-minded and learned articles in the Archiv
ftir Philosophic, 1907, Band xiv., Professor Stein (of Bern) is known as
one of the most enthusiastic and voluminous writers upon Social
Philosophy in Germany. His best-known work is an encyclopedic
book upon the social question in the light of philosophy (Die soziale
Frage im Lichte der Philosophic, 1903). His tendency here is realistic
and naturalistic and evolutionistic, and he thinks (for a philosopher)
far too much of men like Herbert Spencer and Mach and Ostwald.



40 PRAGMATISM AND IDEALISM

see Pragmatism save in the broad light of
the " humanism " that has always characterised
philosophy, when properly appreciated, and under-
stood in the light of its true genesis. Pragma-
tism has in fact been long known in Germany
under the older names of " Voluntarism " and
" Humanism," although it may doubtless be
associated there with some of the more pro-
nounced tendencies of the hour, such as the recent
insistence of the " Gottingen Fries School " upon
the importance of the " genetic " and the " descrip-
tive ' ' point of view in regard even to the matter
of the supposed first principles of knowledge,
the hypothetical and methodological conception
of philosophy taken by philosophical scientists
like Mach and Ostwald 1 and their followers, the

What one misses in Stein is a discussion of the social question in relation
to some of the deeper problems of philosophy, such as we find in men
of our own country like Mackenzie and Bosanquet, and Ritchie, and
Jones, and others. His work, however (it has been translated into
Russian and French), is a complete literary presentation of the subject,
and a valuable source of information. See my review notices of it
in the Phil. Rev. vol. xiv.

1 Mach and Ostwald both represent (for the purposes of our study)
the association that undoubtedly exists between Pragmatism and the
tendency of all the physical and natural sciences to form " hypotheses "
or conceptions, that are to them the best means of " describing " or
" explaining " (for any purpose) either facts, or the connexions between
facts. Mach (professor of the history and theory of the sciences in
Vienna) is a " phenomenalist " and " methodologist " who attacks all
a priorism, treating the matter of the arrangement of the " material " of
a science under the idea of the " most economic expenditure " of our
" mental energy." One of the best known of his books is his Analysis of
the Sensations (translated, along with his Popular Science Lectures, in the
" Open Court Library " of Chicago). In this work he carries out the
idea of his theory of knowledge as a question of the proper relation of
" facts " to " symbols." " Thing, body, matter," he says (p. 6),
" are all nothing apart from their so-called attributes." " Man possesses



THE PRAGMATIST MOVEMENT 41

" empiricism " and " realism " of thinkers like
the late Dr. Avenarius 1 of Zurich.

in its highest form the power of consciously and arbitrarily determining
his point of view." In his Introduction, he attempts to show how
" the ego and the relation of bodies to the ego give rise " to " problems "
in the relations simply of " certain complexes " of " sensation to each
other." While it is undoubtedly to the credit of Mach that he sees
the " subjective," or the " mental," factor in facts and things and objects,
it must be said that he ignores altogether the philosophical problems of
the ego, or the " self," as something more than a mere object among
objects.

Ostwald is one of the founders of the theory of " Energetics,"
the theory of the school that believes in substituting a dynamical philo-
sophy, for the older, atomic, or mechanical philosophy of matter and
motion. He put this philosophy forward in 1895 as the last gift of
the nineteenth to the twentieth century. He suggests how this idea of
energetics may be applied also to psychical processes, in so far as these
may be understood by conceptions that have proved to be useful in
our interpretation of the physical world. Our " consciousness would
thus come to be looked upon as a property of a peculiar kind of energy
of the nerves." The whole idea is a piece of phenomenalistic positivism,
and although Ostwald makes an attempt (somewhat in the manner of
Herbert Spencer) to explain the " forms," or the categories, of experience
as simply " norms " or " rules " that have been handed on from one
generation to another, he does not occupy himself with ultimate
philosophical questions about the nature either of matter or of energy.
His Natural Philosophy has recently been translated into English
(Holt & Co., 1910). Its Pragmatism lies in the fact of his looking
upon concepts and classification as " not questions " of the so-called
" essence " of the thing, " but rather as pertaining to purely practical
arrangements for an easier and more successful mastery of scientific
problems" (p. 67). He also takes a pragmatist, or "functional,"
conception of the mental life towards the close of this book. Professor
Ostwald lectured some years ago in the United States, and his lectures
were attended by students of philosophy and students of science. Pro-
fessor (now President) Hibben has written an interesting account of his
theory in its philosophical bearings in the Philosophical Review, vol. xii.

1 The philosophy of Avenarius (born in Paris, but died as Professor
of Inductive Philosophy in Zurich) is called " Empirical Criticism,"
which differs from Idealism by taking a more realistic attitude
to ordinary human experience. There is an excellent elementary
account of Avenarius in Mind for 1897 by Carstanjen of Zurich.
Avenarius goes back in some respects to the teaching of Comte as to
the need of interpreting all philosophical theories in the terms of the
social environment out of which they come.



42 PRAGMATISM AND IDEALISM

Then the so-called " teleological," or "prac-
tical," character of our human thinking has
also been recognized in modern German thought
long before the days of Peirce and Dewey, even
by such strictly academic thinkers as Lotze and
Sigwart. The work of the latter thinker upon
Logic, by the way, was translated into English
under distinctly Neo-Hegelian influences. In the
second portion of this work the universal pre-
suppositions of knowledge are considered, not
merely as a priori truths, but as akin in some
important respects " to the ethical principles by
which we are wont to determine and guide our
free conscious activity." x But even apart from
this matter of the natural association of Pragma-
tism with the Voluntarism that has long existed
in German philosophy, 2 we may undoubtedly pass
to the following things in contemporary and recent
German thought as sympathetic, in the main, to
the pragmatist tendencies of James and Dewey
and Schiller : (i) the practical conception of
science and philosophy, as both of them a kind
of " economy of the attention," a sort of " con-
ceptual shorthand " 3 (for the purposes of the

1 Logic, vol. ii. p. 17. English translation by Miss Dendy. In this
same section of his work, Lotze talks of the demands of our thought as
" postulates " whose claims rest in the end upon our will — auf unserm
Wollen.

2 To be traced to Fichte's well-known initial interpretation of Kant
from the standpoint of the Practical Reason of the second " Critique,"
and to Schelling's late " positive" philosophy, and to Schopenhauer,
the will philosopher par excellence. See my Schopenhauer' s System in
its Philosophical Significance.

3 As an illustration of this " conceptual shorthand," I take the



THE PRAGMATIST MOVEMENT 43

" description " of our environment) that we have
referred to in the case of Mach and Ostwald ; (2) the
close association between the " metaphysical "
and the "cultural" in books like those of Jerusalem 1
and Eleutheropulos ; 2 (3) the sharp criticism of

following lines from Professor Needham's book upon General Biology
(p. 222) in respect of " classification " and its relative and changing
character. "Whatever our views of relationship, the series in which
we arrange organisms are based upon the likenesses and differences we
find to exist among them. This is classification. We associate
organisms together under group names because, being so numerous and
so diverse, it is only thus that our minds can deal with them. Classifica-
tion furnishes the handles by which we move all our intellectual luggage.
We base our groupings on what we know of the organisms. Our
system of classification is therefore liable to change with every advance
of knowledge."

1 Professor Jerusalem (the translator of James's Pragmatism into
German) is known as one of the German discoverers of Pragmatism.
His Introduction to Philosophy (translated by Professor Sanders,
Macmillan & Co., N.Y., 1910) is an admirable, easy, and instructive
introduction to philosophy from a pragmatist point of view. It has
gone through four editions in Germany. It is quite free from any taint
of irrationalism and has sections upon the " theory of knowledge "
and the " theory of being." Its spirit may be inferred from the follow-
ing quotations. " My philosophy is characterized by the empirical
view point, the genetic method, and the biological and the social methods
of interpreting the human mind " (the Preface). " Philosophy is the
intellectual effort which is undertaken with a view to combining the
common experiences of life and the results of scientific investigation
into a harmonious and consistent world theory ; a world theory,
moreover, which is adapted to satisfy the requirements of the under-
standing and the demands of the heart. There was a time when
men believed that such a theory could be constructed from the pure
forms of thought, without much concern for the results of detailed
investigation. But that time is for ever past " (pp. 1 and 2).

2 Author of a work on Philosophy and Social Economy (Philosophic
und Wirthschaft), in which the fundamental idea is that philosophy is
essentially nothing more or less than a " conception of life " or a view
of the world in general, and that the older rationalistic philosophy will
therefore have to be modified in view of modern discoveries and modern
ways of looking at things. It has, of course, the limitations of such a
point of view, in so far as its author seems to forget that philosophy
must lead human life and not merely follow it. My present point is



44 PRAGMATISM AND IDEALISM

the Rationalism of the Critical Idealism by the
two last-mentioned thinkers, and by some of the
members of the new Fichte 1 School like Schellwien ;
and last but not least, (4) the tendency to take a
psychological 2 and a sociological 3 (instead of a
merely logical) view of the functions of thought

merely to mention of the existence and work of this man as one of the
continental thinkers who have anticipated the essentially social con-
ception of philosophy taken by the pragmatists.

1 It is easy to see the influence of Fichte's will philosophy and
practical idealism in Schellwien's books (Pkilosophie und Leben, Wille
und Erkenntniss, Der Geist der neuern Pkilosophie). He speaks of the
primacy of the will (in point of time only, of course), or of the "un-
conscious " in the life of man, allowing, however, that man gradually
transforms this natural life in the life of '* creative activity " that is
his proper life. He states (in the Spirit of the New Philosophy) the
pragmatist idea that " belief " (p. 32) or the " feeling " that we have
of the ultimate " unity " of " subject and object," precedes (also in
point of " time ") knowledge, pointing out, however, in the same place
the limitations of belief. These latter, he supposes, to be overcome
in the higher knowledge that we have in creative activity— an idea
which, I think, may be associated to some extent with the position of
Blondel.

2 In the Phil. Rev. (xvi. p. 250) Dr. Ewald speaks of this work of
this psychologizing school as existing alongside of the renewed interest
in Fichte and Schelling and Hegel. It is an attempt to revive the
teaching of Fries, a Kantian (at Jena) who attempted to establish the
Critique of Pure Reason upon a psychological basis, believing that
psychology, " based on internal experience," must form the basis of all
philosophy. It stands squarely upon the fact that all logical laws
and " categories," even the highest and most abstract, in order to
" come to consciousness in man," must be given to him as " psycho-
logical processes " — a position which is certainly true as far as it goes,
and which supports, say, the genetic psychological attitude of Professor
Dewey. Its attitude has been sharply criticized in some of his books
by Dr. Ernst Cassirer of Berlin, a well-known upholder of a more
rationalistic form of Neo-Kantianism.

3 Dr. Simmel of Berlin (like Stein) is a prominent representative of
this school (even in a recent striking book that he wrote upon the
philosophy of Kant) . He has written, for example, a most erudite work
upon the Philosophy of Money, and this at the same time with all his
university work as a fascinating and learned lecturer upon both ancient
and modern philosophy.



THE PRAGMATIST MOVEMENT 45

and philosophy, that is just as accentuated in
Germany at the present time as it is elsewhere.

James and Schiller have both been fond of
referring to the work of many of these last-
mentioned men as favourable to a conception of
philosophy less as a " theory of knowledge "
(or a " theory of being ") in the old sense than
as a Weltanschauungslehre (a view of the world
as whole), a " discussion of the various possible
programmes for man's life " to which reference
has already been made in the case of Papini and
others. And we might associate with their pre-
dilections and persuasions in this regard the
apparent Pragmatism also of a great scholar like
Harnack 1 in reference to the subordination of
religious dogma to the realities of the religious
life, or the Pragmatism of Ritschl 2 himself, in

1 Without attempting to enter upon the matter of Harnack's
philosophy as a Neo- Kantian of the school of Ritschl, I am thinking
simply of things like the following from his book on the Essence of
Christianity. " It is to man that religion pertains, to man, as one who
in the midst of all change and progress himself never changes " (p. 8).
" The point of view of the philosophical theorists in the strict sense of
the word will find no place in these lectures. Had they been delivered
sixty years ago it would have been our endeavour to try to arrive by
speculative reasoning at some general conception of religion, and then
to define the Christian religion accordingly. But we have rightly
become sceptical about the value of this procedure. Latet dolus in
generalibus. We know to-day that life cannot be spanned by general
conceptions" (p. 9). See also his protest (on p. 220) against the sub-
stitution of a " Hellenistic " view of religion for religion itself — a protest
that is, according to Pfleiderer in his Development of Theology (p. 298), a
marked characteristic of Harnack's whole History of Dogma.

2 I am thinking of Ritschl's sharp distinction between " theoretical
knowledge " and "religious faith" (which rises to judgments of value
about the world that transcend even moral values), and of his idea that
the " truth " of faith is practical, and must be " lived." Pfleiderer says



46 PRAGMATISM AND IDEALISM

regard to the subordinate place in living
religion of mere intellectual theory, or even
some of the tendencies of the celebrated value-
philosophy of Rickert and Windelband 1 and
Miinsterberg 2 and the rest. But again the main
trouble about all this quasi-German support for
the pragmatists is that most of these contemporary
thinkers have taken pains to trace the roots of
their teaching back into the great systems of the

(in his Development of Theology, p. 184) that Ritschl's "conception of
religion is occupied with judgments of value [Werturtheile], i.e. with
conceptions of our relation to the world which are of moment solely
according to their value in awakening feelings of pleasure and pain, as
our dominion over the world is furthered or checked." His " acceptance
of the idea of God as [with Kant] a practical ' belief,' and not an
act of speculative cognition," is also to some extent a pragmatist
idea in the sense in which, in this book, I reject pragmatist ideas.
Ritschl seems to have in the main only a strongly practical interest
in dogmatics holding that " only the things vital are to be made vital
in the actual service of the church." He goes the length of holding
that " a merely philosophical view of the world has no place in
Christian theology," holding that " metaphysical inquiry " applied to
" nature " and to " spirit," as " things to be analysed, for the purpose of
finding out what they are in themselves, can from the nature of the case
have no great value for Christian theology." Of course he is right in
holding that the " proofs for the existence of God, conducted by the
purely metaphysical method, do not lead to the forces whose repre-
sentation is given in Christianity, but merely to conceptions of a
world-unity, which conceptions are neutral as regards all religion "
(The Theology of Albrecht Ritschl, Swing. Longmans, Green & Co.,
1 901). I think this last quotation from Ritschl may be used as an
expression of the idea of the pragmatists, that a true and complete
philosophy must serve as a "dynamic" to human endeavour and to
human motive.

1 See the reference to Windelband in the footnote upon p. 150.

2 I am thinking of Miinsterberg's contention in his Grundzuge and
his other books, that the life of actual persons can never be adequately
described by the objective sciences, by psycho-physics, and so on, and
of his apparent acceptance of the distinction of Rickert between the
" descriptive " and the " normative " sciences (logic, ethics, aesthetics,
and so on).



THE PRAGMATIST MOVEMENT 47

past. The pragmatists, on the other hand, have
been notoriously careless about the matter of the
various affiliations of their " corridor-like " and
eclectic theory.

There are many reasons, however, against regard-
ing even the philosophical expression of many of
the practical and scientific tendencies of Germany
as at all favourable to the acceptance of Prag-
matism as a satisfactory philosophy from the
German point of view. Among these reasons are :
(1) The fact that it is naturally impossible to find
any real support in past or present German philo-
sophy for the impossible breach that exists in
Pragmatism between the "theoretical" and the
" practical," and (2) the fact that Germany has
only recently passed through a period of sharp
conflict between the psychological (or the
" genetic ") and the logical point of view regard-
ing knowledge, resulting in a confessed victory
for the latter. And then again (3) even if there
is a partial correspondence between Pragmatism
and the quasi economic (or " practical ") con-
ception taken of philosophy by some of the
younger men in Germany who have not altogether
outlived their reaction against Rationalism, there
are other tendencies there that are far more
characteristic of the spirit and of the traditions
of the country. Among these are the New
Idealism generally, the strong Neo-Kantian move-
ment of the Marburg school * and their followers

1 Theleadersof this school are the two influential thinkersand teachers



48 PRAGMATISM AND IDEALISM

in different places, the revived interest in Hegel *
and in Schelling, the Neo-Romanticism of Jena,
with its booklets upon such topics as The Culture
of the Soul, Life with Nature, German Idealism,
and so on. 2 And then (4) there are just as many
difficulties in the way of regarding the psycho-
logical and sociological philosophy of men like
Jerusalem and Eleutheropulos as anything like a
final philosophy of knowledge, as there is in
attempting to do the same thing with the merely
preliminary and tentative philosophy of James and
his associates.

Cohen and Natorp, the former the author of a well-known book upon
Kant's Theory of Experience (1871), formerly much used by English
and American students, and the latter the author of an equally famous
book upon Plato's Theory of Ideas, which makes an interesting attempt
to connect Plato's "Ideas" with the modern notion of the law of a
phenomenon. Cohen has given forth recently an important develop-
ment of the Kantian philosophy in his two remarkable books upon the
Logic of Pure Knowledge and the Ethic of the Pure Will. These works
exercise a great influence upon the entire liberal (Protestant and
Jewish) thought of the time in Germany. They teach a lofty spiritualism


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Online LibraryWilliam CaldwellPragmatism and idealism → online text (page 4 of 21)