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reward is a continual and a heightened appreciation
[this is the result of science as well as of philosophy]
of the ineffable mystery of life, of life in all its
complexities and all its unity and all its worth." 3
Equally typical and equally important is
the following concession from Professor Taylor,

philosophy to which the philosophical reconstruction of the future must
somehow attain out of the present quarrel between Pragmatism and
Rationalism, the following : " If there were no force in the world but the
vested love of God, if the wills in the past were one in effort and in sub-
stance with the one Will, if in that Will they are living still and still are
so loving, and if again by faith, suffering, and love my will is made really
one with theirs, here indeed we should have found at once our answer
and our refuge. But with this we should pass surely beyond the limits
of any personal individualism " (from Mind, July 1904, p. 316). Dr.
Schiller, by the way, has a list of such concessions to Pragmatism on
the part of Mr. Bradley in Mind, 1910, p. 35.

1 Cf. the saying of Herbert Spencer (Autobiography, i. 253) that a
" belief in the unqualified supremacy of reason [is] the superstition of

2 See p. 147.

3 " Truth and Practice," Mind, No. 51.


although, of course, to many people it would seem
no concession at all, but rather the mere statement
of a fact, which our Neo-Hegelians have only made
themselves ridiculous by seeming to have so long
overlooked : " Mere truth for the intellect can never
be quite the same as ultimate reality. For in
mere truth we get reality only in its intellectual
aspect, as that which affords a higher satisfaction
to thought's demand for consistency and system-
atic unity in its object. And as we have seen,
this demand can never be quite satisfied by
thought itself. 1 For thought, to remain thought,
must always be something less than the whole
reality which it knows." 2

And we may add also from Professor Taylor
the following declaration in respect of the notorious
inability of Neo-Hegelian Rationalism to furnish
the average man with a theory of reality in the
contemplation of which he can find at least an
adequate motive to conscious effort and achieve-
ment : " Quite apart from the facts, due to
personal shortcomings and confusions, it is inherent
in the nature of metaphysical study that it can
make no positive addition to our information,
and can itself supply no motive for practical
endeavour." 3

Many of those findings are obviously so
harmonious with some of the more familiar

1 It would be easy to quote to the same effect from other Hegelian
students, or, for that part of it, from Hegel himself.

2 Elements of Metaphysics, p. 411.
8 Ibid. p. 414.


formulas of the pragmatists that there would
seem to be ample warrant for associating them
with the results of the pragmatist movement.
This is particularly the case, it would seem, with
the concession of Mr. Bradley with respect of the
" practical " or " hypothetical " conception that
we ought to entertain of " truth " and " thinking,"
and also with the strictures passed by him upon
" mere truth " and " mere intellectualism," and
with Professor Taylor's position in respect of the
inadequacy of the rationalist theory of reality,
as in no sense a " dynamic " or an " incentive "
for action. And we might well regard Professor
Taylor's finding in respect of mere systematic
truth or the " Absolute " (for they are the same
thing to him) as confirmatory of Dr. Schiller's im-
portant contention that " in Absolutism " the two
" poles " of the " moral " and the " intellectual "
character of the Deity " fall apart." This means,
we will remember, that the truth of abstract
intellectualism is not the truth for action, 1
that absolutism is not able to effect or harmonize
between the truth of systematic knowledge and
moral truth — if, indeed, there be any such thing as
moral truth on the basis of a pure Rationalism.

To be sure, both the extent and even the reality
of all this supposed cession of ground in philo-
sophy to the pragmatists has been doubted and
denied by the representatives of Rationalism.
They would be questioned, too, by many sober

1 Cf. p. 14.


thinkers and scholars who have long regarded
Hegelian intellectualism and pragmatist " volun-
tarism " as extremes in philosophy, as inimical,
both of them, to the interests of a true and catholic
conception of philosophy. The latter, as we know
from Aristotle, should be inclusive of the realities
both of the intellectual and the practical life.

Pragmatist criticisms of Rationalism, again,
may fairly be claimed to have been to a large
extent anticipated by the independent findings
of living idealist thinkers like Professors Pringle-
Pattison, Baillie, Jones, and others, in respect of
the supposed extreme claims of Hegelianism, as
well as by similar findings and independent
constructive efforts on the part of the recent
group of the Oxford Personal Idealists. 1 That
there is still a place for pragmatist anti-
intellectualism is evidently the conclusion to
be drawn from such things as the present wide
acceptance of the philosophy of Bergson, or
the recent declarations of Mr. Bradley that we
are justified " in the intelligent refusal to accept
as final an theoretical criterion which actually
so far exists," and that the "action of narrow
consistency must be definitely given up."

The reflection ought, moreover, to be inserted
here that even if Pragmatism has been of some
possible service in bringing forth from rationalists
some of their many recent confessions of the
limitations of an abstract intellectualism, it is

1 Sec the well-known volume Personal Idealism, edited by Mr. Sturt.


not at all unlikely that Rationalism in its turn
may succeed in convicting Pragmatism of an
undue emphasis 1 upon volition and action and
upon merely practical truth.

We shall now terminate the foregoing char-
acterization of Pragmatism by a reference to two
or three other specific things for which it may,
with more or less justice, be supposed to stand in
philosophy. These are (i) the repudiation of
the "correspondence view" 2 of the relation of

1 Cf. pp. 147 and 193.

2 By this notion is meant the common-sense idea that truth in all
cases " corresponds " to fact, my perception of the sunset to the
real sunset, my " idea " of a " true " friend to a real person whose
outward acts " correspond to " or " faithfully reflect " his inner feelings.
See the first chapter of Mr. Joachim's book upon The Nature of Truth,
where this notion is examined and found wanting. It is probably
the oldest notion of truth, and yet one that takes us readily into philo-
sophy from whatever point of view we examine it. It was held by
nearly all the Greek philosophers before the time of the Sophists, who
first began to teach that truth is what it " appears to be " — the " rela-
tivity " position that is upheld, for example, by Goethe, who said that
" When I know my relation to myself and to the outer world I call this
truth. And thus every man can have his own truth, and yet truth is
always the same." The common-sense view was held also by St.
Augustine in the words, " That is true what is really what it seems to
be (verum est quod ita est, ut videtur)," by Thomas Aquinas as the
" adequacy of the intellect to the thing," in so far as the intellect says
that that is which really is, or that that is not which is not (adaequatio
intellectus et rei), by Suarez, by Goclen, who made it a conformity of
the judgment with the thing. Its technical difficulties begin to appear,
say in Hobbes, who held that truth consists in the fact of the subject
and the predicate being a name of the same thing, or even in Locke,
who says : " Truth then seems to me in the proper import of the word
to signify nothing but the joining or separating of signs, as the things
signified by them, do agree, or disagree, one with another " (Essay, iv.
5. 2). How can things "agree" or "disagree" with one another?
And an " idea " of course is, anyhow, not a " thing " with a shape and
with dimensions that " correspond " to " things," any more than is
a " judgment " a relation of two " ideas " " corresponding " to the
" relations " of two " things."


truth to reality, (2) the rejection of the idea of
there being any ultimate or rigid distinction
between " appearance " and " reality," and (3)
the reaffirmation of the " teleological " point of
view as characteristic of philosophy in distinction
from science.

As for (1) it has already been pointed out that
this idea of the misleading character of the ordinary
" correspondence notion " of truth is claimed
by pragmatists as an important result of their
proposal to test truth by the standard of the
consequences involved in its acceptance. 1 The
ordinary reader may not, to be sure, be aware of
the many difficulties that are apt to arise in philo-
sophy from an apparent acceptance of the common-
sense notion of truth as somehow simply a

1 " The mind is not a ' mirror ' which passively reflects what it
chances to come upon. It initiates and tries ; and its correspondence
with the ' outer world ' means that its effort successfully meets the
environment in behalf of the organic interest from which it sprang.
The mind, like an antenna, feels the way for the organism. It gropes
about, advances and recoils, making many random efforts and many
failures ; but it is always urged into taking the initiative by the pressure
of interest, and doomed to success or failure in some hour of trial when
it meets and engages the environment. Such is mind, and such,
according to James, are all its operations " (Perry, Present Philosophical
Tendencies, p. 351). Or the following : " I hope that," said James in
the " lectures " embodied in Pragmatism (New York, 1908) ..." the
concreteness and closeness to facts of pragmatism . . . may be what
approves itself to you as its most satisfactory peculiarity. It only
follows here the example of the sister sciences, interpreting the un-
observed by the observed. It brings old and new harmoniously to-
gether. It converts the absolutely empty notion of a static relation of
' correspondence ' between our minds and reality, into that of a rich and
active commerce (that any one may follow in detail and understand)
between particular thoughts of ours and the great universe of other
experiences in which they play their parts and have their uses " (p. 68 ;
italics mine).



duplicate ora" copy " of external reality. There
is the difficulty, say, of our ever being able to prove
such a correspondence without being (or " going ")
somehow beyond both the truth and the reality
in question, so as to be able to detect either
coincidence or discrepancy. Or, we might again
require some bridge between the ideas in our
minds and the supposed reality outside them
— " sensations " say, or " experiences," some-
thing, in other words, that would be accepted
as " given " and indubitable both by idealists
and realists. And there would be the difficulty,
too, of saying whether we have to begin for the
purposes of all reflective study with what is
within consciousness or with what is outside
it — in matter say, or in things. And if the
former, how we can ever get to the latter,
and vice versa. And so on with the many
kindred subtleties that have divided thinkers into
idealists and realists and conceptualists, monists,
dualists, parallelists, and so on.

Now Pragmatism certainly does well in pro-
posing to steer clear of all such difficulties and
pitfalls of the ordinary " correspondence notion."
And as we shall immediately refer to its own
working philosophy in the matter, we shall mean-
time pass over this mere point of its rejection of
the " correspondence notion " with one or two
remarks of a critical nature, (i) Unfortunately
for the pragmatists the rejection of the corre-
spondence notion is just as important a feature


of Idealism 1 as it is of Pragmatism. The latter
system therefore can lay no claim to any unique-
ness or superiority in this connexion. (2) Prag-
matism, as we may perhaps see, cannot maintain
its position that the distinction between " idea '
and " object " is one " within experience itself "
(rather than a distinction between experience and
something supposedly outside it) without travelling
further in the direction of Idealism 2 than it
has hitherto been prepared to do. By such a
travelling in the direction of Idealism we mean
a far more thorough-going recognition of the part
played in the making of reality by the " personal "
factor, than it has as yet contemplated either
in its " instrumentalism " or in its " radical
empiricism." (3) There is, after all, an element
of truth in the correspondence notion to which
Pragmatism fails to do justice. We shall refer
to this failure in a subsequent chapter 3 when
again looking into its theory of truth and

Despite these objections there is, however, at
least one particular respect in regard to which
Pragmatism may legitimately claim some credit
for its rejection of the correspondence notion.
This is its insistence that the truth is not (as it
must be on the correspondence theory) a " datum '
or a "presentation," not something given to

1 " On any view like mine to speak of truth as in the end copying
reality, would be senseless " (Bradley in Mind, July 191 1, " On some
Aspects of Truth").

a See p. 143 and p. 265. 3 See p. 127 and p. 133.


us by the various objects and things without
us, or by their supposed effects upon our senses
and our memory and our understanding. It
rather, on the contrary, maintains Pragmatism,
a " construction " on the part of the mind, an
attitude of our " expectant " (or " believing ")
consciousness, into which our own reactions
upon things enter at least as much as do their
supposed effects and impressions upon us. Of
course the many difficulties of this thorny subject
are by no means cleared up by this mere indication
of the attitude of Pragmatism, and we shall return
in a later chapter 1 to this idea of truth as a
construction of the mind instead of a datum,
taking care at the same time, however, to refer to
the failure of which we have spoken on the part
of Pragmatism to recognize the element of truth
that is still contained in the correspondence

(2) The rejection of the idea of any rigid, or
ultimate distinction between " appearance ' and
" reality." This is a still broader rejection than
the one to which we have just referred, and may,
therefore, be thought of as another more or less
fundamental reason for the rejection either of
the copy or of the correspondence theory of truth.
The reality of things, as Pragmatism conceives it,
is not something already " fixed " and " deter-
mined," but rather, something that is " plastic '
and " modifiable," something that is, in fact, under-

1 See pp. 148-9.


going a continuous process of modification, or
development, of one kind or another. It must
always, therefore, the pragmatist would hold, be
defined in terms of the experiences and the
activities through which it is known and revealed
and through which it is, to some extent, even
modified. 1

Pragmatism, as we may remember, has been
called by James " immediate " or " radical "
empiricism, although in one of his last books he
seeks to give an independent development to these
two doctrines. The cardinal principle of this
philosophy is that " things are what they are
experienced as being, or that to give a just account
of anything is to tell what that thing is experienced
to be." 2 And it is perhaps this aspect of the new
philosophy of Pragmatism that is most amply and
most attractively exhibited in the books of James.
It is presented, too, with much freshness and skill
in Professor Bawden's 3 book upon Pragmatism,
which is an attempt, he says, " to set forth the
necessary assumptions of a philosophy in which
experience becomes self-conscious as a method." 4

1 See p. 162. a What is Pragmatism? (Pratt), p. 21.

3 Principles of Pragmatism, Houghton Mifflin, 1910.

4 Ibid., Preface. This last sentence, by the way, may be taken as
one of the many illustrations that may be given of the crudities and
difficulties of some of the literature of Pragmatism. It shows that
Pragmatism may sometimes be as guilty of abstractionism as is
Rationalism itself. It is not " experience " that becomes " self-
conscious," but only " persons." And, similarly, it is only " persons "
who pursue " ends " and " satisfy " desires, and who may be said to
have a " method." Professor Bawden, of course, means that it is to the
credit of Pragmatism that it approaches experience just as it finds it,


" The new philosophy," proceeds Bawden, 1 " is
a pragmatic idealism. Its method is at once
intrinsic and immanent and organic or functional.
By saying that its method is functional, we mean
that its experience must be interpreted from
within. We cannot jump out of our skins . . .
we cannot pull ourselves up by our own boot-
straps. We find ourselves in mid-stream of the
Niagara of experience, and may define what it is
by working back and forth within the current."
" We do not know where we are going, but we
are on the way " [the contradiction is surely
apparent]. Then, like James, Bawden goes on to
interpret Pragmatism by showing what things
like self-consciousness, experience, science, social
consciousness, space, time, and causation are
by showing how they " appear," and how they
"function" — "experience" itself being simply,
to him and to his friends, a "dynamic
system," " self-sustaining," a " whole leaning on

The extremes of this " immediate" or " radical "
philosophy appear to non - pragmatists to be
reached when we read words like those just quoted
about the Niagara stream of our experience, and
about our life as simply movement and acceleration,
or about the celebrated " I think " of Descartes
as equally well [!] set forth under the form " It

and that its chief method is the interpretation of the same experience —
an easy thing, doubtless, to profess, but somewhat difficult to carry out.
1 Principles of Pragmatism, Houghton Mifflin, 1910, pp. 44-45.


thinks," or " thinking is going on," or about the
" being " of the individual person as consisting
simply in a " doing." " All this we hold," says
Bawden, "to be not materialism but simply energism."
" There is no ' truth,' only ' truths ' — this is
another way of putting it — and the only criterion
of truth is the changing one of the image or the
idea which comes out of our impulses or of the
conflict of our habits." The end of all this
modern flowing philosophy is, of course, the
" Pluralism " of James, the universe as a society
of functioning selves in which reality " may exist
in a distributive form, or in the shape, not of an
All, but of a set of eaches." " The essence of life,"
as he puts it in his famous essay on Bergson, 1 " is
its continually changing character," and we only
call it a "confusion" sometimes because we have
grown accustomed in our sciences and philosophies
to isolate " elements " and " differents " which in
reality are ' ' all dissolved in one another. ' ' 2 " Rela-
tions of every sort, of time, space, difference,
likeness, change, rate, cause, or what not, are just
as integral members of the sensational flux as
terms are." " Pluralism lets things really exist
in the each form, or distributively. Its type of
union ... is different from the monistic type
of dH-einheit. It is what I call the strung-along
type, the type of continuity, contiguity, or conca-
tenation." And so on.

(3) The reaffirmation of the teleological point
1 p. 253. a p. 256.


of view. After the many illustrations and refer-
ences that have already been given in respect of
the tendencies of Pragmatism, it is perhaps hardly
necessary to point out that an insistence upon the
necessity to philosophy of the " teleological "
point of view, of the consideration of both
thoughts and things from the point of view of
their purpose or utility, is a deeply - marked
characteristic of Pragmatism. In itself this
demand can hardly be thought of as altogether
new, for the idea of considering the nature of
anything in the light of its final purpose or
end is really as old in our European thought
as the philosophy of Aristotle or Anaxagoras.
Almost equally familiar is the kindred idea upon
which Pragmatism is inclined to felicitate itself,
of finding the roots of metaphysic " in ethics," in
the facts of conduct, in the facts of the " ideal "
or the " personal " order which we tend 1 in human
civilization to impose upon what is otherwise
thought of by science as the natural order. The
form, however, of the teleological argument to
which Pragmatism may legitimately be thought
to have directed our attention is that of the
possible place in the world of reality, and in
the world of thought, of the effort and the
free initiative of the individual. This place,
unfortunately (the case is quite different with
Bergson 2 ), Pragmatism has been able, up to the
present time, to define, in the main, only negatively

1 See p. 146. 3 See p. 240 et jf.


— by means of its polemic against the completed
and the self -completing " Absolute " of the Neo-
Hegelian Rationalists. What this polemic is we
can best indicate by quoting from Hegel himself
a passage or a line of the reflection against which
it is seeking to enter an emphatic and a reasoned
protest, and then after this a passage or two from
some of our Anglo-Hegelians in the same con-

" The consummation," says Hegel, in a familiar
and often-quoted passage, " of the Infinite aim
{i.e. of the purpose of God as omniscient and
almighty) consists merely in removing the illusion
which makes it seem unaccomplished." * Now
although there is a sense in which this great saying
must for ever be maintained to contain an element
of profound truth, 2 the attitude of Pragmatism
in regard to it would be, firstly, that of a rooted
objection to its outspoken intellectualism. How
can the chief work of the Almighty be conceived
to be merely that of getting rid somehow from our
minds, or from his, of our mental confusions ?
And then, secondly, an equally rooted objection is
taken ; to the implication that the individual human
being should allow himself to entertain, as possibly
true, a view of the general trend of things that

1 Wallace's Logic of Hegel, p. 304.

* There is a sentence in one of Hawthorne's stories to the effect that
man's work is always illusory to some extent, while God is the only
worker of realities. I would not go as far as this, believing, as I do,
with the pragmatists, that man is at least a fellow-worker with God.
But I do find Pragmatism lacking, as 1 indicate elsewhere, in any
adequate recognition of the work of God, or the Absolute in the universe.


renders any notion of his playing an appreciable
part therein a theoretical and a practical absurdity. 1
This notion (or " conceit," if you will) he can
surrender only by ceasing to think of his own
consciousness of " effort " and of the part played
by " effort " 2 and " invention " in the entire
animal and human world, and also of his con-
sciousness of duty and of the ideal in general.
This latter consciousness of itself bids him to
realize certain " norms " or regulative prescripts
simply because they are consonant with that
higher will which is to him the very truth of his
own nature. He cannot, in other words, believe
that he is consciously obliged to work and to
realize his higher nature for nothing. The accom-

1 I am thinking of such considerations as are suggested in the follow-
ing sentences from Maeterlinck : " As we advance through life, it is
more and more brought home to us that nothing takes place that is not
in accord with some curious, preconceived design ; and of this we never
breathe a word, we scarcely let our minds dwell upon it, but of its
existence, somewhere above our heads, we are absolutely convinced "
(The Treasure of the Humble, p. 17). " But this much at least is

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Online LibraryWilliam CaldwellPragmatism and idealism → online text (page 7 of 21)