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sensations in the matter of the proof of utilitarianism that caused John
Stuart Mill to take up the " social philosophy " in respect to which the
followers of positivism joined hands with the idealists.


naturally and only too inevitably the highest
object of our reflective consideration. As Schopen-
hauer put it long ago, the human body is the only
object in nature that we know " on the inside."
And do or think what we will, it is this human
life of ours and this mind of ours that have peopled
the world of science and the world of philosophy
with all the categories and all the distinctions that
obtain there, with concepts like the " (Platonic)
Ideas," "form," "matter," "energy," "ether,"
" atom," " substance," " the individual," " the
universal," " empty space," " eternity," " the Ab-
solute," " value," " final end," and so on.

There is much doubtless in this action philo-
sophy, and much too in the matter of the
reasons that may be brought forward in its
support, that can become credible and intelligible
only as we proceed. But it must all count, it
would seem, in support of the idea of the prag-
matist rediscovery, for philosophy, of the im-
portance of our creative action and of our creative
thought. And then there are one or two additional
general considerations of which we may well think
in the same connexion.

Pragmatism boasts, as we know, of being
a highly democratic ! doctrine, of contending
for the emancipation of the individual and
his interests from the tyranny of all kinds
of absolutism, and all kinds of dogmatism
(whether philosophical, or scientific, or social).

1 See p. 185.


No system either of thought or of practice, no
supposed " world- view " of things, no body of
scientific laws or abstract truths shall, as long as
it holds the field of our attention, entirely crush
out of existence the concrete interests and the free
self-development of the individual human being.

A tendency in this direction exists, it must be
admitted, in the " determinism " both of natural
science and of Hegelianism, and of the social
philosophy that has emanated from the one or
from the other. Pragmatism, on the contrary, in
all matters of the supposed determination, or the
attempted limitation, of the individual by what
has been accomplished either in Nature or in
human history, would incline to what we generally
speak of to-day asa" modernistic," ora" liberal-
istic," or even a " revolutionary," attitude. It
would reinterpret and reconstruct, in the light of
the present and its needs, not only the concepts and
the methods of science and philosophy, but also
the various institutions and the various social
practices of mankind. 1

Similarity Pragmatism would protest, as does
the newer education and the newer sociology,
against any merely doctrinaire (or " intellectual-
istic ") conception of education and culture, sub-
stituting in its place the " efficiency " or the
" social service " 2 conception. And even if we
must admit that this more or less practical
ideal of education has been over-emphasized in

1 See p. 27. 2 See Chapter VII. p. 179.


our time, it is still true, as with Goethe, that it
is only the " actively- free " man, the man who
can work out in service and true accomplishment
the ideal of human life, whose production should
be regarded as the aim of a sound educational or
social policy.

We shall later attempt to assign some definite
reasons for the failure of Pragmatism to make the
most of all this apparently justifiable insistence
upon action and upon the creative activity of
the individual, along with all this sympathy that
it seems to evince for a progressive and a libera-
tionist view of human policy.

Meantime, in view of all these considerations,
we cannot avoid making the reflection that it
is surely something of an anomaly in philo-
sophy that a thinker's " study " doubts about his
actions and about some of the main instinctive
beliefs of mankind (in which he himself shares)
should have come to be regarded — as they have
been by Rationalism — as considerations of a
greater importance than the actions, and the
beliefs, and the realities, of which they are the
expression. Far be it from the writer to suggest
that the suspension of judgment and the
refraining from activity, 1 in the absence of
adequate reason and motive, are not, and have
not been of the greatest value to mankind in the
matter of the development of the higher faculties

1 I am thinking of Pyrrho and Arcesilaus and some of the Greek
sceptics and of their irroxv and arapa^ia.


and the higher ideals of the mind. There may
well be, however, for Pragmatism, or for any
philosophy that can work it out satisfactorily,
in the free, creative, activity of man, in the
duty that lies upon us all of carrying on our
lives to the highest expression, a reason and
a truth that must be estimated at their logical
worth along with the many other reasons and
truths of which we are pleased to think as the
truth of things.

Short, however, of a more genuine attempt on
the part of Pragmatism than anything it has as
yet given us in this connexion to justify this
higher reason and truth that are embodied in
our consciousness of ourselves as persons, as
rational agents, all its mere " practicalism " and
all its " instrumentalism " are but the workaday
and the utilitarian philosophy of which we have
already complained in its earlier and cruder
professions. 1

After some attention, then, to the matter of the
outstanding critical defects of Pragmatism, in its
preliminary and cruder forms, we shall again return
to our topic of the relatively new subject-matter
it has been endeavouring to place before philo-
sophy in its insistence upon the importance of
action, and upon the need of a " dynamic," instead
of an intellectualistic and " spectator-like " theory
of human personality.

1 See p. 26.





[In an article upon the above title in the International Journal
0/ Ethics, p. 1898, I attempted to deal with some aspects of the
problem that I have just raised in the preceding chapter. I
venture to append here some of the statements that I made
then upon the importance of action and the " activity-experi-
ence " to the philosophy of to-day. I am inclined to regard
them (although I have not looked at them until the present
moment of passing this book through the press) as a kind of
anticipation and confirmation of many of my present pages.
Part of my excuse, however, for inserting them here is a hope
that these references and suggestions may possibly be of service
to the general reader. The extracts follow as they were printed.]

I. It requires no very profound acquaintance with the trend
of the literature of general and specialized philosophy of the last
twenty-five years to detect a decidedly practical turn in the
recent speculative tendencies of philosophy and philosophers.
The older conception of philosophy or metaphysics as an attempt
to state (more or less systematically) the value of the world for
thought is being slowly modified, if not altogether disappearing,
into the attempt to explain or to grasp the significance of the
world from the stand-point of the moral and social activity of
man. The philosophical student must be to some extent conscious
of the difference in respect of both tone and subject-matter
between such books as Stirling's Secret of Hegel, E. Caird's Critical
Philosophy of Kant (the first editions of both works), Green's
Prolegomena to Ethics, and the most recent essays and books of
Professors A. Seth x and James 2 and Ward 3 and Sidgwick 4 and

1 Alan's Place in the Cosmos, a book consisting of essays and re-
views published by the author during the last four or five years. They
all advocate " humanism in opposition to naturalism," or " ethicism in
opposition to a too narrow intellectualism."

2 The Will to Believe, 1897.

* " Progress in Philosophy," art. Mind, 15, p. 213.

* Practical Ethics ; Essays.


Baldwin, 1 and of Mr. Bosanquet 2 and the late Mr. Nettleship, 3
and between — to turn to Germany — the writings of Erdmann and
Kuno Fischer and Zeller and F. A. Lange, and those of Gizycki,
Paulsen, Windelband, Eucken, Hartmann, Deussen, Simmel, and
— in France — between the writings of Renouvier and Pillon and
Ravaisson, the " Neo-Kantianism " of the Critique Philosophique
(1872 -1877), and those of Fouillee, Weber (of Strassburg),
Seailles, Dunan, and others, and of general writers like de Vogue,
Desjardins, and Brunetiere, and of social philosophers like Bougie,
Tarde, Izoulet, and so on. The change of venue in these writers
alone, not to speak of the change of the interest of the educated
world from such books as Huxley's Hume and Renan's L'Avenir
de la Science and Du Bois Reymond's Die Sieben Weltrdthsel, and
Tyndall's Belfast Address, to the writings of Herbert Spencer (the
Sociology and the general essays on social evolution), Kidd,
Nordau, Nietzsche, Mr. Crozier (his important History of Civiliza-
tion), and Demolins, 4 and the predominance of investigations into
general biology and comparative psychology and sociology over
merely logical and conceptual philosophy seem to afford us some
warrant for trying to think of what might be called a newer or
ethical idealism, an idealism of the will, an idealism of life, in

1 Mental Development — Social and Ethical Interpretations (a work
crowned by the Royal Academy of Denmark). We can see in this
book how a psychologist has been led into a far-reaching study of
social and ethical development in order to gain an understanding of the
growth of even the individual mind. We may indeed say that the
individualistic intellectualism of the older psychology is now no more.
It was too " abstract " a way of looking at mind. Professor Royce, it is
well known, has given, from the stand-point of a professed meta-
physician, a cordial welcome to the work of Professor Baldwin. In an
important review of Mr. Stout's two admirable volumes on Analytic
Psychology {Mind, July, 1897), Professor Royce has insisted strongly
upon the need of supplementing introspection by the " interpretation
of the reports and the conduct of other people " if we would know much
about " dynamic " psychology. It is this " dynamic " psychology —
the " dynamics " of the will and of the " feelings " — that I think consti-
tutes such an important advance upon the traditional " intellectual "
and " individualistic " psychology.

2 The Psychology of the Moral Self. Macmillan, 1897. I have tried,
in a short notice of this book in the Philosophical Review (March, 1898),
to indicate the importance of some of its chief contentions.

3 Philosophical Lectures and Remains, edited by Professor Bradley.

* Editor of La Science Sociale. His recent work on the Superiority of
the Anglo-Saxons (A quoi tient la supiriorite des Anglo-Saxons ?) — a
chapter in the study of the conditions of race survival — ran through
seventeen editions in a few months, and set the whole press of France
and Germany (other countries following suit) into commotion, as well as
calling forth pronunciamientos from most of the prominent editors and
critics of France, — men like Jules Lemaitre, Paul Bourget, Marcel
Prevost, Francois Coppee, Edouard Rod, G. Valbert, etc.


contradistinction to the older or intellectual (epistemological, Neo-
Kantian) idealism, the idealism of the intellect. Professor A.
Seth, 1 in his recent volume on Man's Place in the Cosmos, suggests
that Mr. Bradley's treatise on Appearance and Reality has closed
the period of the absorption or assimilation of Kanto-Hegelian
principles by the English mind. And there is ample evidence in
contemporary philosophical literature to show that even the very
men who have, with the help of Stirling and Green and Caird and
Bradley and Wallace, " absorbed and assimilated " the principles
of critical idealism are now bent upon applying these principles to
the solution of concrete problems of art and life and conduct.
Two things alone would constitute a difference between the philo-
sophy of the last few years and that of the preceding generation :
An attempt (strongly 2 accentuated at the present moment) to
include elements of feeling and will in our final consciousness of
reality, and a tendency (inevitable since Comte and Hegel's
Philosophy of History) to extend the philosophical synthesis of the
merely " external," or physical, universe so as to make it include
the world of man's action and the world that is now glibly called
the "social organism." 3 A good deal of the epistemological and

1 Now Professor A. Seth Pringle-Pattison.

2 In different ways by all of the following English writers : Professor
A. Seth (" It is not in knowledge, then, as such, but in feeling and action
that reality is given," Man's Place, etc., p. 122, etc. etc.), by Mr.
Bradley {Appearance and Reality), by Mr. Balfour (in his Foundations of
Belief), and by Professor James. Professor Eucken, of Jena, in his
different books, also insists strongly upon the idea that it is not in
knowledge as such, but in the totality of our psychical experience that
the principles of philosophy must be sought. Paulsen, in his Einleitung
in die Philosophic, and Weber, in his History of Philosophy (books in
general use to-day), both advocate a kind of philosophy of the will, the
idea that the world is to be regarded as a striving on the part of wills
after a partly unconscious ideal. Simmel, in an important article in
the Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, IV. 2, expresses the idea (which
it would be well to recognize generally at the present time) that truth is
not something objectively apart from us, but rather the name we give
to conceptions that have proved to be the guides to useful actions, and
so become part of the psychical heritage of human beings. Professor
Ribot, of Paris, has written more extensively upon the will and the
feelings than upon the intellect, — a fact in keeping with the scientific
demands of our day.

3 See, e.g., an article by Fouillee in the Revue Philosophique, XXI. 5,
with the very title " Nccessite d'une interpretation psychologique et
sociologique du monde." Fouillee finds there, as he does elsewhere,
that will is the principle that enables us to unify the physical with the
psychical world, — an illustration of the fact that the two characteristics
I am referring to are really one. A present instance of the intro-
duction of the element of will (the will of man, even) is to be seen in
the contention of such a book as M. Lucien Arreat's Les Croyances de


metaphysical philosophy of this century has been merely cosmo-
logical, and at best psychological and individualistic. The philo-
sophy of the present is, necessarily, to a large extent, sociological
and collectivistic and historical. Renan once prophesied that this
would be so. And many other men perceived the same fact and
acted upon their perception of it — Goethe and Victor Hugo and
Carlyle, for example.

To be sure, any attempt to draw lines of novel and absolute
separation between writers of to-day and their immediate prede-
cessors would be absurd and impossible, just as would be the
attempt to force men who are still living and thinking and develop-
ing, into Procrustean beds of system and nomenclature. The
history of the philosophy of the last half of this century constitutes
a development as continuous and as logical as the philosophy of
any similar period of years wherein men have thought persistently
and truly upon the problems of life and mind. There were in the
'sixties men like Ulrici and Lotze (Renouvier, too, to some extent)
who divined the limitations of a merely intellectual philosophy,
and who saw clearly that the only way to effect a reconciliation
between philosophy and science would be to apply philosophy
itself to the problems of the life and thought of the time, just as
we find, in 1893, Dr. Edward Caird writing, in his Essays on
Literature and Philosophy, that " philosophy, in face of the
increasing complexity of modern life, has a harder task laid upon
it than ever was laid upon it before. It must emerge from the
region of abstract principles and show itself able to deal with the
manifold results of empirical science, giving to each of them its
proper place and value." Professor Campbell Fraser, while
welcoming and sympathetically referring to (in his books upon
Berkeley and Locke) the elements of positive value in English
and German idealism, has throughout his life contended for the
idea (expressed with greatest definiteness in his Gifford Lectures
on The Philosophy of Theism) that " in man, as a self-conscious
and self -determining agent," is to be found the " best key we
possess to the solution of the ultimate problem of the universe " ;
while Professor Sidgwick, by virtue of his captivating and
ingenious pertinacity in confining philosophical speculation to the
fines of the traditional English empiricism, and in keeping it free
from the ensnaring subtleties of system and methodology, has
exercised a healthful and corrective influence against the ex-
tremes alike of transcendentalism and naturalism. And it would

Demain (1898). According to Mind, M. Arreat proposes to substitute
the idea that man can by his efforts bring about the supremacy of
justice for the traditional idea that justice reigns in the universe.


be rash to maintain that all the younger men in philosophy show
an intention to act upon the idea (expressed by Wundt, for
instance, in his Ethik) that a metaphysic should build upon the
facts of the moral life of man ; although we find a " Neo-
Hegelian " like Professor Mackenzie l saying that " even the
wealth of our inner life depends rather on the width of our
objective interests than on the intensity of our self-contempla-
tion " ; and an expounder of the ethics of dialectic evolution like
Professor Muirhead quoting 2 with approval the thought expressed
by George Eliot in the words, " The great world-struggle of
developing thought is continually foreshadowed in the struggle of
the affections seeking a justification for love and hope " ; and a
careful psychologist like Mr. Stout 3 deliberately penning the
words, 4 " Our existence as conscious beings is essentially an
activity, and activity is a process which, by its very nature, is
directed towards an end, and can neither exist nor be conceived
apart from this end." There are, doubtless, many philosophers
of to-day who are convinced that philosophy is purely an intel-
lectual matter, and can never be anything else than an attempt to
analyze the world for thought — an attempt to state its value in the
terms of thought. Against all these and many similar considera-
tions it would be idle to set up a hard and fast codification or
characterization of the work of the philosophy or philosophers of
to-day. Still, the world will accord the name of philosopher to
any man — Renan, for example, or Spencer or Huxley or Nordau
or Nietzsche — who comes before it with views upon the universe
and humanity that may, for any conceivable reason, be regarded
as fundamental. And on this showing of things, as well as from
many indications in the work of those who are philosophers by
profession, it may be said that the predominating note of the
newer philosophy is its openness to the facts of the volitional and
emotional and moral and social aspects of man's life, as things
that take us further along the path of truth than the mere cate-
gories of thought and their manipulation by metaphysic and

II. The Newer Idealism does not dream of questioning the
positive work of the Kantian and Neo- Kantian and Neo-Hegelian
idealists. It knows only too well that even scientific men like

1 Manual of Ethics, according to Mr. Stout, International Journal of
Ethics, October 1894. There are many similar sentences and ideas in
the book.

2 Elements of Ethics, p. 232.

8 Now Professor of Logic in St. Andrews.

* International Journal of Ethics, October 1894, p. 119.



HeLmholtz and Du Bois Reymond, that " positive " philosophers
like Riehl and Laas and Feuerbach and others have, through the
influence of the Kantian philosophy, learned and accepted the
fact of there being " ideal " or psychical or " mind-supplied "
factors in so-called external reality. There are among the
educated men of to-day very few Dr. Johnsons who ridicule the
psycho-physical, or the metaphysical, analysis of external reality,
who believe in a crass and crude and self-sufficient " matter "
utterly devoid of psychical attributes or characteristics. True,
Herbert Spencer has written words to the effect that " If the
Idealist (Berkeley) is right, then the doctrine of Evolution is
a dream " ; but then everything in Spencer's philosophy about
an " actuality lying behind appearances " and about our being
compelled " to regard every phenomenon as a manifestation of
some Power by which we are acted upon," is against the possi-
bility of our believing that, according to that philosophy, an
unconscious and non-spiritual " matter " could evolve itself into
conscious life and moral experience. The philosophers of to-day
have indeed rejoiced to see Kant's lesson popularized by such
various phases and movements of human thought as psycho-
physical research, art and aesthetic theory, the interest in
Buddhism (with its idealistic theory of the knowledge of the
senses), and the speculative biology of Weismann and others.
That people generally should see that matter is, for many reasons,
something more than mere matter, is to the student of Kant a
piece of fulfilled prophecy. And by a plea for a return to reality
and life and sociability from conceptualism and criticism and
speculative individualism no philosophical scholar for one moment
contemplates, as even conceivable, an overlooking of the idealistic
interpretation of the data of the senses supplied by Locke and
Berkeley and Hume, or of the idealistic interpretation of the data
of science and understanding supplied by Kant's " Copernican "
discovery. Any real view of the universe must now presuppose
the melting down of crass external reality into the phenomena of
sense and experience and the transformation of inorganic and
organic nature into so many planes or grades of being expressive
of the different forms (gravitation, cohesion, vital force, psychic
force) in which cosmic energy manifests itself.

Equally little does the Newer Idealism question the legitimacy
or the actual positive service of the " dialectic " of Hegel (as
Archimedean a leverage to humanity as was the " concept " of
Socrates or the " apperception " of Kant) that has shown the
world to be a system in which everything is related to everything
else, and shown, too, that all ways of looking at reality that stop


short of the truths of personality and moral relationship are untrue
and inadequate. To use the words of Professor Howison, of
California, in the preface to the first edition of Professor Watson's J
latest volume (a book that connects the idealism of Glasgow and
Oxford with the convictions of the youth of the " Pacific Coast "),
the " dominant tone " of the militant and representative philosophy
of to-day, is " affirmative and idealistic. The decided majority
. . . are animated by the conviction that human thought is able
to solve the riddle of life positively ; to solve it in accord with the
ideal hopes and interests of human nature."

1 I think that I must here have meant Professor Watson's
Christianity and Idealism.



Enough has perhaps now been said by way of an
indication of some of the main characteristics of
Pragmatism, and of the matter of its relations to
ordinary and to philosophical thinking. Its com-
plexity and some of its confusions and some of
its difficulties have also been referred to.

As for the affiliations and the associations of
Pragmatism, it would seem that it rests not so
much upon its own mere instrumentalism and
practicalism as upon some of the many broader
and deeper tendencies in ancient and modern
thought that have aimed at a dynamic, instead
of a static, interpretation of reality.

We have suggested, too, that there are evidently
things in traditional philosophy and in Rationalism

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Online LibraryWilliam CaldwellPragmatism and idealism → online text (page 9 of 21)