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Full text of "Essays in radical empiricism"

HANDBOUND 
AT THE 



William Barnes 



THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: A STUDY IN 
HUMAN NATURE. Gifford Lectures delivered at Edinburgh in 1901- 
IQ02. 8vo. New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, 
Green & Co. 1902. 

PRAGMATISM : A NEW NAME FOR SOME OLD WAYS OF THINK 
ING: POPULAR LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY. 8vo. New York, 
London, Bombay, and Calcutta : Longmans, Green & Co. 1907. 

THE MEANING OF TRUTH: A SEQUEL TO " PRAGMATISM." Svo. 
New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 
1909. 

A PLURALISTIC UNIVERSE: HIBBERT LECTURES ON THE 
PRESENT SITUATION IN PHILOSOPHY. Svo. New York, Lon 
don, Bombay, and Calcutta : Longmans, Green & Co. 1909. 

SOME PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY: A BEGINNING OF AN IN 
TRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY. Svo. New York, London, Bom 
bay, and Calcutta : Longmans, Green & Co. 1911. 

ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM. Svo. New York, London, Bom 
bay, and Calcutta : Longmans, Green & Co. 1912. 

THE WILL TO BELIEVE, AND OTHER ESSAYS IN POPULAR 
PHILOSOPHY. i2mo. New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta : 
Longmans, Green & Co. 1897. 

MEMORIES AND STUDIES. Svo. New York, London, Bombay, and 
Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1911. 

THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 2 vols., Svo. New York ; 
Henry Holt & Co. London : Macmillan & Co. 1890. 

PSYCHOLOGY: BRIEFER COURSE. i2mo. New York: Henry Holt 
& Co. London : Macmillan & Co. 1892. 

TALKS TO TEACHERS ON PSYCHOLOGY: AND TO STUDENTS 
ON SOME OF LIFE S IDEALS. i2mo. New York : Henry Holt 
& Co. London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1899. 

HUMAN IMMORTALITY: TWO SUPPOSED OBJECTIONS TO THE 
DOCTRINE. i6mo. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. London : Archi 
bald Constable & Co. 1898. 



THE LITERARY REMAINS OF HENRY JAMES. Edited, with an 
Introduction, by William James. With Portrait. Crown Svo. Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin Co. 1885. 



ESSAYS IN 
KADICAL EMPIKICISM 

BY 
WILLIAM JAMES 



LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO 

FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK 

LONDON, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA 

1912 



COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY HENRY JAMES JR. 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

THE present volume is an attempt to carry 
out a plan which William James is known to 
have formed several years before his death. 
In 1907 he collected reprints in an envelope 
which he inscribed with the title Essays in 
Radical Empiricism ; and he also had dupli 
cate sets of these reprints bound, under the 
same title, and deposited for the use of stu 
dents in the general Harvard Library, and in 
the Philosophical Library in Emerson Hall. 

Two years later Professor James published 
The Meaning of Truth and A Pluralistic Uni 
verse, and inserted in these volumes several of 
the articles which he had intended to use in the 
Essays in Radical Empiricism. Whether he 
would nevertheless have carried out his original 
plan, had he lived, cannot be certainly known. 
Several facts, however, stand out very clearly. 
In the first place, the articles included in the 
original plan but omitted from his later vol 
umes are indispensable to the understanding 

iii 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

of his other writings. To these articles he re 
peatedly alludes. Thus, in The Meaning of 
Truth (p. 127), he says: "This statement is 
probably excessively obscure to any one who 
has not read my two articles * Does Conscious 
ness Exist ? and A World of Pure Experi 
ence. " Other allusions have been indicated in 
the present text. In the second place, the arti 
cles originally brought together as Essays in 
Radical Empiricism form a connected whole. 
Not only were most of them written consecu 
tively within a period of two years, but they 
contain numerous cross-references. In the third 
place, Professor James regarded radical em 
piricism as an independent doctrine. This he 
asserted expressly: "Let me say that there is 
no logical connexion between pragmatism, as 
I understand it, and a doctrine which I have 
recently set forth as radical empiricism. The 
latter stands on its own feet. One may en 
tirely reject it and still be a pragmatist." 
(Pragmatism, 1907, Preface, p. ix.) Finally, 
Professor James came toward the end of his 

life to regard /radical empiricism as more 

iv 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

fundamental and more important than prag 
matism. In the Preface to The Meaning of 
Truth (1909), the author gives the following 
explanation of his desire to continue, and if 
possible conclude, the controversy over prag 
matism : " I am interested in another doctrine in 
philosophy to which I give the name of radical 
empiricism, and it seems to me that the estab 
lishment of the pragmatist theory of truth is a 
step of first-rate importance in making radical 
empiricism prevail" (p. xii). 

In preparing the present volume, the editor 
has therefore been governed by two motives. 
On the one hand, he has sought to preserve and 
make accessible certain important articles not 
to be found in Professor James s other books. 
This is true of Essays I, II, IV, V, VIII, IX, X, 
XI, and XII. On the other hand, he has sought 
to bring together in one volume a set of essays 
treating systematically of one independent, co^ 
herent, and fundamental doctrine. To this end 
it has seemed best to include three essays (III, 
VI, and VII), which, although included in the 
original plan, were afterwards reprinted else- 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

where; and one essay, XII, not included in the 
original plan. Essays III, VI, and VII are in 
dispensable to the consecutiveness of the se 
ries, and are so interwoven with the rest that 
it is necessary that the student should have 
them at hand for ready consultation. Essay 
XII throws an important light on the author s 
general empiricism/ and forms an important 
link between * radical empiricism and the 
author s other doctrines. 

In short, the present volume is designed not 
as a collection but rather as a treatise. It is 
intended that another volume shall be issued 
which shall contain papers having biographical 
or historical importance which have not yet 
been reprinted in book form. The present vol 
ume is intended not only for students of Pro 
fessor James s philosophy, but for students 
of metaphysics and the theory of knowledge. 
It sets forth systematically and within brief 
compass the doctrine of radical empiricism. 

A word more may be in order concerning the 
general meaning of this doctrine. In the Pre 
face to the Will to Believe (1898), Professor 

vi 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

James gives the name "radical empiricism" to 
his "philosophic attitude," and adds the follow 
ing explanation: "I say empiricism, because 
it is contented to regard its most assured con 
clusions concerning matters of fact as hypo 
theses liable to modification in the course of 
future experience; and I say radical/ because 
it treats the doctrine of monism itself as an 
hypothesis, and, unlike so much of the halfway 
empiricism that is current under the name of 
positivism or agnosticism or scientific natural 
ism, it does not dogmatically affirm monism as 
something with which all experience has got 
to square" (pp. vii-viii). An empiricism of 
this description is a "philosophic attitude" 
or temper of mind rather than a doctrine, 
and characterizes all of Professor James s 
writings. It is set forth in Essay XII of the 
present volume. 

In a narrower sense, empiricism is the 
method of resorting to particular experiences for 
the solution of philosophical problems. Ratio 
nalists are the men of principles, empiricists the 
men of facts. (Some Problems of Philosophy, 

vii 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

p. 35; cf. also, ibid., p. 44; and Pragmatism, pp. 
9, 51.) Or, "since principles are universals, 
and facts are particulars, perhaps the best way 
of characterizing the two tendencies is to say 
that rationalist thinking proceeds most will 
ingly by going from wholes to parts, while em 
piricist thinking proceeds by going from parts 
to wholes." (Some Problems of Philosophy, 
p. 35; cf. also ibid., p. 98; and A Pluralistic 
Universe, p. 7.) Again, empiricism "remands 
us to sensation." (Op. cit., p. 264.) The "em- 
j piricist view" insists that, "as reality is cre- 
1 ated temporally day by day, concepts . . . 
can never fitly supersede perception. . . . The 
deeper features of reality are found only in 
perceptual experience." (Some Problems of 
Philosophy, pp. 100, 97.) Empiricism in this 
sense is as yet characteristic of Professor 
James s philosophy as a whole. It is not the 
distinctive and independent doctrine set forth 
in the present book. 

The only summary of radical empiricism in 
this last and narrowest sense appears in the 

Preface to The Meaning of Truth (pp. xii-xiii) ; 

viii 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

and it must be reprinted here as the key to the 
text that follows. 1 

"Radical empiricism consists (1) first of a 
postulate, (2) next of a statement of fact, 
(3) and finally of a generalized conclusion." 

(1) "The postulate is that the only things 
that shall be debatable among philosophers shall 
be things definable in terms drawn from experi 
ence. (Things of an unexperienceable nature 
may exist ad libitum, but they form no part of 
the material for philosophic debate.) " This is 
"the principle of pure experience" as "a meth 
odical postulate." (Cf. below, pp. 159, 241.) 
This postulate corresponds to the notion which 
the author repeatedly attributes to Shadworth 
Hodgson, the notion "that realities are only 
what they are known as. !J (Pragmatism, p. 
50; Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 443; 
The Meaning of Truth, pp. 43, 118.) In this 
sense radical empiricism and pragmatism are 
closely allied. Indeed, if pragmatism be defined 
as the assertion that "the meaning of any pro 
position can always be brought down to some 

1 The use of numerals and italics is introduced by the editor. 
ix 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

particular consequence in our future practical 
experience, . . . the point lying in the fact 
that the experience must be particular rather 
than in the fact that it must be active" 
(Meaning of Truth, p. 210) ; then pragmatism 
and the above postulate come to the same 
thing. The present book, however, consists 
not so much in the assertion of this postu 
late as in the use of it. And the method is 
successful in special applications by virtue 
of a certain "statement of fact" concerning 
relations. 

(2) "The statement of fact is that the rela 
tions between things, conjunctive as well as dis 
junctive, are just as much matters of direct par 
ticular experience, neither more so nor less so, 
than the things themselves." (Cf. also A Plural 
istic Universe, p. 280; The Will to Believe, p. 
278.) This is the central doctrine of the pre 
sent book. It distinguishes radical empiri 
cism from the "ordinary empiricism" of 
Hume, J. S. Mill, etc., with w r hich it is otherwise 
allied. (Cf. below, pp. 42-44.) It provides an 
empirical and relational version of activity, 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

and so distinguishes the author s voluntarism 
from a view with which it is easily confused 
the view which upholds a pure or transcend 
ent activity. (Cf. below, Essay VI.) It makes 
it possible to escape the vicious disjunctions 
that have thus far baffled philosophy: such 
disjunctions as those between consciousness 
and physical nature, between thought and its 
object, between one mind and another, and 
between one thing and another. These dis 
junctions need not be overcome by calling in 
any "extraneous trans-empirical connective 
support" (Meaning of Truth, Preface, p. xiii); 
they may now be avoided by regarding the 
dualities in question as only differences of em 
pirical relationship among common empirical 
terms. The pragmatistic account of meaning 
and truth, shows only how a vicious disjunc 
tion between idea and object may thus be 
avoided. The present volume not only pre 
sents pragmatism in this light; but adds simi 
lar accounts of the other dualities mentioned 
above. 

Thus while pragmatism and radical empiri- 
xi 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

cism do not differ essentially when regarded as 
methods, they are independent when regarded 
as doctrines. For it would be possible to hold 
the pragmatistic theory of meaning and 
truth, without basing it on any fundamen 
tal theory of relations, and without extending 
such a theory of relations to residual philo 
sophical problems; without, in short, holding 
either to the above statement of fact, or to 
the following generalized conclusion. 

(3) "The generalized conclusion is that 
therefore the parts of experience hold together 
from next to next by relations that are themselves 
parts of experience. The directly apprehended 
universe needs, in short, no extraneous trans- 
empirical connective support, but possesses in its 
own right a concatenated or continuous struc 
ture." When thus generalized, radical em 
piricism is not only a theory of knowledge 
comprising pragmatism as a special chapter, 
but a metaphysic as well. It excludes "the 
hypothesis of trans-empirical reality " (Cf . be 
low, p. 195). It is the author s most rigorous 
statement of his theory that reality is an "ex- 

xii 



EDITOR S PREFACE 

perience-continuum." (Meaning of Truth, p. 
152; A Pluralistic Universe, Lect. v, vn.) It is 
that positive and constructive empiricism of 
which Professor James said : "Let empiricism 
once become associated with religion, as hith 
erto, through some strange misunderstanding, 
it has been associated with irreligion, and I 
believe that a new era of religion as well as of 
philosophy will be ready to begin." (Op. cit., 
p. 314; cf. ibid., Lect. vm, passim; and The 
Varieties of Religious Experience, pp. 515-527.) 
The editor desires to acknowledge his obli 
gations to the periodicals from which these 
essays have been reprinted, and to the many 
friends of Professor James who have rendered 
valuable advice and assistance in the prepara 
tion of the present volume. 

RALPH BARTON PERRY. 

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. 
January 8, 1912. 



CONTENTS 

v I. DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? . 1* 

^ 
< * II. A WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE . . 39 

f 
v HI. THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 92 

. IV. How Two MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING . . 123 

V V. THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS IN A WORLD 

OF PURE EXPERIENCE 137 

/ /5 

V^ VI. THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 155 

y -) 
VII. THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM .... .190 

VHI. LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 206 

IX. Is RADICAL EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC? . . . .234 

X. MR. PITKIN S REFUTATION OF RADICAL EMPIRI- 1 

CISM 241 

^ 
XI. HUMANISM AND TRUTH ONCE MORE .... 244 

v 
XH. ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 266 

INDEX 



I 

DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 1 

4 THOUGHTS and things are names for two 
sorts of object, which common sense will al 
ways find contrasted and will always practi 
cally oppose to each other. Philosophy, re 
flecting on the contrast, has varied in the 
past in her explanations of it, and may be 
expected to vary in the future. At first, 
spirit and matter, soul and body, stood for 
a pair of equipollent substances quite on a par 
in weight and interest. But one day Kant un 
dermined the soul and brought in the tran 
scendental ego, and ever since then the bipolar 
relation has been very much off its balance. 
The transcendental ego seems nowadays in 
rationalist quarters to stand for everything, in 
empiricist quarters for almost nothing. In the 
hands of such writers as Schuppe, Rehmke, 
Natorp, Munsterberg at any rate in his 

1 [Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scien 
tific Methods, vol. I, No. 18, September 1, 1904. For the relation be 
tween this essay and those which follow, cf . below, pp. 53-54. ED.] 

1 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

earlier writings, Schubert-Soldern and others, 
the spiritual principle attenuates itself to a 
thoroughly ghostly condition, being only a 
name for the fact that the content of experi 
ence is known. It loses personal form and act 
ivity these passing over to the content 
and becomes a bare Bewusstheit or Bewusstsein 
uberhaupt, of which in its own right absolutely 

nothing can be said. 

j~~" 

I believe that consciousness, when once it 
has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphane 
ity, is on the point of disappearing altogether. 
It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right 
to a place among first principles. Those who 
still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the 
faint rumor left behind by the disappearing 
soul upon the air of philosophy. During the 
past year, I have read a number of articles 
whose authors seemed just on the point of aban 
doning the notion of consciousness, 1 and sub 
stituting for it that of an absolute experience 
not due to two factors. But they were not 

1 Articles by Baldwin, Ward, Bawden, King, Alexander and others. 
Dr. Perry is frankly over the border. , 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

quite radical enough, not quite daring enough 
in their negations. For twenty years past I 
have mistrusted consciousness as an entity; 
for seven or eight years past I have suggested 
its non-existence to my students, and tried to 
give them its pragmatic equivalent in reali 
ties of experience. It seems to me that the hour 
is ripe for it to be openly and universally dis 
carded^ 

To deny plumply that consciousness exists 
seems so absurd on the face of it for undeni 
ably thoughts do exist that I fear some 
readers will follow me no farther. Let me then 
immediately explain that I mean only to deny 
that the word stands for an entity, but to insist 
most emphatically that it does stand for a 
function. There is, I mean, no aboriginal stuff 
or quality of being, 1 contrasted with that of 
which material objects are made, out of which 
our thoughts of them are made; but there is a 
function in experience which thoughts per 
form, and for the performance of which this 

1 [Similarly, there is no "activity of consciousness as such." gee 
below, pp. 170 ff., note. ED.] 

3 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

quality of being is invoked. That function is 
"I knowing. Consciousness is supposed neces 
sary to explain the fact that things not only 
are, but get reported, are known. Whoever 
blots out the notion of consciousness from his 
list of first principles must still provide in some 
way for that function s being carried on. 



My thesis is that if we start with the suppo 
sition that there is only one primal stuff_or 
material in the world, a stuff of which every 
thing is composed, and if we call that stuff 
pure experience, then knowing can easily be 
explained as a particular sort of relation 
towards one another into which portions of 
pure experience may enter. The relation itself 
is a part of pure experience; one of its terms 
becomes the subject or bearer of the know 
ledge, the knower, 1 the other becomes the ob 
ject known. This will need much explanation 
before it can be understood. The best way to 

1 In my Psychology I have tried to show that we need no knower 
other than the passing thought. [Principles of Psychology, vol. i, pp. 
338 ff.] 

4 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

get it understood is to contrast it with the al 
ternative view; and for that we may take the 
recentest alternative, that in which the evapo 
ration of the definite soul-substance has pro 
ceeded as far as it can go without being yet 
complete. If neo-Kantism has expelled earlier 
forms of dualism, we shall have expelled all 
forms if we are able to expel neo-Kantism in its 
turn. 

For the thinkers I call neo-Kantian, the word 
consciousness to-day does no more than signal 
ize the fact that experience is indef easibly dual- 
istic in structure. It means that not subject, 
not object, but object-plus-subject is the mini 
mum that can actually be. The subject-object 
distinction meanwhile is entirely different from 
that between mind and matter, from that be 
tween body and soul. Souls were detachable, 
had separate destinies; things could happen to 
them. To consciousness as such nothing can 
happen, for, timeless itself, it is only a witness 
of happenings in time, in which it plays no 
part. It is, in a word, but the logical correla 
tive of content in an Experience of which the 

5 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

peculiarity is that fact comes to light in it, that 
awareness of content takes place. Consciousness 
as such is entirely impersonal self and its 
activities belong to the content. To say that I 
am self-conscious, or conscious of putting forth 
volition, means only that certain contents, for 
which self and effort of will are the names, 
are not without witness as they occur. 

Thus, for these belated drinkers at the Kant 
ian spring, we should have to admit conscious 
ness as an epistemological necessity, even if 
we had no direct evidence of its being there. 

But in addition to this, we are supposed by 
almost every one to have an immediate con 
sciousness of consciousness itself. When the 
world of outer fact ceases to be materially pre 
sent, and we merely recall it in memory, or 
fancy it, the consciousness is believed to stand 
out and to be felt as a kind of impalpable inner 
flowing, which, once known in this sort of expe 
rience, may equally be detected in presenta 
tions of the outer world. "The moment we try 
to fix our attention upon consciousness and to 

see what, distinctly, it is," says a recent writer, 

6 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

"it seems to vanish. It seems as if we had be 
fore us a mere emptiness. When we try to in 
trospect the sensation of blue, all we can see is 
the blue; the other element is as if it were dia 
phanous. Yet it can be distinguished, if we 
look attentively enough, and know that there 
is something to look for." l "Consciousness" 
(Bewusstheit), says another philosopher, "is 
inexplicable and hardly describable, yet all con 
scious experiences have this in common that 
what we call their content has this peculiar re 
ference to a centre for which self is the name, 
in virtue of which reference alone the content 
is subjectively given, or appears. . . . While 
in this way consciousness, or reference to a 
self, is the only thing which distinguishes a con 
scious content from any sort of being that 
might be there with no one conscious of it, yet 
this only ground of the distinction defies all 
closer explanations. The existence of conscious 
ness, although it is the fundamental fact of 
psychology, can indeed be laid down as cer 
tain, can, be brought out by analysis, but can 

i G. E. Moore: Mind, vol. xn, N. S., [1903], p. 450. 
7 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

neither be defined nor deduced from anything 
but itself." 1 

Can be brought out by analysis/ this 
author says. This supposes that the conscious 
ness is one element, moment, factor call it 
what you like of an experience of essentially 
dualistic inner constitution, from which, if you 
abstract the content, the consciousness will re 
main revealed to its own eye. Experience, at 
this rate, would be much like a paint of which 
the world pictures were made. Paint has a dual 
constitution, involving, as it does, a men 
struum 2 (oil, size or what not) and a mass of 
content in the form of pigment suspended 
therein. We can get the pure menstruum by 
letting the pigment settle, and the pure pig 
ment by pouring off the size or oil. We operate 
here by physical subtraction; and the usual 
view is, that by mental subtraction we can 
separate the two factors of experience in an 

1 Paul Natorp: Einleitung in die Psychologic, 1888, pp. 14, 112. 

2 "Figuratively speaking, consciousness may be said to be the one 
universal solvent, or menstruum, in which the different concrete kinds 
of psychic acts and facts are contained, whether in concealed or in 
obvious form." G. T. Ladd: Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory, 
1894, p. 30. 

8 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

analogous way not isolating them entirely, 
but distinguishing them enough to know that 

they are two. 

II 

Now my contention is exactly the reverse of 
this. Experience, I believe, has no such inner du 
plicity; and the separation of it into conscious 
ness and content comes, not by way of subtraction, 
but by way of addition the addition, to a 
given concrete piece of it, of other sets of expe 
riences, in connection with which severally its 
use or function may be of two different kinds. 
The paint will also serve here as an illustration. 
In a pot in a paint-shop, along with other 
paints, it serves in its entirety as so much sale 
able matter. Spread on a canvas, with other 
paints around it, it represents, on the contrary, 
a feature in a picture and performs a spiritual 
function. Just so, I maintain, does a given un 
divided portion of experience, taken in one 
context of associates, play the part of a knower, 
of a state of mind, of consciousness ; while in 
a different context the same undivided bit of 
experience plays the part of a thing known, of 

9 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

an objective * content. In a word, in one group 
it figures as a thought, in another group as a 
thing. And, since it can figure in both groups 
\ simultaneously we have every right to speak of 
\ it as subjective and objective both at once. 
The dualism connoted by such double-bar 
relled terms as * experience, phenomenon, 
datum, Vorfindung* terms which, in phi 
losophy at any rate,,tend more and more to re 
place the single-barrelled terms of thought 
and thing that dualism, I say, is still pre 
served in this account, but reinterpreted, so 
that, instead of being mysterious and elusive, 
1 it Jbecomes verifiable and concrete. It is an af 
fair of relations, it falls outside, not inside, the 
single experience considered, and can always 
i be particularized and defined. 

i The entering wedge for this more concrete 

i way of understanding the dualism was fash- 

i ioned by Locke when he made the word idea 

stand indifferently for thing and thought, and 

by Berkeley when he said that what common 

sense means by realities is exactly what the 

philosopher means by ideas. Neither Locke 

10 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

nor Berkeley thought his truth out into perfect 
clearness, but it seems to me that the concep 
tion I am defending does little more than con 
sistently carry out the pragmatic method 
which they were the first to use. 

If the reader will take his own experiences, 
he will see what I mean. Let him begin with a 
perceptual experience, the presentation, so 
called, of a physical object, his actual field of 
vision, the room he sits in, with the book he is 
reading as its centre; and let him for the pre 
sent treat this complex object in the common- 
sense way as being really what it seems to be, 
namely, a collection of physical things cut out 
from an environing world of other physical 
things with which these physical things have 
actual or potential relations. Now at the same 
time it is just those self -same things which his 
mind, as we say, perceives; and the whole phi 
losophy of perception from Democritus s time 
downwards has been just one long wrangle over 
the paradox that what is evidently one reality 
should be in two places at once, both in outer 

space and in a person s mind. Represent- 

11 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ative theories of perception avoid the logical 
paradox, but on the other hand they violate the 
reader s sense of life, which knows no inter 
vening mental image but seems to see the room 
and the book immediately just as they physi 
cally exist. 

The puzzle of how the one identical room can 
be in two places is at bottom just the puzzle of 
how one identical point can be on two lines* It. 
can, if it be situated at their intersection-; and 
similarly, if the pure experience of the room 
were a place of intersection of two processes, 
which connected it with different groups of as 
sociates respectively, it could be counted twice 
over, as belonging to either group, and spoken 
of loosely as existing in two places, although it 
would remain all the time a numerically single 
thing. 

Well, the experience is a member of diverse 
processes that can be followed away from it 
along entirely different lines. The one self- 
identical thing has so many relations to the 
rest of experience that you can take it in dis 
parate systems of association, and treat it as 





DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

belonging with opposite contexts. 1 In one of 
these contexts it is your field of consciousr 
ness ; in another it is the room in which you 
sit/ and it enters both contexts in its whole 
ness, giving no pretext for being said to attach 
itself to consciousness by one of its parts or 
aspects, and to outer reality by another. What 
are the two processes, now, into which the 
room-experience simultaneously enters in this 
way? 

One of them is the reader s personal bio 
graphy, the other is the history of the house of 
which the room is part. The presentation, the 
experience, the that in short (for until we have 
decided what it is it must be a mere that} is the 
last term of a train of sensations, emotions, 
decisions, movements, classifications, expect 
ations, etc., ending in the present, and the first 
term of a series of similar inner operations 
extending into the future, on the reader s 
part. On the other hand, the very same that 
is the terminus ad quern of a lot of previous 

1 [For a parallel statement of this view, cf . the author s Meaning of 
Truth, p. 49, note. Cf. also below, pp. 196-197. ED.] 

13 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

physical operations, carpentering, papering, 
furnishing, warming, etc., and the terminus a 
quo of a lot of future ones, in which it will be 
concerned when undergoing the destiny of a 
physical room. The physical and the mental 
operations form curiously incompatible groups. 
As a room, the experience has occupied that 
spot and had that environment for thirty 
years. As your field of consciousness it may 
never have existed until now. As a room, at 
tention will go on to discover endless new de 
tails in it. As your mental state merely, few 
new ones will emerge under attention s eye. 
As a room, it will take an earthquake, or a 
gang of men, and in any case a certain amount 
of time, to destroy it. As your subjective 
state, the closing of your eyes, or any instan 
taneous play of your fancy will suffice. In the 
real world, fire will consume it. In your mind, 
you can let fire play over it without effect. As 
an outer object, you must pay so much a 
month to inhabit it. As an inner content, you 
may occupy it for any length of time rent-free. 
If, in short, you follow it in the mental direc- 

14 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

tion, taking it along with events of personal 
biography solely, all sorts of things are true 
of it which are false, and false of it which are 
true if you treat it as a real thing experienced, 
follow it in the physical direction, and relate it 
to associates in the outer world. 

Ill 

So far, all seems plain sailing, but my thesis 
will probably grow less plausible to the reader 
when I pass from percepts to concepts, or from/ 
the case of things presented to that of things 
remote. I believe, nevertheless, that here also 
the same law holds good. If we take concept 
ual manifolds, or memories, or fancies, they 
also are in their first intention mere bits of 
pure experience, and, as such, are single thats 
which act in one context as objects, and in an 
other context figure as mental states. By tak 
ing them in their first intention, I mean ignor 
ing their relation to possible perceptual ex 
periences with which they may be connected, 
which they may lead to and terminate in, and 
which then they may be supposed to repre- 

15 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

sent/ Taking them in this way first, we con 
fine the problem to a world merely * thought- 
of and not directly felt or seen. 1 This world, 
just like the world of percepts, comes to us at 
first as a chaos of experiences, but lines of order 
soon get traced. We find that any bit of it 
which we may cut out as an example is con 
nected with distinct groups of associates, just 
as our perceptual experiences are, that these 
associates link themselves with it by different 
relations, 2 and that one forms the inner history 
of a person, while the other acts as an imper 
sonal objective world, either spatial and tem 
poral, or else merely logical or mathematical, 
or otherwise ideal. 

The first obstacle on the part of the reader to 
seeing that these non-perceptual experiences 

1 [For the author s recognition of "concepts as a co-ordinate 
realm" of reality, cf. his Meaning of Truth, pp. 42, 195, note; A Plural 
istic Universe, pp. 339-340; Some Problems of Philosophy, pp. 50-57, 
67-70; and below, p. 16, note. Giving this view the name logical 
realism, he remarks elsewhere that his philosophy "maybe regarded 
as somewhat eccentric in its attempt to combine logical realism with 
an otherwise empiricist mode of thought" (Some Problems of Philoso 
phy, p. 106). ED.] 

2 Here as elsewhere the relations are of course experienced rela 
tions, members of the same originally chaotic manifold of non- 
perceptual experience of which the related terms themselves are 
parts. [Cf. below, p. 42.] 

16 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

have objectivity as well as subjectivity will 
probably be due to the intrusion into his mind 
of percepts, that third group of associates with 
which the non-perceptual experiences have re 
lations, and which, as a whole, they "represent/ 
standing to them as thoughts to things. This 
important function of the non-perceptual expe 
riences complicates the question and confuses 
it; for, so used are we to treat percepts as 
the sole genuine realities that, unless we keep 
them out of the discussion, we tend altogether 
to overlook the objectivity that lies in non- 
perceptual experiences by themselves. We 
treat them, knowing percepts as they do, as 
through and through subjective, and say that 
they are wholly constituted of the stuff called 
consciousness, using this term now for a kind 
of entity, after the fashion which I am seeking 
to refute. 1 

Abstracting, then, from percepts altogether, 
what I maintain is, that any single non-per- 

1 Of the representative function of non-perceptual experience as a 
whole, I will say a word in a subsequent article: it leads too far into the 
general theory of knowledge for much to be said about it in a short 
paper like this. [Cf. below, pp. 52 ff.J 

17 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ceptual experience tends to get counted twice 
over, just as a perceptual experience does, figur 
ing in one context as an object or field of ob 
jects, in another as a state of mind: and all this 
without the least internal self -diremption on its 
own part into consciousness and content. It is 
all consciousness in one taking; and, in the 
other, all content. 

I find this objectivity of non-perceptual ex 
periences, this complete parallelism in point of 
reality between the presently felt and the re 
motely thought, so well set forth in a page of 
Mtinsterberg s Grundzuge, that I will quote it 
as it stands. 

"I may only think of my objects," says Pro 
fessor Mlinsterberg; "yei, in my living thought 
they stand before me exactly as perceived ob 
jects would do, no matter how different the two 
ways of apprehending them may be in their 
genesis. The book here lying on the table before 
me, and the book in the next room of which I 
think and which I mean to get, are both in the 
same sense given realities for me, realities 
which I acknowledge and of which I take ac- 

18 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

count. If you agree that the perceptual object 
is not an idea within me, but that percept and 
thing, as indistinguishably one, are really expe 
rienced there, outside, you ought not to believe 
that the merely thought-of object is hid away 
inside of the thinking subject. The object of 
which I think, and of whose existence I take 
cognizance without letting it now work upon 
my senses, occupies its definite place in the 
outer world as much as does the object which I 
directly see." 

"What is true of the here and the there, is 
also true of the now and the then. I know of 
the thing which is present and perceived, but I 
know also of the thing which yesterday was 
but is no more, and which I only remember. 
Both can determine my present conduct, both 
are parts of the reality of which I keep account. 
It is true that of much of the past I am uncer 
tain, just as I am uncertain of much of what 
is present if it be but dimly perceived. But the 

interval of time does not in principle alter my 



relation to the object, does not transform it 
from an object known into a mental state. . . . 

19 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

The things in the room here which I survey, 
and those in my distant home of which I think, 
the things of this minute and those of my long- 
vanished boyhood, influence and decide me 
alike, with a reality which my experience of 
them directly feels. They both make up my 
real world, they make it directly, they do not 
have first to be introduced to me and medi 
ated by ideas which now and here arise 
within me. . . . This not-me character of 
my recollections and expectations does not 
imply that the external objects of which I am 
aware in those experiences should necessarily 
be there also for others. The objects of dream 
ers and hallucinated persons are wholly with 
out general validity. But even were they cen 
taurs and golden mountains, they still would 
be off there, in fairy land, and not inside 5 of 
ourselves." 1 

This certainly is the immediate, primary, 
naif, or practical way of taking our thought-of 
world. Were there no perceptual world to 
serve as its reductive, in Taine s sense, by 

1 Mfinsterberg: Grundziige der Psychologic, vol. i, p. 48. 
20 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

being "stronger 5 and more genuinely outer 
(so that the whole merely thought-of world 
seems weak and inner in comparison), our 
world of thought would be the only world, and 
would enjoy complete reality in our belief. 
This actually happens in our dreams, and in 
our day-dreams so long as percepts do not 
interrupt them. 

And yet, just as the seen room (to go back to 
our late example) is also a field of conscious 
ness, so the conceived or recollected room is 
also a state of mind; and the doubling-up of the 
experience has in both cases similar grounds. 

The room thought-of, namely, has many 
thought-of couplings with many thought-of 
things. Some of these couplings are inconstant, 
others are stable. In the reader s personal his 
tory the room occupies a single date he saw 
it only once perhaps, a year ago. Of the house s 
history, on the other hand, it forms a perma 
nent ingredient. Some couplings have the curi 
ous stubbornness, to borrow Royce s term, of 
fact; others show the fluidity of fancy we let 
them come and go as we please. Grouped with 

21 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the rest of its house, with the name of its town, 
of its owner, builder, value, decorative plan, 
the room maintains a definite foothold, to 
which, if we try to loosen it, it tends to return, 
and to reassert itself with force. 1 With these 
associates, in a word, it coheres, while to other 
houses, other towns, other owners, etc., it shows 
no tendency to cohere at all. The two collec 
tions, first of its cohesive, and, second, of its 
loose associates, inevitably come to be con 
trasted. We call the first collection the system 
of external realities, in the midst of which the 
room, as real, 5 exists; the other we call the 
stream of our internal thinking, in which, as a 
mental image, it for a moment floats. 2 The 
room thus again gets counted twice over. It 
plays two different roles, being Gedanke and 
Gedachtes, the thought-of-an-object, and the 
object-thought-of, both in one; and all this 
without paradox or mystery, just as the same 

1 Cf. A. L. Hodder: The Adversaries of the Sceptic, pp. 94-99. 

2 For simplicity s sake I confine my exposition to external reality. 
But there is also the system of ideal reality in which the room plays its 
part. Relations of comparison, of classification, serial order, value, 
also are stubborn, assign a definite place to the room, unlike the inco 
herence of its places in the mere rhapsody of our successive thoughts. 
[Cf. above, p. 16.] 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

material thing may be both low and high, or 
small and great, or bad and good, because of its 
relations to opposite parts of an environing 
world. 

As subjective we say that the experience 
represents; as objective it is represented. 
What represents and what is represented is here \ 
numerically the same; but we must remember / 
that no dualism of being represented and re- 1 
presenting resides in the experience per se. In 
its pure state, or when isolated, there is no self- 
splitting of it into consciousness and what the 
consciousness is of. Its subjectivity and ob 
jectivity are functional attributes solely, real 
ized only when the experience is taken, i. e. 9 
talked-of , twice, considered along with its two 
differing contexts respectively, by a new retro 
spective experience, of which that whole past 
complication now forms the fresh content. 

The instant field of the present is at all times -\j 
what I call the pure experience. It is only 
virtually or potentially either object or subject 
as yet. For the time being, it is plain, unquali 
fied actuality, or existence, a simple that. In this 

23 






ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

naif immediacy it is of course valid; it is there, 
we act upon it; and the doubling of it in retro 
spection into a state of mind and a reality in 
tended thereby, is just one of the acts. The 
state of mind/ first treated explicitly as such 
in retrospection, will stand corrected or con 
firmed, and the retrospective experience in its 
turn will get a similar treatment; but the im 
mediate experience in its passing is always 
truth, * practical truth, something to act on, at 
its own movement. If the world were then and 
there to go out like a candle, it would remain 
truth absolute and objective, for it would be 
the last word, would have no critic, and no 
one would ever oppose the thought in it to the 
reality intended. 2 

I think I may now claim to have made my 

1 Note the ambiguity of this term, which is taken sometimes 
objectively and sometimes subjectively. 

2 In the Psychological Review for July [1904], Dr. R. B. Perry has 
published a view of Consciousness which comes nearer to mine than 
any other with which I am acquainted. At present. Dr. Perry thinks, 
every field of experience is so much fact. It becomes opinion or 
* thought only in retrospection, when a fresh experience, thinking the 
same object, alters and corrects it. But the corrective experience 
becomes itself in turn corrected, and thus experience as a whole is a 
process in which what is objective originally forever turns subjective, 
turns into our apprehension of the object. I strongly recommend 
Dr. Perry s admirable article to my readers. 

M 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

thesis clear. Consciousness connotes a kind of \ 
external relation, and does not denote a special 
stuff or way of being. The peculiarity of our ex 
periences, that they not only are, but are known, 
which their conscious 9 quality is invoked to 
explain, is better explained by their relations 
these relations themselves being experiences to 
one another. 

IV 

Were I now to go on to treat of the knowing 
of perceptual by conceptual experiences, it 
would again prove to be an affair of external 
relations. One experience would be the knower, 
the other the reality known; and I could 
perfectly well define, without the notion of 
consciousness, what the knowing actually 
and practically^amounts to leading-towards, 
namely, and terminating-in percepts, through 
a series of transitional experiences which the 
world supplies. But I will not treat of this, 
space being insufficient. 1 I will rather consider 

1 I have given a partial account of the matter in Mind, vol. x, p. 27, 
1885 [reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 1-42], and in the 
Psychological Review, vol. n, p. 105, 1895 [partly reprinted in The 
Meaning of Truth, pp. 43-50]. See also C. A. Strong s article in the 

25 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

a few objections that are sure to be urged 
against the entire theory as it stands. 



First of all, this will be asked: "If experience 
has not conscious existence, if it be not 
partly made of consciousness/ of what then 
is it made? Matter we know, and thought we 
know, and conscious content we know, but 
neutral and simple pure experience is some 
thing we know not at all. Say what it consists 
of for it must consist of something or be 
willing to give it up!" 

To this challenge the reply is easy. Although 
for fluency s sake I myself spoke early in this 
article of a stuff of pure experience, I have now 
to say that there is no general stuff of which ex 
perience at large is made. There are as many 
stuffs as there are natures in the things expe 
rienced. If you ask what any one bit of pure 
experience is made of, the answer is always the 

Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, vol. I, p. 
253, May 12, 1904. I hope myself very soon to recur to the matter. 
[See below, pp. 52 ff.] 

26 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

same : *" It is made of that , of just what appearsK 
of space, of intensity, of flatness, brownness, 
heaviness, or what not." 1 Shadworth Hodg 
son s analysis here leaves nothing to be de 
sired. 1 Experience is only a collective name^ 
for all these sensible natures, and save for time 
and space (and, if you like, for being ) there 
appears no universal element of which all 
things are made. 

VI 

The next objection is more formidable, in 
fact it sounds quite crushing when one hears 
it first. 

"If it be the self -same piece of pure ex 
perience, taken twice over, that serves now as 
thought and now as thing" so the objec 
tion runs "how comes it that its attributes 
should differ so fundamentally in the two tak 
ings. As thing, the experience is extended; as 
thought, it occupies no space or place. As 
thing, it is red, hard, heavy; but who ever heard 

1 [Cf. Shadworth Hodgson: The Metaphysic of Experience, vol. i, 
passim ; The Philosophy of Reflection, bk. u, ch. iv, 3. ED.] 

27 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

of a red, hard or heavy thought ? Yet even 
now you said that an experience is made of 
just what appears, and what appears is just 
such adjectives. How can the one experience 
in its thing-function be made of them, consist 
of them, carry them as its own attributes, while 
in its thought-function it disowns them and 
attributes them elsewhere. There is a self-con 
tradiction here from which the radical dualism 
of thought and thing is the only truth that can 
save us. Only if the thought is one kind of 
being can the adjectives exist in it intention 
ally (to use the scholastic term); only if the 
thing is another kind, can they exist in it con- 
stitutively and energetically. No simple sub 
ject can take the same adjectives and at one 
time be qualified by it, and at another time be 
merely of it, as of something only meant or 
known." 

The solution insisted on by this objector, like 
many other common-sense solutions, grows 
the less satisfactory the more one turns it in 
one s mind. To begin with, are thought and 
thing as heterogeneous as is commonly said ? 

28 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS* EXIST? 

No one denies that they have some categories 
in common. Their relations to time are iden 
tical. Both, moreover, may have parts (for 
psychologists in general treat thoughts as hav 
ing them) ; and both may be complex or simple. 
Both are of kinds, can be compared, added and 
subtracted and arranged in serial orders. All 
sorts of adjectives qualify our thoughts which 
appear incompatible with consciousness, being 
as such a bare diaphaneity. For instance, they 
are natural and easy, or laborious. They are 
beautiful, happy, intense, interesting, wise, 
idiotic, focal, marginal, insipid, confused, 
vague, precise, rational, casual, general, par 
ticular, and many things besides. Moreover, 
the chapters on Perception in the psycho 
logy-books are full of facts that make for the 
essential homogeneity of thought with thing. 
How, if subject and object were separated 
by the whole diameter of being, and had no 
attributes in common, could it be so hard to 
tell, in a presented and recognized material 
object, what part comes in through the sense- 
organs and what part comes out of one s own 

29 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

head ? Sensations and apperceptive ideas fuse 
here so intimately that you can no more tell 
where one begins and the other ends, than you 
can tell, in those cunning circular panoramas 
that have lately been exhibited, where the real 
foreground and the painted canvas join to 
gether. 1 

Descartes for the first time defined thought 
as the absolutely unextended, and later philo 
sophers have accepted the description as cor 
rect. But what possible meaning has it to say 
/that, when we think of a foot-rule or a square 
yard, extension is not attributable to our 
thought? Of every extended object the ade 
quate mental picture must have all the exten 
sion of the object itself. The difference be- 
\jtween objective and subjective extension is 
\one of relation to a context solely. In the mind 
the various extents maintain no necessarily 
stubborn order relatively to each other, while 

1 Spencer s proof of his Transfigured Realism* (his doctrine that 
there is an absolutely non-mental reality) comes to mind as a splendid 
instance of the impossibility of establishing radical heterogeneity 
between thought and thing. All his painfully accumulated points of 
difference run gradually into their opposites, and are full of excep 
tions. [Cf. Spencer: Principles of Psychology, part vn, ch. xix.] 

30 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

in the physical world they bound each other 
stably, and, added together, make the great 
enveloping Unit which we believe in and call 
real Space. As outer, they carry themselves 
adversely, so to speak, to one another, exclude 
one another and maintain their distances; 
while, as inner, their order is loose, and they 
form a durcheinander in which unity is lost. 1 
But to argue from this that inner experience is 
absolutely inextensive seems to me little short 
of absurd. The two worlds differ, not by the 
presence or absence of extension, but by the 
relations of the extensions which in both 
worlds exist. 

Does not this case of extension now put us 
on the track of truth in the case of other quali 
ties? It does; and I am surprised that the facts 
should not have been noticed long ago. Why, 
for example, do we call a fire hot, and water 
wet, and yet refuse to say that our mental 
state, when it is of these objects, is either wet 
or hot? Intentionally, at any rate, and when 

1 I speak here of the complete inner life in which the mind plays 
freely with its materials. Of course the mind s free play is restricted 
when it seeks to copy real things in real space. 

31 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the mental state is a vivid image, hotness and 
wetness are in it just as much as they are in the 
physical experience. The reason is this, that, 
as the general chaos of all our experiences gets 
sifted, we find that there are some fires that 
will always burn sticks and always warm our 
bodies, and that there are some waters that 
will always put out fires; while there are other 
fires and waters that will not act at all. The 
general group of experiences that act, that do 
not only possess their natures intrinsically, but 
wear them adjectively and energetically, turn 
ing them against one another, comes inevitably 
to be contrasted with the group whose mem 
bers, having identically the same natures, fail 
to manifest them in the energetic way. 1 I 
make for myself now an experience of blazing 
fire; I place it near my body; but it does not 
warm me in the least. I lay a stick upon it, and 
the stick either burns or remains green, as I 
please. I call up water, and pour it on the fire, 
and absolutely no difference ensues. I account 

1 [But there are also "mental activity trains," in which thoughts 
do "work on each other." Cf. below, p. 184, note. ED.] 

32 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

for all such facts by calling this whole train 
of experiences unreal, a mental train. Mental 
fire is what won t burn real sticks; mental wa 
ter is what won t necessarily (though of course 
it may) put out even a mental fire. Mental 
knives may be sharp, but they won t cut real 
wood. Mental triangles are pointed, but their 
points won t wound. With real objects, on / 
the contrary, consequences always accrue; and ^ 
thus the real experiences get sifted from the 
mental ones, the things from our thoughts of 
them, fanciful or true, and precipitated to 
gether as the stable part of the whole experi 
ence-chaos, under the name of the physica 
world. Of this our perceptual experiences are 
the nucleus, they being the originally strong 
experiences. We add a lot of conceptual expe 
riences to them, making these strong also in 
imagination, and building out the remoter 
parts of the physical world by their means; 
and around this core of reality the world 
of laxly connected fancies and mere rhapso 
dical objects floats like a bank of clouds. 
In the clouds, all sorts of rules are violated 

33 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

which in the core are kept. Extensions there 
can be indefinitely located; motion there obeys 
no Newton s laws. 

VII 

There is a peculiar class of experiences to 
which, whether we take them as subjective or 
as objective, we assign their several natures as 
attributes, because in both contexts they affect 
their associates actively, though in neither 
quite as strongly or as sharply as things af 
fect one another by their physical energies. I 
refer here to appreciations, which form an am- 
biguous sphere of being, belonging with emotion 
on the one hand, and having objective value 
on the other, yet seeming not quite inner nor 
quite outer, as if a diremption had begun but 
had not made itself complete. 1 

Experiences of painful objects, for example, 
are usually also painful experiences; percep 
tions of loveliness, of ugliness, tend to pass 
muster as lovely or as ugly perceptions; intui 
tions of the morally lofty are lofty intuitions. 

1 [This topic is resumed below, pp. 137 ff. ED.] 
34 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS EXIST? 

Sometimes the adjective wanders as if uncer 
tain where to fix itself. Shall we speak 
seductive visions or of visions of seductive 
things? Of wicked desires or of desires for 
wickedness ? t Of healthy thoughts or of thoughts 
of healthy objects? Of good impulses, or of 
impulses towards the good? Of feelings of 
anger, or of angry feelings? Both in the mind 
and in the thing, these natures modify their 
context, exclude certain associates and deter 
mine others, have their mates and incompati- 
bles. Yet not as stubbornly as in the case of 
physical qualities, for beauty and ugliness, 
love and hatred, pleasant and painful can, in 
certain complex experiences, coexist. 

If one were to make an evolutionary con- 
struction of how a lot of originally chaotic pure 
experiences became gradually differentiated 
into an orderly inner and outer world, the 
whole theory would turn upon one s success in 
explaining how or why the quality of an expe 
rience, once active, could become less so, and, 
from being an energetic attribute in some 
cases, elsewhere lapse into the status of an 

35 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

;, inert or merely internal nature/ This would 

. be the evolution of the psychical from the 

bosom of the physical, in which the esthetic, 

moral and otherwise emotional experiences 

would represent a halfway stage. 

VIII 

But a last cry of non possumus will probably 
go up from many readers. "All very pretty as 
a piece of ingenuity," they will say, "but our 
consciousness itself intuitively contradicts you. 
We, for our part, know that we are conscious. 
We feel our thought, flowing as a life within us, 
in absolute contrast with the objects which it 
so unremittingly escorts. We can not be faith- 
i less to this immediate intuition. The dualism 
I is a fundamental datum: Let no man join what 
God has put asunder." 

My reply to this is my last word, and I 
greatly grieve that to many it will sound ma 
terialistic. I can not help that, however, for 
I, too, have my intuitions and I must obey 
them. Let the case be what it may in others, I 
am as confident as I am of anything that, in 

36 



DOES CONSCIOUSNESS* EXIST? 

myself, the stream of thinking (which I recog 
nize emphatically as a phenomenon) is only a 
careless name for what, when scrutinized, re 
veals itself to consist chiefly of the stream of 
my breathing. J The I think which Kant said\ 
must be able to accompany all my objects, is 1 
the I breathe which actually does accom- / 
pany them. There are other internal facts 
besides breathing] (intracephalic muscular ad 
justments, etc., of which I have said a word in 
my larger Psychology) ,[ and these increase the / 
assets of consciousness, so far as the latter is 
subject to immediate perception; - 1 but] breath, 
which was ever the original of spirit, breath 
moving outwards, between the glottis and the 
nostrils, is, I am persuaded, the essence out of 
which philosophers have constructed the en 
tity known to them as consciousness, j That 
entity is fictitious, while thoughts in the concrete 
are fully real. But thoughts in the concrete are 
made of the same stuff as things are. 

I wish I might believe myself to have made 



1 [Principles of Psychology, vol. I, pp. 299-305. Cf. below, pp. 169- 
171 (note).] 

37 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

that plausible in this article. In another article 
I shall try to make the general notion of a 
world composed of pure experiences still more 
clear. 



II 

A WORLD OF PURE EXPERI 
ENCE 1 

IT is difficult not to notice a curious unrest in 
the philosophic atmosphere of the time, a 
loosening of old landmarks, a softening of op 
positions, a mutual borrowing from one an 
other on the part of systems anciently closed, 
and an interest in new suggestions, however 
vague, as if the one thing sure were the inade 
quacy of the extant school-solutions. The dis 
satisfaction with these seems due for the most 
part to a feeling that they are too abstract and 
academic. Life is confused and superabundant, 
and what the younger generation appears to 
crave is more of the temperament of life .in its 
philosophy, even though it were at some cost 
of logical rigor and of formal purity. Tran- 

1 [Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scien 
tific Methods, vol. 1, 1904, No. 20, September 29, and No. 21, October 
13. Pp. 52-76 have also been reprinted, with some omissions, alter 
ations and additions, .in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 102-120. The 
alterations have been adopted in the present text. This essay is re 
ferred to in A Pluralistic Universe, p. 280, note 5. ED.] 

39 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

scendental idealism is inclining to let the world 
wag incomprehensibly, in spite of its Absolute 
Subject and his unity of purpose. Berkeley an 
idealism is abandoning the principle of parsi 
mony and dabbling in panpsychic specula 
tions. Empiricism flirts with teleology; and, 
strangest of all, natural realism, so long de 
cently buried, raises its head above the turf, 
and finds glad hands outstretched from the 
most unlikely quarters to help it to its feet 
again. We are all biased by our personal feel 
ings, I know, and I am personally discontented 
with extant solutions; so I seem to read the 
signs of a great unsettlement, as if the up 
heaval of more real conceptions and more fruit 
ful methods were imminent, as if a true land 
scape might result, less clipped, straight-edged 
and artificial. 

If philosophy be really on the eve of any con 
siderable rearrangement, the time should be 
propitious for any one who has suggestions of 
his own to bring forward. For many years past 
my mind has been growing into a certain type 
of Weltanschauung. Rightly or wrongly, I have 

40 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

got to the point where I can hardly see things 
in any other pattern. I propose, therefore, to 
describe the pattern as clearly as I can con 
sistently with great brevity, and to throw my 
description into the bubbling vat of publicity 
where, jostled by rivals and torn by critics, it 
will eventually either disappear from notice, 
or else, if better luck befall it, quietly subside 
to the profundities, and serve as a possible 
ferment of new growths or a nucleus of new 
crystallization. 

I. RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

I give the name of radical empiricism to 
my Weltanschauung. Empiricism is known as 
the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends 
to emphasize universals and to make wholes 
prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in 
that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, 
lays the explanatory stress upon the part, the 
element, the individual, and treats the whole 
as a collection and the universal as an abstrac 
tion. My description of things, accordingly, 
starts with the parts and makes of the whole 

41 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

a being of the second order. It is essentially 
a mosaic philosophy, a philosophy of plural 
facts, like that of Hume and his descendants, 
who refer these facts neither to Substances in 
which they inhere nor to an Absolute Mind 
that creates them as its objects. But it differs 
from the Humian type of empiricism in one 
particular which makes me add the epithet 
radical. 

To be radical, an empiricism must neither 
admit into its constructions any element that 
is not directly experienced, nor exclude from 
them any element that is directly experienced. 
For such a philosophy, the relations that connect 
experiences must themselves be experienced rela 
tions, and any kind of relation experienced must 
be accounted as real* as anything else in the 
system. Elements may indeed be redistributed, 
the original placing of things getting corrected, 
but a real place must be found for every kind 
of thing experienced, whether term or relation, 
in the final philosophic arrangement. 

Now, ordinary empiricism, in spite of the 
fact that conjunctive and disjunctive relations 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

present themselves as being fully co-ordinate 
parts of experience, has always shown a ten 
dency to do away with the connections of 
things, and to insist most on the disjunctions. 
Berkeley s nominalism, Hume s statement that 
whatever things we distinguish are as * loose 
and separate as if they had "no manner of con 
nection, James Mill s denial that similars have 
anything really in common, the resolution 
of the causal tie into habitual sequence, John 
Mill s account of both physical things and 
selves as composed of discontinuous possibili 
ties, and the general pulverization of all Ex 
perience by association and the mind-dust 
theory, are examples of what I mean. 1 

The natural result of such a world-picture 
has been the efforts of rationalism to correct 
its incoherencies by the addition of trans- 
experiential agents of unification, substances, 
intellectual categories and powers, or Selves; 

1 [Cf. Berkeley: Principles of Human Knowledge, Introduction; 
Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, sect, vn, 
part ii (Selby-Bigge s edition, p. 74); James Mill: Analysis of the 
Phenomena of the Human Mind.ch. vni; J. S. Mill: An Examination of 
Sir William Hamilton s Philosophy, ch. xi, xii; W. K. Clifford: Lec 
tures and Essays, pp. 274 ff.] 

43 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

whereas, if empiricism had only been radical 
and taken everything that comes without dis 
favor, conjunction as well as separation, each 
at its face value, the results would have called 
for no such artificial correction. Radical em- 
piricism, as I understand it, does full justice to 
conjunctive relations, without, however, treat 
ing them as rationalism always tends to treat 
them, as being true in some supernal way, as if 
the unity of things and their variety belonged 
to different orders of truth and vitality alto 
gether. 

II. CONJUNCTIVE RELATIONS 

Relations are of different degrees of inti 
macy. Merely to be with one another in a 
universe of discourse is the most external rela 
tion that terms can have, and seems to involve 
nothing whatever as to farther consequences. 
Simultaneity and time-interval come next, and 
then space-adjacency and distance. After 
them, similarity and difference, carrying the 
possibility of many inferences. Then relations 

of activity, tying terms into series involving 

44 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

change, tendency, resistance, and the causal 
order generally. Finally, the relation experi 
enced between terms that form states of mind, 
and are immediately conscious of continuing 
each other. The organization of the Self as a 
system of memories, purposes, strivings, ful 
filments or disappointments, is incidental to 
this most intimate of all relations, the terms 
of which seem in many cases actually to corn- 
penetrate and suffuse each other s being. 1 

Philosophy has always turned on grammati 
cal particles. With, near, next, like, from, 
towards, against, because, for, through, my 
these words designate types of conjunctive 
relation arranged in a roughly ascending order 
of intimacy and inclusiveness. A priori, we can 
imagine a universe of withness but no nextness; 
or one of nextness but no likeness, or of likeness 
with no activity, or of activity with no pur 
pose, or of purpose with no ego. These would 
be universes, each with its own grade of unity. 
The universe of human experience is, by one or 
another of its parts, of each and all these grades. 

1 [See "The Experience of Activity," below, pp. 155-189.] 
45 



^ 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Whether or not it possibly enjoys some still 
more absolute grade of union does not appear 
upon the surface. 

Taken as it does appear, our universe is to a 
large extent chaotic. No one single type of con 
nection runs through all the experiences that 
compose it. If we take space-relations, they 
fail to connect minds into any regular system. 
Causes and purposes obtain only among spe 
cial series of facts. The self-relation seems 
extremely limited and does not link two differ 
ent selves together. Prima facie, if you should 
liken the universe of absolute idealism to an 
aquarium, a crystal globe in which goldfish 
are swimming, you would have to compare the 
empiricist universe to something more like one 
of those dried human heads with which the 
Dyaks of Borneo deck their lodges. The skull 
forms a solid nucleus; but innumerable feath 
ers, leaves, strings, beads, and loose appen 
dices of every description float and dangle 
from it, and, save that they terminate in it, seem 
to have nothing to do with one another. Even 
so my experiences and yours float and dangle, 

46 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

terminating, it is true, in a nucleus of common 
perception, but for the most part out of sight 
and irrelevant and unimaginable to one an 
other. This imperfect intimacy, this bare re 
lation of wiihness between some parts of the 
sum total of experience and other parts, is the 
fact that ordinary empiricism over-emphasizes 
against rationalism, the latter always tending 
to ignore it unduly. Radical empiricism, on 
the contrary, is fair to both the unity and the 
disconnection. It finds no reason for treating 
either as illusory. It allots to each its definite 
sphere of description, and agrees that there 
appear to be actual forces at work which tend, 
as time goes on, to make the unity greater. 

The conjunctive relation that has given 
most trouble to philosophy is the co-conscious 
transition, so to call it, by which one experience 
passes into another when both belong to the 
same self. About the facts there is no ques 
tion. My experiences and your experiences are 
with each other in various external ways, but 
mine pass into mine, and yours pass into yours 
in a way in which yours and mine never pass 

47 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

into one another. Within each of our personal 
histories, subject, object, interest and purpose 
are continuous or may be continuous. 1 Personal 
histories are processes of change in time, and 
the change itself is one of the things immediately 
experienced. Change in this case means con 
tinuous as opposed to discontinuous transi 
tion. But continuous transition is one sort of a . 
conjunctive relation; and to be a radical em 
piricist means to hold fast to this conjunctive 
relation of all others, for this is the strategic 
point, the position through which, if a hole be 
made, all the corruptions of dialectics and all 
the metaphysical fictions pour into our philo 
sophy. The holding fast to this relation means 
taking it at its face value, neither less nor more ; 
and to take it at its face value means first of 
all to take it just as we feel it, and not to con 
fuse ourselves with abstract talk about it, in 
volving words that drive us to invent second 
ary conceptions in order to neutralize their 

1 The psychology books have of late described the facts here with 
approximate adequacy. I may refer to the chapters on The Stream of 
Thought and on the Self in my own Principles of Psychology, as well 
as to S. H. Hodgson s Metaphysic of Experience, vol. I, ch. vn and vui. 

48 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

suggestions and to make our actual experience 
again seem rationally possible. 
^ What I do feel simply when a later moment 
of my experience succeeds an earlier one is that 
though they are two moments, the transition 
from the one to the other is continuous.? Con 
tinuity here is a definite sort of experience; just 
as definite as is the discontinuity-experience 
which I find it impossible to avoid when I seek 
to make the transition from an experience of 
my own to one of yours. In this latter case I ^ 

have to get on and off again, to pass from a W" 
thing lived to another thing only conceived, 
and the break is positively experienced and 
noted. Though the functions exerted by my 
experience and by yours may be the same (e. g., 
the same objects known and the same purposes 
followed), yet the sameness has in this case to 
be ascertained expressly (and often with diffi 
culty and uncertainty) after the break has been 
felt; whereas in passing from one of my own 
moments to another the sameness of object and 
interest is unbroken, and both the earlier and 
the later experience are of things directly lived. 

49 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

There is no other nature, no other whatness 
than this absence of break and this sense of 
continuity in that most intimate of all conjunc 
tive relations, the passing of one experience 
into another when they belong to the same self. 
And this whatness is real empirical content, 
just as the whatness of separation and discon 
tinuity is real content in the contrasted case. 
Practically to experience one s personal contin 
uum in this living way is to know the originals 
of the ideas of continuity and of sameness, to 
know what the words stand for concretely, to 
own all that they can ever mean. But all expe 
riences have their conditions; and over-subtle 
intellects, thinking about the facts here, and 
asking how they are possible, have ended by 
substituting a lot of static objects of con 
ception for the direct perceptual experiences. 
"Sameness," they have said, "must be a stark 
numerical identity; it can t run on from next to 
next. Continuity can t mean mere absence of 
gap; for if you say two things are in immediate 
contact, at the contact how can they be two? 
If, on the other hand, you put a relation of 

50 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

transition between them, that itself is a third 
thing, and needs to be related or hitched to its 
terms. An infinite series is involved," and so 
on. The result is that from difficulty to diffi 
culty, the plain conjunctive experience has 
been discredited by both schools, the empiri 
cists leaving things permanently disjoined, and 
the rationalist remedying the looseness by their 
Absolutes or Substances, or whatever other fic 
titious agencies of union they may have em 
ployed. 1 From all which artificiality we can 
be saved by a couple of simple reflections : first, 
that conjunctions and separations are, at all 
events, co-ordinate phenomena which, if we 
take experiences at their face value, must be 
accounted equally real; and second, that if we 
insist on treating things as really separate 
when they are given as continuously joined 
invoking, when union is required, transcen 
dental principles to overcome the separateness 
we have assumed, then we ought to stand 
ready to perform the converse act. We ought 
to invoke higher principles of disunion, also, to 

1 [See "The Thing and its Relations," below, pp. 92-122.] 
51 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

make our merely experienced disjunctions more 
truly real. Failing thus, we ought to let the 
originally given continuities stand on their own 
bottom. We have no right to be lopsided or to 
blow capriciously hot and cold. 

III. THE COGNITIVE RELATION 

The first great pitfall from which such a radi 
cal standing by experience will save us is an 
artificial conception of the relations between 
knower and known. Throughout the history of 
philosophy the subject and its object have been 
treated as absolutely discontinuous entities; 
and thereupon the presence of the latter to the 
former, or the apprehension by the former of 
the latter, has assumed a paradoxical charac 
ter which all sorts of theories had to be in 
vented to overcome. Representative theories 
put a mental representation/ image/ or 
* content into the gap, as a sort of inter 
mediary. Common-sense theories left the gap 
untouched, declaring our mind able to clear 
it by a self -transcending leap. Transcenden- 

talist theories left it impossible to traverse by 

52 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

finite knowers, and brought an Absolute in to 
perform the saltatory act. All the while, in 
the very bosom of the finite experience, every 
conjunction required to make the relation in 
telligible is given in full. Either the knower 
and the known are: 

(1) the self-same piece of experience taken 
twice over in different contexts; or they are 

(2) two pieces of actual experience belong 
ing to the same subject, with definite tracts of 
conjunctive transitional experience between 
them; or 

(3) the known is a possible experience either 
of that subject or another, to which the said 
conjunctive transitions would lead, if suffi 
ciently prolonged. 

To discuss all the ways in which one ex 
perience may function as the knower of an 
other, would be incompatible with the limits 
of this essay. 1 I have just treated of type 1, the 

1 For brevity s sake I altogether omit mention of the type con 
stituted by knowledge of the truth of general propositions. This type 
has been thoroughly and, so far as I can see, satisfactorily, elucidated 
in Dewey s Studies in Logical Theory. Such propositions are reducible 
to the S-is-P form; and the terminus that verifies and fulfils is the 
SP in combination. Of course percepts may be involved in the medi- 

53 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

kind of knowledge called perception. 1 This is 
the type of case in which the mind enjoys di 
rect acquaintance with a present object. In 
the other types the mind has knowledge- 
about an object not immediately there. Of 
type 2, the simplest sort of conceptual know 
ledge, I have given some account in two 
[earlier] articles. 2 Type 3 can always formally 
and hypothetically be reduced to type 2, so 
that a brief description of that type will put 
the present reader sufficiently at my point 
of view, and make him see what the actual 
meanings of the mysterious cognitive relation 
may be. 

Suppose me to be sitting here in my library 

ating experiences, or in the satisfactoriness of the P in its new 
position. 

1 [See above, pp. 9-15.] 

2 ["On the Function of Cognition," Mind, vol. x, 1885, and "The 
Knowing of Things Together," Psychological Review, vol. n, 1895. 
These articles are reprinted, the former in full, the latter in part, in The 
Meaning of Truth, pp. 1-50. ED.] These articles and their doctrine, 
unnoticed apparently by any one else, have lately gained favorable com 
ment from Professor Strong. [" A Naturalistic Theory of the Refer 
ence of Thought to Reality," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. i, 1904.] Dr. Dickinson S. Miller has independ 
ently thought out the same results ["The Meaning of Truth and Error," 
Philosophical Review, vol. n, 1893; "The Confusion of Function and 
Content in Mental Analysis," Psychological Review, vol. n, 1895], 
which Strong accordingly dubs the James-Miller theory of cognition. 

54 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

at Cambridge, at ten minutes walk from 
Memorial Hall, and to be thinking truly of 
the latter object. My mind may have before 
it only the name, or it may have a clear image, 
or it may have a very dim image of the hall, but 
such intrinsic differences in the image make no 
difference in its cognitive function. Certain 
extrinsic phenomena, special experiences of 
conjunction, are what impart to the image, be 
it what it may, its knowing office. 

For instance, if you ask me what hall I mean 
by my image, and I can tell you nothing; or if I 
fail to point or lead you towards the Harvard 
Delta; or if, being led by you, I am uncertain 
whether the Hall I see be what I had in mind 
or not; you would rightly deny that I had 
meant that particular hall at all, even though 
my mental image might to some degree have 
resembled it. The resemblance would count in 
that case as coincidental merely, for all sorts 
of things of a kind resemble one another in this 
world without being held for that reason to 
take cognizance of one another. 

On the other hand, if I can lead you to the 
55 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

hall, and tell you of its history and present 
uses; if in its presence I feel my idea, however 
imperfect it may have been, to have led hither 
and to be now terminated; if the associates of 
the image and of the felt hall run parallel, so 
that each term of the one context corresponds 
serially, as I walk, with an answering term of 
the others; why then my soul was prophetic, 
and my idea must be, and by common consent 
would be, called cognizant of reality. That per 
cept was what I meant, for into it my idea has 
passed by conjunctive experiences of sameness 
and fulfilled intention. Nowhere is there jar, 
but every later moment continues and corrobo 
rates an earlier one. 

rin this continuing and corroborating, taken 
in no transcendental sense, but denoting de 
finitely felt transitions, lies all that the knowing 
of a percept by an idea can possibly contain or 
signify. Wherever such transitions are felt, the 
first experience knows the last one. Where they 
do not, or where even as possibles they can not, 
intervene, there can be no pretence of knowing. 
In this latter case the extremes will be con- 

56 



i 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

nected, if connected at all, by inferior relations 
bare likeness or succession, or by withness 
alone. Knowledge of sensible realities thus 
comes to life inside the tissue of experience. It J 
is made ; and made by relations that unrol 1 
themselves in time. Whenever certain inter 
mediaries are given, such that, as they develop 
towards their terminus, there is experience 
from point to point of one direction followed, 
and finally of one process fulfilled, the result^ 
is that their starting-point thereby becomes a 
knower and their terminus an object meant or 
known. That is all that knowing (in the sim 
ple case considered) can be known-as, that is 
the whole of its nature, put into experiential 
terms. Whenever such is the sequence of our 
experiences we may freely say that we had the 
terminal object in mind from the outset, even 
although at the outset nothing was there in us 
but a flat piece of substantive experience like 
any other, with no self -transcendency about it, 
and no mystery save the mystery of coming 
into existence and of being gradually followed 
by other pieces of substantive experience, with 

57 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

conjunctively transitional experiences between. 
That is what we mean here by the object s 
being in mind. Of any deeper more real way 
of being in mind we have no positive concep 
tion, and we have no right to discredit our 
actual experience by talking of such a way 
at all. 

I know that many a reader will rebel at this. 
"Mere intermediaries," he will say, "even 
though they be feelings of continuously grow 
ing fulfilment, only separate the knower from 
the known, whereas what we have in knowledge 
is a kind of immediate touch of the one by the 
other, an * apprehension in the etymological 
sense of the word, a leaping of the chasm as by 
lightning, an act by which two terms are smit 
ten into one, over the head of their distinct 
ness. All these dead intermediaries of yours 
are out of each other, and outside of their 
termini still." 

But do not such dialectic difficulties remind 
us of the dog dropping his bone and snapping 
at its image in the water? If we knew any more 
real kind of union aliunde, we might be entitled 

58 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

to brand all our empirical unions as a sham. 
But unions by continuous transition are the 
only ones we know of, whether in this matter 
of a knowledge-about that terminates in an 
acquaintance, whether in personal identity, hi 
logical predication through the copula is/ or 
elsewhere. If anywhere there were more" ab 
solute unions realized, they could only reveal 
themselves to us by just such conjunctive 
results. These are what the unions are worth, 
these are all that we can ever practically mean 
by union, by continuity. Is it not time to 
repeat what Lotze said of substances, that to 
act like one is to be one ? 1 Should we not say 
here that to be experienced as continuous is to 
be really continuous, in a world where experi 
ence and reality come to the same thing ? In 
a picture gallery a painted hook will serve to 
hang a painted chain by, a painted cable will 
hold a painted ship. In a world where both the 
terms and their distinctions are affairs of ex 
perience, conjunctions that are experienced 
must be at least as real as anything else. They 

1 [Cf. H. Lotze: MdaphysiJc. 37-39, 97. 98, 243.] 
59 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

will be * absolutely real conjunctions, if we have 
no transphenomenal Absolute ready, to dereal- 
ize the whole experienced world by, at a stroke. 
If, on the other hand, we had such an Absolute, 
not one of our opponents theories of knowl 
edge could remain standing any better than 
ours could; for the distinctions as well as the 
conjunctions of experience would impartially 
fall its prey. The whole question of how one* 
thing can know another would cease to be a 
real one at all in a world where otherness itself 
was an illusion. 1 

So much for the essentials of the cognitive 
relation, where the knowledge is conceptual in 
type, or forms knowledge about an object. It 
consists in intermediary experiences (possible, 
if not actual) of continuously developing pro 
gress, and, finally, of fulfilment, when the sen 
sible percept, which is the object, is reached. 
The percept here not only verifies the concept, 
proves its function of knowing that percept to 

1 Mr. Bradley, not professing to know his absolute aliunde, never 
theless derealizes Experience by alleging it to be everywhere infected 
with self-contradiction. His arguments seem almost purely verbal, 
but this is no place for arguing that point out. [Cf. F. H. Bradley; 
Appearance and Reality, passim; and below, pp. 106-122.] 

60 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

be true, but the percept s existence as the 
terminus of the chain of intermediaries creates 
the function. Whatever terminates that chain 
was, because it now proves itself to be, what 
the concept "had in mind. 

The towering importance for human life of 
this kind of knowing lies in the fact that an 
experience that knows another can figure as 
its representative, not in any quasi-miraculous 
epistemological sense, but in the definite 
practical sense of being its substitute in various 
operations, sometimes physical and sometimes 
mental, which lead us to its associates and re 
sults. By experimenting on our ideas of reality, 
we may save ourselves the trouble of experi 
menting on the real experiences which they 
severally mean. The ideas form related sys 
tems, corresponding point for point to the sys 
tems which the realities form; and by letting an 
ideal term call up its associates systematically, 
we may be led to a terminus which the corre 
sponding real term would have led to in case 
we had operated on the real world. And this 
brings us to the general question of substitution. 

61 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

IV. SUBSTITUTION 

In Taine s brilliant book on Intelligence/ 
substitution was for the first time named as 
a cardinal logical function, though of course 
the facts had always been familiar enough. 
What, exactly, in a system of experiences, does 
the substitution of one of them for another 
mean? 

According to my view, experience as a whole 
is a process in time, whereby innumerable 
particular terms lapse and are superseded by 
others that follow upon them by transitions 
which, whether disjunctive or conjunctive in 
content, are themselves experiences, and must 
in general be accounted at least as real as 
the terms which they relate. What the nature 
of the event called superseding signifies, de 
pends altogether on the kind of transition 
that obtains. Some experiences simply abolish 
their predecessors without continuing them 
in any way. Others are felt to increase or to 
enlarge their meaning, to carry out their pur 
pose, or to bring us nearer to their goal. They 

62 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

represent them, and may fulfil their function 
better than they fulfilled it themselves. But 
fulfil a function in a world of pure experience 
can be conceived and defined in only one pos 
sible way. In such a world transitions and 
arrivals (or terminations) are the only events 
that happen, though they happen by so many 
sorts of path. The only function that one ex 
perience can perform is to lead into another 
experience; and the only fulfilment we can 
speak of is the reaching of a certain experi- I 7\ 
enced end. When one experience leads to (6T 
can lead to) the same end as another, they 
agree in function. But the whole system of 
experiences as they are immediately given 
presents itself as a quasi-chaos through which 
one can pass out of an initial term in many 
directions and yet end in the same terminus, 
moving from next to next by a great many 
possible paths. 

I 

Either one of these paths might be a func 
tional substitute for another, and to follow one 
rather than another might on occasion be| 
an advantageous thing to do. As a matter of 

63 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

fact, and in a general way, the paths that 
run through conceptual experiences, that is, 
through thoughts or ideas that know the 
things in which they terminate, are highly ad 
vantageous paths to follow. Not only do they 
yield inconceivably rapid transitions; but, ow 
ing to the universal character l which they 
frequently possess, and to their capacity for 
association with one another in great systems, 
they outstrip the tardy consecutions of the 
things themselves, and sweep us on towards 
our ultimate termini in a far more labor-saving 
way than the following of trains of sensible 
perception ever could. Wonderful are the new 
cuts and the short-circuits which the thought- 
paths make. Most thought-paths, it is true, 
are substitutes for nothing actual; they end 
outside the real world altogether, in way 
ward fancies, Utopias, fictions or mistakes. But 
where they do re-enter reality and terminate 
therein, we substitute them always; and with 

1 Of which all that need be said in this essay is that it also can be 
conceived as functional, and defined in terms of transitions, or of the 
possibliity of such. [Cf. Principles of Psychology, vol. i, pp. 473-480, 
vol. ii, pp. 337-340; Pragmatism, p. 265; Some Problems of Philoso 
phy, pp. 63-74; Meaning of Truth, pp. 246-247, etc. ED.] 

64 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

these substitutes we pass the greater number 
of our hours. 

This is why I called our experiences, taken 
all together, a quasi-chaos. There is vastly 
more discontinuity in the sum total of experi 
ences than we commonly suppose. The objec 
tive nucleus of every man s experience, his own 
body, is, it is true, a continuous percept; and 
equally continuous as a percept (though we 
may be inattentive to it) is the material en 
vironment of that body, changing by gradual 
transition when the body moves. But the 
distant parts of the physical world are at all 
times absent from us, and form conceptual 
objects merely, into the perceptual reality of 
which our life inserts itself at points discrete 
and relatively rare. Round their several ob 
jective nuclei, partly shared and common and 
partly discrete, of the real physical world, in 
numerable thinkers, pursuing their several lines 
of physically true cogitation, trace paths that 
intersect one another only at discontinuous 
perceptual points, and the rest of the time are 
quite incongruent; and around all the nuclei 

65 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

of shared reality, as around the Dyak s head 
of my late metaphor, floats the vast cloud of 
experiences that are wholly subjective, that 
are non-substitutional, that find not even an 
eventual ending for themselves in the per 
ceptual world the mere day-dreams and 
joys and sufferings and wishes of the individ 
ual minds. These exist with one another, in 
deed, and with the objective nuclei, but out 
of them it is probable that to all eternity no 
interrelated system of any kind will ever be 
made. 

This notion of the purely substitutional or 
conceptual physical world brings us to the most 
critical of all the steps in the development of 
a philosophy of pure experience. The paradox 
of self -transcendency in knowledge comes back 
upon us here, but I think that our notions of 
pure experience and of substitution, and our 
radically empirical view of conjunctive transi 
tions, are DenJcmittel that will carry us safely 
through the pass. 



66 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

V. WHAT OBJECTIVE REFERENCE Is. 

Whosoever feels his experience to be some 
thing substitutional even while he has it, may 
be said to have an experience that reaches 
beyond itself. From inside of its own entity it 
says more/ and postulates reality existing else 
where. For the transcendentalist, who holds 
knowing to consist in a salto mortale across an 
epistemological chasm, such an idea presents 
no difficulty; but it seems at first sight as if it 
might be inconsistent with an empiricism like 
our own. Have we not explained that con 
ceptual knowledge is made such wholly by the 
existence of things that fall outside of the 
knowing experience itself by intermediary 
experiences and by a terminus that fulfils ? 
Can the knowledge be there before these ele 
ments that constitute its being have come ? 
And, if knowledge be not there, how can ob 
jective reference occur ? 

The key to this difficulty lies in the distinc 
tion between knowing as verified and com 
pleted, and the same knowing as in transit 

67 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

and on its way. To recur to the Memorial 
Hall example lately used, it is only when our 
idea of the Hall has actually terminated in the 
percept that we know for certain that from 
the beginning it was truly cognitive of that. 
Until established by the end of the process, its 
quality of knowing that, or indeed of knowing 
anything, could still be doubted; and yet the 
knowing really was there, as the result now 
shows. We were virtual knowers of the Hall 
long before we were certified to have been its 
actual know^ers, by the percept s retroactive 
validating power. Just so we are mortal all 
the time, by reason of the virtuality of the 
inevitable event which will make us so when 
it shall have come. 

Now the immensely greater part of all our 
knowing never gets beyond this virtual stage. 
It never is completed or nailed down. I speak 
not merely of our ideas of imperceptibles like 
ether-waves or dissociated ions, or of ejects 
like the contents of our neighbors minds; I 
speak also of ideas which we might verify if we 
would take the trouble, but which we hold for 

68 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

true although unterminated perceptually, be 
cause nothing says no to us, and there is no 
contradicting truth in sight. To continue think 
ing unchallenged is, ninety-nine times out of a 
hundred, our practical substitute for knowing in 
the completed sense. As each experience runs by 
cognitive transition into the next one, and we 
nowhere feel a collision with what we elsewhere 
count as truth or fact, we commit ourselves to 
the current as if the port were sure. We live, 
as it were, upon the front edge of an advanc 
ing wave-crest, and our sense of a determinate 
direction in falling forward is all we cover of 
the future of our path. It is as if a differential 
quotient should be conscious and treat itself as 
an adequate substitute for a traced-out curve. 
Our experience, inter alia, is of variations of 
rate and of direction, and lives in these transi 
tions more than in the journey s end. The ex 
periences of tendency are sufficient to act upon 
what more could we have done at those 
moments even if the later verification comes 
complete ? 

This is what, as a radical empiricist, I say to 
69 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the charge that the objective reference which 
is so flagrant a character of our experiences in 
volves a chasm and a mortal leap. A positively 
conjunctive transition involves neither chasm 
nor leap. Being the very original of what we 
mean by continuity, it makes a continuum 
wherever it appears. I know full well that such 
brief words as these will leave the hardened 
transcendentalist unshaken. Conjunctive expe 
riences separate their terms, he will still say : they 
are third things interposed, that have them 
selves to be conjoined by new links, and to in 
voke them makes our trouble infinitely worse. 
To feel our motion forward is impossible. 
Motion implies terminus; and how can termi 
nus be felt before we have arrived? The barest 
start and sally forwards, the barest tendency 
to leave the instant, involves the chasm and 
the leap. Conjunctive transitions are the most 
superficial of appearances, illusions of our sensi 
bility which philosophical reflection pulverizes 
at a touch. Conception is our only trust 
worthy instrument, conception and the Abso 
lute working hand in hand. Conception dis- 

70 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

integrates experience utterly, but its disjunc 
tions are easily overcome again when the Abso 
lute takes up the task. 

Such transcendentalists I must leave, pro 
visionally at least, in full possession of their 
creed. 1 I have no space for polemics in this 
article, so I shall simply formulate the empiri 
cist doctrine as my hypothesis, leaving it to 
work or not work as it may. 

Objective reference, I say then, is an inci 
dent of the fact that so much of our experi 
ence comes as an insufficient and consists of 
process and transition. Our fields of experience 
have no more definite boundaries than have 
our fields of view. Both are fringed forever by 
a more that continuously develops, and that 
continuously supersedes them as life proceeds. 
The relations, generally speaking, are as real 
here as the terms are, and the only complaint 
of the transcendentalisms with which I could 
at all sympathize would be his charge that, by 
first making knowledge to consist in external 
relations as I have done, and by then confess- 

1 [Cf. below, pp. 93 ff.J 
71 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ing that nine-tenths of the time these are 
not actually but only virtually there, I have 
knocked the solid bottom out of the whole 
business, and palmed off a substitute of know 
ledge for the genuine thing. Only the admis 
sion, such a critic might say, that our ideas are 
self -transcendent and true already, in ad 
vance of the experiences that are to terminate 
them, can bring solidity back to knowledge 
in a world like this, in which transitions and 
terminations are only by exception fulfilled. 

This seems to me an excellent place for 
applying the pragmatic method. When a 
dispute arises, that method consists in augur 
ing what practical consequences would be 
different if one side rather than the other were 
true. If no difference can be thought of, the 
dispute is a quarrel over words. What then 
would the self -transcendency affirmed to exist 
in advance of all experiential mediation or 
termination, be known-as? What would it 
practically result in for us, were it true ? 

It could only result in our orientation, in the 
turning of our expectations and practical ten- 

72 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

dencies into the right path; and the right path 
here, so long as we and the object are not yet 
face to face (or can never get face to face, as in 
the case of ejects), would be the path that led 
us into the object s nearest neighborhood. 
Where direct acquaintance is lacking, know 
ledge about is the next best thing, and an 
acquaintance with what actually lies about the 
object, and is most closely related to it, puts 
such knowledge within our grasp. Ether-waves 
and your anger, for example, are things in 
which my thoughts will never perceptually ter 
minate, but my concepts of them lead me to 
their very brink, to the chromatic fringes and 
to the hurtful words and deeds which are their 
really next effects. 

Even if our ideas did in themselves carry the 
postulated self-transcendency, it would still 
remain true that their putting us into pos 
session of such effects would be the sole cash- 
value of the self-transcendency for us. And this 
cash-value, it is needless to say, is verbatim et 
literatim what our empiricist account pays in. 
On pragmatist principles therefore, a dispute 

73 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

over self-transcendency is a pure logomachy. 
Call our concepts of ejective things self- 
transcendent or the reverse, it makes no dif 
ference, so long as we don t differ about the 
nature of that exalted virtue s fruits fruits 
for us, of course, humanistic fruits. If an 
Absolute were proved to exist for other rea 
sons, it might well appear that his knowledge is 
terminated in innumerable cases where ours is 
still incomplete. That, however, would be a 
fact indifferent to our knowledge. The latter 
would grow neither worse nor better, whether 
we acknowledged such an Absolute or left him 
out. 

So the notion of a knowledge still in transitu 
and on its way joins hands here with that 
notion of a pure experience which I tried to 
explain in my [essay] entitled Does Con 
sciousness Exist? The instant field of the 
present is always experience in its pure state, 
plain unqualified actuality, a simple that, as yet 
undifferentiated into thing and thought, and 
only virtually classifiable as objective fact or as 
some one s opinion about fact. This is as true 

74 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

when the field is conceptual as when it is per 
ceptual. Memorial Hall is there in my idea 
as much as when I stand before it. I proceed to 
act on its account in either case. Only in the 
later experience that supersedes the present 
one is this naif immediacy retrospectively split 
into two parts, a consciousness and its con 
tent, and the content corrected or confirmed. 
While still pure, or present, any experience 
mine, for example, of what I write about in 
these very lines passes for truth. The 
morrow may reduce it to opinion. The trans- 
cendentalist in all his particular knowledges is 
as liable to this reduction as I am : his Absolute 
does not save him. Why, then, need he quarrel 
with an account of knowing that merely leaves 
it liable to this inevitable condition? Why in 
sist that knowing is a static relation out of 
time when it practically seems so much a func 
tion of our active life? For a thing to be valid, 
says Lotze, is the same as to make itself 
valid. When the whole universe seems only 
to be making itself valid and to be still incom 
plete (else why its ceaseless changing?) why, of 

75 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

all things, should knowing be exempt? Why 
should it not be making itself valid like every 
thing else? That some parts of it may be al 
ready valid or verified beyond dispute, the 
empirical philosopher, of course, like any one 
else, may always hope. 

VI. THE CONTERMINOUSNESS OF DIFFERENT MlNDS 1 

With transition and prospect thus enthroned 
in pure experience, it is impossible to sub 
scribe to the idealism of the English school. 
Radical empiricism has, in fact, more affini 
ties with natural realism than with the views 
of Berkeley or of Mill, and this can be easily 
shown. 

For the Berkeleyan school, ideas (the verbal 
equivalent of what I term experiences) are dis 
continuous. The content of each is wholly im 
manent, and there are no transitions with 
which they are consubstantial and through 
which their beings may unite. Your Memorial 
Hall and mine, even when both are percepts, 
are wholly out of connection with each other. 

1 [Cf. " How Two Minds Can Know One Thing," below, pp. 123-136.] 

76 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

Our lives are a congeries of solipsisms, out of * 
which in strict logic only a God could compose 
a universe even of discourse. No dynamic 
currents run between my objects and your 
objects. Never can our minds meet in the 
same. 

The incredibility of such a philosophy is 
flagrant. It is cold, strained, and unnatural 
in a supreme degree; and it may be doubted 
whether even Berkeley himself, who took it 
so religiously, really believed, when walking 
through the streets of London, that his spirit 
and the spirits of his fellow wayfarers had 
absolutely different towns in view. 

To me the decisive reason in favor of our 
minds meeting in some common objects at least 
is that, unless I make that supposition, I have 
no motive for assuming that your mind exists 
at all. Why do I postulate your mind ? Be 
cause I see your body acting in a certain way. 
Its gestures, facial movements, words and con 
duct generally, are * expressive, so I deem it 
actuated as my own is, by an inner life like 
mine. This argument from analogy is my rea- 

77 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

son, whether an instinctive belief runs before it 
or not. But what is your body here but a 
percept in my field ? It is only as animating 
that object, my object, that I have any occasion 
to think of you at all. If the body that you 
actuate be not the very body that I see there, 
but some duplicate body of your own with 
which that has nothing to do, we belong to 
different universes, you and I, and for me to 
speak of you is folly. Myriads of such uni 
verses even now may coexist, irrelevant to one 
another; my concern is solely with the universe 
with which my own life is connected. 

r - 

In that perceptual part of my universe which 
I call your body, your mind and my mind meet 
and may be called conterminous. Your mind 
actuates that body and mine sees it ; my 
thoughts pass into it as into their harmonious 
cognitive fulfilment ; your emotions and voli 
tions pass into it as causes into their effects. 

But that percept hangs together with all our 
other physical percepts. They are of one stuff 
with it; and if it be our common possession, 

they must be so likewise. For instance, your 

78 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

hand lays hold of one end of a rope and my 
hand lays hold of the other end. We pull 
against each other. Can our two hands be 
mutual objects in this experience, and the rope 
not be mutual also? What is true of the rope is 
true of any other percept. Your objects are 
over and over again the same as mine._y If I 
ask you where some object of yours is, our old 
Memorial Hall, for example, you point to my 
Memorial Hall with your hand which I see. If 
you alter an object in your world, put out a 
candle, for example, when I am present, my 
candle ipso facto goes out. It is only as altering 
my objects that I guess you to exist. If your 
objects do not coalesce with my objects, if they 
be not identically where mine are, they must 
be proved to be positively somewhere else. 
But no other location can be assigned for them, 
so their place must be what it seems to be, the 
same. 1 

Practically, then, our minds meet in a world 
of objects which they share in common, which 

1 The notion that our objects are inside of our respective heads is 
not seriously defensible, so I pass it by. 

79 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

would still be there, if one or several of the 
minds were destroyed.; I can see no formal 
objection to this supposition s being literally 
true. On the principles which I am defending, 
a mind or personal consciousness is the 
name for a series of experiences run together by 
certain definite transitions, and an objective 
reality is a series of similar experiences knit by 
different transitions. If one and the same ex 
perience can figure twice, once in a mental and 
once in a physical context (as I have tried, in 
my article on * Consciousness, to show that it 
can), one does not see why it might not figure 
thrice, or four times, or any number of times, 
by running into as many different mental con 
texts, just as the same point, lying at their 
intersection, can be continued into many dif 
ferent lines. Abolishing any number of con 
texts would not destroy the experience itself 
or its other contexts, any more than abolish 
ing some of the point s linear continuations 
would destroy the others, or destroy the point 
itself. 

I well know the subtle dialectic which insists 
80 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

that a term taken in another relation must 
needs be an intrinsically different term. The 
crux is always the old Greek one, that the same 
man can t be tall in relation to one neighbor, 
and short in relation to another, for that would 
make him tall and short at once. In this essay 
I can not stop to refute this dialectic, so I pass 
on, leaving my flank for the time exposed. 1 
But if my reader will only allow that the same 
now both ends his past and begins his future; 
or that, when he buys an acre of land from his 
neighbor, it is the same acre that successively 
figures in the two estates; or that when I pay 
him a dollar, the same dollar goes into his 
pocket that came out of mine; he will also in 
consistency have to allow that the same object 
may conceivably play a part in, as being re 
lated to the rest of, any number of otherwise 
entirely different minds. This is enough for 
my present point: the common-sense notion of 
minds sharing the same object offers no spe 
cial logical or epistemological difficulties of its j 
own; it stands or falls with the general possibil- 

1 [The argument is resumed below, pp. 101 sq. ED.] 
81 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ity of things being in conjunctive relation with 
other things at all. 

In principle, then, let natural realism pass 
for possible. Your mind and mine may termi 
nate in the same percept, not merely against it, 
as if it were a third external thing, but by in 
serting themselves into it and coalescing with 
it, for such is the sort of conjunctive union that 
appears to be experienced when a perceptual 
terminus fulfils. Even so, two hawsers may 
embrace the same pile, and yet neither one of 
them touch any other part except that pile, of 
what the other hawser is attached to. 

It is therefore not a formal question, but 
a question of empirical fact solely, whether, 
when you and I are said to know the same 
Memorial Hall, our minds do terminate at or in 
a numerically identical percept. Obviously, as 
a plain matter of fact, they do not. Apart from 
color-blindness and such possibilities, we see 
the Hall in different perspectives. You may be 
on one side of it and I on another. The percept 
of each of us, as he sees the surface of the Hall, 
is moreover only his provisional terminus. The 

82 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

next thing beyond my percept is not your 
mind, but more percepts of my own into which 
my first percept develops, the interior of the 
Hall, for instance, or the inner structure of its 
bricks and mortar. If our minds were in a 
literal sense conterminous, neither could get 
beyond the percept which they had in com 
mon, it would be an ultimate barrier between 
them unless indeed they flowed over it and 
became co-conscious over a still larger part 
of their content, which (thought-transference 
apart) is not supposed to be the case. In point 
of fact the ultimate common barrier can always 
be pushed, by both minds, farther than any 
actual percept of either, until at last it resolves 
itself into the mere notion of imperceptibles 
like atoms or ether, so that, where we do ter 
minate in percepts, our knowledge is only spe 
ciously completed, being, in theoretic strict 
ness, only a virtual knowledge of those remoter 
objects which conception carries out. 

Is natural realism, permissible in logic, re 
futed then by empirical fact ? Do our minds 
have no object in common after all ? 

83 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Yes, they certainly have Space in common. 
On pragmatic principles we are obliged to predi 
cate sameness wherever we can predicate no 
assignable point of difference. If two named 
things have every quality and function indis 
cernible, and are at the same time in the same 
place, they must be written down as numeri 
cally one thing under two different names. But 
there is no test discoverable, so far as I know, 
by which it can be shown that the place occu 
pied by your percept of Memorial Hall differs 
from the place occupied by mine. The per 
cepts themselves may be shown to differ; but 
if each of us be asked to point out where his 
percept is, we point to an identical spot. All 
the relations, whether geometrical or causal, of 
the Hall originate or terminate in that spot 
wherein our hands meet, and where each of us 
begins to work if he wishes to, make the Hall 
change before the other s eyes. Just so it is 
with our bodies. That body of yours which 
you actuate and feel from within must be in 
the same spot as the body of yours which I see 
or touch from without. There for me means 

84 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

where I place my finger. If you do not feel my 
finger s contact to be there in my sense, when 
I place it on your body, where then do you feel 
it? Your inner actuations of your body meet 
my finger there: it is there that you resist its 
push, or shrink back, or sweep the finger aside 
with your hand. Whatever farther knowledge 
either of us may acquire of the real constitu 
tion of the body which we thus feel, you from 
within and I from without, it is in that same 
place that the newly conceived or perceived 
constituents have to be located, and it is 
through that space that your and my mental 
intercourse with each other has always to be 
carried on, by the mediation of impressions 
which I convey thither, and of the reactions 
thence which those impressions may provoke 
from you. 

In general terms, then, whatever differing 
contents our minds may eventually fill a place 
with, the place itself is a numerically identical 
content of the two minds, a piece of common 
property in which, through which, and over 
which they join. The receptacle of certain of 

85 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

our experiences being thus common, the ex 
periences themselves might some day become 
common also. If that day ever did come, our 
thoughts would terminate in a complete empir 
ical identity, there would be an end, so far as 
those experiences went, to our discussions about 
truth. No points of difference appearing, they 
would have to count as the same. 

VII. CONCLUSION 

With this we have the outlines of a philo 
sophy of pure experience before us. At the out 
set of my essay, I called it a mosaic philosophy. 
In actual mosaics the pieces are held together 
by their bedding, for which bedding the Sub 
stances, transcendental Egos, or Absolutes of 
other philosophies may be taken to stand. In 
radical empiricism there is no bedding; it is as 
if the pieces clung together by their edges, the 
transitions experienced between them forming 
their cement. Of course such a metaphor is 
misleading, for in actual experience the more 
substantive and the more transitive parts run 
into each other continuously, there is in general 

86 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

no separateness needing to be overcome by an 
external cement; and whatever separateness 
is actually experienced is not overcome, it 
stays and counts as separateness to the end. 
But the metaphor serves to symbolize the fact 
that Experience itself, taken at large, can grow 
by its edges. That one moment of it pro 
liferates into the next by transitions which, 
whether conjunctive or disjunctive, continue 
the experiential tissue, can not, I contend, be 
denied. Life is in the transitions as much as in 
the terms connected; often, indeed, it seems to 
be there more emphatically, as if our spurts 
and sallies forward were the real firing-line of 
the battle, were like the thin line of flame ad 
vancing across the dry autumnal field which 
the farmer proceeds to burn. In this line we 
live prospectively as well as retrospectively. 
It is of the past, inasmuch as it comes ex 
pressly as the past s continuation; it is of the 
future in so far as the future, when it comes, 
will have continued it. 

These relations of continuous transition ex 
perienced are what make our experiences cog- 

87 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

nitive. In the simplest and completest cases 
the experiences are cognitive of one another. 
When one of them terminates a previous series 
of them with a sense of fulfilment, it, we say, 
is what those other experiences had in view. 
The knowledge, in such a case, is verified; the 
truth is "salted down. Mainly, however, we 
live on speculative investments, or on our pro 
spects only. But living on things in posse is 
as good as living in the actual, so long as our 
credit remains good. It is evident that for the 
most part it is good, and that the universe 
seldom protests our drafts. 

In this sense we at every moment can con 
tinue to believe in an existing beyond. It is 
only in special cases that our confident rush 
forward gets rebuked. The beyond must, of 
course, always in our philosophy be itself of an 
experiential nature. If not a future experience 
of our own or a present one of our neighbor, it 
must be a thing in itself in Dr. Prince s and 
Professor Strong s sense of the term that is, 
it must be an experience for itself whose rela 
tion to other things we translate into the action 

88 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

of molecules, ether-waves, or whatever else the 
physical symbols may be. 1 This opens the 
chapter of the relations of radical empiricism 
to panpsychism, into which I can not enter 
now. 2 

The beyond can in any case exist simultane 
ously for it can be experienced to have ex 
isted simultaneously with the experience 
that practically postulates it by looking in its 
direction, or by turning or changing in the 
direction of which it is the goal. Pending that 
actuality of union, in the virtuality of which 
the truth, even now, of the postulation con 
sists, the beyond and its knower are entities 
split off from each other. The world is in so far \ 
forth a pluralism of which the unity is not fully 
experienced as yet. But, as fast as verifications 
come, trains of experience, once separate, run 
into one another; and that is why I said, earlier 

1 Our minds and these ejective realities would still have space (or 
pseudo-space, as I believe Professor Strong calls the medium of inter 
action between things-in-themselves ) in common. These would 
exist where, and begin to act where, we locate the molecules, etc., and 
where we perceive the sensible phenomena explained thereby. [Cf. 
Morton Prince: The Nature of Mind, and Human Automatism, part I, 
ch. in, iv; C. A. Strong: Why the Mind Has a Body. ch. xii.] 

2 [Cf. below, p. 188; A Pluralistic Universe. Lect. iv-vn.] 

89 



ESS;AYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

in my article, that the unity of the world is on 
the whole undergoing increase. The universe 
continually grows in quantity by new experi 
ences that graft themselves upon the older 
mass; but these very new experiences often 
help the mass to a more consolidated form. 

These are the main features of a philosophy 
of pure experience. It has innumerable other 
aspects and arouses innumerable questions, 
but the points I have touched on seem enough 
to make an entering wedge. In my own mind 
such a philosophy harmonizes best with a radi 
cal pluralism, with novelty and indeterminism, 
moralism and theism, and with the human 
ism lately sprung upon us by the Oxford and 
the Chicago schools. 1 I can not, however, be 
sure that all these doctrines are its necessary 
and indispensable allies. It presents so many 
points of difference, both from the common 
sense and from the idealism that have made 
our philosophic language, that it is almost as 

1 I have said something of this latter alliance in an article entitled 
Humanism and Truth/ in Mind, October, 1904. [Reprinted in The 
Meaning of Truth, pp. 51-101. Cf. also "Humanism and Truth Once 
More," below, pp. 244-265.] 

90 



WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE 

difficult to state it as it is to think it out 
clearly, and if it is ever to grow into a respect 
able system, it will have to be built up by the 
contributions of many co-operating minds. It 
seems to me, as I said at the outset of this es 
say, that many minds are, in point of fact, now 
turning in a direction that points towards radi 
cal empiricism. If they are carried farther by 
my words, and if then they add their stronger 
voices to my feebler one, the publication of 
this essay will have been worth while. 



Ill 

THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS* 

EXPERIENCE in its immediacy seems per 
fectly fluent. The active sense of living which 
we all enjoy, before reflection shatters our in 
stinctive world for us, is self-luminous and sug 
gests no paradoxes. Its difficulties are disap 
pointments and uncertainties. They are not 
intellectual contradictions. 

When the reflective intellect gets at work, 
however, it discovers incomprehensibilities in 
the flowing process. Distinguishing its ele 
ments and parts, it gives them separate names, 
and what it thus disjoins it can not easily put 
together. Pyrrhonism accepts the irration 
ality and revels in its dialectic elaboration. 
Other philosophies try, some by ignoring, 
some by resisting, and some by turning the 
dialectic procedure against itself, negating its 
first negations, to restore the fluent sense of 

1 [Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. n, No. 2, January 19, 1905. Reprinted also 
as Appendix A in A Pluralistic Universe, pp. 347-369. The author s 
corrections have been adopted in the present text. ED.] 

92 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

life again, and let redemption take the place of 
innocence. The perfection with which any 
philosophy may do this is the measure of its 
human success and of its importance in philo 
sophic history. In [the last essay], A World 
of Pure Experience, 5 I tried my own hand 
sketchily at the problem, resisting certain 
first steps of dialectics by insisting in a general 
way that the immediately experienced con 
junctive relations are as real as anything else. 
If my sketch is not to appear too naif, I must 
come closer to details, and in the present essay 
I propose to do so. 



Pure experience is the name which I gave 
to the immediate flux of life which furnishes 
the material to "our later reflection with its 
conceptual categories. Only new-born babes, 
or men in semi-coma from sleep, drugs, ill 
nesses, or blows, may be assumed to have an 
experience pure in the literal sense of a that 
which is not yet any definite what, tho ready 
to be all sorts of whats; full both of oneness 

93 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

and of manyness, but in respects that don t 
appear; changing throughout, yet so confus 
edly that its phases interpenetrate and no 
points, either of distinction or of identity, 
can be caught. Pure experience in this state 
is but another name for feeling or sensation. 
But the flux of it no sooner comes than it 
tends to fill itself with emphases, and these 
salient parts become identified and fixed and 
abstracted; so that experience now flows as if 
shot through with adjectives and nouns and 
prepositions and conjunctions. Its purity is 
only a relative term, meaning the propor 
tional amount of unverbalized sensation which 
it still embodies. 

Far back as we go, the flux, both as a whole 
and in its parts, is that of things conjunct and 
separated. The great continua of time, space, 
and the self envelope everything, betwixt 
them, and flow together without interfering. 
The things that they envelope come as separate 
in some ways and as continuous in others. 
Some sensations coalesce with some ideas, and 
others are irreconcilable. Qualities compen- 

94 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

etrate one space, or exclude each other from it. 
They cling together persistently in groups that 
move as units, or else they separate. Their 
changes are abrupt or discontinuous; and their 
kinds resemble or differ; and, as they do so, 
they fall into either even or irregular series. 

In all this the continuities and the discon 
tinuities are absolutely co-ordinate matters of 
immediate feeling. The conjunctions are as 
primordial elements of fact as are the dis 
tinctions and disjunctions. In the same act by 
which I feel that this passing minute is a new 
pulse of my life, I feel that the old life con 
tinues into it, and the feeling of continuance in 
no wise jars upon the simultaneous feeling of a 
novelty. They, too, compenetrate harmoni 
ously. Prepositions, copulas, and conjunctions, 
is, is n t, then/ before, in, on, beside/ 
between, next/ like/ unlike/ as/ but/ 
flower out of the stream of pure experience, the 
stream of concretes or the sensational stream, 
as naturally as nouns and adjectives do, and 
they melt into it again as fluidly when we 
apply them to a new portion of the stream. 

95 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

II 

If now we ask why we must thus translate 
experience from a more concrete or pure into a 
more intellectualized form, filling it with ever 
more abounding conceptual distinctions, ra 
tionalism and naturalism give different replies. 

The rationalistic answer is that the theoretic 
life is absolute and its interests imperative; 
that to understand is simply the duty of man; 
and that who questions this need not be argued 
with, for by the fact of arguing he gives away 
his case. 

The naturalist answer is that the environ 
ment kills as well as sustains us, and that the 
tendency of raw experience to extinguish the 
experient himself is lessened just in the degree 
in which the elements in it that have a practi 
cal bearing upon life are analyzed out of the 
continuum and verbally fixed and coupled to 
gether, so that we may know what is in the 
wind for us and get ready to react in time. 
Had pure experience, the naturalist says, been 
always perfectly healthy, there would never 

96 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

have arisen the necessity of isolating or ver 
balizing any of its terms. We should just have 
experienced inarticulately and unintellectually 
enjoyed. This leaning on reaction in the 
naturalist account implies that, whenever we 
intellectualize a relatively pure experience, we 
ought to do so for the sake of redescending 
to the purer or more concrete level again; 
and that if an intellect stays aloft among its 
abstract terms and generalized relations, and 
does not reinsert itself with its conclusions into 
some particular point of the immediate stream 
of life, it fails to finish out its function and 
leaves its normal race unrun. 

Most rationalists nowadays will agree that 
naturalism gives a true enough account of the 
way in which our intellect arose at first, but 
they will deny these latter implications. The 
case, they will say, resembles that of sexual 
love. Originating in the animal need of getting 
another generation born, this passion has de 
veloped secondarily such imperious spiritual 
needs that, if you ask why another generation 
ought to be born at all, the answer is: Chiefly 

97 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

that love may go on. Just so with our intel 
lect: it originated as a practical means of serv 
ing life; but it has developed incidentally the 
function of understanding absolute truth; and 
life itself now seems to be given chiefly as a 
means by which that function may be prose 
cuted. But truth and the understanding of it 
lie among the abstracts and universals, so the 
intellect now carries on its higher business 
wholly in this region, without any need of 
redescending into pure experience again. 

If the contrasted tendencies which I thus 
designate as naturalistic and rationalistic are 
not recognized by the reader, perhaps an ex 
ample will make them more concrete. Mr. 
Bradley, for instance, is an ultra-rationalist. 
He admits that our intellect is primarily prac 
tical, but says that, for philosophers, the prac 
tical need is simply Truth. Truth, moreover, 
must be assumed consistent. Immediate ex 
perience has to be broken into subjects and 
qualities, terms and relations, to be understood 
as truth at all. Yet when so broken it is less 
consistent then ever. Taken raw, it is all un- 

98 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

distinguished. Intellectualized, it is all dis 
tinction without oneness. Such an arrange 
ment may work, but the theoretic problem is 
not solved. The question is how the diversity 
can exist in harmony with the oneness. To go 
back to pure experience is unavailing. Mere 
feeling gives no answer to our riddle. Even if 
your intuition is a fact, it is not an understand 
ing. It is a mere experience, and furnishes 
no consistent view. The experience offered as 
facts or truths I find that my intellect rejects 
because they contradict themselves. They 
offer a complex of diversities conjoined in a 
way which it feels is not its way and which it 
can not repeat as its own. . . . For to be satis 
fied, my intellect must understand, and it can 
not understand by taking a congeries in the 
lump. * So Mr. Bradley, in the sole interests 
of understanding (as he conceives that func 
tion), turns his back on finite experience for 
ever. Truth must lie in the opposite direction, 
the direction of the Absolute; and this kind of 

1 [F. H. Bradley: Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 
152-153, 23, 118, 104, 108-109, 570.] 

99 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

rationalism and naturalism, or (as I will now 
call it) pragmatism, walk thenceforward upon 
opposite paths. For the one, those intellectual 
products are most true which, turning their 
face towards the Absolute, come nearest to 
symbolizing its ways of uniting the many and 
the one. For the other, those are most true 
which most successfully dip back into the 
finite stream of feeling and grow most easily 
confluent with some particular wave or wave 
let. Such confluence not only proves the in 
tellectual operation to have been true (as an 
addition may prove that a subtraction is 
already rightly performed), but it constitutes, 
according to pragmatism, all that we mean by 
calling it true. Only in so far as they lead us, 
successfully or unsuccessfully, back into sen 
sible experience again, are our abstracts and 
universals true or false at all. 1 



Ill 

In Section VI of [the last essay], I adopted 

1 Compare Professor MacLennan s admirable Auseinandersetzung 
with Mr. Bradley, in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. I, [1904], pp. 403 ff., especially pp. 405-407. 

100 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

in a general way the common-sense belief that 
one and the same world is cognized by our 
different minds; but I left undiscussed the 
dialectical arguments which maintain that 
this is logically absurd. The usual reason 
given for its being absurd is that it assumes 
one object (to wit, the world) to stand in two 
relations at once; to my mind, namely, and 
again to yours; whereas a term taken in a 
second relation can not logically be the same 
term which it was at first. 

I have heard this reason urged so often in 
discussing with absolutists, and it would de 
stroy my radical empiricism so utterly, if it 
were valid, that I am bound to give it an atten 
tive ear, and seriously to search its strength. 

For instance, let the matter in dispute be 
term If, asserted to be on the one hand related 
to L 9 and on the other to N; and let the two 
cases of relation be symbolized by L M and 
M N respectively. When, now, I assume 
that the experience may immediately come 
and be given in the shape L M N, with 
no trace of doubling or internal fission in the 

101 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

M, I am told that this is all a popular delusion; 
that L M N logically means two differ 
ent experiences, L M and M N, namely; 
and that although the Absolute may, and in 
deed must, from its superior point of view, 
read its own kind of unity into M s two edi 
tions, yet as elements in finite experience the 
two M s lie irretrievably asunder, and the 
world between them is broken and unbridged. 
In arguing this dialectic thesis, one must 
avoid slipping from the logical into the physi 
cal point of view. It would be easy, in taking 
a concrete example to fix one s ideas by, to 
choose one in which the letter M should stand 
for a collective noun of some sort, which noun, 
being related to L by one of its parts and to 
N by another, would inwardly be two things 
when it stood outwardly in both relations. 
Thus, one might say: David Hume, who 
weighed so many stone by his body, influences 
posterity by his doctrine. The body and the 
doctrine are two things, between which our 
finite minds can discover no real sameness, 
though the same name covers both of them. 

102 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

And then, one might continue: Only an Abso 
lute is capable of uniting such a non-identity. 
We must, I say, avoid this sort of example, for 
the dialectic insight, if true at all, must apply 
to terms and relations universally. It must be 
true of abstract units as well as of nouns col 
lective; and if we prove it by concrete examples 
we must take the simplest, so as to avoid 
irrelevant material suggestions. 

Taken thus in all its generality, the abso 
lutist contention seems to use as its major 
premise Hume s notion that all our distinct 
perceptions are distinct existences, and that 
the mind never perceives any real connexion 
among distinct existences. 1 Undoubtedly, 
since we use two phrases in talking first about 
* M* s relation to L and then about M s rela 
tion to N, we must be having, or must have 
had, two distinct perceptions; and the rest 
would then seem to follow duly. But the start 
ing-point of the reasoning here seems to be the 
fact of the two phrases; and this suggests that 

1 [Hume: Treatise of Human Nature, Appendix, Selby-Bigge s 
edition, p. 636.] 

103 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the argument may be merely verbal. Can it be 
that the whole dialectic consists in attributing 
to the experience talked-about a constitution 
similar to that of the language in which we de 
scribe it? Must we assert the objective double- 
ness of the M merely because we have to name 
it twice over when we name its two relations ? 
Candidly, I can think of no other reason 
than this for the dialectic conclusion; l for, if 
we think, not of our words, but of any simple 
concrete matter which they may be held to 
signify, the experience itself belies the paradox 
asserted. We use indeed two separate concepts 
in analyzing our object, but we know them all 
the while to be but substitutional, and that the 
M in L M and the M in M N mean ( i. e.> 
are capable of leading to and terminating in) 
one self -same piece, M y of sensible experience. 
This persistent identity of certain units (or 
emphases, or points, or objects, or members 
call them what you will) of the experience- 
continuum, is just one of those conjunctive 

1 Technically, it seems classable as a fallacy of composition. A 
duality, predicable of the two wholes, L M and M N, is 
forthwith predicated of one of their parts, M. 

104> 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

features of it, on which I am obliged to insist 
so emphatically. 1 For samenesses are parts of 
experience s indefeasible structure. When I 
hear a bell-stroke and, as life flows on, its after 
image dies away, I still hark back to it as that 
same bell-stroke. When I see a thing M , with 
L to the left of it and N to the right of it, I see 
it as one M; and if you tell me I have had 
to take it twice, I reply that if I took it a 
thousand times I should still see it as a unit. 2 
Its unity is aboriginal, just as the multipli 
city of my successive takings is aboriginal. It 
comes unbroken as that M, as a singular which 
I encounter; they come broken, as those tak 
ings, as my plurality of operations. The unity 
and the separateness are strictly co-ordinate. I 
do not easily fathom why my opponents should 
find the separateness so much more easily un 
derstandable that they must needs infect the 
whole of finite experience with it, and relegate 

1 See above, pp. 42 ff. 

2 I may perhaps refer here to my Principles of Psychology, vol. I, 
pp. 459 ff. It really seems weird to have to argue (as I am forced 
now to do) for the notion that it is one sheet of paper (with its two 
surfaces and all that lies between) which is both under my pen and on 
the table while I write the claim that it is two sheets seems so 
brazen. Yet I sometimes suspect the absolutists of sincerity! 

105 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the unity (now taken as a bare postulate and 
no longer as a thing positively perceivable) to 
the region of the Absolute s mysteries. I do 
not easily fathom this, I say, for the said oppo 
nents are above mere verbal quibbling; yet all 
that I can catch in their talk is the substitu 
tion of what is true of certain words for what is 
true of what they signify. They stay with the 
words, not returning to the stream of life 
whence all the meaning of them came, and 
which is always ready to reabsorb them. 

IV 

For aught this argument proves, then, we 
may continue to believe that one thing can be 
known by many knowers. But the denial of 
one thing in many relations is but one applica 
tion of a still profounder dialectic difficulty. 
Man can t be good, said the sophists, for man is 
man and good is good; and Hegel 1 and Herbart 
in their day, more recently A. Spir, 2 and most 

1 [For the author s criticism of Hegel s view of relations, cf. 
Will to Believe, pp. 278-279. ED.] 

2 [Cf. A. Spir: Denken und Wirklichkeit, part I, bk. in, ch. IV 
(containing also account of Herbart). ED.] 

106 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

recently and elaborately of all, Mr. Bradley, 
informs us that a term can logically only be , 
a punctiform unit, and that not one of the 
conjunctive relations between things, which 
experience seems to yield, is rationally pos 
sible. 

Of course, if true, this cuts off radical empiri 
cism without even a shilling. Radical empiri 
cism takes conjunctive relations at their face 
value, holding them to be as real as the terms 
united by them. 1 The world it represents as a 
collection, some parts of which are conjunc 
tively and others disjunctively related. Two 
parts, themselves disjoined, may nevertheless 
hang together by intermediaries with which 
they are severally connected, and the whole 
world eventually may hang together similarly, 
inasmuch as some path of conjunctive transi 
tion by which to pass from one of its parts 
to another may always be discernible. Such 
determinately various hanging-together may 
be called concatenated union, to distinguish it 
from the through-and-through type of union, 

1 [See above, pp. 42, 49.] 
107 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

each in all and all in each (union of total 
conflux, as one might call it), which monistic 
systems hold to obtain when things are taken 
in their absolute reality. In a concatenated 
world a partial conflux often is experienced. 
Our concepts and our sensations are confluent; 
successive states of the same ego, and feelings 
of the same body are confluent. Where the 
experience is not of conflux, it may be of 
conterminousness (things with but one thing 
between); or of contiguousness (nothing be 
tween); or of likeness; or of nearness; or of 
simultaneousness; or of in-ness; or of on-ness; 
or of for-ness; or of simple with-ness; or even of 
mere and-ness, which last relation would make 
of however disjointed a world otherwise, at any 
rate for that occasion a universe of discourse. 
r Now Mr. Bradley tells us that none of these 
relations, as we actually experience them, can 
possibly be real. 1 My next duty, accordingly, 

1 Here again the reader must beware of slipping from logical into 
phenomenal considerations. It may well be that we attribute a certain 
relation falsely, because the circumstances of the case, being complex, 
have deceived us. At a railway station we may take our own train, 
and not the one that fills our window, to be moving. We here put 
motion in the wrong place in the world, but in its original place the 

108 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

must be to rescue radical empiricism from Mr. 
Bradley. Fortunately, as it seems to me, his 
general contention, that the very notion of re 
lation is unthinkable clearly, has been success 
fully met by many critics. 1 

It is a burden to the flesh, and an injustice 
both to readers and to the previous writers, to 
repeat good arguments already printed. So, in 
noticing Mr. Bradley, I will confine myself to 
the interests of radical empiricism solely. 



The first duty of radical empiricism, taking 
given conjunctions at their face-value, is to 
class some of them as more intimate and some 
as more external. When two terms are simi 
lar, their very natures enter into the relation. 

motion is a part of reality. What Mr. Bradley means is nothing like 
this, but rather that such things as motion are nowhere real, and 
that, even in their aboriginal and empirically incorrigible seats, rela 
tions are impossible of comprehension. 

1 Particularly so by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, in his Man and 
the Cosmos; by L. T. Hobhouse, in chapter xn ("The Validity of 
Judgment ") of his Theory of Knowledge; and by F. C. S. Schiller, in his 
Humanism, essay xi. Other fatal reviews (in my opinion) are Hod- 
der s, in the Psychological Review, vol. i, [1894], p. 307; Stout s in the 
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1901-2, p. 1; and MacLennan s 
in [The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, 
vol. i, 1904, p. 403]. 

109 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Being what they are, no matter where or when, 
the likeness never can be denied, if asserted. 
It continues predicable as long as the terms 
continue. Other relations, the where and the 
when, for example, seem adventitious. The 
sheet of paper may be off or on the table, 
for example; and in either case the relation \ 
involves only the outside of its terms. Having 
an outside, both of them, they contribute by it 
to the relation. It is external: the term s inner 
nature is irrelevant to it. Any book, any table, 
may fall into the relation, which is created pro 
hac vice, not by their existence, but by their 
casual situation. It is just because so many of 
the conjunctions of experience seem so external 
that a philosophy of pure experience must tend 
to pluralism in its ontology. So far as things 
have space-relations, for example, we are free 
to imagine them with different origins even. If 
they could get to be, and get into space at all, 
then they may have done so separately. Once 
there, however, they are additives to one an 
other, and, with no prejudice to their natures, 

all sorts of space-relations may supervene be- 

110 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

tween them. The question of how things could 
come to be anyhow, is wholly different from 
the question what their relations, once the 
being accomplished, may consist in. 

Mr. Bradley now affirms that such external 
relations as the space-relations which we here 
talk of must hold of entirely different subjects 
from those of which the absence of such rela 
tions might a moment previously have been 
plausibly asserted. Not only is the situation 
different when the book is on the table, but 
the book itself is different as a book, from what 
it was when it was off the table. 1 He admits 
that "such external relations seem possible 
and even existing. . . . That you do not alter 
what you compare or rearrange in space seems 
to common sense quite obvious, and that on 

1 Once more, don t slip from logical into physical situations. Of 
course, if the table be wet, it will moisten the book, or if it be slight 
enough and the book heavy enough, the book will break it down. But 
such collateral phenomena are not the point at issue. The point is 
whether the successive relations on* and not-on can rationally (not 
physically) hold of the same constant terms, abstractly taken. Pro 
fessor A. E. Taylor drops from logical into material considerations 
when he instances color-contrast as a proof that A, as contra 
distinguished from B, is not the same thing as mere A not in any way 
affected (Elements of Metaphysics, p. 145). Note the substitution, 
for related of the word affected, which begs the whole question. . 

Ill 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the other side there are as obvious difficulties 
does not occur to common sense at all. And I 
will begin by pointing out these difficulties. ... 
There is a relation in the result, and this rela 
tion, we hear, is to make no difference in its 
terms. But, if so, to what does it make a dif 
ference? [Does n t it make a difference to us on 
lookers, at least ?] and what is the meaning and 
sense of qualifying the terms by it? [Surely the 
meaning is to tell the truth about their relative 
position. 1 ] If,in short, it is external to theterms, v 
how can it possibly be true of them? [7s it the 
intimacy* suggested by the little word* of, here, 
which I have underscored, that is the root of Mr. 
Bradley s trouble?] . . . If the terms from their 
inner nature do not enter into the relation, v 
then, so far as they are concerned, they seem 
related for no reason at all. . . . Things are spa 
tially related, first in one way, and then be 
come related in another way, and yet in no 
way themselves are altered; for the relations, 
it is said, are but external. But I reply that, if 

1 But "is there any sense," asks Mr. Bradley, peevishly, on p. 579, 
"and if so, what sense in truth that is only outside and about* 
things? " Surely such a question may be left unanswered. 

112 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

so, I can not understand the leaving by the 
terms of one set of relations and their adop 
tion of another fresh set. The process and its 
result to the terms, if they contribute nothing 
to it [Surely they contribute to it all there is 
of it !] seem irrational throughout. [// * irra 
tional here means simply non-rational, or non- 
deduciblefrom the essence of either term singly, it 
is no reproach; if it means contradicting 9 such 
essence, Mr. Bradley should show wherein and 
how.} But, if they contribute any thing, . they 
must surely be affected internally. [Why so, 
if they contribute only their surface ? In such 
relations as on, afoot away, 9 between, next 9 
etc., only surfaces are in question.] ... If the 
terms contribute anything whatever, then the 
terms are affected [inwardly altered?] by the 
arrangement. . . . That for working purposes 
we treat, and do well to treat, some relations 
as external merely I do not deny, and that of 
course is not the question at issue here. That 
question is ... whether in the end and in 
principle a mere external relation [i. e., a rela 
tion which can change without forcing its terms 

113 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

to change their nature simultaneously] is possi 
ble and forced on us by the facts." 1 

Mr. Bradley next reverts to the antinomies 
of space, which, according to him, prove it to 
be unreal, although it appears as so prolific a 
medium of external relations; and he then con 
cludes that "Irrationality and externality can 
not be the last truth about things. Somewhere 
there must be a reason why this and that ap- 
pear together. And this reason and reality 
must reside in the whole from which terms and 
relations are abstractions, a whole in which 
their internal connection must lie, and out of 
which from the background appear those fresh 
results which never could have come from 
the premises." And he adds that "Where the 
whole is different, the terms that qualify and 
contribute to it must so far be different. . . . 
They are altered so far only [How far ? farther 
than externally, yet not through and through ?] 
but still they are altered. ... I must insist 
that in each case the terms are qualified by 
their whole [Qualified how ? Do their external 

* Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 575-576. 
114 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

relations, situations , dates, etc., changed as these 
are in the new whole, fail to qualify them far 9 
enough ?], and that in the second case there is a 
whole which differs both logically and psycho 
logically from the first whole; and I urge that 
in contributing to the change the terms so far 
are altered." 

Not merely the relations, then, but the terms 
are altered: und zwar so far. But just how 
far is the whole problem; and through-and- 
through would seem (in spite of Mr. Bradley s 
somewhat undecided utterances 1 ) to be the 

1 I say undecided, because, apart from the so far, which sounds 
terribly half-hearted, there are passages in these very pages in which 
Mr. Bradley admits the pluralistic thesis. Read, for example, what he 
says, on p. 578, of a billiard ball keeping its character unchanged, 
though, hi its change of place, its existence gets altered; or what he 
says, on p. 579, of the possibility that an abstract quality A, B, or C, 
in a thing, may throughout remain unchanged although the thing be 
altered; or his admission that in red-hairedness, both as analyzed out 
of a man and when given with the rest of him, there may be no 
change (p. 580). Why does he immediately add that for the pluralist 
to plead the non-mutation of such abstractions would be an ignoratio 
elenchi ? It is impossible to admit it to be such. The entire elenchus 
and inquest is just as to whether parts which you can abstract from 
existing wholes can also contribute to other wholes without changing 
their inner nature. If they can thus mould various wholes into new 
gestaltqualitaten, then it follows that the same elements are logically 
able to exist in different wholes [whether physically able would depend 
on additional hypotheses]; that partial changes are thinkable, and 
through-and-through change not a dialectic necessity; that monism 
is only an hypothesis; and that an additively constituted universe 

115 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

full Bradleyan answer. The * whole which he 
here treats as primary and determinative of 
each part s manner of contributing, simply 
musty when it alters, alter in its entirety. There 
must be total conflux of its parts, each into 
and through each other. The must appears 
here as a Machtspruch, as an ipse dixit of Mr. 
Bradley s absolutistically tempered under 
standing, for he candidly confesses that how 
the parts do differ as they contribute to differ 
ent wholes, is unknown to him. 1 

Although I have every wish to comprehend 
the authority by which Mr. Bradley s under 
standing speaks, his words leave me wholly 
unconverted. External relations stand with 
their withers all unwrung, and remain, for 
aught he proves to the contrary, not only 
practically workable, but also perfectly intelli 
gible factors of reality. 

is a rationally respectable hypothesis also. All the theses of radical 
empiricism, in short, follow. 
1 Op. cit. 3 pp. 577-579. 



116 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

VI 

Mr. Bradley s understanding shows the 
most extraordinary power of perceiving sepa 
rations and the most extraordinary impotence 
in comprehending conjunctions. One would 
naturally say "neither or both, but not so Mr. 
Bradley. When a common man analyzes cer 
tain whats from out the stream of experience, he 
understands their distinctness as thus isolated. 
But this does not prevent him from equally 
well understanding their combination with 
each other as originally experienced in the con 
crete, or their confluence with new sensible ex 
periences in which they recur as the same. 
Returning into the stream of sensible present 
ation, nouns and adjectives, and thats and ab 
stract whats, grow confluent again, and the 
word is names all these experiences of con 
junction. Mr. Bradley understands the isola 
tion of the abstracts, but to understand the 
combination is to him impossible. 1 "To under- 

1 So far as I catch his state of mind, it is somewhat like this : Book/ 
table, on how does the existence of these three abstract elements 
result in this book being livingly on this table. Why is n t the table on 

117 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

stand a complex AB," he says, "I must begin 
with A or B. And beginning, say with A, if I 
then merely find B 9 I have either lost A, or 
I have got beside A, [the word beside 9 seems 
here vital, as meaning a conjunction external* 
and therefore unintelligible] something else, and 
in neither case have I understood. 1 For my 
intellect can not simply unite a diversity, nor 
has it in itself any form or way of together 
ness, and you gain nothing if, beside A and 5, 
you offer me their conjunction in fact. For to 
my intellect that is no more than another ex 
ternal element. And facts/ once for all, are 
for my intellect not true unless they satisfy 
it. ... The intellect has in its nature no 
principle of mere togetherness." 2 

the book? Or why does n t the on* connect itself with another book, 
or something that is not a table? Must n t something in each of the 
three elements already determine the two others to it, so that they do 
not settle elsewhere or float vaguely? Must n t the whole fact be pre 
figured in each part, and exist dejure before it can exist de facto ? But, 
if so, in what can the jural existence consist, if not in a spiritual 
miniature of the whole fact s constitution actuating every partial 
factor as its purpose? But is this anything but the old metaphysical 
fallacy of looking behind a fact in ease for the ground of the fact, and 
finding it in the shape of the very same fact in posse? Somewhere we 
must leave off with a constitution behind which there is nothing. 

1 Apply this to the case of book-on-table ! W. J. 

2 Op. cit., pp. 570, 572. 

118 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

Of course Mr. Bradley has a right to define 
* intellect 5 as the power by which we perceive 
separations but not unions provided he 
give due notice to the reader. But why then 
claim that such a maimed and amputated 
power must reign supreme in philosophy, and 
accuse on its behoof the whole empirical 
world of irrationality? It is true that he else 
where attributes to the intellect a propritu 
motus of transition, but says that when he 
looks for these transitions in the detail of liv 
ing experience, he "is unable to verify such a 
solution. l 

Yet he never explains what the intellectual 
transitions would be like in case we had them. 
He only defines them negatively they are 
not spatial, temporal, predicative, or causal; 
or qualitatively or otherwise serial; or in any 
way relational as we naively trace relations, 
for relations separate terms, and need them 
selves to be hooked on ad infinitum. The near 
est approach he makes to describing a truly 
intellectual transition is where he speaks of 

1 Op. cii. t pp. 568, 569. 
119 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

A and B as being united, each from its own 
nature, in a whole which is the nature of both 
alike. l But this (which, pace Mr. Bradley, 
seems exquisitely analogous to taking a con 
geries in a lump, if not to swamping ) sug 
gests nothing but that conflux which pure 
experience so abundantly offers, as when 
space, white and sweet are confluent in 
a lump of sugar, or kinesthetic, dermal, and 
optical sensations confluent in my hand/ 2 
All that I can verify in the transitions which 
Mr. Bradley s intellect desiderates as its pro- 
prius motus is a reminiscence of these and 
other sensible conjunctions (especially space- 
conjunctions), but a reminiscence so vague 
that its originals are not recognized. Bradley 
in short repeats the fable of the dog, the bone, 
and its image in the water. With a world of 
particulars, given in loveliest union, in con 
junction definitely various, and variously de- 

1 Op. cit., p. 570. 

2 How meaningless is the contention that in such wholes (or in 
book-on-table, watch-in-pocket, etc.) the relation is an additional 
entity between the terms, needing itself to be related again to each! 
Both Bradley (op. cit., pp. 32-33) and Royce (The World and the 
Iiidividual, vol. I, p. 128) lovingly repeat this piece of profundity. 

120 



THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS 

finite, the how of which you understand as 
soon as you see the fact of them, 1 for there is 
no how except the constitution of the fact 
as given; with all this given him, I say, in pure 
experience, he asks for some ineffable union in 
the abstract instead, which, if he gained it, 
would only be a duplicate of what he has al 
ready in his full possession. Surely he abuses 
the privilege which society grants to all us 
philosophers, of being puzzle-headed. 

Polemic writing like this is odious; but with 
absolutism in possession in so many quarters, 
omission to defend my radical empiricism 
against its best known champion would count 
as either superficiality or inability. I have to 
conclude that its dialectic has not invalidated 
in the least degree the usual conjunctions by 
which the world, as experienced, hangs so va 
riously together. In particular it leaves an em 
pirical theory of knowledge 2 intact, and lets 
us continue to believe with common sense that 

1 The why and the whence* are entirely other questions, not 
under discussion, &a I understand Mr. Bradley. Not how experience 
gets itself born, but how it can be what it is after it is born, is the 
puzzle. 
/ kbove, p. 52. 

121 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

one object may be known, if we have any 
ground for thinking that it is known, to many 
knowers. 

In [the next essay] I shall return to this last 
supposition, which seems to me to offer other 
difficulties much harder for a philosophy of 
pure experience to deal with than any of 
absolutism s dialectic objections. 



IV 



HOW TWO MINDS CAN KNOW 
ONE THING 1 

IN [the essay] entitled Does Consciousness 
Exist? I have tried to show that when we call 
an experience conscious, that does not mean 
that it is suffused throughout with a peculiar 
modality of being ( psychic being) as stained 
glass may be suffused with light, but rather 
that it stands in certain determinate relations 
to other portions of experience extraneous to 
itself. These form one peculiar context for 
it; while, taken in another context of experi 
ences, we class it as a fact in the physical 
world. This pen, for example, is, in the first 
instance, a bald that, a datum, fact, phenom 
enon, content, or whatever other neutral or 
ambiguous name you may prefer to apply. I 
called it in that article a pure experience. To 
get classed either as a physical pen or as some 
one s percept of a pen, it must assume a func- 

1 [Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. 11, No. 7, March 30, 1905.] 

123 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

tion, and that can only happen in a more com 
plicated world. So far as in that world it is 
a stable feature, holds ink, marks paper and 
obeys the guidance of a hand, it is a physical 
pen. That is what we mean by being physi 
cal, in a pen. So far as it is instable, on the 
contrary, coming and going with the move 
ments of my eyes, altering with what I call my 
fancy, continuous with subsequent experiences 
of its having been (in the past tense), it is the 
percept of a pen in my mind. Those peculiar 
ities are what we mean by being conscious, 
in a pen. 

In Section VI of another [essay] 1 1 tried to 
show that the same that, the same numerically 
identical pen of pure experience, can enter 
simultaneously into many conscious contexts, 
or, in other words, be an object for many differ 
ent minds. I admitted that I had not space 
to treat of certain possible objections in that 
article; but in [the last essay] I took some of 
the objections up. At the end of that [essay] 
I said that still more formidable-sounding 

1 "A World of Pure Experience," above, pp. 39-91. 
124 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

objections remained; so, to leave my pure- 
experience theory in as strong a state as pos 
sible, I propose to consider those objections now. 

I 

The objections I previously tried to dispose 
of were purely logical or dialectical. No one 
identical term, whether physical or psychical, 
it had been said, could be the subject of two 
relations at once. This thesis I sought to prove 
unfounded. The objections that now confront 
us arise from the nature supposed to inhere in 
psychic facts specifically. Whatever may be 
the case with physical objects, a fact of con 
sciousness, it is alleged (and indeed very plau 
sibly), can not, without self-contradiction, be 
treated as a portion of two different minds,, 
and for the following reasons. 

In the physical world we make with impu 
nity the assumption that one and the same 
material object can figure in an indefinitely 
large number of different processes at once. 
When, for instance, a sheet of rubber is pulled 
at its four corners, a unit of rubber in the mid 
dle of the sheet is affected by all four of the 

125 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

pulls. It transmits them each, as if it pulled in 
four different ways at once itself. So, an air- 
particle or an ether-particle * compounds the 
different directions of movement imprinted on 
it without obliterating their several individuali 
ties. It delivers them distinct, on the contrary, 
at as many several receivers (ear, eye or what 
not) as may be tuned to that effect. The ap 
parent paradox of a distinctness like this sur 
viving in the midst of compounding is a thing 
which, I fancy, the analyses made by physi 
cists have by this time sufficiently cleared up. 

But if, on the strength of these analogies, one 
should ask: "Why, if two or more lines can run 
through one and the same geometrical point, 
or if two or more distinct processes of activ 
ity can run through one and the same physi 
cal thing so that it simultaneously plays a role 
in each and every process, might not two or 
more streams of personal consciousness include 
one and the same unit of experience so that it 
would simultaneously be a part of the experi 
ence of all the different minds?" one would be 
checked by thinking of a certain peculiarity by 

126 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

which phenomena of consciousness differ from 
physical things. 

While physical things, namely, are supposed 
to be permanent and to have their * states, a 
fact of consciousness exists but once and is a 
state. Its esse is sentiri; it is only so far as it is 
felt; and it is unambiguously and unequivo 
cally exactly what is felt. The hypothesis under 
consideration would, however, oblige it to be 
felt equivocally, felt now as part of my mind 
and again at the same time not as a part of my 
mind, but of yours (for my mind is not yours), 
and this would seem impossible without doub 
ling it into two distinct things, or, in other 
words, without reverting to the ordinary dual- 
istic philosophy of insulated minds each know 
ing its object representatively as a third thing, 
and that would be to give up the pure- 
experience scheme altogether. 

Can we see, then, any way in which a unit of 
pure experience might enter into and figure in 
two diverse streams of consciousness without 
turning itself into the two units which, on our 
hypothesis, it must not be ? 

127 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

II 

There is a way; and the first step towards it 
is to see more precisely how the unit enters into 
either one of the streams of consciousness 
alone. Just what, from being * pure/ does its 
becoming conscious once mean? 

It means, first, that new experiences have 
supervened; and, second, that they have 
borne a certain assignable relation to the unit 
supposed. Continue, if you please, to speak of 
the pure unit as the pen. So far as the pen s 
successors do but repeat the pen or, being 
different from it, are * energetically 1 related 
to it, it and they will form a group of stably 
existing physical things. So far, however, as 
its successors differ from it in another well- 
determined way, the pen will figure in their 
context, not as a physical, but as a mental fact. 
It will become a passing percept, my percept 
of that pen. What now is that decisive well- 
determined way? 

In the chapter on * The Self, in my Principles 

1 [For an explanation of this expression, see above, p. 32.] 
128 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

of Psychology, I explained the continuous iden 
tity of each personal consciousness as a name 
for the practical fact that new experiences 1 
come which look back on the old ones, find 
them warm/ and greet and appropriate them 
as mine/ These operations mean, when ana 
lyzed empirically, several tolerably definite 
things, viz. : 

1. That the new experience has past time for 
its content, and in that time a pen that was ; 

2. That warmth was also about the pen, 
in the sense of a group of feelings ( interest 
aroused, attention turned, eyes employed, 
etc.) that were closely connected with it and 
that now recur and evermore recur with un 
broken vividness, though from the pen of now, 
which may be only an image, all such vividness 
may have gone; 

3. That these feelings are the nucleus of me ; 

4. That whatever once was associated with 
them was, at least for that one moment, 
mine my implement if associated with 

1 I call them passing thoughts in the book the passage in point 
goes from pages 330 to 342 of vol. I. 

129 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

hand-feelings, my percept only, if only eye- 
feelings and attention-feelings were involved. 

The pen, realized in this retrospective way 
as my percept, thus figures as a fact of con 
scious life. But it does so only so far as ap 
propriation has occurred; and appropriation 
is part of the content of a later experience wholly 
additional to the originally pure pen. That 
pen, virtually both objective and subjective, is 
at its own moment actually and intrinsically 
neither. It has to be looked back upon and 
used, in order to be classed in either distinctive 
way. But its use, so called, is in the hands of 
the other experience, while it stands, through 
out the operation, passive and unchanged. 

If this pass muster as an intelligible account 
of how an experience originally pure can enter 
into one consciousness, the next question is as 
to how it might conceivably enter into two. 

Ill 

Obviously no new kind of condition would 
have to be supplied. All that we should have 
to postulate would be a second subsequent 

130 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

experience, collateral and contemporary with 
the first subsequent one, in which a similar act 
of appropriation should occur. The two acts 
would interfere neither with one another nor 
with the originally pure pen. It would sleep 
undisturbed in its own past, no matter how 
many such successors^ went through their sev 
eral appropriative acts. Each would know it 
as my percept, each would class it as a con 
scious fact. 

Nor need their so classing it interfere in the 
least with their classing it at the same time as 
a physical pen. Since the classing in both cases 
depends upon the taking of it in one group or 
another of associates, if the superseding experi 
ence were of wide enough span it could think 
the pen in both groups simultaneously, and yet 
distinguish the two groups. It would then see 
the whole situation conformably to what we 
call the representative theory of cognition, 
and that is what we all spontaneously do. As a 
man philosophizing popularly, I believe that 
what I see myself writing with is double I 
think it in its relations to physical nature, and 

131 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

also in its relations to my personal life; I see 
that it is in my mind, but that it also is a 
physical pen. 

The paradox of the same experience figuring 
in two consciousnesses seems thus no paradox 
at all. To be conscious means not simply to 
be, but to be reported, known, to have aware 
ness of one s being added to that being; and 
this is just what happens when the appropri- 
ative experience supervenes. The pen-experi 
ence in its original immediacy is not aware of 
itself, it simply is, and the second experience is 
required for what we call awareness of it to 
occur. 1 The difficulty of understanding what 
happens here is, therefore, not a logical diffi 
culty: there is no contradiction involved. It is 
an ontological difficulty rather. Experiences 
come on an enormous scale, and if we take 

1 Shadworth Hodgson has laid great stress on the fact that the 
minimum of consciousness demands two subfeelings, of which the 
second retrospects the first. (Cf. the section Analysis of Minima* in 
his Philosophy of Reflection, vol. i, p. 248; also the chapter entitled 
The Moment of Experience in his Metaphysic of Experience, vol. I, 
p. 34.) We live forward, but we understand backward is a phrase of 
Kierkegaard s which Hoff ding quotes. [ H. Hoffding : " A Philosophi 
cal Confession," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific 
Methods, vol. n, 1905, p. 86.] 

132 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

them all together, they come in a chaos of 
incommensurable relations that we can not 
straighten out. We have to abstract different 
groups of them, and handle these separately 
if we are to talk of them at all. But how the 
experiences ever get themselves made, or why 
their characters and relations are just such 
as appear, we can not begin to understand. 
Granting, however, that, by hook or crook, 
they can get themselves made, and can appear 
in the successions that I have so schematically 
described, then we have to confess that even 
although (as I began by quoting from the ad 
versary) a feeling only is as it is felt, there is 
still nothing absurd in the notion of its being 
felt in two different ways at once, as yours, 
namely, and as mine. It is, indeed, mine only 
as it is felt as mine, and yours only as it is 
felt as yours. But it is felt as neither by itself, 
but only when owned by our two several re 
membering experiences, just as one undivided 
estate is owned by several heirs. 



133 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

IV 

One word, now, before I close, about the 
corollaries of the views set forth. Since the 
acquisition of conscious quality on the part of 
an experience depends upon a context coming 
to it, it follows that the sum total of all experi 
ences, having no context, can not strictly be 
called conscious at all. It is a that, an Ab 
solute, a pure experience on an enormous 
scale, undifferentiated and undifferentiable 
into thought and thing. This the post-Kant 
ian idealists have always practically acknow 
ledged by calling their doctrine an Identitats- 
philosophie. The question of the Beseelung of 
the All of things ought not, then, even to be 
asked. No more ought the question of its truth 
to be asked, for truth is a relation inside of the 
sum total, obtaining between thoughts and 
something else, and thoughts, as we have seen, 
can only be contextual things. In these re 
spects the pure experiences of our philosophy 
are, in themselves considered, so many little 
absolutes, the philosophy of pure experience 

134 



TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING 

being only a more comminuted Identitatsphi- 
losophie. 1 

Meanwhile, a pure experience can be postu 
lated with any amount whatever of span or 
field. If it exert the retrospective and appro- 
priative function on any other piece of experi 
ence, the latter thereby enters into its own 
conscious stream. And in this operation time 
intervals make no essential difference. After 
sleeping, my retrospection is as perfect as it is 
between two successive waking moments of my 
time. Accordingly if, millions of years later, a 
similarly retrospective experience should any 
how come to birth, my present thought would 
form a genuine portion of its long-span con 
scious life. Form a portion, I say, but not in 
the sense that the two things could be enti- 
tatively or substantively one they cannot, 
for they are numerically discrete facts but 
only in the sense that the functions of my pre 
sent thought, its knowledge, its purpose, its 
content and consciousness/ in short, being 
inherited, would be continued practically 

1 [Cf. below, pp. 197, 202.J 
135 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

unchanged. Speculations like Fechner s, of an 
Earth-soul, of wider spans of consciousness 
enveloping narrower ones throughout the cos 
mos, are, therefore, philosophically quite in 
order, provided they distinguish the functional 
from the entitative point of view, and do not 
treat the minor consciousness under discussion 
as a kind of standing material of which the 
wider ones consist. 1 

1 [Cf . A Pluralistic Universe, Lect. iv, Concerning Fechner, and 
Lect, v, The Compounding of Consciousness. ] 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL 

FACTS IN A WORLD OF PURE 

EXPERIENCE 1 

COMMON sense and popular philosophy are as 
dualistic as it is possible to be. Thoughts, we 
all naturally think, are made of one kind of 
substance, and things of another. Conscious 
ness, flowing inside of us in the forms of con 
ception or judgment, or concentrating itself in 
the shape of passion or emotion, can be directly 
felt as the spiritual activity which it is, and 
known in contrast with the space-filling ob 
jective content which it envelopes and ac 
companies. In opposition to this dualistic 
philosophy, I tried, in [the first essay] to show 
that thoughts and things are absolutely homo 
geneous as to their material, and that their 
opposition is only one of relation and of func 
tion. There is no thought-stuff different from 
thing-stuff, I said; but the same identical piece 

1 [Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. n, No. 11, May 25, 1905.J 

137 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

of pure experience (which was the name 1 
gave to the materia prima of everything) can 
stand alternately for a fact of consciousness 
or for a physical reality, according as it is taken 
in one context or in another. For the right 
understanding of what follows, I shall have to 
presuppose that the reader will have read that 
[essay]. 1 

The commonest objection which the doc 
trine there laid down runs up against is drawn 
from the existence of our affections/ In our 
pleasures and pains, our loves and fears and 
angers, in the beauty, comicality, importance 
or preciousness of certain objects and situa 
tions, we have, I am told by many critics, a 
great realm of experience intuitively recog 
nized as spiritual, made, and felt to be made, 
of consciousness exclusively, and different in 
nature from the space-filling kind of being 
which is enjoyed by physical objects. In 
Section VII. of [the first essay], I treated of 
this class of experiences very inadequately, 

1 It will be still better if he shall have also read the [essay] entitled 
A World of Pure Experience/ which follows [the first] and develops 
its ideas still farther. 

138 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

because I had to be so brief. I now return to 
the subject, because I believe that, so far from 
invalidating my general thesis, these phenom 
ena, when properly analyzed, afford it powerful 
support. 

The central point of the pure-experience the 
ory is that outer and inner are names for 
two groups into which we sort experiences 
according to the way in which they act upon 
their neighbors. Any one content/ such as 
hard, let us say, can be assigned to either 
group. In the outer group it is strong, it acts 
energetically and aggressively. Here what 
ever is hard interferes with the space its neigh 
bors occupy. It dents them; is impenetrable 
by them; and we call the hardness then a phy 
sical hardness. In the mind, on the contrary, 
the hard thing is nowhere in particular, it 
dents nothing, it suffuses through its mental 
neighbors, as it were, and interpenetrates 
them. Taken in this group we call both it and 
them ideas or sensations ; and the basis of 
the two groups respectively is the different 
type of interrelation, the mutual impenetrabil- 

139 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ity, on the one hand, and the lack of physical 
interference and interaction, oh the other. 

That what in itself is one and the same 
entity should be able to function thus differ 
ently in different contexts is a natural conse 
quence of the extremely complex reticulations 
in which our experiences come. To her off 
spring a tigress is tender, but cruel to every 
other living thing both cruel and tender, 
therefore, at once. A mass in movement resists 
every force that operates contrariwise to its 
own direction, but to forces that pursue the 
same direction, or come in at right angles, it is 
absolutely inert. It is thus both energetic and 
inert; and the same is true (if you vary the 
associates properly) of every other piece of 
experience. It is only towards certain specific 
groups of associates that the physical energies, 
as we call them, of a content are put forth. In 
another group it may be quite inert. 

It is possible to imagine a universe of expe 
riences in which the only alternative between 
neighbors would be either physical interaction 
or complete inertness. In such a world the 

140 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

mental or the physical status of any piece of 
experience would be unequivocal. When act 
ive, it would figure in the physical, and when 
inactive, in the mental group. 

But the universe we live in is more chaotic 
than this, and there is room in it for the hybrid 
or ambiguous group of our affectional experi 
ences, of our emotions and appreciative per 
ceptions. In the paragraphs that follow I shall 
try to show: 

(1) That the popular notion that these ex 
periences are intuitively given as purely inner 
facts is hasty and erroneous; and 

(2) That their ambiguity illustrates beauti 
fully my central thesis that subjectivity and 
objectivity are affairs not of what an experi 
ence is aboriginally made of, but of its classi 
fication. Classifications depend on our tem 
porary purposes. For certain purposes it is 
convenient to take things in one set of rela 
tions, for other purposes in another set. In the 
two cases their contexts are apt to be different. 
In the case of our affectional experiences we 

have no permanent and steadfast purpose that 

141 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

obliges us to be consistent, so we find it easy to 
let them float ambiguously, sometimes class 
ing them with our feelings, sometimes with 
more physical realities, according to caprice 
or to the convenience of the moment. Thus 
would these experiences, so far from being 
, an obstacle to the pure experience philoso 
phy, serve as an excellent corroboration of its 
truth. 

First of all, then, it is a mistake to say, with 
the objectors whom I began by citing, that 
anger, love and fear are affections purely of the 

mind. That, to a great extent at any rate, they 
% 

are simultaneously affections of the body is 
proved by the whole literature of the James- 
Lange theory of emotion. 1 All our pains, 
moreover, are local, and we are always free to 
speak of them in objective as well as in sub 
jective terms. We can say that we are aware of 
a painful place, filling a certain bigness in our 
organism, or we can say that we are inwardly 
in a state 5 of pain. All our adjectives of 

1 [Cf. The Principles of Psychology, vol. n, ch. xxv; and "The 
Physical Basis of Emotion," The Psychological Review, vol. i, 1894, 
p. 516.] 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

worth are similarly ambiguous I instanced 
some of the ambiguities [in the first essay]. 1 
Is the preciousness of a diamond a quality of 
the gem? or is it a feeling in our mind? Practi 
cally we treat it as both or as either, accord 
ing to the temporary direction of our thought. 
Beauty, says Professor Santayana, is pleas 
ure objectified ; and in Sections 10 and 11 of 
his work, The Sense of Beauty, he treats in a 
masterly way of this equivocal realm. The 
various pleasures we receive from an object 
may count as * feelings when we take them 
singly, but when they combine in a total rich 
ness, we call the result the beauty of the 
object, and treat it as an outer attribute which 
our mind perceives. We discover beauty just as 
we discover the physical properties of things. 
Training is needed to make us expert in either 
line. Single sensations also may be ambiguous. 
Shall we say an ( agreeable degree of heat, or 
an agreeable feeling occasioned by the degree 
of heat? Either will do; and language would 
lose most of its esthetic and rhetorical value 

1 [See above, pp. 84, 35.] 
143 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

were we forbidden to project words primarily 
connoting our affections upon the objects by 
which the affections are aroused. The man 
is really hateful; the action really mean; the 
situation really tragic all in themselves and 
quite apart from our opinion. We even go so 
far as to talk of a weary road, a giddy height, a 
jocund morning or a sullen sky; and the term 
indefinite while usually applied only to our 
apprehensions, functions as a fundamental 
physical qualification of things in Spencer s 
Maw of evolution, and doubtless passes with 
most readers for all right. 

Psychologists, studying our perceptions of 
movement, have unearthed experiences in 
which movement is felt in general but not 
ascribed correctly to the body that really 
moves. Thus in optical vertigo, caused by 
unconscious movements of our eyes, both we 
and the external universe appear to be in a 
whirl. When clouds float by the moon, it is as 
if both clouds and moon and we ourselves 
shared in the motion. In the extraordinary 
case of amnesia of the Rev. Mr. Hanna, pub- 

144 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

lished by Sidis and Goodhart in their import 
ant work on Multiple Personality, we read that 
when the patient first recovered consciousness 
and "noticed an attendant walk across the 
room, he identified the movement with that of 
his own. He did not yet discriminate between 
his own movements and those outside him 
self." 1 Such experiences point to a primitive 
stage of perception in which discriminations 
afterwards needful have not yet been made. 
A piece of experience of a determinate sort 
is there, but there at first as a pure 5 fact. 
Motion originally simply is; only later is it 
confined to this thing or to that. Something 
like this is true of every experience, however 
complex, at the moment of its actual presence. 
Let the reader arrest himself in the act of read 
ing this article now. Now this is a pure experi 
ence, a phenomenon, or datum, a mere that or 
content of fact. Reading* simply is, is there; 
and whether there for some one s conscious 
ness, or there for physical nature, is a question 
not yet put. At the moment, it is there for 

1 Page 102. 
145 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

neither; later we shall probably judge it to 
have been there for both. 

With the affectional experiences which we 
are considering, the relatively pure condi 
tion lasts. In practical life no urgent need has 
yet arisen for deciding whether to treat them 
as rigorously mental or as rigorously physical 
facts. So they remain equivocal; and, as the 
world goes, their equivocality is one of their 
great conveniences. 

The shifting place of secondary qualities in 
the history of philosophy l is another excellent 
proof of the fact that inner and outer are 
not coefficients with which experiences come to 
us aboriginally stamped, but are rather results 
of a later classification performed by us for 
particular needs. The common-sense stage of 
thought is a perfectly definite practical halt 
ing-place, the place where we ourselves can 
proceed to act unhesitatingly. On this stage 
of thought things act on each other as well 
as on us by means of their secondary quali- 

1 [Cf. Janet and Seailles: History of the Problems of Philosophy, 
trans, by Monahan, part i, ch. m.] 

146 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

ties. Sound, as such, goes through the air 
and can be intercepted. The heat of the fire 
passes over, as such, into the water which it 
sets a-boiling. It is the very light of the are- 
lamp which displaces the darkness of the mid 
night street, etc. By engendering and trans 
locating just these qualities, actively efficacious 
as they seem to be, we ourselves succeed in 
altering nature so as to suit us; and until more 
purely intellectual, as distinguished from prac 
tical, needs had arisen, no one ever thought 
of calling these qualities subjective. When, 
however, Galileo, Descartes, and others found 
it best for philosophic purposes to class sound, 
heat, and light along with pain and pleasure 
as purely mental phenomena, they could do so 
with impunity. 1 

Even the primary qualities are undergoing 
the same fate. Hardness and softness are ef 
fects on us of atomic interactions, and the 
atoms themselves are neither hard nor soft, 
nor solid nor liquid. Size and shape are deemed 

1 [Cf. Descartes: Meditation u ; Principles of Philosophy, part I, 
XLVIII.] 

147 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

subjective by Kantians; time itself is sub 
jective according to many philosophers ; 1 and 
even the activity and causal efficacy which 
lingered in physics long after secondary quali 
ties were banished are now treated as illusory 
projections outwards of phenomena of our 
own consciousness. There are no activities or 
effects in nature, for the most intellectual 
contemporary school of physical speculation. 
Nature exhibits only changes, which habitually 
coincide with one another so that their habits 
are describable in simple laws. 2 

There is no original spirituality or material 
ity of being, intuitively discerned, then ; but 
only a translocation of experiences from one 
world to another ; a grouping of them with 
one set or another of associates for definitely 
practical or intellectual ends. 

I will say nothing here of the persistent 
ambiguity of relations. They are undeniable 
parts of pure experience; yet, while common 
sense and what I call radical empiricism stand 

1 [Cf. A. E. Taylor: Elements of Metaphysics, bk. in, ch. iv.] 

2 [Cf. K. Pearson: Grammar of Science, ch. in.] 

148 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

for their being objective, both rationalism and 
the usual empiricism claim that they are ex 
clusively the work of the mind the finite 
mind or the absolute mind, as the case may be. 

Turn now to those affective phenomena 
which more directly concern us. 

We soon learn to separate the ways in which 
things appeal to our interests and emotions 
from the ways in which they act upon one 
another. It does not work to assume that phy 
sical objects are going to act outwardly by 
their sympathetic or antipathetic qualities. 
The beauty of a thing or its value is no force 
that can be plotted in a polygon of composi 
tions, nor does its * use or c significance affect in 
the minutest degree its vicissitudes or destiny 
at the hands of physical nature. Chemical 
affinities are a purely verbal metaphor; and, 
as I just said, even such things as forces, ten 
sions, and activities can at a pinch be regarded 
as anthropomorphic projections. So far, then, 
as the physical world means the collection of 
contents that determine in each other certain 

149 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

regular changes, the whole collection of our 
appreciative attributes has to be treated as 
falling outside of it. If we mean by physical 
nature whatever lies beyond the surface of our 
bodies, these attributes are inert throughout 
the whole extent of physical nature. 

Why then do men leave them as ambiguous 
as they do, and not class them decisively as 
purely spiritual ? 

The reason would seem to be that, although 
they are inert as regards the rest of physical 
nature, they are not inert as regards that part 
of physical nature which our own skin covers. 
It is those very appreciative attributes of 
things, their dangerousness, beauty, rarity, 
utility, etc., that primarily appeal to our 
attention. In our commerce with nature these 
attributes are what give emphasis to objects; 
and for an object to be emphatic, whatever 
spiritual fact it may mean, means also that it 
produces immediate bodily effects upon us, 
alterations of tone and tension, of heart-beat 
and breathing, of vascular and visceral action. 
The interesting aspects of things are thus 

150 



THE PLACE OF AFFECTIONAL FACTS 

not wholly inert physically, though they be 
active only in these small corners of physi 
cal nature which our bodies occupy. That, 
however, is enough to save them from being 
classed as absolutely non-objective. 

The attempt, if any one should make it, to 
sort experiences into two absolutely discrete 
groups, with nothing but inertness in one of 
them and nothing but activities in the other, 
would thus receive one check. It would receive 
another as soon as we examined the more 
distinctively mental group; for though in that 
group it be true that things do not act on one 
another by their physical properties, do not 
dent each other or set fire to each other, they 
yet act on each other in the most energetic 
way by those very characters which are so 
inert extracorporeally. It is by the interest 
and importance that experiences have for us, 
by the emotions they excite, and the purposes 
they subserve, by their affective values, in 
short, that their consecution in our several 
conscious streams, as thoughts of ours, is 

mainly ruled. Desire introduces them; interest 

151 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

holds them; fitness fixes their order and con 
nection. I need only refer for this aspect of 
our mental life, to Wundt s article Ueber 
psychische Causalitat/ which begins Volume 
X. of his Philosophische Studien. 1 . 

It thus appears that the ambiguous or am 
phibious status which we find our epithets of 
value occupying is the most natural thing in 
the world. It would, however, be an unnatural 
status if the popular opinion which I cited 
at the outset were correct. If physical and 
mental meant two different kinds of in 
trinsic nature, immediately, intuitively, and 
infallibly discernible, and each fixed forever 
in whatever bit of experience it qualified, 
one does not see how there could ever have 
arisen any room for doubt or ambiguity. 
But if, on the contrary, these words are 
words of sorting, ambiguity is natural. For 
then, as soon as the relations of a thing are 
sufficiently various it can be sorted variously. 

1 It is enough for my present purpose if the appreciative characters 
but seem to act thus. Believers in an activity an sich, other than our 
mental experiences of activity, will find some farther reflections on the 
subject in my address on The Experience of Activity. [The next 
essay. Cf. especially, p. 169. ED.] 

152 



THE PLACE OF APFECTIONAL FACTS 

Take a mass of carrion, for example, and the 
disgustingness which for us is part of the 
experience. The sun caresses it, and the 
zephyr wooes it as if it were a bed of roses. 
So the disgustingness fails to operate within 
the realm of suns and breezes, it does not 
function as a physical quality. But the carrion 
turns our stomach by what seems a direct 
operation it does function physically, there 
fore, in that limited part of physics. We can 
treat it as physical or as non-physical accord 
ing as we take it in the narrower or in the wider 
context, and conversely, of course, we must 
treat it as non-mental or as mental. 

Our body itself is the palmary instance of 
the ambiguous. Sometimes I treat my body 
purely as a part of outer nature. Sometimes, 
again, I think of it as mine, I sort it with 
the me, and then certain local changes and 
determinations in it pass for spiritual happen 
ings. Its breathing is my thinking, its sen- 
sorial adjustments are my attention, its 
kinesthetic alterations are my efforts, its 
visceral perturbations are my emotions. 

153 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

The obstinate controversies that have arisen 
over such statements as these (which sound so 
paradoxical, and which can yet be made so 
seriously) prove how hard it is to decide by 
bare introspection what it is in experiences 
that shall make them either spiritual or ma 
terial. It surely can be nothing intrinsic in 
the individual experience. It is their way of 
behaving towards each other, their system of 
relations, their function; and all these things 
vary with the context in which we find it 
opportune to consider them. 

I think I may conclude, then (and I hope 
that my readers are now ready to conclude 
with me), that the pretended spirituality of 
our emotions and of our attributes of value, 
so far from proving an objection to the philo 
sophy of pure experience, does, when rightly 
discussed and accounted for, serve as one of 
its best corroborations. 



VI 

THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 1 

BRETHREN OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: 

IN casting about me for a subject for your 
President this year to talk about it has seemed 
to me that our experiences of activity would 
form a good one ; not only because the topic 
is so naturally interesting, and because it has 
lately led to a good deal of rather inconclusive 
discussion, but because I myself am growing 
more and more interested in a certain system 
atic way of handling questions, and want to get 
others interested also, and this question strikes 
me as one in which, although I am painfully 
aware of my inability to communicate new 
discoveries or to reach definitive conclusions, 
I yet can show, in a rather definite manner, 
how the method works. 

1 President s Address before the American Psychological Associa 
tion, Philadelphia Meeting, December, 1904. [Reprinted from The 
Psychological Review, vol. xn, No. 1, Jan., 1905. Also reprinted, with 
some omissions, as Appendix B, A Pluralistic Universe, pp. 370-394. 
Pp. 166-167 have also been reprinted in Some Problems of Philosophy, 
p. 212. The present essay is referred to in ibid., p. 219, note. The 
author s corrections have been adopted for the present text. ED.) 

155 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

The way of handling things I speak of, is, as 
you already will have suspected, that known 
sometimes as the pragmatic method, some 
times as humanism, sometimes as Deweyism, 
and in France, by some of the disciples of 
Bergson, as the Philosophic nouvelle. Professor 
Woodbridge s Journal of Philosophy 1 seems 
unintentionally to have become a sort of meet 
ing place for those who follow these tenden 
cies in America. There is only a dim identity 
among them; and the most that can be said at 
present is that some sort of gestation seems to 
be in the atmosphere, and that almost any day 
a man with a genius for finding the right word 
for things may hit upon some unifying and 
conciliating formula that will make so much 
vaguely similar aspiration crystallize into 
more definite form. 

I myself have given the name of "radical 
empiricism to that version of the tendency in 
question which I prefer; and I propose, if you 
will now let me, to illustrate what I mean by 
radical empiricism, by applying it to activity 

1 [The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Method*.] 
156 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

as an example, hoping at the same time inci 
dentally to leave the general problem of activ 
ity in a slightly I fear very slightly more 
manageable shape than before. 

Mr. Bradley calls the question of activity a 
scandal to philosophy, and if one turns to the 
current literature of the subject his own 
writings included one easily gathers what 
he means. The opponents cannot even under 
stand one another. Mr. Bradley says to Mr. 
Ward: "I do not care what your oracle is, 
and your preposterous psychology may here be 
gospel if you please; . . . but if the revela 
tion does contain a meaning, I will commit 
myself to this : either the oracle is so confused 
that its signification is not discoverable, or, 
upon the other hand, if it can be pinned down 
to any definite statement, then that state 
ment will be false." 1 Mr. Ward in turn says 
of Mr. Bradley: "I cannot even imagine the 
state of mind to which his description applies. 
. . . [It] reads like an unintentional travesty 

1 Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 116-117. Ob 
viously written at Ward, though Ward s name is not mentioned. 

157 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

of Herbartian psychology by one who has 
tried to improve upon it without being at the 
pains to master it." 1 Miinsterberg excludes a 
view opposed to his own by saying that with 
any one who holds it a Verstdndigung with 
him is " grundsdtzlich ausgeschlossen " ; and 
Koyce, in a review of Stout, 2 hauls him over 
the coals at great length for defending effi 
cacy in a way which I, for one, never gath 
ered from reading him, and which I have 
heard Stout himself say was quite foreign to 
the intention of his text. 

In these discussions distinct questions are 
habitually jumbled and different points of 
view are talked of durcheinander. 

( 1 ) There is a psychological question : f Have 
we pjrcjegtions of activity? and if so, what are 
they [like, and when and where do we have 
them?" 

(2) There is a metaphysical question : "Is 
there a fact of activity ? and if so, what idea 
must we frame of it? What is it like? and what 



1 [Mind, vol. xn, 1887, pp. 573-574.] 

2 Mind, N. S., vol. vi, [1897], p. 379. 

158 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

does it do, if it does anything?" And finally 
there is a logical question: 

(3) "Whence do we know activity? By our 
own feelings of it solely? or by some other 
source of information?" Throughout page 
after page of the literature one knows not 
which of these questions is before one; and 
mere description of the surface-show of experi 
ence is preferred as if it implicitly answered 
every one of them. No one of the disputants, 
moreover, tries to show what pragmatic con 
sequences his own view would carry, or what 
assignable particular differences in any one s 
experience it would make if his adversary s 
were triumphant. 

It seems to me that if radical empiricism be 
good for anything, it ought, with its pragmatic 
method and its principle of pure" experience, 
to be able to avoid such tangles, or at least 
to simplify them somewhat. The pragmatic 
method starts from the postulate that there is 
no difference of truth that does n t make a 
difference of fact somewhere; and it seeks to 
determine the meaning of all differences of 

159 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

opinion by making the discussion hinge as soon 
as possible upon some practical or particular 
issue. The principle of pure experience is also 
a methodical postulate. Nothing shall be ad 
mitted as fact, it says, except what can be 
experienced at some definite time by some ex- 
perient; and for every feature of fact ever so 
experienced, a definite place must be found 
somewhere in the final system of reality. In 
other words: Everything real must be experi- 
enceable somewhere, and every kind of thing 
experienced must somewhere be real. 

Armed with these rules of method let us see 
what face theproblems of activity present to us. 

By the principle of pure experience, either 
the word activity must have no meaning at 
all, or else the original^type and model of what 
it means must lie in some concrete kind of 
experience that can be definitely pointed out. 
Whatever ulterior judgments we may eventu 
ally come to make regarding activity, that sort 
of thing will be what the judgments are about. 
The first step to take, then, is to ask where in 
the stream of experience we seem to find what 

160 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

we speak of as activity. What we are to think 
of the activity thus found will be a later 
question. 

Now it is obvious that we are tempted to 
affirm activity wherever we find anything 
going on. Taken in the broadest sense, any 
apprehension of something doing, is an expe 
rience of activity. Were our world describ- 
able only by the words * no thing happening/ 
nothing changing/ nothing doing/ we should 
unquestionably call it an inactive world. 
Bare activity then, as we may call it, means 
the bare fact of event or change. Change tak 
ing place is a unique content of experience, 
one of those conjunctive objects which radi 
cal empiricism seeks so earnestly to rehabili 
tate and preserve. The sense of activity is thus 
in the broadest and vaguest way synonymous 
with the sense of life. We should feel our 
own subjective life at least, even in noticing 
and proclaiming an otherwise inactive world. 
Our own reaction on its monotony would be 
the one thing experienced there in the form of 
something coming to pass. 

161 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

This seems to be what certain writers have 
in mind when they insist that for an experient 
to be at all is to be active. It seems to justify, 
or at any rate to explain, Mr. Ward s expres 
sion that we are only as we are active, 1 for 
we are only as experients; and it rules out Mr. 
Bradley s contention that "there is no original 
experience of anything like activity." 2 What 
we ought to say about activities thus ele 
mentary, whose they are, what they effect, or 
whether indeed they effect anything at all 
these are later questions, to be answered only 
when the field of experience is enlarged. 

Bare activity would thus be predicable, 
though there were no definite direction, no " 
actor, and no aim. Mere restless zigzag move 
ment, or a wild Ideenflucht, or Rhapsodic der 
Wahrnehmungen, as Kant would say, 3 would 

1 Naturalism and Agnosticism, vol. n, p. 245. One thinks natur 
ally of the peripatetic actus primus and octus secundus here. ["Actus 
autem est duplex: primus et secundus. Actus quidem primus est 
forma, etintegritas sei. Actus autem secundus est operatic." Thomas 
Aquinas : Summa Theologica, edition of Leo XIII, (1894), vol. i, 
p. 391. Cf. also Blanc: Dictionnaire de Philosophic, under acte. 
ED.] 

2 [Appearance and Reality, second edition, p. 116.] 

3 [Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Werke, (1905), vol. IV, p. 110 (trans. 
by Max MUller, second edition, p. 128).] 

162 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

constitute an active as distinguished from an 
inactive world. 

But in this actual world of ours, as it is 
given, a part at least of the activity comes 
with definite direction; it comes with desire 
and sense of goal; it comes complicated with 
resistances which it overcomes or succumbs to, 
and with the efforts which the feeling of re 
sistance so often provokes; and it is in com 
plex experiences like these that the notions of 
distinct agents, and of passivity as opposed 
to activity arise. Here also the notion of 
causal efficacy comes to birth. Perhaps the 
most elaborate work ever done in descriptive 
psychology has been the analysis by various 
recent writers of the more complex activity- 
situations. 1 In their descriptions, exquisitely 

1 I refer to such descriptive work as Ladd s (Psychology, Descriptive 
and Explanatory, part i, chap, v, part n, chap, xi, part in, chaps. 
xxv and xxvi); as Sully s (The Human Mind, partv); as Stout s 
(Analytic Psychology, book i, chap, vi, and bookn, chaps, i, n, and 
in) ; as Bradley s (in his long series of analytic articles on Psychology 
in Mind) , as Titchener s (Outline of Psychology, part i, chap, vi); 
as Shand s (Mind, N. S., m, 449; iv, 450; vi, 289); as Ward s 
(Mind, xii, 67; 564); as Loveday s (Mind, N. S., x, 455); as 
Lipps s (Vom Fiihlen, Wollen und Denken, 1902, chaps, n, iv, vi) ; 
and as Bergson s (Revue Philosophique, LIII, 1) to mention only 
a few writings which I immediately recall. 

163 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

subtle some of them, 1 the activity appears as 
the gestaltqualitat or thefundirte inhalt (or as 
whatever else you may please to call the con 
junctive form) which the content falls into 
when we experience it in the ways which the 
describers set forth. Those factors in those 
relations are what we mean by activity -situa 
tions; and to the possible enumeration and 
accumulation of their circumstances and in 
gredients there would seem to be no natural 
bound. Every hour of human life could con 
tribute to the picture gallery; and this is the 
only fault that one can find with such descrip 
tive industry where is it going to stop? 
Ought we to listen forever to verbal pictures 
of what we have already in concrete form in 
our own breasts? 2 They never take us off the 
superficial plane. We knew the facts already 
less spread out and separated, to be sure but 

1 Their existence forms a curious commentary on Prof. Miinster- 
berg s dogma that will-attitudes are not describable. He himself has 
contributed in a superior way to their description, both in his Willen- 
shandlung, and in his Grundzuge [der Psychologie], part n, chap, 
ix, 7. 

2 I ought myself to cry peccavi, having been a voluminous sinner in 
my own chapter on the will. [Principles of Psychology, vol. u, chap. 

XXVI.] 

164 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

we knew them still. We always felt our own 
activity, for example, as the expansion of an 
idea with which our Self is identified, against 
an obstacle ; 1 and the following out of such a 
definition through a multitude of cases elabo 
rates the obvious so as to be little more than an 
exercise in synonymic speech. 

All the descriptions have to trace familiar 
outlines/ and to use familiar terms. The act 
ivity is, for example, attributed either to a 
physical or to a mental agent, and is either < 
aimless or directed. If directed it shows ten 
dency. The tendency may or may not be re 
sisted. If not, we call the activity immanent, as 
when a body moves in empty space by its mo 
mentum, or our thoughts wander at their own 
sweet will. If resistance is met, its agent com 
plicates the situation. If now, in spite of resist 
ance, the original tendency continues, effort 
makes its appearance, and along with effort, 
strain or squeeze. Will, in the narrower sense 
of the word, then comes upon the scene, when- 

1 [Cf. F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, second edition, pp. 
96-97.J, 

165 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ever, along with the tendency, the strain and 
squeeze are sustained. But the resistance may 
be great enough to check the tendency, or even 
to reverse its path. In that case, we (if we were 
the original agents or subjects of the tendency) 
are overpowered. The phenomenon turns into 
one of tension simply, or of necessity suc- 
cumbed-to, according as the opposing power is 
only equal, or is superior to ourselves. 
^ Whosoever describes an experience in such 
terms as these describes an experience of act 
ivity. If the word have any meaning, it must 
denote what there is found. There is complete 
activity in its original and first intention. 
What it is known-as is what there appears. 
The experiencer of such a situation possesses all 
that the idea contains. He feels the tendency, 
the obstacle, the will, the strain, the triumph, or 
the passive giving up, just as he feels the time, 
the space, the swiftness or intensity, the move 
ment, the weight and color, the pain and pleas 
ure, the complexity, or whatever remaining 
characters the situation may involve. He goes 
through all that ever can be imagined where 

166 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

activity is supposed. If we suppose activities 
to go on outside of our experience, it is in forms 
like these that we must suppose them, or else 
give them some other name; for the word 
* activity has no imaginable content whatever 
save these experiences of process, obstruction, 
striving, strain, or release, ultimate qualia as 
they are of the life given us to be known. 

Were this the end of the matter, one might 
think that whenever we had successfully lived 
through an activity-situation we should have 
to be permitted, without provoking contra 
diction, to say that we had been really active, 
that we had met real resistance and had really 
prevailed. Lotze somewhere says that to be an 
entity all that is necessary is to gelten as an 
entity, to operate, or be felt, experienced, re 
cognized, or in any way realized, as such. 1 In 
our activity-experiences the activity assur 
edly fulfils Lotze s demand. It makes itself 
gelten. It is witnessed at its work. No matter 
what activities there may really be in this ex 
traordinary universe of ours, it is impossible 

1 [Cf. above, p. 59, note.] 
167 



ESSAYS IN RADJCAL EMPIRICISM 

for us to conceive of any one of them being 
either lived through or authentically known 
otherwise than in this dramatic shape of some 
thing sustaining a felt purpose against felt 
obstacles and overcoming or, -being overcome. 
What c sustaining means here is clear to anyone 
who has lived through the experience, but to 
no one else; just as loud/ "red/ c sweet/ mean 
something only to beings with ears, eyes, and 
tongues. The per dpi in these originals of ex 
perience is the esse; the curtain is the picture. 
If there is anything hiding in the background, 
it ought not to be called activity, but should 
get itself another name. 

This seems so obviously true that one might 
well experience astonishment at finding so 
many of the ablest writers on the subject 
flatly denying that the activity we live through 
in these situations is real. Merely to feel active 
is not to be active, in their sight. The agents 
that appear in the experience are not real 
agents, the resistances do not really resist, the 
effects that appear are not really effects at all. 1 

* Verborum gratid: "The feeling of activity is not able, gud feeling. 

168 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

It is evident from this that mere descriptive 
analysis of any one of our activity-experiences 
is not the whole story, that there is something 

to tell us anything about activity" (Loveday: Mind, N. S., vol. x, 
[1901], p. 463); "A sensation or feeling or sense of activity ... is not, 
looked at in another way, an experience of activity at all. It is a mere 
sensation shut up within which you could by no reflection get the 
idea of activity. . . . Whether this experience is or is not later on a 
character essential to our perception and our idea of activity, it, as it 
comes first, is not hi itself an experience of activity at all. It, as it 
comes first, is only so for extraneous reasons and only so for an outside 
observer" (Bradley, Appearance and Reality, second edition, p. 605); 
"In dem Tatigkeitsgefiihle liegt an sich nicht der geringste Beweis 
filr das Vorhandensein einer psychischen Tatigkeit" (Munsterberg: 
Grundziige der Psychologic). I could multiply similar quotations and 
would have introduced some of them into my text to make it more 
concrete, save that the mingling of different points of view in most of 
these author s discussions (not in Miinsterberg s) make it impossible to 
disentangle exactly what they mean. I am sure in any case, to be 
accused of misrepresenting them totally, even in this note, by omission 
of the context, so the less I name names and the more I stick to ab 
stract characterization of a merely possible style of opinion, the safer 
it will be. And apropos of misunderstandings, I may add to this note 
a complaint on my own account. Professor Stout, in the excellent 
chapter on Mental Activity, in vol. I of his Analytic Psychology, 
takes me to task for identifying spiritual activity with certain mus 
cular feelings and gives quotations to bear him out. They are from 
certain paragraphs on the Self, in which my attempt was to show 
what the central nucleus of the activities that we call ours is. 
[Principles of Psychology, vol. I, pp. 299-305.] I found it hi certain 
intracephalic movements which we habitually oppose, as subject 
ive, to the activities of the .transcorporeal world. I sought to show 
that there is no direct evidence that we feel the activity of an 
inner spiritual] agent as such (I should now say the activity of 
consciousness as such, see [the first essay], Does Consciousness 
Exist? ). There are, in fact, three distinguishable activities in 
the field of discussion: the elementary activity involved in the mere 
that of experience, in the fact that something is going on, and the far 
ther specification of this something into two whats, an activity felt as 

169 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

still to tell about them that has led such able 
writers to conceive of a Simon-pure activity, 
of an activity an sich, that does, and does n t 

ours, and an activity ascribed to objects. Stout, as I apprehend him, 
identifies our activity with that of the total experience-process, and 
when I circumscribe it as a part thereof, accuses me of treating it as a 
sort of external appendage to itself (Stout: op. cit., vol. i, pp. 162-163), 
as if I separated the activity from the process which is active. But 
all the processes in question are active, and their activity is inseparable 
from their being. My book raised only the question of which activity 
deserved the name of ours. So far as we are persons, and contrasted 
and opposed to an environment, movements in our body figure as 
our activities; and I am unable to find any other activities that are 
ours in this strictly personal sense. There is a wider sense in which 
the whole choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, and their 
activities, are ours, for they are our objects. But we are here only 
another name for the total process of experience, another name for all 
that is, in fact; and I was dealing with the personal and individualized 
self exclusively in the passages with which Professor Stout finds fault. 
The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing pro 
perly called self, is a part of the content of the world experienced. The 
world experienced (otherwise called the field of consciousness ) comes 
at all times with our body as its centre, centre of vision, centre of ac 
tion, centre of interest. Where the body is is here ; when the body 
acts is now ; what the body touches is this ; all other things are 
* there and then and that. These words of emphasized position 
imply a systematization of things with reference to a focus of action 
and interest which lies in the body; and the systematization is now so 
instinctive (was it ever not so?) that no developed or active experience 
exists for us at all except in that ordered form. So far as thoughts 
and feelings can be active, their activity terminates in the activity 
of the body, and only through first arousing its activities can they 
begin to change those of the rest of the world. [Cf. also A Pluralistic 
Universe, p. 344, note 8. ED.] The body is the storm centre, the origin 
of co-ordinates, the constant place of stress in all that experience- 
train. Everything circles round it, and is felt from its point of view. 
The word I, then, is primarily a noun of position, just like this and 
here. Activities attached to this position have prerogative empha 
sis, and, if activities have feelings, must be felt in a peculiar way. The 

170 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

merely appear to us to do, and compared with 
whose real doing all this phenomenal activity 
is but a specious sham. 

The metaphysical question opens here; and 
I think that the state of mind of one possessed 
by it is often something like this : " It is all very 
well," we may imagine him saying, "to talk 
about certain experience-series taking on the 
form of feelings of activity, just as they might 
take on musical or geometric forms. Suppose 
that they do so; suppose we feel a will to stand 
a strain. Does our feeling do more than record 
the fact that the strain is sustained? The real 
activity, meanwhile, is the doing of the fact; 
and what is the doing made of before the record 
is made. What in the will enables it to act thus? 
And these trains of experience themselves, in 
which activities appear, what makes them go 
at all? Does the activity in one bit of experi 
ence bring the next bit into being? As an em- 
word my designates the kind of emphasis. I see no inconsistency 
whatever in defending, on the one hand, my activities as unique and 
opposed to those of outer nature, and, on the other hand, in affirming, 
after introspection, that they consist in movements in the head. The 
my of them is the emphasis, the feeling of perspective-interest in 
which they are dyed. 

171 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

piricist you cannot say so, for you have just 
declared activity to be only a kind of synthetic 
object, or conjunctive relation experienced be 
tween bits of experience already made. But 
what made them at all? What propels experi 
ence uberhaupt into being? There is the act 
ivity that operates; the activity felt is only 
its superficial sign." 

To the metaphysical question, popped upon 
us in this way, I must pay serious attention 
ere I end my remarks; but, before doing so, let 
me show that without leaving the immediate 
reticulations of experience, or asking what 
makes activity itself act, we still find the dis 
tinction between less real and more real act 
ivities forced upon us, and are driven to much 
soul-searching on the purely phenomenal plane. 

We must not forget, namely, in talking of 
the ultimate character of our activity-experi 
ences, that each of them is but a portion of a 
wider world, one link in the vast chain of pro 
cesses of experience out of which history is 
made. Each partial process, to him who lives 
through it, defines itself by its origin and its 

172 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

goal; but to an observer with a wider mind- 
span who should live outside of it, that goal 
would appear but as a provisional halting- 
place, and the subjectively felt activity would 
be seen to continue into objective activities 
that led far beyond. We thus acquire a habit, 
in discussing activity-experiences, of defining 
them by their relation to something more. If 
an experience be one of narrow span, it will be 
mistaken as to what activity it is and whose. 
You think that you are acting while you are 
only obeying someone s push. You think you 
are doing this, but you are doing something of 
which you do not dream. For instance, you 
think you are but drinking this glass; but you 
are really creating the liver-cirrhosis that will 
end your days. You think you are just driv 
ing this bargain, but, as Stevenson says some 
where, you are laying down a link in the policy 
of mankind. 

Generally speaking, the onlooker, with his 
wider field of vision, regards the ultimate out 
come of an activity as what it is more really 
doing; and the most previous agent ascertain- 

173 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

able, being the first source of action, he regards 
as the most real agent in the field. The others 
but transmit that agent s impulse; on him 
we put responsibility; we name him when one 
asks us Who s to blame ? 

But the most previous agents ascertainable, 
instead of being of longer span, are often of 
much shorter span than the activity in view. 
Brain-cells are our best example. My brain- 
cells are believed to excite each other from 
next to next (by contiguous transmission of 
katabolic alteration, let us say) and to have 
been doing so long before this present stretch 
of lecturing-activity on my part began. If any 
one cell-group stops its activity, the lecturing 
will cease or show disorder of form. Cessante 
causa, cessat et effectus does not this look as 
if the short-span brain activities were the more 
real activities, and the lecturing activities 
on my part only their effects ? Moreover, as 
Hume so clearly pointed out, 1 in my mental 
activity-situation the words physically to be 

1 [Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, sect, vn, part I, 
Selby-Bigge s edition, pp. 65 ff.J 

174 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

uttered are represented as the activity s im 
mediate goal. These words, however, cannot 
be uttered without intermediate physical pro 
cesses in the bulb and vagi nerves, which pro 
cesses nevertheless fail to figure in the mental 
activity-series at all. That series, therefore, 
since it leaves out vitally real steps of action, 
cannot represent the real activities. It is some 
thing purely subjective; the facts of activity 
are elsewhere. They are something far more 
interstitial, so to speak, than what my feelings 
record. 

The real facts of activity that have in point 
of fact been systematically pleaded for by 
philosophers have, so far as my information 
goes, been of three principal types. 

The first type takes a consciousness of wider 
time-span than ours to be the vehicle of the 
more real activity. Its will is the agent, and its 
purpose is the action done. 

The second type assumes that ideas strug 
gling with one another are the agents, and 
that the prevalence of one set of them is the 
action. 

175 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

The third type believes that nerve-cells are 
the agents, and that resultant motor discharges 
are the acts achieved. 

Now if we must de-realize our immediately 
felt activity-situations for the benefit of either 
of these types of substitute, we ought to know 
what the substitution practically involves. 
What practical difference oi^ht it to make if, 
instead of saying naively that I am active 
now in delivering this address, I say that a 
wider thinker is active, or that certain ideas are 
active, or that certain nerve-cells are active, in 
producing the result? 

This would be the pragmatic meaning of the 
three hypotheses. Let us take them in succes 
sion in seeking a reply. 

If we assume a wider thinker, it is evident 
that his purposes envelope mine. I am really 
lecturing for him; and although I cannot surely 
know to what end, yet if I take him religiously, 
I can trust it to be a good end, and willingly 
connive. I can be happy in thinking that my 
activity transmits his impulse, and that his 
ends prolong my own. So long as I take him 

176 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

religiously, in short, he does not de-realize my 
activities. He tends rather to corroborate the 
reality of them, so long as I believe both them 
and him to be good. 

When now we turn to ideas, the case is dif 
ferent, inasmuch as ideas are supposed by the 
association psychology to influence each other 
only from next to next. The span of an idea 
or pair of ideas, is assumed to be much smaller 
instead of being larger than that of my total 
conscious field. The same results may get 
worked out in both cases, for this address is 
being given anyhow. But the ideas supposed 
to really work it out had no prevision of the 
whole of it; and if I was lecturing for an abso 
lute thinker in the former case, so, by similar 
reasoning, are my ideas now lecturing for me, 
that is, accomplishing unwittingly a result 
which I approve and adopt. But, when this 
passing lecture is over, there is nothing in the 
bare notion that ideas have been its agents 
that would seem to guarantee that my present 
purposes in lecturing will be prolonged. I may 

have ulterior developments in view; but there 

177 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

is no certainty that my ideas as such will wish 
to, or be able to, work them out. 

The like is true if nerve-cells be the agents. 
The activity of a nerve-cell must be conceived 
of as a tendency of exceedingly short reach, an 
impulse barely spanning the way to the next 
cell for surely that amount of actual ( pro 
cess must be experienced by the cells if what 
happens between them is to deserve the name 
of activity at all. But here again the gross 
resultant, as I perceive it, is indifferent to the 
agents, and neither wished or willed or fore 
seen. Their being agents now congruous with 
my will gives me no guarantee that like results 
will recur again from their activity. In point 
of fact, all sorts of other results do occur. My 
mistakes, impotencies, perversions, mental ob 
structions, and frustrations generally, are also 
results of the activity of cells. Although these 
are letting me lecture now, on other occasions 
they make me do things that I would willingly 
not do. 

The question Whose is the real activity? is 
thus tantamount to the question What will be 

178 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

the actual results? Its interest is dramatic; how 
will things work out? If the agents are of 
one sort, one way; if of another sort, they may 
work out very differently. The pragmatic 
meaning of the various alternatives, in short, 
is great. It makes no merely verbal difference 
which opinion we take up. 

You see it is the old dispute come back! 
Materialism and teleology; elementary short- 
span actions summing themselves blindly, or 
far foreseen ideals coming with effort into act. 

Naively we believe, and humanly and dra 
matically we like to believe, that activities 
both of wider and of narrower span are at 
work in life together, that both are real, and 
that the long-span tendencies yoke the others 
in their service, encouraging them in the right 
direction, and damping them when they tend 
in other ways. But how to represent clearly 
the modus operandi of such steering of small 
tendencies by large ones is a problem which 
metaphysical thinkers will have to ruminate 
upon for many years to come. Even if such 

control should eventually grow clearly pictur- 

179 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

able, the question how far it is successfully 
exerted in this actual world can be answered 
only by investigating the details of fact. No 
philosophic knowledge of the general nature 
and constitution of tendencies, or of the rela 
tion of larger to smaller ones, can help us to 
predict which of all the various competing 
tendencies that interest us in this universe are 
likeliest to prevail. We know as an empirical 
fact that far-seeing tendencies often carry out 
their purpose, but we know also that they are 
often defeated by the failure of some com- 
temptibly small process on which success de 
pends. A little thrombus in a statesman s 
meningeal artery will throw an empire out of 
gear. I can therefore not even hint at any solu 
tion of the pragmatic issue. I have only wished 
to show you that that issue is what gives the 
real interest to all inquiries into what kinds of 
activity may be real. Are the forces that really 
act in the world more foreseeing or more blind? 
As between our activities as we experience 
them, and those of our ideas, or of our brain- 
cells, the issue is well-defined. 

180 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

I said a while back 1 that I should return to 
the metaphysical question before ending; so, 
with a few words about that, I will now close 
my remarks. 

In whatever form we hear this question pro 
pounded, I think that it always arises from two 
things, a belief that causality must be exerted 
in activity, and a wonder as to how causality is 
made. If we take an activity -situation at its 
face-value, it seems as if we caught inflagrante 
delicto the very power that makes facts come 
and be. I now am eagerly striving, for ex 
ample, to get this truth which I seem half to 
perceive, into words which shall make it show 
more clearly. If the words come, it will seem as 
if the striving itself had drawn or pulled them 
into actuality out from the state of merely 
possible being in which they were. How is this 
feat performed? How does the pulling pull? 
How do I get my hold on words not yet exist 
ent, and when they come by what means have 
I made them come? Really it is the problem of 
creation; for in the end the question is : How do 

1 Page 172. 
181 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

I make them be? Real activities are those 
that really make things be, without which 
the things are not, and with which they are 
there. Activity, so far as we merely feel it, on 
the other hand, is only an impression of ours, 
it may be maintained ; and an impression is, 
for all this way of thinking, only a shadow of 
another fact. 

Arrived at this point, I can do little more 
than indicate the principles on which, as it 
seems to me, a radically empirical philosophy 
is obliged to rely in handling such a dispute. 

If there be real creative activities in being, 
radical empiricism must say, somewhere they 
must be immediately lived. Somewhere the 
that of efficacious causing and the what of it 
must be experienced in one, just as the what 
and the that of cold are experienced in one 
whenever a man has the sensation of cold here 
and now. It boots not to say that our sensa 
tions are fallible. They are indeed; but to see 
the thermometer contradict us when we say it 
is cold does not abolish cold as a specific na 
ture from the universe. Cold is in the arctic 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

circle if not here. Even so, to feel that our 
train is moving when the train beside our win 
dow moves, to see the moon through a tele 
scope come twice as near, or to see two pic 
tures as one solid when we look through a 
stereoscope at them, leaves motion, near 
ness, and solidity still in being if not here, 
yet each in its proper seat elsewhere. And 
wherever the seat of real causality is, as ulti 
mately known for true (in nerve-processes, 
if you will, that cause our feelings of "act 
ivity as well as the movements which these 
seem to prompt), a philosophy of pure experi 
ence can consider the real causation as no other 
nature of thing than that which even in our 
most erroneous experiences appears to be at 
work. Exactly what appears there is what we 
mean by working, though we may later come 
to learn that ^working was not exactly there. 
Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying with 
effort as we go, hanging on, and finally achiev 
ing our intention this is action, this is effect 
uation in the only shape in which, by a pure 
experience-philosophy, the whereabouts of it 

183 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

anywhere can be discussed. Here is creation 
in its first intention, here is causality at work. 1 
To treat this offhand as the bare illusory sur 
face of a world whose real causality is an un 
imaginable ontological principle hidden in the 
cubic deeps, is, for the more empirical way of 
thinking, only animism in another shape. You 
explain your given fact by your principle, but 
the principle itself, when you look clearly at it, 
turns out to be nothing but a previous little 
spiritual copy of the fact. Away from that one 
and only kind of fact your mind, considering 
causality, can never get. 2 . 

1 Let me not be told that this contradicts [the first essay], Does 
Consciousness Exist ? (see especially page 32), in which it was said 
that while thoughts and things have the same natures, the natures 
work energetically on each other in the things (fire burns, water 
wets, etc.) but not in the thoughts. Mental activity-trains are com 
posed of thoughts, yet their members do work on each other, they 
check, sustain, and introduce. They do so when the activity is merely 
associational as well as when effort is there. But, and this is my reply, 
they do so by other parts of their nature than those that energize phy 
sically. One thought in every developed activity-series is a desire or 
thought of purpose, and all the other thoughts acquire a feeling tone 
from their relation of harmony or oppugnancy to this. The interplay 
of these secondary tones (among which interest, difficulty, and 
effort figure) runs the drama in the mental series. In what we term 
the physical drama these qualities play absolutely no part. The 
subject needs careful working out; but I can see no inconsistency. 

2 I have found myself more than once accused in print of being the 
assertor of a metaphysical principle of activity. Since literary misun 
derstandings retard the settlement of problems, I should like to say 

184 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

I conclude, then, that real effectual causation 
as an ultimate nature, as a category/ if you 
like, of reality, is just what we feel it to be, just 
that kind of conjunction which our own activ 
ity-series reveal. We have the whole butt and 
being of it in our hands; and the healthy thing 



that such an interpretation of the pages I have published on Effort 
and on Will is absolutely foreign to what I meant to express. [Principles 
of Psychology, vol. n, ch. xxvi.] I owe all my doctrines on this sub 
ject to Renouvier; and Renouvier, as I understand him, is (or at any 
rate then was) an out and out phenomenist, a denier of forces in the 
most strenuous sense. [Cf. Ch. Renouvier: Esquisse d une Classifi 
cation SystSmatique des Doctrines Philosophiques (1885), vol. n, pp. 
390-392; Essais de Critique Generale (1859), vol. n, ix, xiii. For 
an acknowledgment of the author s general indebtedness to Re 
nouvier, cf. Some Problems of Philosophy, p. 165, note. ED.] Single 
clauses in my writing, or sentences read out of their connection, may 
possibly have been compatible with a transphenomenal principle of 
energy; but I defy anyone to show a single sentence which, taken 
with its context, should be naturally held to advocate that view. The 
misinterpretation probably arose at first from my defending (after 
Renouvier) the indeterminism of our efforts. Free will was supposed 
by my critics to involve a supernatural agent. As a matter of plain 
history the only free will I have ever thought of defending is the 
character of novelty in fresh activity-situations. If an activity-pro 
cess is the form of a whole field of consciousness, and if each field of 
consciousness is not only in its totality unique (as is now commonly 
admitted) but has its elements unique (since in that situation they 
are all dyed in the total) then novelty is perpetually entering the 
world and what happens there is not pure repetition, as the dogma 
of the literal uniformity of nature requires. Activity-situations come, 
in short, each with an original touch. A principle of free will if 
there were one, would doubtless manifest itself in such phenomena, 
but I never saw, nor do I now see, what the principle could do 
except rehearse the phenomenon beforehand, or why it ever should 
be invoked. 

185 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

for philosophy is to leave off grubbing under 
ground for what effects effectuation, or what 
makes action act, and to try to solve the con 
crete questions of where effectuation in this 
world is located, of which things are the true 
causal agents there, and of what the more 
remote effects consist. 

From this point of view the greater sublim 
ity traditionally attributed to the metaphysi 
cal inquiry, the grubbing inquiry, entirely dis 
appears. If we could know what causation 
really and transcendentally is in itself, the only 
use of the knowledge would be to help us to 
recognize an actual cause when we had one, 
and so to track the future course of opera 
tions more intelligently out. The mere ab 
stract inquiry into causation s hidden nature 
is not more sublime than any other inquiry 
equally abstract. Causation inhabits no more 
sublime level than anything else. It lives, 
apparently, in the dirt of the world as well 
as in the Absolute, or in man s unconquerable 
mind. The worth and interest of the world 

consists not in its elements, be these elements 

186 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

things, or be they the conjunctions of things; 
it exists rather in the dramatic outcome in 
the whole process, and in the meaning of the 
succession stages which the elements work out. 
My colleague and master, Josiah Royce, in 
a page of his review of Stout s Analytic Psy 
chology * has some fine words on this point 
with which I cordially agree. I cannot agree 
with his separating the notion of efficacy from 
that of activity altogether (this I understand 
to be one contention of his) for activities are 
efficacious whenever J:hey are real activities at 
all. But the inner nature both of efficacy and 
of activity are superficial problems, I under 
stand Royce to say; and the only point for us 
in solving them would be their possible use in 
helping us to solve the far deeper problem of 
the course and meaning of the world of life. 
Life, says our colleague, is full of significance, 
of meaning, of success and of defeat, of hoping 
and of striving, of longing, of desire, and of 
inner value. It is a total presence that em 
bodies worth. To live our own lives better in 

1 Mind, N. S.. vol. vi, 1897; cf. pp. 392-393. 
187 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

this presence is the true reason why we wish to 
know the elements of things; so even we psy 
chologists must end on this pragmatic note. 

The urgent problems of activity are thus 
more concrete. They are all problems of the 
true relation of longer-span to shorter-span 
activities. When, for example, a number of 
ideas (to use the name traditional in psy 
chology) grow confluent in a larger field of 
consciousness, do the smaller activities still 
co-exist with the wider activities then experi 
enced by the conscious subject ? And, if so, 
do the wide activities accompany the narrow 
ones inertly, or do they exert control ? Or do 
they perhaps utterly supplant and replace 
them and short-circuit their effects? Again, 
when a mental activity-process and a brain- 
cell series of activities both terminate in the 
same muscular movement, does the mental 
process steer the neural processes or not? Or, 
on the other hand, does it independently short- 
circuit their effects? Such are the questions 
that we must begin with. But so far am I from 
suggesting any definitive answer to such ques- 

188 



THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY 

tions, that I hardly yet can put them clearly. 
They lead, however, into that region of pan- 
psychic and ontologic speculation of which 
Professors Bergson and Strong have lately en 
larged the literature in so able and interest 
ing a way. 1 The results of these authors seem 
in many respects dissimilar, and I understand 
them as yet but imperfectly; but I cannot help 
suspecting that the direction of their work is 
very promising, and that they have the hunt 
er s instinct for the fruitful trails. 

1 [Cf. A Pluralistic Universe, Lect. vi (on Bergson) ; H. Bergson: 
Creative Evolution, trans, by A. Mitchell; C. A. Strong: Why the Mind 
has a Body, ch. xn. ED.] 



VII 

THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM* 

HUMANISM is a ferment that has come to 
stay. 2 It is not a single hypothesis or the 
orem, and it dwells on no new facts. It is 
rather a slow shifting in the philosophic per 
spective, making things appear as from a new 
centre of interest or point of sight. Some 
writers are strongly conscious of the shifting, 
others half unconscious, even though their own 
vision may have undergone much change. The 
result is no small confusion in debate, the half- 
conscious humanists often taking part against 
the radical ones, as if they wished to count 
upon the other side. 3 

1 [Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. n, No. 5, March 2, 1905. Also reprinted, with 
slight changes in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 121-135. The author s 
corrections have been adopted for the present text. ED.] 

2 [Written apropos of the appearance of three articles in Mind, N. S., 
vol. xiv, No. 53, January, 1905: " Absolute and Relative Truth," 
H. H. Joachim; "Professor James on Humanism and Truth, " H. W. 
B. Joseph; "Applied Axioms," A. Sidgwick. Of these articles the 
second and third "continue the humanistic (or pragmatistic) con 
troversy," the first "deeply connects with it." ED.] 

1 Professor Baldwin, for example. His address On Selective Think 
ing (Psychological Review, [vol. v], 1898, reprinted in his volume, 
Development and Evolution) seems to me an unusually well-written 

190 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

If humanism really be the name for such . 
a shifting of perspective, it is obvious that 
the whole scene of the philosophic stage will 
change in some degree if humanism prevails. 
The emphasis of things, their foreground and 
background distribution, their sizes and val 
ues, will not keep just the same. 1 If such 
pervasive consequences be involved in human 
ism, it is clear that no pains which philoso 
phers may take, first in defining it, and then in 
furthering, checking, or steering its progress, 
will be thrown away. 

It suffers badly at present from incomplete 
definition. Its most systematic advocates, 
Schiller and Dewey, have published fragment- 
pragmatic manifesto. Nevertheless in The Limits of Pragmatism* 
(ibid., [vol. xi], 1904), he (much less clearly) joins in the attack. 

1 The ethical changes, it seems to me, are beautifully made evident 
in Professor Dewey s series of articles, which will never get the atten 
tion they deserve till they are printed in a book. I mean: The 
Significance of Emotions, Psychological Review, vol. n, [1895], p. 13; 
The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology, ibid., vol. in, [1896], p. 357; 
Psychology and Social Practice, ibid., vol. vn, [1900], p. 105; 
Interpretation of Savage Mind, ibid., vol. ix, [1902], p. 217; Green s 
Theory of the Moral Motive, Philosophical Review, vol. I, [1892], p. 
593; Self-realization as the Moral Ideal, ibid., vol. II, [1893], p. 652; 
The Psychology of Effort, ibid., vol. vi, [1897], p. 43; The Evolu 
tionary Method as Applied to Morality, ibid., vol. XT, [1902], pp. 
107, 353; Evolution and Ethics, Monist, vol. vm, [1898], p. 321; to 
mention only a few. 

191 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ary programs only; and its bearing on many 
vital philosophic problems has not been traced 
except by adversaries who, scenting heresies in 
advance, have showered blows on doctrines 
subjectivism and scepticism, for example 
that no good humanist finds it necessary to 
entertain. By their still greater reticences, the 
anti-humanists have, in turn, perplexed the 
humanists. Much of the controversy has in 
volved the word truth. It is always good in 
debate to know your adversary s point of view T 
authentically. But the critics of humanism 
never define exactly what the word truth 
signifies when they use it themselves. The 
humanists have to guess at their view; and 
the result has doubtless been much beating of 
the air. Add to all this, great individual differ 
ences in both camps, and it becomes clear that 
nothing is so urgently needed, at the stage 
which things have reached at present, as a 
sharper definition by each side of its central 
point of view. 

Whoever will contribute any touch of 

sharpness will help us to make sure of what s 

192 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

what and who is who. Anyone can contribute 
such a definition, and, without it, no one 
knows exactly where he stands. If I offer my 
own provisional definition of humanism * now 
and here, others may improve it, some adver 
sary may be led to define his own creed more 
sharply by the contrast, and a certain quicken 
ing of the crystallization of general opinion 
may result. 

I 

The essential service of humanism, as I con 
ceive the situation, is to have seen that though 
one part of our experience may lean upon an 
other part to make it what it is in any one of sev 
eral aspects in which it may be considered, ex 
perience as a whole is self-containing and leans 
on nothing. 

Since this formula also expresses the main 
contention of transcendental idealism, it needs 
abundant explication to make it ; unambigu- 

1 [The author employs the term humanism* either as a synonym 
for radical empiricism (cf. e.g., above, p. 156); or as that general 
philosophy of life of which radical empiricism is the theoretical 
ground (cf. below, p. 194). For other discussions of humanism, cf. 
below, essay xi, and The Meaning of Truth, essay HI. ED.] 

193 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ous. It seems, at first sight, to confine itself to 
denying theism and pantheism. But, in fact, 
it need not deny either ; everything would 
depend on the exegesis; and if the formula 
ever became canonical, it would certainly 
develop both right-wing and left-wing inter 
preters. I myself read humanism theistically 
and pluralistically. If there be a God, he is 
no absolute all-experiencer, but simply the 
experiencer of widest actual conscious span. 
Read thus, humanism is for me a religion 
susceptible of reasoned defence, though I am 
well aware how many minds there are to whom 
it can appeal religiously only when it has 
been monistically translated. Ethically the 
pluralistic form of it takes for me a stronger 
hold on reality than any other philosophy I 
know of it being essentially a social philo 
sophy, a philosophy of co, in which con 
junctions do the work. But my primary reason 
for advocating it is its matchless intellectual 
economy. It gets rid, not only of the stand 
ing "problems that monism engenders ( pro 
blem of evil/ problem of freedom, and the 

194 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

like), but of other metaphysical mysteries and 
paradoxes as well. 

It gets rid, for example, of the whole agnostic 
controversy, by refusing to entertain the hypo 
thesis of trans-empirical reality at all. It gets 
rid of any need for an absolute of the Brad- 
leyan type (avowedly sterile for intellectual 
purposes) by insisting that the conjunctive 
relations found within experience are fault 
lessly real. It gets rid of the need of an abso 
lute of the Roycean type (similarly sterile) by 
its pragmatic treatment of the problem of 
knowledge [a treatment of which I have al 
ready given a version in two very inadequate 
articles]. 1 As the views of knowledge, reality 
and truth imputed to humanism have been 
those so far most fiercely attacked, it is in 
regard to these ideas that a sharpening of 
focus seems most urgently required. I proceed 
therefore to bring the views which 7 impute 
to humanism in these respects into focus as 
briefly as I can. 

1 [Omitted from reprint in Meaning of Truth. The articles re 
ferred to are Does Consciousness Exist? and A World of Pure 
Experience, reprinted above.] 

195 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 
II 

If the central humanistic thesis, printed 
above in italics, be accepted, it will follow 
that, if there be any such thing at all as know 
ing, the knower and the object known must 
both be portions of experience. One part of 
experience must, therefore, either 

(1) Know another part of experience in 
other words, parts must, as Professor Wood- 
bridge says, 1 represent one another instead of 
representing realities outside of conscious 
ness this case is that of conceptual know 
ledge; or else 

(2) They must simply exist as so many ulti 
mate thats or facts of being, in the first in 
stance; and then, as a secondary complication, 
and without doubling up its entitative single 
ness, any one and the same that must figure 
alternately as a thing known and as a know 
ledge of the thing, by reason of two divergent 
kinds of context into which, in the general 
course of experience, it gets woven. 2 , 

1 In Science, November 4, 1904, p. 599. 

8 This statement is probably excessively obscure to any one who 

196 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

This second case is that of sense-perception. 
There is a stage of thought that goes beyond 
common sense, and of it I shall say more pre 
sently; but the common-sense stage is a per 
fectly definite ^halting-place of thought, pri 
marily for purposes of action; and, so long 
as we remain on the common-sense stage of 
thought, object and subject fuse in the fact of 
* presentation or sense-perception the pen 
and hand which I now see writing, for example, 
are the physical realities which those words 
designate. In this case there is no self-tran 
scendency implied in the knowing. Human 
ism, here, is only a more comminuted Identi- 
tdtsphilosophie. 1 

In case (1), on the contrary, the represent 
ative experience does transcend itself in know 
ing the other experience that is its object. No 
one can talk of the knowledge of the one by the 
other without seeing them as numerically dis 
tinct entities, of which the one lies beyond the 
other and away from it, along some direction 

has not read my two articles, Does Consciousness Exist? and A 
World of Pure Experience. 
1 [Cf. above, p. 134; and below, p. 202.] 

197 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

and with some interval, that can be definitely 
named. But, if the talker be a humanist, he 
must also see this distance-interval concretely 
and pragmatically, and confess it to consist 
of other intervening experiences of possible 
ones, at all events, if not of actual. To call my 
present idea of my dog, for example, cognitive 
of the real dog means that, as the actual tissue 
of experience is constituted, the idea is capable 
of leading into a chain of other experiences 
on my part that go from next to next and 
terminate at last in vivid sense-perceptions 
of a jumping, barking, hairy body. Those are 
the real dog, the dog s full presence, for my 
common sense. If the supposed talker is a 
profound philosopher, although they may not 
be the real dog for him, they mean the real dog, 
are practical substitutes for the real dog, as 
the representation was a practical substitute 
for them, that real dog being a lot of atoms, 
say, or of mind-stuff, that lie where the sense- 
perceptions lie in his experience as well as in 
my own. 



198 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

III 

The philosopher here stands for the stage of 
thought that goes beyond the stage of com 
mon sense; and the difference is simply that he 
interpolates and extrapolates, where com 
mon sense does not. For common sense, two 
men see the same identical real dog. Philo 
sophy, noting actual differences in their per 
ceptions, points out the duality of these latter, 
and interpolates something between them as 
a more real terminus first, organs, viscera, 
etc.; next, cells; then, ultimate atoms; lastly, 
mind-stuff perhaps. The original sense-term 
ini of the two men, instead of coalescing with 
each other and with the real dog-object, as at 
first supposed, are thus held by philosophers to 
be separated by invisible realities with which, 
at most, they are conterminous. 

Abolish, now, one of the percipients, and 
the interpolation changes into extrapolation. 
The sense-terminus of the remaining percipient 
is regarded by the philosopher as not quite 
reaching reality. He has only carried the pro 
cession of experiences, the philosopher thinks, 

199 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

to a definite, because practical, halting-place 
somewhere on the way towards an absolute 
truth that lies beyond. 

The humanist sees all the time, however, 
that there is no absolute transcendency even 
about the more absolute realities thus con 
jectured or believed in. The viscera and cells 
are only possible percepts following upon that 
of the outer body. The atoms again, though 
we may never attain to human means of per 
ceiving them, are still defined perceptually. 
The mind-stuff itself is conceived as a kind 
of experience; and it is possible to frame the 
hypothesis (such hypotheses can by no logic 
be excluded from philosophy) of two knowers 
of a piece of mind-stuff and the mind-stuff 
itself becoming f confluent at the moment at 
which our imperfect knowing might pass into 
knowing of a completed type. Even so do you 
and I habitually represent our two perceptions 
and the real dog as confluent, though only pro 
visionally, and for the common-sense stage 
of thought. If my pen be inwardly made of 
mind-stuff, there is no confluence now between 

200 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

that mind-stuff and my visual perception of 
the pen. But conceivably there might come to 
be such confluence; for, in the case of my hand, 
the visual sensations and the inward feelings 
of the hand, its mind-stuff, so to speak, are even 
now as confluent as any two things can be. 

There is, thus, no breach in humanistic 
epistemology. Whether knowledge be taken 
as ideally perfected, or only as true enough to 
pass muster for practice, it is hung on one con 
tinuous scheme. Reality, howsoever remote, is 
always defined as a terminus within the general 
possibilities of experience; and what knows it is 
defined as an experience that represents 9 it, in 
the sense of being substitutable for it in our think- 
ing because it leads to the same associates, or 
in the sense of pointing to it 9 through a chain 
of other experiences that either intervene or 
may intervene. 

Absolute reality here bears the same relation 
to sensation as sensation bears to conception 
or imagination. Both are provisional or final 
termini, sensation being only the terminus 
at which the practical man habitually stops, 

201 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

while the philosopher projects a beyond in 
the shape of more absolute reality. These 
termini, for the practical and the philosophi 
cal stages of thought respectively, are self- 
supporting. They are not true of anything 
else, they simply are, are real. They lean 
on nothing/^as my italicized formula said. 
Rather does the whole fabric of experience 
lean on them, just as the whole fabric of the 
solar system, including many relative posi 
tions, leans, for its absolute position in space, 
on any one of its constituent stars. Here, 
again, one gets a new Identitatsphilosophie in 
pluralistic form. 1 

IV 

If I have succeeded in making this at all 
clear (though I fear that brevity and abstract- 
ness between them may have made me fail), 
the reader will see that the truth of our men 
tal operations must always be an intra-experi- 
ential affair. A conception is reckoned true by 
common sense when it can be made to lead to a 

1 M. above, pp. 134, 197.] 
202 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

sensation. The sensation, which for common 
sense is not so much true as real/ is held to 
be provisionally true by the philosopher just 
in so far as it covers (abuts at, or occupies the 
place of) a still more absolutely real experi 
ence, in the possibility of which to some re 
moter experient the philosopher finds reason 
to believe. 

Meanwhile what actually does count for true 
to any individual trower, whether he be philo 
sopher or common man, is always a result of his 
apperceptions. If a novel experience, concept 
ual or sensible, contradict too emphatically our 
pre-existent system of beliefs, in ninety-nine 
cases out of a hundred it is treated as false. 
Only when the older and the newer experiences 
are congruous enough to mutually apperceive 
and modify each other, does what we treat as 
an advance in truth result. [Having written of 
this point in an article in reply to Mr. Joseph s 
criticism of my humanism, I will say no more 
about truth here, but refer the reader to that 
review. 1 ] In no case, however, need truth 

1 [Omitted from reprint in Meaning of Truth. The review re- 
203 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

consist in a relation between our experiences 
and something archetypal or trans-experien 
tial. Should we ever reach absolutely terminal 
experiences, experiences in which we all agreed, 
which were superseded by no revised continu 
ations, these would not be true, they would be _ 
real, they would simply be, and be indeed the 
angles, corners, and linchpins of all reality, on 
which the truth of everything else would be 
stayed. Only such other things as led to these 
by satisfactory conjunctions would be true. 5 
Satisfactory connection of some sort with such 
termini is all that the word truth means. 
On the common-sense stage of thought sense- 
presentations serve as such termini. Our ideas 
and concepts and scientific theories pass for 
true only so far as they harmoniously lead back 
to the world of sense. 

I hope that many humanists will endorse 
this attempt of mine to trace the more essen 
tial features of that way of viewing things. I 
feel almost certain that Messrs. Dewey and 

ferred to is reprinted below, pp. 244-265, under the title " Human 
ism and Truth Once More." ED.] 

04 



THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM 

Schiller will do so. If the attackers will also 
take some slight account of it, it may be that 
discussion will be a little less wide of the mark 
than it has hitherto been. 



VIII 

LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 1 

JE voudrais vous communique! quelques 
doutes qui me sont venus au sujet de la notion 
de Conscience qui regne dans tous nos traites 
de psychologic. 

On definit habituellement la Psychologic 
comme la Science des fails de Conscience, ou 
des phenomenes, ou encore des etats de la Con 
science. Qu on admette qu elle se rattache a 
des moi personnels, ou bien qu on la croie im- 
personnelle a la fagon du "moi transcendental" 
de Kant, de la Bewusstheit ou du Bewusstsein 
ilberhaupt de nos eontemporains en Allemagne, 
cette conscience est toujours regardee comme 
possedant une essence propre, absolument 
distincte de 1 essence des choses materielles, 
qu elle a le don mysterieux de representer et de 

1 [A communication made (in French) at the Fifth International 
Congress of Psychology, in Rome, April 30, 1905. It is reprinted from 
\hzArchivesde Psychologie,vo\. v, No. 17, June, 1905.] Cette commu 
nication est le resume, forcement tres condense, de vues que 1 auteur a 
exposees, au cours de ces derniers mois, en une serie d articles publics 
dans le Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, 
1904 et 1905. [The series of articles referred to is reprinted above. ED.] 

206 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

connaitre. Les fails materials, pris dans leur 
materialite, ne sont pas eprouves, ne sont pas 
objets d experience, ne se rapportent pas. Pour 
qu ils prennent la forme du systeme dans lequel 
nous nous sentons vivre, il f aut qu ils apparais- 
sent, et ce fait d apparaltre, surajoute a leur 
existence brute, s appelle la conscience que 
nous en avons, ou peut-etre, selon 1 hypothese 
panpsychiste, qu ils ont d eux-memes. 

Voila ce dualisme invetere qu il semble im 
possible de chasser de notre vue du monde. Ce 
monde peut bien exister en soi, mais nous 
n en savons rien, car pour nous il est exclusive- 
ment un objet d experience; et la condition 
indispensable a cet effet, c est qu il soit rap- 
porte a des temoins, qu il soit connu par un 
sujet ou par des sujets spirituels. Objet et 
sujet, voila les deux jambes sans lesquelles il 
semble que la philosophic ne saurait faire un 
pas en avant. 

Toutes les ecoles sont d accord la-dessus, 
scolastique, cartesianisme, kantisme, neo-kan- 
tisme, tous admettent le dualisme fondamen- 
tal. Le positivisme ou agnosticisme de nos 

207 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

jours, qui se pique de relever des sciences 
naturelles, se donne volontiers, il est vrai, le 
nom de monisme. Mais ce n est qu un mo- 
nisme verbal. II pose une realite inconnue, 
mais nous dit que cette realite se presente tou- 
jours sous deux "aspects," un cote conscience 
et un cote matiere, et ces deux cotes demeu- 
rent aussi irreductibles que les attributs fon- 
damentaux, etendue et pensee, du Dieu de 
Spinoza. Au fond, le monisme contemporain 
est du spinozisme pur. 

Or, comment se represente-t-on cette con 
science dont nous sommes tous si portes a 
admettre 1 existence? Impossible de la definir, 
nous dit-on, mais nous en avons tous une in 
tuition immediate : tout d abord la conscience a 
conscience d elle-meme. Demandez a la pre 
miere personne que vous rencontrerez, homme 
ou femme, psychologue ou ignorant, et elle 
vous repondra qu elle se sent penser, jouir, 
souffrir, vouloir, tout comme elle se sent re- 
spirer. Elle pergoit directement sa vie spirit- 
uelle comme une espece de courant interieur, 
actif, leger, fluide, delicat, diaphane pour ainsi 

208 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

dire, et absolument oppose a quoi que ce soil 
de materiel. Bref, la vie subjective ne parait 
pas seulement etre une condition logiquement 
indispensable pour qu il y ait un monde ob- 
jectif qui apparaisse, c est encore un element 
de Pexperience meme que nous eprouvons di- 
rectement, au meme titre que nous eprouvons 
notre propre corps. 

Idees et Choses, comment done ne pas recon- 
naitre leur dualisme? Sentiments et Ob jets, 
comment douter de leur heterogeneite absolue? 

La psychologic soi-disant scientifique admet 
cette heterogeneite comme 1 ancienne psycho 
logic spiritualiste Tadmettait. Comment ne pas 
Tadmettre? Chaque science decoupe arbitraire- 
ment dans la trame des f aits un champ ou elle 
se parque, et dont elle decrit et etudie le con- 
tenu. La psychologic prend justement pour 
son domaine le champ des faits de conscience. 
Elle les postule sans les critiquer, elle les oppose 
aux faits materiels; et sans critiquer non plus 
la notion de ces derniers, elle les rattache a 
la conscience par le lien mysterieux de la con- 
naissancey de Yaperception qui, pour elle, est 

209 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

un troisieme genre de fait fondamental et 
ultime. En suivant cette voie, la psychologic 
contemporaine a fete de grands triomphes. 
Elle a pu faire une esquisse de 1 evolution de 
la vie consciente, en concevant cette derniere 
comme s adaptant de plus en plus complete- 
ment au milieu physique environnant. Elle 
a pu etablir un parallelisme dans le dualisme, 
celui des faits psychiques et des evenements 
cerebraux. Elle a explique les illusions, les 
hallucinations, et jusqu a un certain point, les 
maladies mentales. Ce sont de beaux progres; 
mais il reste encore bien des problemes. La 
philosophic generale surtout, qui a pour devoir 
de scruter tous les postulats, trouve des para 
doxes et des empechements la ou la science 
passe outre; et il n y a que les amateurs de 
science populaire qui ne sont jamais perplexes. 
Plus on va au fond des choses, plus on trouve 
d enigmes; et j avoue pour ma part que depuis 
que je m occupe serieusement de psychologic, 
ce vieux dualisme de matiere et de pensee, 
cette heterogeneite posee comme absolue des 
deux essences, m a toujours presente des diffi- 

210 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

cultes. C est de quelques-unes de ces difficul- 
tes que je voudrais maintenant vous entretenir. 
D abord il y en a une, laquelle, j en suis 
convaincu, vous aura frappes tous. Prenons la 
perception exterieure, la sensation directe que 
nous donnent par exemple les murs de eette 
salle. Peut-on dire ici que le psychique et le 
physique sont absolument heterogenes? Au 
contraire, ils sont si peu heterogenes que si 
nous nous plagons au point de vue du sens 
commun; si nous faisons abstraction de toutes 
les inventions explicatives, des molecules et des 
ondulations etherees, par exemple, qui au fond 
sont des entites metaphysiques; si, en un mot, 
nous prenons la realite naivement et telle 
qu elle nous est donnee tout d abord, cette 
realite sensible d ou dependent nos interets 
vitaux, et sur laquelle se portent toutes nos 
actions; eh bien, cette realite sensible et la 
sensation que nous en avons sont, au moment 
ou la sensation se produit, absolument iden- 
tiques Tune a Pautre. La realite est 1 apercep- 
tion meme. Les mots "murs de cette salle" ne 
signifient que cette blancheur fralche et sonore 

211 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

qui nous entoure, coupee par ces fenfires, 
bornee par ces lignes et ces angles. Le physique 
ici n a pas d autre contenu que le psychique. 
Le sujet et Fobjet se confondent. 

C est Berkeley qui le premier a mis cette 
verite en honneur. Esse est percipi. Nos sen 
sations ne sont pas de petits duplicats in- 
terieurs des choses, elles sont les choses memes 
en tant que les choses nous sont presentes. f Et 
quoi que Ton veuille penser de la vie absente, 
cachee, et pour ainsi dire privee, des choses, et 
quelles que soient les constructions hypothe- 
tiques qu on en fasse, il reste vrai que la vie 
publique des choses, cette actualite presente 
par laquelle elles nous confrontent, d ou deri- 
vent toutes nos constructions theoriques, et 
a laquelle elles doivent toutes revenir et se 
rattacher sous peine de flotter dans Fair et 
dans 1 irreel; cette actualite, dis-je, est homo- 
gene, et non pas seulement homogene, mais 
numeriquement une, avec une certaine partie 
de notre vie interieure. 

Voila pour la perception exterieure. Quand 
on s adresse a 1 imagination, a la memoire ou 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

aux facultes de representation abstraite, bien 
que les faits soient ici beaucoup plus compli- 
ques, je crois que la meme homogeneite essen- 
tielle se degage. Pour simplifier le probleme, 
excluons d abord toute realite sensible. Pre- 
nons la pensee pure, telle qu elle s effectue dans 
le reve ou la reverie, ou dans la memoire du 
passe. Ici encore, 1 etoffe de 1 experience ne 
fait-elle pas double emploi, le physique et le 
psychique ne se confondent-ils pas? Si je reve 
d une montagne d or, elle n existe sans doute 
pas en dehors du reve, mais dans le reve elle est 
de nature ou d essence parfaitement physique, 
c est comme physique qu elle m apparait. Si en 
ce moment je me permets de me souvenir de 
ma maison en Amerique, et des details de mon 
embarquement recent pour 1 Italie, le pheno- 
menepur, le fait qui se produit, qu est-il? C est, 
dit-on, ma pensee, avec son contenu. Mais en 
core ce contenu, qu est-il? II porte la forme 
d une partie du monde reel, partie distante, il 
est vrai, de six mille kilometres d espace et de 
six semaines de temps, mais reliee a la salle ou 
nous sommes par une foule de choses, objets 

213 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

et evenements, homogenes d une part avec la 
salle et d autre part avec 1 objet de mes sou 
venirs. 

Ce contenu ne se donne pas comme etant 
d abord un tout petit fait interieur que je 
projetterais ensuite au loin, il se presente d em- 
blee comme le fait eloigne meme. Et 1 acte de 
penser ce contenu, la conscience que j en ai, 
que sont-ils? Sont-ce au fond autre chose que 
des manieres retrospectives de nommer le 
contenu lui-meme, lorsqu on 1 aura separe de 
tous ces intermediates physiques, et relie a 
un nouveau groupe d associes qui le font ren 
tier dans ma vie mentale, les emotions par 
exemple qu il a eveillees en moi, 1 attention 
que j y porte, mes idees de tout a 1 heure qui 
1 ont suscite comme souvenir? Ce n est qu en 
se rapportant a ces derniers associes que le 
phenomene arrive a etre classe comme pensee; 
tant qu il ne se rapporte qu aux premiers il 
demeure phenomene objectif. X 

II est vrai que nous opposons habituelle- 
ment nos images interieures aux objets, et que 
nous les considerons comme de petites copies, 

14 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

comme des caiques ou doubles, affaiblis, de ces 
derniers. C est qu un objet present a une 
vivacite et une nettete superieures a celles de 
Timage. II lui fait ainsi contraste; et pour 
me servir de 1 excellent mot de Taine, il lui 
sert de reducteur. Quand les deux sont pre 
sents ensemble, 1 objet prend le premier plan 
et 1 image "recule," devient une chose "ab- 
sente." Mais cet objet present, qu est-il en 
lui-meme? De quelle etoffe est-il fait? De la 
meme etoffe que 1 image. II est fait de sensa 
tions; il est chose pergue. Son esse est percipi, 
et lui et 1 image sont generiquement homogenes. 

r~~ 

Si je pense en ce moment a mon chapeau que 
j ai laisse tout a 1 heure au vestiaire, ou est 
le dualisme, le discontinu, entre le chapeau 
pense et le chapeau reel ? C est d un vrai 
chapeau absent que mon esprit s occupe. J en 
tiens compte pratiquement comme d une 
realite. S il etait present sur cette table, le 
chapeau determinerait un mouvement de ma 
main: je 1 enleverais. De mme ce chapeau 
conQu, ce chapeau en idee, determinera tan- 
tot la direction de mes pas. J irai le prendre. 

215 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

L idee que j en ai se continuera jusqu a la 
presence sensible du chapeau, et s y fondra 
harmonieusement.J 

Je conclus done que, bien qu il y ait un 
dualisme pratique puisque les images se 
distinguent des objets, en tiennent lieu, et 
nous y menent, il n y a pas lieu de leur at- 
tribuer une difference de nature essentielle. 
Pensee et actualite sont faites d une seule et 
meme etoffe, qui est 1 etoffe de 1 experience en 
general. 

La psychologie de la perception exterieure 
nous mene a la meme conclusion. Quand 
j apergois Fob jet devant moi comme une table 
de telle forme, a telle distance, on m explique 
que ce fait est du a deux facteurs, a une ma- 
tiere de sensation qui me penetre par la vole 
des yeux et qui donne 1 element d exteriorite 
reelle, et a des idees qui se reveillent, vont a 
la rencontre de cette realite, la classent et 
l interpretent. Mais qui peut f aire la part, 
dans la table concretement apergue, de ce qui 
est sensation et de ce qui est idee? L externe et 
1 interne, 1 etendu et Tinetendu, se fusionnent 

216 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

et font un mariage indissoluble. Cela rappelle 
ces panoramas circulaires, ou des objets reels, 
rochers, herbe, chariots brises, etc., qui occu- 
pent 1 avant-plan, sont si ingenieusement re 
lies a la toile qui fait le fond, et qui repre- 
sente une bataille ou un vaste paysage, que 
Ton ne salt plus distinguer ce qui est objet de 
ce qui est peinture. Les coutures et les joints 
sont imperceptibles. 

Cela pourrait-il advenir si 1 objet et 1 idee 
etaient absolument dissemblables de nature? 

Je suis convaincu que des considerations 
pareilles a celles que je viens d exprimer au- 
ront deja suscite, chez vous aussi, des doutes 
au sujet du dualisme pretendu. 

Et d autres raisons de douter surgissent 
encore. II y a toute une sphere d adjectifs et 
d attributs qui ne sont ni objectifs, ni sub- 
jectifs d une maniere exclusive, mais que nous 
employons tantot d une maniere et tantot 
d une autre, comme si nous nous complaisions 
dans leur ambigui te. Je parle des qualites 
que nous apprecions, pour ainsi dire, dans les 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

choses, leur cote esthetique, moral, leur valeur 
pour nous. La beaute, par exemple, ou reside- 
t-elle? Est-elle dans la statue, dans la sonate, 
ou dans notre esprit? Mon collegue a Har 
vard, George Santayana, a ecrit un livre d es- 
thetique, 1 ou il appelle la beaute "le plaisir 
objectifie"; et en verite, c est bien ici qu on 
pourrait parler de projection au dehors. On 
dit indifferemment une chaleur agreable, ou 
une sensation agreable de chaleur. La rarete, 
le precieux du diamant nous en paraissent des 
qualites essentielles. Nous parlons d un orage 
affreux, d un homme ha issable, d une action 
indigne, et nous croyons parler objectivement, 
bien que ces termes n expriment que des 
rapports a notre sensibilite emotive propre. 
Nous disons meme un chemin penible, un ciel 
triste, un coucher de soleil superbe. Toute 
cette maniere animiste de regarder les choses 
qui parait avoir ete la fagon primitive de pen- 
ser des hommes, peut tres bien s expliquer (et 
M. Santayana, dans un autre livre tout recent, 2 

1 The Sense of Beauty, pp. 44 ff. 

2 The Life of Reason [vol. i, "Reason in Common Sense," p. 142]. 

218 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

Pa bien expliquee ainsi) par Phabitude d attri- 
buer a Pobjet tout ce que nous ressentons en sa 
presence. Le partage du subjectif et de Pob- 
jectif est le fait d tme reflexion tres avancee, 
que nous aimons encore ajourner dans beau- 
coup d endroits. Quand les besoins pratiques 
ne nous en tirent pas forcement, il semble que 
nous aimons a nous bercer dans le vague. 

Les qualites secondes elles-memes, chaleur, 
son, lumiere, n ont encore aujourd hui qu une 
attribution vague. Pour le sens commun, pour 
la vie pratique, elles sont absolument objec 
tives, physiques. Pour le physicien, elles sont 
subjectives. Pour lui, il n y a que la forme, 
la masse, le mouvement, qui aient une realite 
exterieure. Pour le philosophe idealiste, au 
contraire, forme et mouvement sont tout aussi 
subjectifs que lumiere et chaleur, et il n y a 
que la chose-en-soi inconnue, le "noumene," 
qui jouisse d une realite extramentale com 
plete. 

Nos sensations intimes conservent encore de 
cette ambiguite. II y a des illusions de mouve 
ment qui prouvent que nos premieres sen- 

219 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

sations de mouvement etaient generalisees. 
C est le monde entier, avec nous, qui se mou- 
vait. Maintenant nous distinguons notre pro- 
pre mouvement de celui des objets qui nous 
entourent, et parmi les objets nous en dis 
tinguons qui demeurent en repos. Mais il est 
des etats de vertige ou nous retombons encore 
aujourd hui dans 1 indifferenciation premiere. 
Vous connaissez tous sans doute cette the- 
orie qui a voulu f aire des emotions des sommes 
de sensations viscerales et musculaires. Elle a 
donne lieu a bien des controverses, et aucune 
opinion n a encore conquis 1 unanimite des 
suffrages. Vous connaissez aussi les contro 
verses sur la nature de 1 activite mentale. Les 
uns soutiennent qu elle est une force purement 
spirituelle que nous sommes en etat d aperce- 
voir immediatement comme telle. Les autres 
pretendent que ce que nous nommons activite 
mentale (effort, attention, par exemple) n est 
que le reflet senti de certains effets dont notre 
organisme est le siege, tensions musculaires au 
crane et au gosier, arret ou passage de la 
respiration, afflux de sang, etc. 

220 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

De quelque maniere que se resolvent ces con- 
troverses, leur existence prouve bien clairement 
une chose, c est qu il est tres difficile, ou meme 
absolument impossible de savoir, par la seule 
inspection intime de certains phenomenes, s ils 
sont de nature physique, occupant de Fetendue, 
etc., ou s ils sont de nature purement psychique 
et interieure. II nous faut toujours trouver des 
raisons pour appuyer notre avis; il nous faut 
chercher la classification la plus probable du 
phenomene; et en fin decompte il pourrait bien 
se trouver que toutes nos classifications usuelles 
eussent eu leurs motifs plutot dans les besoins 
de la pratique que dans quelque faculte que 
nous aurions d apercevoir deux essences ul- 
times et diverses qui composeraient ensemble la 
trame des choses. Le corps de chacun de nous 
offre un contraste pratique presque violent a 
tout le reste du milieu ambiant. Tout ce qui 
arrive au dedans de ce corps nous est plus in- 
time et important que ce qui arrive ailleurs. II 
s identifie avec notre moi, il se classe avec lui. 
Ame, vie, soufHe, qui saurait bien les dis- 
tinguer exactement? Meme nos images et nos 

221 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

souvenirs, qui n agissent sur le monde physique 
que par le moyen de notre corps, semblent ap- 
partenir a ce dernier. Nous les traitons comme 
internes, nous les classons avec nos sentiments 
affectifs. II faut bien avouer, en somme, que 
la question du dualisme de la pensee et de la 
matiere est bien loin d etre finalement resolue. 

Et voila terminee la premiere partie de mon 
discours. J ai voulu vous penetrer, Mesdames 
et Messieurs, de mes doutes et de la realite, 
aussi bien que de 1 importance, du probleme. 

Quant a moi, apres de longues annees d hesi- 
tation, j ai fini par prendre mon parti carre- 
ment. Je crois que la conscience, telle qu on se 
la represente communement, soit comme en- 
tite, soit comme activite pure, mais en tout 
cas comme fluide, inetendue, diaphane, vide 
de tout contenu propre, mais se connaissant 
directement elle-meme, spirituelle enfin, je 
crois, dis-je, que cette conscience est une pure 
chimere, et que la somme de realites concretes 
que le mot conscience devrait couvrir, merite 
une toute autre description, description, du 
reste, qu une philosophic attentive aux faits et 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

sachant faire un peu d analyse, serait desor- 
mais en etat de f ournir ou plutot de commencer 
a fournir. Et ces mots m amenent a la seconde 
partie de mon discours. Elle sera beaucoup 
plus courte que la premiere, parce que si je la 
developpais sur la meme echelle, elle serait 
beaucoup trop longue. II faut, par consequent, 
que je me restreigne aux seules indications 
indispensables. 

Admettons que la conscience, la Bewusstheit, 
congue comme essence, entite, activite, moitie 
irreductible de chaque experience, soit sup- 
primee, que le dualisme fondamental et pour 
ainsi dire ontologique soit aboli et que ce que 
nous supposions exister soit seulement ce qu on 
a appele jusqu ici le contenu, le Inhalt, de la 
conscience; comment la philosophic va-t-elle se 
tirer d affaire avec Pespece de monisme vague 
qui en resultera ? Je vais tacher de vous insinuer 
quelques suggestions positives la-dessus, bien 
que je craigne que, faute du developpement 
necessaire, mes idees ne repandront pas une 
clarte tres grande. Pourvu que j indique un 

223 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

commencement de sentier, ce sera peut-etre 
assez. 

Au fond, pourquoi nous accrochons-nous 
d une maniere si tenace a cette idee d une con 
science surajoutee a 1 existence du contenu des 
choses? Pourquoi la reclamons-nous si forte- 
ment, que celui qui la nierait nous semblerait 
plut6t un mauvais plaisant qu un penseur? 
N est-ce pas pour sauver ce fait indeniable que 
le contenu de 1 experience n a pas seulement 
une existence propre et comme immanente et 
intrinseque, mais que chaque partie de ce con 
tenu deteint pour ainsi dire sur ses voisines, 
rend compte d elle-meme a d autres, sort en 
quelque sorte de soi pour tre sue et qu ainsi 
tout le champ de 1 experience se trouve etre 
transparent de part en part, ou constitue 
comme un espace qui serait rempli de miroirs? 

Cette bilateralite des parties de 1 experience, 
a savoir d une part, qu elles sont avec des 
qualites propres; d autre part, qu elles sont 
rapportees ^ d autres parties et sues 1 opin- 
ion regnante la constate et 1 explique par un 
dualisme f ondamental de constitution apparte- 

224 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

nant a chaque morceau d experience en propre. 
Dans cette feuille de papier il n y a pas seule- 
ment, dit-on, le contenu, blancheur, minceur, 
etc., mais il y a ce second fait de la conscience 
de cette blancheur et de cette minceur. Cette 
fonction d etre "rapporte," de faire partie de la 
trame entiere d une experience plus compre 
hensive, on 1 erige en fait ontologique, et on 
loge ce fait dans 1 interieur m^me du papier, en 
1 accouplant a sa blancheur et a sa minceur. 
Ce n est pas un rapport extrinseque qu on 
suppose, c est une moitie du phenomene mme. 
Je crois qu en somme on se represente la 
realite comme constitute de la faQon dont sont 
faites les "couleurs" qui nous servent a la 
peinture. II y a d abord des matieres coloran- 
tes qui repondent au contenu, et il y a un ve- 
hicule, huile ou colle, qui les tient en suspen 
sion et qui repond a la conscience. C est un 
dualisme complet, ou, en employant certains 
precedes, on peut separer chaque element de 
Tautre par voie de soustraction. C est ainsi 
qu on nous assure qu en faisant un grand effort 
d abstraction introspective, nous pouvons sai- 

225 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

sir notre conscience sur le vif, comme une 
activite spirituelle pure, en negligeant & peu 
pres completement les matieres qu un 
moment donne elle eclaire. 

Maintenant je vous demande si on ne pour- 
rait pas tout aussi bien renverser absolument 
cette maniere de voir. Supposons, en effet, 
que la realite premiere soit de nature neutre, 
et appelons-la par quelque nom encore ambigu, 
comme phenomene, donne, Vorfindung. Moi- 
meme j en parle volontiers au pluriel, et je lui 
donne le nom ft experiences pures. Ce sera un 
monisme, si vous voulez, mais un monisme tout 
a fait rudimentaire et absolument oppose au 
soi-disant monisme bilateral du positivisme 
scientifique ou spinoziste. 

Ces experiences pures existent et se succe- 
dent, entrent dans des rapports infiniment 
varies les unes avec les autres, rapports qui 
sont eux-memes des parties essentielles de la 
trame des experiences. II y a " Conscience "de 
ces rapports au mme titre qu il y a "Con 
science" de leurs termes. II en resulte que des 
groupes d experiences se font remarquer et 

226 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

distinguer, et qu une seule et meme experience, 
vu la grande variete de ses rapports, peut 
jouer un role dans plusieurs groupes a la fois. 
C est ainsi que dans un certain contexte de 
voisins, elle serait classee comme un phe- 
nomene physique, tandis que dans un autre 
entourage elle figurerait comme un fait de 
conscience, a peu pres comme une mme par- 
ticule d encre peut appartenir simultanement 
a deux lignes, Tune verticale, Pautre horizon- 
tale, pourvu qu elle soit situee a leur inter 
section. 

Prenons, pour fixer nos idees, Pexperience 
que nous avons a ce moment du local oft nous 
sommes, de ces murailles, de cette table, de ces 
chaises, de cet espace. Dans cette experience 
pleine, concrete et indivise, telle qu elle est la, 
donnee, le monde physique objectif et le monde 
interieur et personnel de chacun de nous se 
rencontrent et se fusionnent comme des lignes 
se fusionnent a leur intersection. Comme chose 
physique, cette salle a des rapports avec tout 
le reste du batiment, b&timent que nous autres 
nous ne connaissons et ne connaitrons pas. 

227 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Elle doit son existence a toute une histoire de 
financiers, d architectes, d ouvriers. Elle pese 
sur le sol; elle durera indefiniment dans le 
temps; si le feu y eclatait, les chaises et la 
table qu elle contient seraient vite reduites 
en cendres. 

Comme experience personnelle, au contraire, 
comme chose "rapportee," connue, consciente, 
cette salle a de tout autres tenants et aboutis- 
sants. Ses antecedents ne sont pas des ouvri- 
ers, ce sont nos pensees respectives de tout a 
1 heure. Bientot elle ne figurera que comme 
un fait fugitif dans nos biographies, associe a 
d agreables souvenirs. Comme experience psy- 
chique, elle n a aucun poids, son ameublement 
n est pas combustible. Elle n exerce de force 
physique que sur nos seuls cerveaux, et beau- 
coup d entre nous nient encore cette influence; 
tandis que la salle physique est en rapport 
d influence physique avec tout le reste du 
monde. 

Et pourtant c est de la meme salle absolu- 
ment qu il s agit dans les deux cas. Tant que 
nous ne faisons pas de physique speculative, 

228 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

tant que nous nous plagons dans le sens com- 
mun, c est la salle vue et sentie qui est bien la 
salle physique. De quoi parlons-nous done si 
ce n est de cela, de cette meme partie de la 
nature materielle que tous nos esprits, a ce 
meme moment, embrassent, qui entre telle 
quelle dans 1 experience actuelle et intime de 
chacun de nous, et que notre souvenir re- 
gardera tou jours comme une partie integrante 
de notre histoire. C est absolument une meme 
etoffe qui figure simultanement, selon le con- 
texte que Ton considere, comme fait materiel 
et physique, ou comme fait de conscience 
intime. 

Je crois done qu on ne saurait traiter con 
science et matiere comme etant d essence dis 
parate. On n obtient ni 1 une ni 1 autre par 
soustraction, en negligeant chaque fois 1 autre 
moitied une experience de composition double. 
Les experiences sont au contraire primitive- 
ment de nature plutot simple. Elles deviennent 
conscientes dans leur entier, elles deviennent 
physiques dans leur entier; et c est par voie 
(T addition que ce resultat se realise. Pour au- 

229 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

tant que des experiences se prolongent dans le 
temps, entrent dans des rapports d influence 
physique, se brisant, se chauffant, s eclairant, 
etc., mutuellement, nous en faisons un groupe 
a part que nous appelons le monde physique. 
Pour autant, au contraire, qu elles sont fugi 
tives, inertes physiquement, que leur succes 
sion ne suit pas d ordre determine, mais semble 
plutot obeir a des caprices emotifs, nous en 
faisons un autre groupe que nous appelons le 
monde psychique. C est en entrant a present 
dans un grand nombre de ces groupes psy- 
chiques que cette salle devient maintenant 
chose consciente, chose rapportee, chose sue. 
En faisant desormais partie de nos biographies 
respectives, elle ne sera pas suivie de cette sotte 
et monotone repetition d elle-mme dans le 
temps qui caracterise son existence physique. 
Elle sera suivie, au contraire, par d autres 
experiences qui seront discontinues avec elle, 
ou qui auront ce genre tout particulier de con- 
tinuite que nous appelons souvenir. Demain, 
elle aura eu sa place dans chacun de nos 
passes; mais les presents divers auxquels tous 

230 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

ces passes seront lies demain seront bien differ- 
ents du present dont cette salle jouira demain 
comme entite physique. 

i Les deux genres de groupes sont formes 
d experiences, mais les rapports des experiences 
entre elles different d un groupe a 1 autre. 
C est done par addition d autres phenomenes 
qu un phenomene donne devient conscient ou 
connu, ce n est pas par un dedoublement 
d essence interieure. La connaissance des 
choses leur survient, elle ne leur est pas im- 
manente. Ce n est le fait ni d un moi tran 
scendental, ni d une Bewusstheit ou acte de 
conscience qui les animerait chacune. Elles se 
connaissent Vune Vautre, ou plutot il y en a qui 
connaissent les autres; et le rapport que nous 
nommons connaissance n est lui-meme, dans 
beaucoup de cas, qu une suite d experiences 
intermediates parfaitement susceptibles d etre 
decrites en termes concrets. II n est nullement 
le mystere transcendant ou se sont complus 
tant de philosophes. 

Mais ceci nous menerait beaucoup trop loin. 
Je ne puis entrer ici dans tous les replis de la 

231 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

theorie de la connaissance, ou de ce que, vous 
autres Italiens, vous appelez la gnoseologie. Je 
dois me contenter de ces remarques ecourtees, 
ou simples suggestions, qui sont, je le crains, 
encore bien obscures faute des developpements 
necessaires. 

Permettez done que je me resume trop 
sommairement, et en style dogmatique 
dans les six theses suivantes: 

1 La Conscience, telle qu on Ventend ordi- 
nairement, n existe pas, pas plus que la Matiere, 
a laquelle Berkeley a donne le coup de grace; 

2 Ce qui existe et forme la part de verite que le 
mot de "Conscience" recouvre, c est la suscep- 
tibilite que possedent les parties de I ^experience 
d etre rapportees ou connues; 

3 Cette susceptibilite s explique par le fait 
que certaines experiences peuvent mener les unes 
aux autres par des experiences intermediates 
nettement caracterisees, de telle sorte que les unes 
se trouvent jouer le role de choses connues, les 
autres celui de sujets connaissants ; 

4 On pent parfaitement definir ces deux roles 
232 



LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE 

sans sortir de la trame de V experience meme, et 
sans invoquer rien de transcendant ; 

5 Les attributions sujet et objet, represents et 
representatif, chose et pensee, signifient done une 
distinction pratique qui est de la derniere impor 
tance, mais qui est d ordre FONCTIONNEL seule- 
ment, et nullement ontologique comme le dualisme 
dassique se la represente; 

6 En fin de compte, les choses et les pensees ne 
sont point foncierement heterogenes, mais elles 
sontfaites d une meme etoffe, etoffe qu 9 on ne peut 
definir comme telle 9 mais seulement eprouver, et 
que I on peut nommer, si on veut, V etoffe de 
V experience en general. 



IX 



IS RADICAL EMPIRICISM SOLIP- 
SISTIC? 

IF all the criticisms which the humanistic 
Weltanschauung is receiving were as sachgemdss 
as Mr. Bode s, 2 the truth of the matter would 
more rapidly clear up. Not only is it excel 
lently well written, but it brings its own point 
of view out clearly, and admits of a perfectly 
straight reply. 

The argument (unless I fail to catch it) can 
be expressed as follows : 

If a series of experiences be supposed, no one 
of which is endowed immediately with the self- 
transcendent function of reference to a reality 
beyond itself, no motive will occur within the 
series for supposing anything beyond it to 
exist. It will remain subjective, and content 
edly subjective, both as a whole and in its 

i 

several parts. 

1 [Reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol. n, No. 9. April 27, 1905.] 

8 [B. H. Bode: " Pure Experience and the External World," 
Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, vol. n, 
1905, p. 128.] 

234 



IS EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC? 

Radical empiricism, trying, as it does, to 
account for objective knowledge by means of 
such a series, egregiously fails. It can not 
explain how the notion of a physical order, as 
distinguished from a subjectively biographical 
order, of experiences, ever arose. 

It pretends to explain the notion of a physi 
cal order, but does so by playing fast and loose 
with the concept of -objective reference. On 
the one hand, it denies that such reference 
implies self -transcendency on the part of any 
one experience; on the other hand, it claims 
that experiences point. But, critically con 
sidered, there can be no pointing unless self- 
transcendency be also allowed. The conjunc 
tive function of pointing, as I have assumed it, 
is, according to my critic, vitiated by the fal 
lacy of attaching a bilateral relation to a term 
a quo, as if it could stick out substantively and 
maintain itself in existence in advance of the 
term ad quern which is equally required for it 
to be a concretely experienced fact. If the 
relation be made concrete, the term ad quern is 
involved, which would mean (if I succeed in 

235 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

apprehending Mr. Bode rightly) that this 
latter term, although not empirically there, is 
yet noetically there, in advance in other 
words it would mean that any experience that 
points must already have transcended itself , 
in the ordinary epistemological sense of the 
word transcend. 

Something like this, if I understand Mr. 
Bode s text, is the upshot of his state of mind. 
It is a reasonable sounding state of mind, but 
it is exactly the state of mind which radical 
empiricism, by its doctrine of the reality of 
conjunctive relations, seeks to dispel. I very 
much fear so difficult does mutual under 
standing seem in these exalted regions that 
my able critic has failed to understand that 
doctrine as it is meant to be understood. I 
suspect that he performs on all these conjunc 
tive relations (of which the aforesaid point 
ing is only one) the usual rationalistic act of 
substitution he takes them not as they are 
given in their first intention, as parts consti 
tutive of experience s living flow, but only as 
they appear in retrospect, each fixed as a 

236 



IS EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC? 

determinate object of conception, static, there 
fore, and contained within itself. 

Against this rationalistic tendency to treat 
experience as chopped up into discontinuous 
static objects, radical empiricism protests. It 
insists on taking conjunctions at their face- 
value, just as they come. Consider, for ex 
ample, such conjunctions as and, with, 
near, plus, 9 towards. While we live in such 
conjunctions our state is one of transition in 
the most literal sense. We are expectant of a 
more to come, and before the more has come, 
the transition, nevertheless, is directed towards 
it. I fail otherwise to see how, if one kind of 
more comes, there should be satisfaction and 
feeling of fulfilment; but disappointment if 
the more comes in another shape. One more 
will continue, another more will arrest or 
deflect the direction, in which our experience 
is moving even now. We can not, it is true, 
name our different living ands or withs 
except by naming the different terms towards 
which they are moving us, but we live their 
specifications and differences before those 

237 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

; - 

terms explicitly arrive. Thus, though the 
various ands are all bilateral relations, each 
requiring a term ad quern to define it when 
viewed in retrospect and articulately con 
ceived, yet in its living moment any one of 
them may be treated as if it stuck out from 
its term a quo and pointed in a special direc 
tion, much as a compass-needle (to use Mr. 
Bode s excellent simile) points at the pole, 
even though it stirs not from its box. 

In Professor Hoffding s massive little art 
icle in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology 
and Scientific Methods, 1 he quotes~a saying of 
Kierkegaard s to the effect that we live for 
wards, but we understand backwards. Under 
standing backwards is, it must be confessed, a 
very frequent weakness of philosophers, both 
of the rationalistic and of the ordinary empiri 
cist type. Radical empiricism alone insists on 
understanding forwards also, and refuses to 
substitute static concepts of the understand 
ing for transitions in our moving life. A logic 
similar to that which my critic seems to employ 

1 Vol. II, [1905], pp. 85-02. 

238 



IS EMPIRICISM SOLIPSISTIC? 

here should, it seems to me, forbid him to say 
that our present is, while present, directed 
towards our future, or that any physical 
movement can have direction until its goal is 
actually reached. 

At this point does it not seem as if the 
quarrel about self -transcendency in knowledge 
might drop? Is it not a purely verbal dispute? 
Call it self-transcendency or call it pointing, 
whichever you like it makes no difference 
so long as real transitions towards real goals 
are admitted as things given in experience, and 
among experience s most indefeasible parts. 
Radical empiricism, unable to close its eyes to 
the transitions caught in actu, accounts for the 
self-transcendency or the pointing (whichever 
you may call it) as a process that occurs within i 
experience, as an empirically mediated thing 
of which a perfectly definite description can 
be given. Epistemology, on the other hand, 
denies this; and pretends that the self -tran 
scendency is unmediated or, if mediated, then 
mediated in a super-empirical world. To jus 
tify this pretension, epistemology has first to 

239 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

transform all our conjunctions into static 
objects, and this, I submit, is an absolutely 
arbitrary act. But in spite of Mr. Bode s mal 
treatment of conjunctions, as I understand 
them and as I understand him I believe 
that at bottom we are fighting for nothing dif 
ferent, but are both defending the same con 
tinuities of experience in different forms of 
words. 

There are other criticisms in the article in 
question, but, as this seems the most vital one, 
I will for the present, at any rate, leave them 
untouched. 



X 



MR. PITKIN S REFUTATION OF 
RADICAL EMPIRICISM * 

ALTHOUGH Mr. Pitkin does not name me in 
his acute article on radical empiricism, 2 [. . . ] 
I fear that some readers, knowing me to have 
applied that name to my own doctrine, may 
possibly consider themselves to have been in at 
my death. 

In point of fact my withers are entirely 
un wrung. I have, indeed, said 3 that to be 
radical, an empiricism must not admit into its 
constructions any element that is not directly 
experienced. But in my own radical empiri 
cism this is only a methodological postulate, not 
a conclusion supposed to flow from the intrin 
sic absurdity of transempirical objects. I have 
never felt the slightest respect for the idealistic 

1 [Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and 
Scientific Methods, vol.m, No. 26, December 20, 1906; and ibid., vol. 
iv. No. 4, February 14, 1907, where the original is entitled "A Reply 
to Mr. Pitkin." ED.] 

1 [W. B. Pitkin: "A Problem of Evidence in Radical Empiricism/ 
ibid., vol. m. No. 24, November 22, 1906. ED.] 

[Above, p. 42. ED.] 

241 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

arguments which Mr. Pitkin attacks and of 
which Ferrier made^such striking use; and I 
am perfectly willing to admit any number of 
noumenal beings or events into philosophy if 
only their pragmatic value can be shown. 

Radical empiricism and pragmatism have so 
many misunderstandings to suffer from, that 
it seems my duty not to let this one go any 
farther, uncorrected. 

Mr. Pitkin s * reply to me, 1 [. . . ] perplexes 
me by the obscurity of style which I find in 
almost all our younger philosophers. He asks 
me, however, two direct questions which I 
understand, so I take the liberty of answering. 

First he asks: Do not experience and science 
show that countless things are 2 experienced 
as that which they are not or are only par 
tially? I reply : Yes, assuredly, as, for example, 

V 

things distorted by refractive media, mole 
cules, or whatever else is taken to be more 

1 [" In Reply to Professor James," Journal of Philosophy, Psycho 
logy and Scientific Methods, vol. rv, No. 2, January 17, 1907. ED.] 

8 Mr. Pitkin inserts the clause: by reason of the very nature of 
experience itself. Not understanding just what reason is meant, I do 
apt include this clause in my answer. 

242 



PITKIN ON RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ultimately real than the immediate content of 
the perceptive moment. 

Secondly: "If experience is self-supporting 1 
(in any intelligible sense) does this fact pre 
clude the possibility of (a) something not 
experienced and (b) action of experience upon 
a noumenon ?" 

My reply is: Assuredly not the possibility 
of either how could it? Yet in my opinion 
we should be wise not to consider any thing 
or action of that nature, and to restrict our 
universe of philosophic discourse to what is 
experienced or, at least, experienceable. 2 

1 [See above, p. 193. ED.] 

2 [Elsewhere, in speaking of reality as "conceptual or perceptual 
experiences," the author says: "This is meant merely to exclude real 
ity of an unknowable* sort, of which no account in either perceptual 
or conceptual terms can be given. It includes, of course, any amount 
of empirical reality independent of the knower." Meaning of Truth, 
p. 100, note. ED.] 



XI 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH ONCE 
MORE. 1 

MR. JOSEPH S criticism of my article Hu 
manism and Truth 2 is a useful contribution to 
the general clearing up. He has seriously tried 
to comprehend what the pragmatic movement 
may intelligibly mean; and if he has failed, it 
is the fault neither of his patience nor of his 
sincerity, but rather of stubborn tricks of 
thought which he could not easily get rid of. 
Minute polemics, in which the parties try 
to rebut every detail of each of the other s 
charges, are a useful exercise only to the dis 
putants. They can but breed confusion in a 
reader. I will therefore ignore as much as 
possible the text of both our articles (mine was 
inadequate enough) and treat once more the 
general objective situation. 

1 [Reprinted without change from Mind, N. S., vol. xiv, No. 54, 
April, 1905, pp. 190-198. Pages 245-247, and pp. 261-265, have also 
been reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 54-57, and pp. 97-100. 
The present essay is referred to above, p. 203. ED.] 

2 [ Humanism and Truth first appeared in Mind, N. S., vol. xin, 
No. 52, October, 1904. It is reprinted in The Meaning of Truth, pp. 

244 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

As I apprehend the movement towards 
humanism, it is based on no particular dis 
covery or principle that can be driven into one 
precise formula which thereupon can be im 
paled upon a logical skewer. It is much more 
like one of those secular changes that come 
upon public opinion over-night, as it were, 
borne upon tides too full for sound or foam/ 
that survive all the crudities and extrava 
gances of their advocates, that you can pin to 
no one absolutely essential statement, nor kill 
by any one decisive stab. 

Such have been the changes from aristo 
cracy to democracy, from classic to romantic 
taste, from theistic to pantheistic feeling, from 
static to evolutionary ways of understanding 
life changes of which we all have been 
spectators. Scholasticism still opposes to such 
changes the method of confutation by single 
decisive reasons, showing that the new view 
involves self-contradiction, or traverses some 
fundamental principle. This is like stopping 

51-101. Cf. this article passim. Mr. H. W. B. Joseph s criticism, 
entitled "Professor James on Humanism and Truth, " appeared in 
Mind, N. S., vol. xiv, No. 53, January, 1905. ED.] 

245 



, ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

a river by planting a stick in the middle of 
its bed. Round your obstacle flows the water 
and gets there all the same. In reading Mr. 
Joseph, I am not a little reminded of those 
Catholic writers who refute Darwinism by 
telling us that higher species can not come from 
lower because minus nequit gignere plus, or 
that the notion of transformation is absurd, for 
it implies that species tend to their own de 
struction, and that would violate the principle 
that every reality tends to persevere in its own 
shape. The point of view is too myopic, too 
tight and close to take in the inductive argu 
ment. You can not settle questions of fact by 
formal logic. I feel as if Mr. Joseph almost 
pounced on my words singly, without giving 
the sentences time to get out of my mouth. 

The one condition of understanding hu 
manism is to become inductive-minded one 
self, to drop rigorous definitions, and follow 

V* 
lines of least resistance on the wh^e. "In 

other words," Mr. Joseph may probably say, 
"resolve your intellect into a kind of slush." 
"Even so," I make reply, "if you will con- 

246 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

sent to use no politer word." For humanism, 
conceiving the more true as the more satis 
factory (Dewey s term) has to renounce sin 
cerely rectilinear arguments and ancient ideals 
of rigor and finality. It is in just this tem 
per of renunciation, so different from that 
of pyrrhonistic scepticism, that the spirit of 
humanism essentially consists. Satisfactori- 
ness has to be measured by a multitude of 
"_ standards, of which some, for aught we know, 
may fail in any given case; and what is more 
satisfactory than any alternative in sight, may 
to the end be a sum of pluses and minuses, 
concerning which we can only trust that by 
ulterior corrections and improvements a maxi 
mum of the one and a minimum of the other 
may some day be approached. It means a real 
change of heart, a break with absolutistic 
hopes, when one takes up this view of the 
conditions of belief. 

That humanism s critics have never im 
agined this attitude inwardly, is shown by 
their invariable tactics. They do not get into 
it far enough to see objectively and from with- 

247 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

out what their own opposite notion of truth is. 
Mr. Joseph is possessed by some such notion; 
he thinks his readers to be full of it, he obeys 
it, works from it, but never even essays to tell 
us what it is. The nearest he comes to doing 
so is where l he says it is the way "we ought 
to think," whether we be psychologically com 
pelled to or not. 

Of course humanism agrees to this: it is only 
a manner of calling truth an ideal. But 
humanism explicates the summarizing word 
ought into a mass of pragmatic motives from 
the midst of which our critics think that truth 
itself takes flight. Truth is a name of double 
meaning. It stands now for an abstract some 
thing defined only as that to which our thought 
ought to conform; and again it stands for the 
concrete propositions within which we believe 
that conformity already reigns they being 
so many truths. Humanism sees that the 
only conformity we ever have to deal with 
concretely is that between our subjects and 
our predicates, using these words in a very 

1 Op. cit., p. 37. 
248 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

broad sense. It sees moreover that this con 
formity is Validated (to use Mr. Schiller s 
term) by an indefinite number of pragmatic 
tests that vary as the predicates and subjects 
vary. If an S gets superseded by an SP that 
gives our mind a completer sum of satisfac 
tions, we always say, humanism points out, 
that we have advanced to a better position in 
regard to truth. 

, Now many of our judgments thus attained 
are retrospective. The S es, so the judgment 
runs, were SP s already ere the fact was hu 
manly recorded. Common sense, struck by 
this state of things, now rearranges the whole 
field; and traditional philosophy follows her 
example. The general requirement that predi 
cates must conform to their subject, they 
translate into an ontological theory. A most 
previous Subject of all is substituted for the 
lesser subjects and conceived of as an arche 
typal Reality; and the conformity required of 
predicates in detail is reinterpreted as a rela 
tion which our whole mind, with all its sub 
jects and predicates together, must get into 

249 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

s 

with respect to this Reality. It, meanwhile, is 
conceived as eternal, static, and unaffected 
by our thinking. Conformity to a non-human 
Archetype like this is probably the notion of 
truth which my opponent shares with common 
sense and philosophic rationalism. 

When now Humanism, fully admitting both 
the naturalness and the grandeur of this hypo 
thesis, nevertheless points to its sterility, and 
declines to chime in with the substitution, 
keeping to the concrete and still lodging truth 
between the subjects and the predicates in 
detail, it provokes the outcry which we hear 
and which my critic echoes. 

One of the commonest parts of the outcry is 
that humanism is subjectivistic altogether 
it is supposed to labor under a necessity of 
"denying trans-perceptual reality. 1 It is not 
hard to see how this misconception of human 
ism may have arisen; and humanistic writers, 
partly from not having sufficiently guarded 
their expressions, and partly from not having 
" got round" (in the poverty of their liter- 

[Cf. above, pp. 241-243.] 
250 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

ature) to a full discussion of the subject, are 
doubtless in some degree to blame. But I fail 
to understand how any one with a working 
grasp of their principles can charge them 
wholesale . with subjectivism. [I myself have 
never thought of humanism as being subject^ 
ivistic farther than to this extent, that, inas 
much as it treats the thinker as being himself 
one portion of reality, it must also allow that 
some of the realities that he declares for true 
are created by his being there. Such realities 
of course are either acts of his, or relations 
between other things and him, or relations 
between things, which, but for him, would 
never have been traced. Humanists are sub- 
jectivistic, also in this, that, unlike rationalists 
(who think they carry a warrant for the abso 
lute truth of what they now believe in in their 
present pocket), they hold all present beliefs 
as subject to revision in the light of future 
experience. The future experience, however, 
may be of things outside the thinker; and that 
this is so the humanist may believe as freely 
as any other kind of empiricist philosopher. 

251 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

The critics of humanism (though here I 
follow them but darkly) appear to object to 
any infusion whatever of subjectivism into 
truth. All must be archetypal; every truth 
must pre-exist to its perception. Humanism 
sees that an enormous quantity of truth must 
be written down as having pre-existed to its 
perception by us humans. In countless in 
stances we find it most satisfactory to believe 
that, though we were always ignorant of the 
fact, it always was a fact that S was SP. But 
humanism separates this class of cases from 
those in which it is more satisfactory to believe 
the opposite, e.g., that S is ephemeral, or P a 
passing event, or SP created by the perceiv 
ing act. Our critics seem on the other hand, 
to wish to universalize the retrospective type 
of instance. Reality must pre-exist to every x 
assertion for which truth is claimed. And, not 
content with this overuse of one particular 
type of judgment, our critics claim its mono 
poly. They appear to wish to cut off Hu 
manism from its rights to any retrospection 

at all. 

252 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

Humanism says that satisfactoriness is what 
distinguishes the true from the false. But sat 
isfactoriness is both a subjective quality, and 
a present one. Ergo (the critics appear to 
reason) an object, qua true, must always for 
humanism be both present and subjective, and 
a humanist s belief can never be in anything 
that lives outside of the belief itself or ante 
dates it. Why so preposterous a charge should 
be so current, I find it hard to say. Nothing 
is more obvious than the fact that both the 
objective and the past existence of the object 
may be the very things about it that most 
seem satisfactory, and that most invite us to 
believe them. The past tense can figure in the 
humanist s world, as well of belief as of re 
presentation, quite as harmoniously as in the 
world of any one else. 

Mr. Joseph gives a special turn to this 
accusation. He charges me 1 with being self- 
contradictory when I say that the main cate 
gories of thought were evolved in the course of 
experience itself. For I use these very cate- 

^ 0p. ct/., p. 82. 
253 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

gories to define the course of experience by. 
Experience, as I talk about it, is a product of 
their use; and yet I take it as true anteriorly 
to them. This seems to Mr. Joseph to be an 
absurdity. I hope it does not seem such to his 
readers; for if experiences can suggest hypo 
theses at all (and they notoriously do so) I can 
see no absurdity whatever in the notion of a 
retrospective hypothesis having for its object 
the very train of experiences by which its own 
being, along with that of other things, has 
been brought about. If the hypothesis is 
satisfactory we must, of course, believe it 
to have been true anteriorly to its formula 
tion by ourselves. Every explanation of 
a present by a past seems to involve this 
kind of circle, which is not a vicious circle. 
The past is causa existendi of the present, 
which in turn is causa cognoscendi of the 
past. If the present were treated as causa ex 
istendi of the past, the circle might indeed be 
vicious. 

Closely connected with this pseudo-diffi 
culty is another one of wider scope and greater 

254 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

complication more excusable therefore. 1 
Humanism, namely, asking how truth in point 
of fact is reached, and seeing that it is by ever 
substituting more satisfactory for less satis 
factory opinions, is thereby led into a vague 
historic sketch of truth s development. The 
earliest opinions, it thinks, must have been 
dim, unconnected feelings, and only little by 
little did more and more orderly views of 
things replace them. Our own retrospective 
view of this whole evolution is now, let us say, 
the latest candidate for truth as yet reached 
in the process. To be a satisfactory candidate, 
it must give some definite sort of a picture of 
what forces keep the process going. On the 
subjective side we have a fairly definite picture 
sensation, association, interest, hypothesis, 
these account in a general way for the growth 
into a cosmos of the relative chaos with which 
the mind began. 

But on the side of the object, so to call it 
roughly, our view is much less satisfactory. 

1 [This] Mr. Joseph deals with (though in much too pettifogging 
and logic-chopping a way) on pp. 33-34 of his article. 

255 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Of which of our many objects are we to believe 
that it truly was there and at work before 
the human mind began? Time, space, kind, 
number, serial order, cause, consciousness, 
are hard things not to objectify even tran 
scendental idealism leaves them standing as 
empirically real. Substance, matter, force, 
fall down more easily before criticism, and 
secondary qualities make almost no resistance 
at all. Nevertheless, when we survey the field 
of speculation, from Scholasticism through 
Kantism to Spencerism, we find an ever-recur 
ring tendency to convert the pre-human into a 
merely logical object, an unknowable ding-an- 
sich, that but starts the process, or a vague 
materia prima that but receives our forms. 1 

The reasons for this are not so much logical 
as they are material. We can postulate an 
extra-mental that freely enough (though some 
idealists have denied us the privilege), but 
when we have done so, the what of it is hard 



1 Compare some elaborate articles by M. Le Roy and M. Wilbois 
in the Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, vols. vm, ix, and x, [1900, 
1901, and 1902.1 

256 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

to determine satisfactorily, because of the op 
positions and entanglements of the variously 
proposed whats with one another and with the 
history of the human mind. The literature of 
speculative cosmology bears witness to this 
difficulty. Humanism suffers from it no more 
than any other philosophy suffers, but it 
makes all our cosmogonic theories so unsatis 
factory that some thinkers seek relief in the 
denial of any primal dualism. Absolute 
Thought or pure experience is postulated, 
and endowed with attributes calculated to 
justify the belief that it may run itself. Both 
these truth-claiming hypotheses are non- 
dualistic in the old mind-and-matter sense; 
but the one is monistic and the other pluralistic 
as to the world process itself. Some humanists 
are non-dualists of this sort I myself am 
one und zwar of the pluralistic brand. But 
doubtless dualistic humanists also exist, as 
well as non-dualistic ones of the monistic wing. 
Mr. Joseph pins these general philosophic 
difficulties on humanism alone, or possibly on 
me alone. My article spoke vaguely of a 

257 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

most chaotic pure experience coming first, 
and building up the mind. 1 But how can two 
structureless things interact so as to produce 
a structure? my critic triumphantly asks. Of 
course they can t, as purely so-named entities. 
We must make additional hypotheses. We 
must beg a minimum of structure for them. 
The kind of minimum that might have tended 
to increase towards what we now find actually 
developed is the philosophical desideratum 
here. The question is that of the most ma 
terially satisfactory hypothesis. Mr. Joseph 
handles it by formal logic purely, as if he had 
no acquaintance with the logic of hypothesis 
at all. 

Mr. Joseph again is much bewildered as to 
what a humanist can mean when he uses the 
word knowledge. He tries to convict me 2 of 
vaguely identifying it with any kind of good. 
Knowledge is a difficult thing to define briefly, 
and Mr. Joseph shows his own constructive 
hand here even less than in the rest of his 

1 [Cf. The Meaning of Truth, p. 64.] , 

2 [Joseph: op. cil., p. 36.] 

258 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

article. I have myself put forth on several 
occasions a radically pragmatist account of 
knowledge, 1 the existence of which account my 
critic probably does not know of so perhaps 
I had better not say anything about knowledge 
until he reads and attacks that. I will say, 
however, that whatever the relation called 
knowing may itself prove to consist in, I can 
think of no conceivable kind of object which 
may not become an object of knowledge on 
humanistic principles as well as on the prin 
ciples of any other philosophy. 2 

I confess that I am pretty steadily hampered 
by the habit, on the part of humanism s crit 
ics, of assuming that they have truer ideas 
than mine of truth and knowledge, the nature 
of which I must know^of and can not need to 
have re-defined. I have consequently to recon 
struct these ideas in order to carry on the dis 
cussion (I have e.g. had to do so in some parts 

1 Most recently in two articles, "Does Consciousness Exist?" 
and " A World of Pure Experience." [See above, pp. 1-91.] 

2 For a recent attempt, effective on the whole, at squaring hu 
manism with knowing, I may refer to Prof. Woodbridge s very able 
address at the Saint Louis Congress, "The Field of Logic," printed 
in Science, N. Y., November 4, 1904. 

259 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

of this article) and I thereby expose myself 
to charges of caricature. In one part of Mr. 
Joseph s attack, however, I rejoice that we are 
free from this embarrassment. It is an im 
portant point and covers probably a genuine 
difficulty, so I take it up last. 

When, following Schiller and Dewey, I de 
fine the true as that which gives the maximal 
combination of satisfactions, and say that 
satisfaction is a many-dimensional term that v 
can be realized in various ways, Mr. Joseph 
replies, rightly enough, that the chief satis 
faction of a rational creature must always be 

V 

his thought that what he believes is true, 
whether the truth brings him the satisfaction 
of collateral profits or not. This would seem, 
however, to make of truth the prior concept, 
and to relegate satisfaction to a secondary 
place. 

Again, if to be satisfactory is what is meant 

/* 

by being true, whose satisfactions, and which of 
his satisfactions, are to count? Discrimina 
tions notoriously have to be made; and the 
upshot is that only rational candidates and 

260 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

intellectual satisfactions stand the test. We 
are then driven to a purely theoretic notion of 
truth, and get out of the pragmatic atmos 
phere altogether. And with this Mr. Joseph 
leaves us truth is truth, and there is an end 
of the matter. But he makes a very pretty 
show of convicting me of self-stultification in 
according to our purely theoretic satisfactions 
any place in the humanistic scheme. They 
crowd the collateral satisfactions out of house 
and home, he thinks, and pragmatism has to go 
into bankruptcy if she recognizes them at all. 

There is no room for disagreement about 
the facts here; but the destructive force of the 
reasoning disappears as soon as we talk con 
cretely instead of abstractly, and ask, in our 
quality of good pragmatists, just what the 
famous theoretic needs are known as and in 
what the intellectual satisfactions consist. 
Mr. Joseph, faithful to the habits of his party, 
makes no attempt at characterizing them, but 
assumes that their nature is self-evident to all. 

Are they not all mere matters of consistency 
and emphatically not of consistency be- 

261 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

tween an Absolute Reality and the mind s , f 
copies of it, but of actually felt consistency 
among judgments, objects, and manners of 
reacting, in the mind ? And are not both our 
need of such consistency and our pleasure in it 
conceivable as outcomes of the natural fact 
that we are beings that develop mental habits \/ 

habit itself proving adaptively beneficial in 

an environment where the same objects, or the ~, 
same kinds of objects, recur and follow law ? 
If this were so, what would have come first 
would have been the collateral profits of habit, 
and the theoretic life would have grown up in * 
aid of these. In point of fact this seems to 
have been the probable case. At life s origin, 
any present perception may have been true 

if such a word could then be applicable. 
Later, when reactions became organized, the 
reactions became true whenever expectation ,- 
was fulfilled by them. Otherwise they were 
false or mistaken reactions. But the same 
class of objects needs the same kind of reac 
tion, so the impulse to react consistently must 
gradually have been established, with a disap- 

262 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

pointment felt whenever the results frustrated 
expectation. Here is a perfectly plausible germ 
for all our higher consistencies. Nowadays, if 
an object claims from us a reaction of the kind 
habitually accorded only to the opposite class 
of objects, our mental machinery refuses to 
run smoothly. The situation is intellectually 
unsatisfactory. To gain relief we seek either 
to preserve the reaction by re-interpreting the 
object, or, leaving the object as it is, we react 
in a way contrary to the way claimed of us. 
Neither solution is easy. Such a situation 
might be that of Mr. Joseph, with me claiming 
assent to humanism from him. He can not 
apperceive it so as to permit him to gratify my 
claim; but there is enough appeal in the claim 
to induce him to write a whole article in justi 
fication of his refusal. If he should assent to 
humanism, on the other hand, that would drag 
after it an unwelcome, yea incredible, altera 
tion of his previous mental beliefs. Whichever 
alternative he might adopt, however, a new 
equilibrium of intellectual consistency would 
in the end be reached. He would feel, which- 

263 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ever way he decided, that he was now thinking 
truly. But if, with his old habits unaltered, 
he should simply add to them the new one of 
advocating humanism quietly or noisily, his 
mind would be rent into two systems, each of 
which would accuse the other of falsehood. 
The resultant situation, being profoundly un 
satisfactory, would also be instable. 

Theoretic truth is thus no relation between 
our mind and archetypal reality. It falls 
within the mind, being the accord of some of 
its processes and objects with other processes 
and objects accord consisting here in 
well-definable relations. So long as the satis 
faction of feeling such an accord is denied us, 
whatever collateral profits may seem to inure 
from what we believe in are but as dust in the 
balance provided always that we are highly 
organized intellectually, which the majority 
of us are not. The amount of accord which 
satisfies most men and women is merely the 
absence of violent clash between their usual 
thoughts and statements and the limited 
sphere of sense-perceptions in which their lives 

264 



HUMANISM AND TRUTH 

are cast. The theoretic truth that most of us 
think we ought to attain to is thus the pos 
session of a set of predicates that do not con 
tradict their subjects. We preserve it as often 
as not by leaving other predicates and subjects 
out. 

In some men theory is a passion, just as 
music is in others. The form of inner consist 
ency is pursued far beyond the line at which 
collateral profits stop. Such men systematize 
and classify and schematize and make synopti 
cal tables and invent ideal objects for the pure 
love of unifying. Too often the results, glowing 
with truth for the inventors, seem patheti 
cally personal and artificial to bystanders. 
Which is as much as to say that the purely 
theoretic criterion of truth can leave us in the 
lurch as easily as any other criterion. 

I think that if Mr. Joseph will but consider 
all these things a little more concretely, he 
may find that the humanistic scheme and the 
notion of theoretic truth fall into line con 
sistently enough to yield him also intellectual 
satisfaction. 



XII 

ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 1 

JNo seeker of truth can fail to rejoice at the 
terre-a-terre sort of discussion of the issues 
between Empiricism and Transcendentalism 
(or, as the champions of the latter would prob 
ably prefer to say, between Irrationalism and 
Rationalism) that seems to have begun in 
Mind* It would seem as if, over concrete 
examples like Mr. J. S. Haldane s, both parties 
ought inevitably to come to a better under 
standing. As a reader with a strong bias 
towards Irrationalism, I have studied his 
article 3 with the liveliest admiration of its 
temper and its painstaking effort to be clear. 
But the cases discussed failed to satisfy me, 
and I was at first tempted to write a Note 
animadverting upon them in detail. The 
growth of the limb, the sea s contour, the 
vicarious functioning of the nerve-centre, the 
digitalis curing the heart, are unfortunately 

1 [Reprinted from Mind, vol. EX. No. 34, April, 1884.] 

2 [In 1884.1 

3 ["Life and Mechanism," Mind, vol. EX, 1884.] 

266 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

not cases where we can see any through-and- 
through conditioning of the parts by the whole. 
They are all cases of reciprocity where sub 
jects, supposed independently to exist, acquire 
certain attributes through their relations to 
other subjects. That they also exist through 
similar relations is only an ideal supposition, 
not verified to our understanding in these or 
any other concrete cases whatsoever. 

If, however, one were to urge this solemnly, 
Mr. Haldane s friends could easily reply that 
he only gave us such examples on account of 
the hardness of our hearts. He knew full well 
their imperfection, but he hoped that to those 
who would not spontaneously ascend to the 
Notion of the Totality, these cases might 
prove a spur and suggest and symbolize some 
thing better than themselves. No particu 
lar case that can be brought forward is a 
real concrete. They are all abstractions from 
the Whole, and of course the "through-and- 
through" character can not be found in them. 
Each of them still contains among its elements 
what we call things, grammatical subjects, 

267 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

forming a sort of residual caput mortuum of 
Existence after all the relations that figure in 
the examples have been told off. On this 
"existence," thinks popular philosophy, things 
may live on, like the winter bears on their own 
fat, never entering relations at all, or, if enter 
ing them, entering an entirely different set 
of them from those treated of in Mr. Hal- 
dane s examples. Thus if the digitalis were to 
weaken instead of strengthening the heart, and 
to produce death (as sometimes happens), it 
would determine itself, through determining 
the organism, to the function of "kill" instead 
of that of "cure." The function and relation 
seem adventitious, depending on what kind of 
a heart the digitalis gets hold of, the digitalis 
and the heart being facts external and, so to 
speak, accidental to each other. But this popu 
lar view, Mr. Haldane s friends will continue, 
is an illusion. What seems to us the "exist 
ence" of digitalis and heart outside of the rela 
tions of killing or curing, is but a function in a 
wider system of relations, of which, pro hac 
vice, we take no account. The larger system 

268 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

determines the existence just as absolutely as 
the system "kill," or the system "cure," de 
termined the function of the digitalis. As 
cend to the absolute system, instead of biding 
with these relative and partial ones, and you 
shall see that the law of through-and-through- 
ness must and does obtain. 

Of course, this argument is entirely reason 
able, and debars us completely from chopping 
logic about the concrete examples Mr. Hal- 
dane has chosen. It is not his fault if his cate 
gories are so fine an instrument that nothing 
but the sum total of things can be taken to 
show us the manner of their use. It is simply 
our misfortune that he has not the sum total of 
things to show it by. Let us fall back from all 
concrete attempts and see what we can do with 
his notion of through-and-throughness, avow 
edly taken in abstracto. In abstract systems 
the "through-and-through" Ideal is realized 
on every hand. In any system, as such, the 
members are only members in the system. 
Abolish the system and you abolish its mem 
bers, for you have conceived them through no 

269 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

other property than the abstract one of mem 
bership. Neither Tightness nor leftness, except 
through bi-laterality. Neither mortgager nor 
mortgagee, except through mortgage. The 
logic of these cases is this: // A, then B; but 
if B, then A: wherefore if either, Both; and if 
not Both, Nothing. 

It costs nothing, not even a mental effort, to 
admit that the absolute totality of things may 
be organized exactly after the pattern of one 
of these "through-and-through" abstractions. 
In fact, it is the pleasantest and freest of men 
tal movements. Husband makes, and is made 
by, wife, through marriage; one makes other, 
by being itself other; everything self -created 
through its opposite you go round like a 
squirrel in a cage. But if you stop and reflect 
upon what you are about, you lay bare the 
exact point at issue between common sense 
and the "through-and-through" school. 

What, in fact, is the logic of these abstract 
systems? It is, as we said above : If any Mem 
ber, then the Whole System; if not the Whole 
System, then Nothing. But how can Logic 

270 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

possibly do anything more with these two 
hypotheses than combine them into the single 
disjunctive proposition "Either this Whole 
System, just as it stands, or Nothing at all." 
Is not that disjunction the ultimate word of 
Logic in the matter, and can any disjunction, 
as such, resolve itself? It may be that Mr. 
Haldane sees how one horn, the concept of the 
Whole System, carries real existence with it. 
But if he has been as unsuccessful as I in assim 
ilating the Hegelian re-editings of the Anselm- 
ian proof, 1 he will have to say that though 
Logic may determine what the system must 
be, if it is, something else than Logic must tell 
us that it is. Mr. Haldane in this case would 
probably consciously, or unconsciously, make 
an appeal to Fact: the disjunction is decided, 
since nobody can dispute that now, as a mat 
ter of fact, something, and not nothing, is. We 
must therefore, he would probably say, go on 
to admit the Whole System in the desiderated 
sense. Is not then the validity of the Anselm- 

[C/. P. Janet and G.S&illes: History of the Problems of Philosophy, 
trans, by Monahan, vol. 11, pp. 275-278; 305-307. ED.! 

271 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

ian proof the nucleus of the whole question be 
tween Logic and Fact? Ought not the efforts 
of Mr. Haldane and his friends to be princi 
pally devoted to its elucidation? Is it not the 
real door of separation between Empiricism 
and Rationalism ? And if the Rationalists 
leave that door for a moment off its hinges, can 
any power keep that abstract, opaque, unme- 
diated, external, irrational, and irresponsible 
monster, known to the vulgar as bare Fact, 
from getting in and contaminating the whole 
sanctuary with his presence? Can anything 
prevent Faust from changing "Am Anfang 
war das Wort" into "Am Anfang war die 
That?" 

Nothing in earth or heaven. Only the An- 
selmian proof can keep Fact out of philo 
sophy. The question, "Shall Fact be recog 
nized as an ultimate principle?" is the whole 
issue between the Rationalists and the Empiri- 
cism of vulgar thought. 

Of course, if so recognized, Fact sets a limit 
to the " through-and-through " character of 
the world s rationality. That rationality might 

272 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

then mediate between all the members of our 
conception of the world, but not between the 
conception itself and reality. Reality would 
have to be given, not by Reason, but by Pact. 
Fact holds out blankly, brutally and blindly, 
against that universal deliquescence of every 
thing into logical relations which the Absolut 
ist Logic demands, and it is the only thing 
that does hold out. Hence the ire of the Ab 
solutist Logic hence its non-recognition, its 
cutting of Fact. 

The reasons it gives for the * cutting are 
that Fact is speechless, a mere word for the 
negation of thought, a vacuous unknowability, 
a dog-in-the-manger, in truth, which having no 
rights of its own, can find nothing else to do 
than to keep its betters out of theirs. 

There are two points involved here: first the 
claim that certain things have rights that are 
absolute, ubiquitous and all pervasive, and in 
regard to which nothing else can possibly exist 
in its own right; and second that anything that 
denies this assertion is pure negativity with no 
positive context whatsoever. 

273 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Take the latter point first. Is it true that 
what is negative in one way is thereby con 
victed of incapacity to be positive in any other 
way? The word " Fact " is like the word "Acci 
dent," like the word "Absolute" itself. They 
all have their negative connotation. In truth, 
their whole connotation is negative and rela 
tive. All it says is that, whatever the thing 
may be that is denoted by the words, other 
things do not control it. Where fact, where 
accident is, they must be silent, it alone can 
speak. But that does not prevent its speaking 
as loudly as you please, in its own tongue. It 
may have an inward life, self -transparent and 
active in the maximum degree. An indeter 
minate future volition on my part, for example, 
would be a strict accident as far as my present 
self is concerned. But that could not prevent 
it, in the moment in which it occurred, from being 
possibly the most intensely living and lumin 
ous experience I ever had. Its quality of being 
a brute fact ab extra says nothing whatever as 
to its inwardness. It simply says to outsiders: 

Bands off! * 

274 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

And this brings us back to the first point of 
the Absolutist indictment of Fact. Is that 
point really anything more than a fantastic 
dislike to letting anything say Hands off ? 
What else explains the contempt the Abso 
lutist authors exhibit for a freedom defined 
simply on its "negative" side, as freedom 
"from," etc.? What else prompts them to 
deride such freedom? But, dislike for dislike, 
who shall decide? Why is not their dislike at 
having me "from" them, entirely on a par 
with mine at having them "through" me? 

I know very well that in talking of dislikes 
to those who never mention them, I am doing 
a very coarse thing, and making a sort of intel 
lectual Orson of myself. But, for the life of 
me, I can not help it, because I feel sure that 
likes and dislikes must be among the ultimate 
factors of their philosophy as well as of mine. 
Would they but admit it! How sweetly we 
then could hold converse together! There is 
something finite about us both, as we now 
stand. We do not know the Absolute Whole 
yet. Part of it is still negative to us. Among 

275 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

the whats of it still stalks a mob of opaque 
thats, without which we cannot think. But 
just as I admit that this is all possibly pro 
visional, that even the Anselmian proof may 
come out all right, and creation may be a 
rational system through-and-through, why 
might they not also admit that it may all be 
otherwise, and that the shadow, the opacity, 
the negativity, the "from "-ness, the plurality 
that is ultimate, may never be wholly driven 
from the scene. We should both then be avow 
edly making hypotheses, playing with Ideals. 
Ah ! Why is the notion of hypothesis so abhor 
rent to the Hegelian mind ? 

And once down on our common level of 
hypothesis, we might then admit scepticism, 
since the Whole is not yet revealed, to be the 
soundest logical position. But since we are in 
the main not sceptics, we might go on and 
frankly confess to each other the motives for 
our several faiths. I frankly confess mine I 
can not but think that at bottom they are of 
an aesthetic and not of a logical sort. The 
"through-and-through" universe seems to 

276 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

suffocate me with its infallible impeccable all- 
pervasiveness. Its necessity, with no possibili 
ties; its relations, with no subjects, make me 
feel as if I had entered into a contract with 
no reserved rights, or rather as if I had to live 
in a large seaside boarding-house with no pri 
vate bed-room in which I might take refuge 
from the society of the place. I am distinctly 
aware, moreover, that the old quarrel of sinner 
and pharisee has something to do with the 
matter. Certainly, to my personal knowledge, 
all Hegelians are not prigs, but I somehow feel 
as if all prigs ought to end, if developed, by 
becoming Hegelians. There is a story of two 
clergymen asked by mistake to conduct the 
same funeral. One came first and had got no 
farther than "I am the Resurrection and the 
Life," when the other entered. "7 am the 
Resurrection and the Life," cried the latter. 
The "through-and-through" philosophy, as it 
actually exists, reminds many of us of that 
clergyman. It seems too buttoned-up and 
white-chokered and clean-shaven a thing to 
speak for the vast slow-breathing unconscious 

277 



ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

Kosmos with its dread abysses and its un 
known tides. The "freedom" we want to see 
there is not the freedom, with a string tied to 
its leg and warranted not to fly away, of that 
philosophy. "Let it fly away," we say, "from 
us! What then?" 

Again, I know I am exhibiting my mental 
grossness. But again, Ich Jcann nicht anders. I 
show my feelings; why will they not show 
theirs? I know they have a personal feeling 
about the through-and-through universe, 
which is entirely different from mine, and 
which I should very likely be much the better 
for gaining if they would only show me how. 
Their persistence in telling me that feeling has 
nothing to do with the question, that it is a 
pure matter of absolute reason, keeps me for 
ever out of the pale. Still seeing a that in 
things which Logic does not expel, the most I V 
can do is to aspire to the expulsion. At present 
I do not even aspire. Aspiration is a feeling. 
What can kindle feeling but the example of 
feeling? And if the Hegelians mil refuse to set 

an example, what can they expect the rest of 

278 



ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM 

us to do? To speak more seriously, the one 
fundamental quarrel Empiricism has with Ab 
solutism is over this repudiation by Abso 
lutism of the personal and aesthetic factor in 
the construction of philosophy. That we all of 
us have feelings, Empiricism feels quite sure. 
That they may be as prophetic and anticipa 
tory of truth as anything else we have, and 
some of them more so than others, can not 
possibly be denied. But what hope is there of 
squaring and settling opinions unless Absolut 
ism will hold parley on this common ground; 
and will admit that all philosophies are hypo 
theses, to which all our faculties, emotional 
as well as logical, help us, and the truest of 
which will at the final integration of things be 
found in possession of the men whose faculties 
on the whole had the best divining power? 



INDEX 



ABSOLUTE IDEALISM: 46, 60, 99, EMPIRICISM: iv-v, vii-xiii, 41, 46- 



102, 134, 195, 256 ff., Essay XII. 
ACTIVITY: x, Essay VI. 
AFFECTIONAL FACTS: 34 ff., Essay 

V, 217 ff. 

AGNOSTICISM: 195. 
APPRECIATIONS. See APFECTIONAL 

FACTS. 

BERGSON, H.: 156, 188. 
BERKELEY: 10-11, 43, 76, 77, 212, 

232. 

BODE, B. H.: 234 ff. 
BODY: 78, 84 ff., 153, 221. 
BRADLEY, F. H.: 60. 98. 99. 100, 

107 ff., 157, 162. 

CAUSE: 163, 174, 181 ff. 

CHANGE: 161. 

COGNITIVE RELATION: 52 ff. See 
also under KNOWLEDGE. 

CONCEPTS: 15 ff.,. 22, 33, 54 ff., 
65 ff. 

CONJUNCTIVE RELATIONS : x, 44 ff ., 
59, 70, 94, 104, 107 ff., 117 ff., 
163, 240. 

CONSCIOUSNESS: xi, Essay I, 75, 
80, 127 ff., 139 ff., 154, 184, Es 
say VIII. 

CONTINUITY: 48 ff., 59, 70, 94. 

DEMOCRITUS: 11. 

DESCARTES: 30. 

DEWEY, J.: 53, 156, 191, 204,247, 

260. 
DISJUNCTIVE RELATIONS: x, 42 ff., 

105, 107 ff. 
DUALISM: 10, 207 ff.. 223, 257. 



47, Essay XII. See also under 
RADICAL EMPIRICISM. 

EPISTEMOLOGY: 239. See also un 
der KNOWLEDGE. , 

ETHICS: 194. 

EXPERIENCE: vii, xii, 8 ff., 53, 62, 
ff., 71, 80, 87, 92, 216, 224, 233, 
242, 243. See also under PURE 
EXPERIENCE. 

EXTERNAL RELATIONS : 1 1 ff . See 



also under RELATIONS, 
DISJUNCTIVE. 



and 



FEELING. See under AFTECTIONAL 

FACTS. 
FREE WILL: 185. 

HALDANE, J. S.: 266 ff. 
HEGEL: 106, 276, 277. 
HERBART: 106. 
HOBHOUSE, L. T.: 109. 
HODDER, A. L.: 22, 109. 
HODGSON, S.: ix, 48. 
HOFFDING, H.: 238. 
HUMANISM; 90, 156, Essay VII. 

Essay XI. 
HUME: x. 42, 43, 103, 174. 

IDEALISM: 39, 40, 134, 219, 241. 

256. 

IDEAS: 55 ff., 73, 177, 209. 
IDENTITY, Philosophy of: 134, 

197, 202. 

INDETERMINISM: 90, 274. 
INTELLECT: 97 ff. 



JOSEPH. H. W. B.: 203, 244 ff. 
281 



INDEX 



KANT: 1, 37, 162, 206. 

KIERKEGAARD: 238. 

KNOWLEDGE: 4, 25, 56 ff., 68 ff., 
87-88, 196 ff., 231. See also un 
der COGNITIVE RELATION, OB 
JECTIVE REFERENCE. 

LIFE: 87, 161. 
LOCKE: 10. 
LOGIC: 269 ff. 
LOTZE: 59, 75, 167. 

MATERIALISM: 179, 232. 

MILL, J. S.:x, 43, 76. 

MILL, JAMES: 43. 

MILLER, D.: 54. 

MINDS, their Conterminousness: 

76 ff., Essay IV. 
MONISM: vii, 208, 267 ff. 
MOORE, G. E.: 6-7. 
MUNSTERBERG, H.: 1. 18-20, 158. 

NATORP, P.: 1, 7-8. 
NATURALISM: 96. 
NEO-KANTISM: 5-6. 

OBJECTIVE REFERENCE: 67 ff. 
OBJECTIVITY: 23 ff., 79. 

PANPSYCHISM: 89, 188. 
PARALLELISM: 210. 
PERCEPTION: 11 ff., 17, 33, 65, 78, 

82 ff., 197, 200, 211 ff. 
PERRY, R. B.: 24. 
PHYSICAL REALITY: 14, 22, 32, 124 

ff., 139 ff., 149 ff., 154, 211 ff., 

229, 235. 

PITKIN, W. B.:241ff. 
PLURALISM: 89, 90, 110. 
PRAGMATISM: iv, x, xi-xii, 11, 72, 

97 ff., 156, 159, 176, 242, 261. 
PRIMARY QUALITIES: 147. 



PRINCE, M.:88. 

PRINGLE-PATTISON, A. S. : 109. 

PSYCHOLOGY: 206, 209 ff. 

PURE EXPERIENCE: 4, 23, 26-27, 
35, Essay II, 74, 90, 93 ff., 96, 
121, 123, 134, 135, 138, 139, 160, 
193, 200, 226 ff., 257. 

RADICAL EMPIRICISM: iv-v, vii, 
ix-xiii, 41 ff., 47, 48, 69, 76, 89, 
91, 107, 109, 121, 148, 156, 159. 
182, 235, 237, 238, 239, 241, 242. 

RATIONALISM: 41, 96 ff., 237, 266. 

REALISM: 16, 40, 76, 82 ff. 

REHMKE, J.: 1. 

RELATIONS: x, 16, 25, 42 ff., 71, 81, 
Essay III, 148, 268. See also un 
der CONJUNCTIVE and DISJUNC 
TIVE. 

RELIGION: xiii, 194. 

RENOUVIER: 184-185. 

REPRESENTATION: 61, 196 ff., 212 
ff. See also under SUBSTITU 
TION. 

ROYCE, J.: 21, 158, 186-187, 195. 

SANTAYANA, G.: 143, 218. 
SCHILLER, F. C. S.: 109, 191, 204, 
249, 260. 

SCHUBERT-SOLDERN, R. V. : 2. 

SCHUPPE, W.:l. 

SECONDARY QUALITIES: 146, 219. 

SELF: 45, 46, 94, 128 ff. 

SENSATION: 30, 201. 

SIDIS, B.: 144. 

SOLIPSISM: Essay IX. 

SPACE: 30-31, 84, 94, 110, 114. 

SPENCER, H.: 144. 

SPINOZA: 208. 

SPIR, A.: 106. 

STOUT, G. F.: 109, 158. I * 1 , l 

STRONG, C. A.: 54, 88, 89, 188. 



282 



INDEX 



SUBJECTIVITY: 23 ff., 234ff., 251ff. 
SUBSTITUTION: 62 ff., 104, 201. 

TAINE: 20, 62. 

TAYLOR, A. E.: 111. 

TELEOLOGY: 179. 

THINGS: 1, 9 ff., 28 ff., 37, Essay 

III, 209. 
THOUGHT: 1, 22, 28 ff., 37, 213. 

See also under KNOWLEDGE. 



TIME: 27, 94. 
TRANSCENDENTALISM: 39, 52, 67, 

71, 75, 239. 
TRUTH: 24, 98, 192, 202 ff., 247 ff. 

WARD, J.: 157, 162. 
WILL: 165, 184. 
WOODBRIDGE, F. J. E.: 196. 
WORTH: 186-187. 
WUNDT, W. : 152. 



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