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Full text of "Essays on truth and reality"

ESSAYS ON 
TRUTH AND REALITY 



BY 

F. H. BRADLEY 

LL.D. GLASGOW 
FELLOW OF MERTON COLLEGE, OXFORD 



OXFORD 
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 



Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.G. 4 

GLASGOW NEW YORK TORONTO MELBOURNE WELLINGTON 
BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS KARACHI LAHORE DACCA 
CAPE TOWN SALISBURY NAIROBI IBADAN ACCRA 
KUALA LUMPUR HONG KONG 



FIRST EDITION 1914 

SET IN GREAT BRITAIN AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, OXFORD 
AND REPRINTED LITHOGRAPHICALLY FROM SHEETS OF THE 

FIRST EDITION 1944, I95O 

REPRINTED LITHOGRAPHICALLY BY LATIMER, TREND & CO., LTD. 
1962 



TO THE FRIEND 

WITHOUT WHOSE UNFAILING SYMPATHY 

ITS DEFECTS WOULD HAVE BEEN EVEN GREATER 

THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED 



PREFACE 

THE present volume consists mainly of articles 
which have appeared in Mind. I have added a paper 
first printed in the Philosophical Review, and there 
are also some essays which have not before been 
published. With three exceptions the whole belongs 
to the last five or six years. The parts of this work 
have been called chapters mainly for convenience 
in reference, but also because most of them represent 
more or less the chapters of a book which I once 
intended to write. 

The title indicates, I think, the principal subject 
and aim of the contents. I am not offering a formal 
treatise on the nature and criterion of knowledge, 
truth, and reality, and yet this main problem recurs 
and in some form is perhaps present throughout. 
The imperfection and incompleteness, too evident 
to the reader, may, I hope, be forgiven if these pages 
serve to emphasize the need and possibly even to 
stimulate the pursuit of the above inquiry. There 
has seldom, I imagine, been a time when the general 
question as to the criterion was more pressing, or 
when the answer, attained or attempted, promised 
better results. But I have myself little to contribute 
here beyond that which I have urged in former years. 
For the inner connexion which, I hope, unites the 
various parts of this volume, I would refer to the 
remarks appended to the closing chapter. 



vi PREFACE 

I have been unwilling to include so many pages 
on Pragmatism. The subject certainly does not 
occupy a corresponding space in my mind. But the 
reader perhaps will recognize that, having been in 
a manner forced here to write in self-defence, I am 
no longer free merely to consult my own wishes. 
He will find, I trust, that the discussion, if too long, 
throws light on some points of interest ; and in any 
case the remedy remains in his power. On the other 
hand, I should be sorry if the examination of Radical 
Empiricism * were left unread. 

It is a satisfaction to me, when approaching the 
end of my own career, to note (whatever school or 
tendency may from time to time be in fashion) the 
increasing devotion amongst us to metaphysical 
inquiry. There has been, I think, a rise in the 
general level of English philosophical thought such as 
fifty years ago might well have seemed incredible. 
I am the more resigned to add that the best which 
I can now myself expect to do is to collect some 
other scattered writings, as well as perhaps to repub- 
lish those early volumes which I can no longer hope 
to re- write. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY PAGES 1-18 

Everything is subordinate to the Good, if that is taken in the 
widest sense, but no partial aspect of life is good perfectly (1-4). 
This shown, (a) of pleasure (5), (b) of practical activity (6-7), (c) of 
beauty, (d) of intelligence (8), (e) of social and other unions of 
individuals (9-10). 

On the other hand, every partial aspect has its own sphere of 
relative supremacy (10). This shown of philosophy with regard to 
morality and religion (10-15). How philosophy must in a sense 
rest on faith (15-17). 

CHAPTER II 
FAITH 19-27 

Faith, relation of to knowledge and doubt (19-20). It does not 
always originate in action (21-2), and whether it must always 
issue in action seems very doubtful (23-4). The above illustrated 
in detail (24-6). Philosophy and faith (267). 

CHAPTER III 
ON FLOATING IDEAS AND THE IMAGINARY . . . 28-64 

Object of this Chapter (28). I. Floating Ideas. An idea, what 
(28-9). No ideas float absolutely. More worlds than what we call 
our real world , and to these worlds ideas are referred (30-2). 
Explicit judgement not necessary (32-4). 

Imaginary ideas (34-6). Ideas in imperatives and questions 
(36-7), and in supposition. Hypothetical Judgement, what (37-40). 
Ideas in Negation. On Contradictory Ideas (40-2). 

II. Real and Imaginary, difference between them said not to lie 
in content (43). This doctrine is untenable (43-6). The Imaginary, 
what. It involves reference to the real world , and that world 
depends on content (46-9). No hard and fast line between real 
and imaginary . Degree of reality is degree of value (49). 

III. Play, what, implies sense of earnest. Earnest, what (50-2). 



viii CONTENTS 

But no hard division between the two. This shown in detail (52-7). 
Play and make-believe no necessary connexion between them (57). 
The sense of restraint in play need not involve contrast with the 
real world (58-63). General Result (63-4). 



CHAPTER IV 
ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 65-106 

Occasion of the following Chapter. Personal Idealism and 
Pragmatism (65). Claim made for the latter (66). What Prag 
matism might have meant (66-7). Pragmatism and Humanity 
(67-8). Pragmatism and Instrumentalism (68-9). On Will and 
Knowledge. On idle truths and verification (69-70). 

Bain s doctrine recalled. Professors James and Dewey repeat 
Bain s mistake (70-1). Pragmatism and the Individual. Appar 
ently it has no principle here, and on the question of Instrumentalism 
Pragmatists appear to differ radically (71-2). Pragmatism and the 
genetic or historical view (72-3). 

General character of Pragmatism (73). Truth is not in any case 
the mere practical working of an idea (75-82). Practice, what. 
Truth cannot consist in mere alteration of existence (82-5). What 
practice for practice sake really means (85-6). Relation of practice 
to life. Truth and Beauty, how far practical. Though in one sense 
subject to practice, they are in another sense free (86-92).. 

Attempts to subordinate truth to practice are of various kinds. 
These stated and discussed in detail. Primacy of Will untenable 
(92-9). General Result (99-101). 

Note. On practical and non-practical activity (101-6). 



CHAPTER V 
ON TRUTH AND COPYING 107-26 

Truth as copying. This idea is suggested necessarily, but is 
untenable (107-9). You cannot separate truth, knowledge, and 
reality (no). Truth as mere external means (110-12). The identity 
of truth, knowledge, and reality. This is a necessary claim made 
by truth, but cannot be fully satisfied (113-15). Still, if truth 
made good its claim, truth would be reality (115-18). 

Partial truth contained in the copy-theory of truth. The more 
complete view (118-22). On the subjective (119). 

Note. On truth and working ideas. On Consistency (122-4). 
On some questions as to Pragmatism and Humanism (124-6). 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAPTER V. APPENDIX I. ON THE AMBIGUITY OF 

PRAGMATISM 127-42 

I. Professor James. Pragmatism and practice most ambiguous 
(127). Does Pragmatism degrade truth and beauty to mere means ? 
Professor James now seems to say, No (128-9). And success as the 
test of truth does not now seem to mean more than success on the 
whole . But the meaning of this with Professor James is doubtful 
(129-30). And he appears also to teach an opposite doctrine. 
A more consistent Pragmatism, what (132-4). 

II. Professor Dewey. Instrumentalism, what (134). Prac 
tical , ambiguity of (135-6). Truth may be practical in various 
senses. Ambiguity of Professor Dewey s position (136-42). 



CHAPTER V. APPENDIX II. ON PROFESSOR JAMES S 

4 MEANING OF TRUTH . . . . . 142-49 

Was Professor James a relativist, and in what sense ? His 
doctrine is too ambiguous to warrant any answer (142-5). Some 
critical remarks on his Meaning of Truth (145-9). 

CHAPTER V. APPENDIX III. ON PROFESSOR JAMES S 

* RADICAL EMPIRICISM . . . . . 149-58 

Professor James identifies Reality and Experience, but what 
Experience ? If actual experience then how as to past and 
future ? The dilemma which arises is not met by Professor James 
(149-50). 

Then as to what is Experience are terms and conjunctive 
relations immediately experienced, as such, or are they abstrac 
tions ? Professor James seems committed to both these views at 
once (151). A difficulty as to Change is not noticed by him (152). 
He probably preferred the view that immediate experience is non 
relational, but is mistaken as to its history (152-3). It does not 
follow, if immediate experience is the beginning, that it is also 
the end, and is all reality (153). 

What according to Professor James is knowledge ? View of 
knowledge which he had ready to hand. Why he could not accept 
this view (153-4). His own theory, what. Its inconsistency and 
failure (154-6). 

Professor James s view of Reality. The whole fact of the ideal 
Avorld is left outside his reality, or is included in it by something 
which will not bear scrutiny. And in any case he cannot meet the 
dilemma as to past and future experiences (156-8). 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VI 
ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 159-91 

Immediate Experience, the fact of. But how can I make it an 
object ? (159-60). The answer in general given (161). 

I. Difficulty as to Attention. How, when I attend to a change, 
can I ever know that the change was not made by my attention ? 
This problem is insoluble, unless you assume that apart from atten 
tion I can feel change, and that this feeling can be reproduced (161-6) . 

II. Introspection, problem of (166). Introspection is not mere 
remembering, but is making an object of the actually felt. And the 
felt agreement or jar of the object with what is actually felt is 
here the main criterion (166-8). And the unity of the object and 
the merely felt explains how the former can be further enlarged 
from the latter (169). On the other side, if actual feeling cannot 
be used as a criterion of the object, no sufficient account can be 
given of the fact of Introspection, or further of the fact of know 
ledge in general (169-71). 

III. But how can immediate experience make an object of itself ? 
Immediate experience in what sense unconscious or subconscious 
(171-3). Was and is experience or feeling ever merely immediate ? 
(173-4). In any case immediate experience is no mere stage which 
can be passed. However much transcended, it remains as funda 
mental (174-8). 

(1) Immediate experience can serve as a criterion, because that 
which is felt about an object tefids itself to be objectified in the 
object. And the object itself now can be felt to correspond, or not, 
to immediate experience (178-81). 

(2) How can immediate experience know about itself ? That it 
does so is obvious, but how ? (181-2) 

(i) We can form the idea of an object which is the all-inclusive 
Reality (182-3). 

(ii) We can perceive in actual experience how incomplete objects 
change, and are increased and that the sources of the added 
element differ. And in some cases, by exclusion of other possible 
sources, we are led to derive the addition made to the object from 
what was previously only felt in me (183-8). Illustration from 
Volition (188-9). The recognition of immediate experience, or 
feeling, is all-important for metaphysics (189-91). 

CHAPTER VI. APPENDIX. CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERI 
ENCE 192-8 

Consciousness is not co-extensive with experience (192). Con 
sciousness is inconsistent with itself (192-4). And it is based on 



CONTENTS xi 

Feeling (194). Feeling is not a stage of mind which passes, but it 
remains throughout as a necessary foundation and background. 
Importance of this doctrine, and necessity of recognizing and 
discussing it (194-8). 

CHAPTER VI. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE . . . 199-201 
On the importance of the above for metaphysics (199-201). 

CHAPTER VII 
ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE ..... 202-18 

Judgements of perception and memory are all fallible. The test 
is system. What this means (202-4). 

(1) Ultimate facts of perception and memory cannot be shown 
to exist. You cannot put, as such, into your judgement the deliver 
ance of feeling (204-7). 

(2) Nor is their existence to be assumed (207). My real world, 
what (208). For this I depend on the world of sense, but still no 
datum there is fundamental in sense of absolute. The test is relative 
contribution to system (209-12). So with historical facts (212-14). 
A possible objection answered (214-16). 

Certainly some judgement or judgements might be infallible for 
me in the sense that otherwise my personal identity would be 
destroyed, but this infallibility is not absolute (216-17). Con 
clusion (217-8). 

CHAPTER VIII 
COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION .... 219-44 

The criterion is the satisfaction of a want, but of a special want. 
Philosophy is not a mere collection of useful ideas (219-20). In 
what sense I can philosophize with my whole nature (220-2). 

Two characters of the criterion -are they aspects of one prin 
ciple of non-contradiction ? A possible answer not accepted, but 
the answer is still, Yes. (i) Any object short of the whole can be 
experienced as a defective appearance of a wider whole (223-6). 
(2) How qualification of Reality by any predicate implies diversity 
and contradiction, and a process aiming at harmonious and com 
plete comprehension (226-9). 

No remedy for this to be found in And . Judgement starts 
with and in a sense rests on the immediate unity and totality of 
feeling, but cannot completely reconstitute this whole ideally. 
There is no completely conditioned, and therefore no absolutely 
true judgement (230-3). 



xii CONTENTS 

No theoretical remedy for the above is to be found in Designation 
( 2 33-6). Nor in Pluralism and external relations. This doctrine 
seems based on a false alternative (237-40). Imperfection of our 
ultimate ideas, such as subject and predicate, and again identity 
(240-1). 

Result System has two aspects. In what sense we can say that 
what satisfies us is real (241-4). 



CHAPTER IX 
ON APPEARANCE, ERROR, AND CONTRADICTION . . 245-73 

Introductory, on the Absolute and the finite self (245-50). 
Appearance, idea, and truth (250-2). Two main views of Error, 
the absolute and relative view. The absolute view is to be rejected 
(252). The difference between error and truth is in the end one 
of degree (252-8). The absolute view involves Pluralism and is 
indefensible, both with regard to abstract truths and to matters 
of fact. The latter imply but cannot reach uniqueness (258-65). 

The absolute view of error has relative truth, and must be used in 
life and in the special sciences (266-7). On Common Sense and 
consistency (268). 

On the self-contradictory, how, being unreal, it can exist (269-72). 
In what sense the Absolute really appears and has degree (272-3). 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE I . . . . . . 274-6 

Professor Stout s view of Error. It is hard to say how it differs 
from that of Professor Bosanquet and myself, and further explana 
tion on his part is wanted. 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II ..... 276-88 

I. Professor Royce argues that Number can be created a priori 
and is self -consistent. But neither of these contentions is really 
tenable (277-80). 

II. Mr. Russell s fundamental principles. How are Unities to 
be reconciled with Pluralism ? (281-2) . Difficulty as to certain ideas 
(282), and especially Class (283-6), Negation and Zero (286-8). 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III ..... 288-92 

Mr. Russell s explanations seem unsatisfactory. On unities , 
facts , implications , related terms without diversity, externality, 
&c. (288-91). Are Mr. Russell s views really in accordance with 
science and common sense ? (291-2). 



CONTENTS xiii 

CHAPTER X 

A DISCUSSION OF SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION WITH 

MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE .... 293-309 

I. Mr. Russell s view of judgement and truth difficulties with 
regard to it (293-4). 

II. Relations without terms are not conceivable, and cannot 
be inferred (295). Mr. Russell s arguments examined. Our con 
sciousness of universals involves negation. Its ultimate nature 
(295-9). On analysis its nature (299-301). Ideality, what (301). 
How impossible ideas are thinkable (302-3). 

III. Multiple relations, (a) No whole can in the end be merely 
relational (303-6). And (b) there really are no multiple relations. 
Instance of between (306-7). Series, problem of (308-9). 

CHAPTER XI 
ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 310-52 

The general view (310). The method of inquiry. Axioms (311- 
14). Truth, experience, and reality (314-17). The theoretical 
criterion. It cannot be taken as satisfaction in general (317-21). 
Darwinism and the Criterion (321-3). Meaning of Only or 
Merely (323-4). Meaning of Qualification (324). 

Does truth refer to something other than itsell ? The question 
is unanswerable if you take the soul or self as a separate thing 
(325-8). The subjective , what (328-9). Sense in which all 
judgement passes beyond itself. Reality in the judgement, 

how (329-34). 

Has every or any truth been thought before I think it ? And 

does knowledge alter reality ? (334-7). Can Truth be made ? 

<^7 pDoes it depend on me ? (338-42). What is the relation between 

reality and truth, and can truth copy reality ? (343-5)- What is 

the good of Truth ? This question rests on a mistaken view (346-9). 

In what sense the view which I advocate involves subjectivism 

and f relativism . A Note on Nature (349-52). 

CHAPTER XII 
SOME REMARKS ON MEMORY AND INFERENCE . . 353-80 

Ambiguity of Memory (353-4). We think of the past by an ideal 
construction, which involves the degradation of the present (354-7). 
How, when we think forwards, we can remember backwards. No 
merely successive Association (357-62). 



xiv CONTENTS 

Difference between Fancy, Memory, and Inference. Defect of 
internal necessity in mere fancy. Thought not always abstract 
(362-5). How Memory and Inference agree and differ, but infer 
ence is implied in memory (365-70). 

How is memory in a given case to be distinguished from mere 
imagination ? There is no test which is not fallible (370-2) . Veracity 
of memory how far to be assumed (372-5). On Memory and 
Belief (376-7). On the meanings of matter of fact (377-80). 



CHAPTER XIII 
ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 381-408 

My present judgement must be taken as infallible (381-2). Some 
objections answered (383). Memory has no independent validity, 
and any such claim must lead to scepticism (384-6). Some mis 
understandings removed. Further explanation of the doctrine 
that my present judgement must be treated as infallible (386-92). 

What is a single judgement ? Unity of judgement (392-6). 
Omission of irrelevancy permissible (396-7). Continuity of the 
subject in judgement. Some difficulties discussed (397-402). The 
question is not in the end psychological (403). Duration of a judge 
ment, what (403-6). 

How far does a judgement, once made, remain true for me ? 
Postulate as to memory s general correctness (406-8). 



CHAPTER XIV 

WHAT is THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR? .... 409-27 

The main point, what. Preliminary warning. Necessary distinc 
tions (410-11). Finite centres, their nature, duration, identity, 
and plurality (410-12). Digression on transcending finite centres 
(412-14). Soul, what (414-16). Self, what* (416-1 8). How my self 
is mine only, and its importance (418-20). Self and Soul how 
related (420-1). 

Return to the main question. The real Caesar cannot be limited 
to the Caesar as directly experienced (422-3). The individual is 
real so far as he works in any sense, even in mere knowledge (423-5). 
Ideal and real experience are not separable (425-7). Our main 
result may be indefinite, but is necessary (427). 



CONTENTS xv 



CHAPTER XV 

ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE . . . 428-47 

The Absolute not God and why (428-9). Inconsistency in religion. 
Attempt to avoid this by making God finite (429-30). But religion 
has not to be consistent theoretically, and it has to use the ideas 
which best serve its main interest (430-2). 

The personality of God is certainly not necessary for all religion, 
but is a valid idea (432-3). In personal religion the personality is 
not all on one side (433-4). God has reality in the religious con 
sciousness, apart from which an Individual Person would not really 
be God. Theoretical consistency must be sacrificed (434-8). 

Continued personal existence after death is certainly not the 
main interest of religion. But, if and so far as really demanded 
in that interest, it may be accepted as true. Mere hope, fear, and 
curiosity as to the spirit- world are not religious (438-40). 

Morality and Religion difference between them (441-2). This 
chapter will not be satisfactory to the reader who holds to what he 
calls Common Sense. The defects of this last. Are they irremedi 
able ? In general by Metaphysics, Yes. And otherwise ? (442-7). 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE A. ON THE REALITY AND 

PERSONALITY OF GOD . . . . . 448-51 

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B. ON OUR FEAR OF DEATH 

AND DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY .... 451-9 

What I myself feel actually (451-2) . And generally the nature of our 
interest in a future life is most ambiguous (453). Identity in feel 
ing is the basis, and, beyond this, memory seems implied in indi 
vidual personal interest (453-6). On this subject our imaginations 
are confused. But fear of death is not wholly irrational (456-9). 



CHAPTER XVI 

ON MY REAL WORLD 460-9 

Familiar doubts as to dream and reality (460). My real world 
is the world of my real body, and what is that ? Merely my 
present waking body (460-2). But is this world more real than 
others, as being more systematic ? The known facts do not show 



XVI 



CONTENTS 



this conclusion, nor can we infer it otherwise (462-5). We are 
right to call abnormal states irrational and their deliverance 
unreal, if we make a certain assumption. This assumption we must 
m^ke, but still it is not true (465-7). How the above bears on 
Death (467-8). General Result (468-9). 



CONCLUDING REMARKS 



INDEX . 



470-3 



. 474-80 



CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTORY 

1 EVERY aspect of life may in the end be subordinated to 
the Good, if, that is, we understand the Good in a very wide 
sense. Everywhere in life we seem forced, sooner or later, 
to ask the question Why. And the answer to that inquiry 
seems everywhere to be found in the fact of contentment and 
absence or suppression of unrest. We may appeal from one 
thing to another thing, but it is to this aspect of things, 
and it is to things as more or less possessing this aspect, 
that we are brought at last. And we are led to conclude 
that, so far as anything in the above sense is good, there 
is nothing else in the world which can pretend to stand 
above it. 

The claim of reason and truth to be an exception here will 
not hold. For, if you ask what is truth, you are led to 
answer that it is that which satisfies the intellect. The 
contradictory and the meaningless fail to be true because 
in a certain way they do not satisfy. They produce a special 
kind of uneasiness and unrest ; and that on the other side 
which alters this unrest into an answering contentment, 
is truth. It is truth, we may say, where the intellect has 
found its good. 

Whatever a man is engaged in, whatever he feels or does 
or apprehends or pursues, this, so far as it satisfies him, is 

1 This chapter was written, in December 1906, as an introduction to 
a book which I then had in contemplation (see the Preface), and, though 
with some hesitation, I venture now to publish it. It has been altered by 
certain additions and by much larger omissions, but on the whole it 
remains in its original character. 

1574 B 



2 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

good in itself. 1 It possesses what you may call, if you please, 
the ultimate quality of goodness. So far as anything satisfies, 
there is no possible appeal beyond it, and nothing has any 
rational claim against that which in itself is fully satisfied. 
With regard to philosophy, for example, it is now an old 
saying that it must presuppose the will to think, and that 
if any one is ready to contradict himself, philosophy can 
have no concern with him. 

All thinking, in brief, rests on the agreement, tacit or 
expressed, to accept a certain test. It consists, in other 
words, in the pursuit of one kind of satisfaction, and its 
arguments appeal to no one except so far as he is engaged in 
this pursuit. And, as in philosophy, so everywhere through 
out life the same principle holds. Whether it is an affair 
of mere enjoyment and liking, or a matter of moral and 
religious conviction and preference, or again of aesthetic 
perception and taste, throughout these differences we find 
everywhere in one point the same thing. So long and so 
far as that which occupies you is able to give you rest and 
contentment, that thing, whatever it is, has goodness. 
And there is nothing which from the outside has against 
this thing any claim upon you. So long as remaining there, 
wherever you are, you find yourself satisfied and at one with 
your own being, so far, apart from mere violence 2 , you 

1 Goodness, worth, and value, are of course all the same thing. The 
definition of the Good given in my Appearance I have now for some time 
ceased in one point to consider correct. I do not think that desire should 
be included in the definition. Wherever, and so far as, I feel myself 
positively affirmed, there, so far, is goodness. Desire, at least in the 
ordinary course, will necessarily supervene, but it is wrong to take it as 
being from the first essential ; and indeed so much as this was admitted 
in my volume, pp. 403-4. We can realize this truth perhaps most plainly 
if we consider the case of beauty. As to the inclusion of pleasure in the 
Good, I will say nothing here. And the question, how far, and in what sense, 
an idea is implied there, I wish at some time to reconsider. Perhaps at 
a future date I may be able to deal more fully with the general nature of 
Goodness. 

* I do not here enter into the question whether in the end there can 
be any mere external force. But, so far as the individual is concerned, 
this, for practical purposes, obviously exists. 



i INTRODUCTORY 3 

are secure in yourself. Here, if in the camp there is no 
division, the enemy will not penetrate. A man, we all 
know, should not be shamed out of his reason, and he cannot 
rationally, we also know, be argued out of his feelings. 

But on the other hand it is an old experience that nowhere 
is perfect good. Goodness does not really reside where 
perhaps we tend first to place it. There is nothing, in other 
words, in life which, taken in and by itself, completely 
satisfies. Our life has several main aspects, and, even 
within each aspect, we are led for ever in some point to desire 
something better and beyond. And we find in the end that 
no one aspect by itself can have goodness and be unmixed 
good. 1 Everything in life is imperfect and seeks beyond 
itself an absolute fulfilment of itself. And thus everything 
in life, we may say in the end, is subordinate, and subordinate 
to the Good. 

We have been led in the above reflection to a twofold 
result. On the one hand every side of life, so far as it is 
good, is justified in itself, while on the other hand the 
perfect good is found in none of them. We are hence mis 
taken when we attempt to set up any one aspect of our 
nature as supreme, and to regard the other aspects merely 
as conducive and as subject to its rule. And it is worth 
while perhaps to deal at some length with this error. 

The Good, we agreed, was satisfaction ; and satisfaction, 
wherever found, we agreed was, so far, the Good. But if 
any one goes on to urge, Well then, here is satisfaction ; 
I have, for instance, found it here in my practical activity. 
And therefore this is the supreme good to which all else 

1 With regard to anything which claims to be good we may ask these 
questions, (i) Does this thing possess nothing but goodness ? Is its 
goodness in this sense unqualified ? (ii) Does it, so far as it is good, 
possess goodness simply in its own right, or through a qualification more 
or less external to itself ? Is its possession in this sense unqualified ? 
(iii) Does it possess all goodness ? Is anything else good ? The above 
three questions are to my own mind different aspects of the same question, 
i. e. Is the thing of which we speak identical with the Good ? 

B 2 



4 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

is subordinate/ we cannot accept this. Such an argument 
would illustrate the error we have mentioned. For, in the 
first place, what has been found is certainly not altogether 
and completely good. And in the second place, beyond 
this, there certainly are other aspects of life, where satisfac 
tion and the Good are no less to be found. The perfect 
Good resides in each, but in each it exists imperfectly, and 
none therefore is supreme. On the one hand we can experi 
ence and feel our nature as a whole, and, as against this 
whole, we can realize the inadequacy of any one side of life. 
And, because this is so, we cannot identify our whole being 
with one of its aspects, and take everything else as subject 
to a one-sided supremacy. On this point the verdict of 
those who know most of life has been passed long ago, and, 
later or sooner, this finding must at some time have come 
home to us as true. We can feel that life has failed if it is 
all inactive pleasure or contemplation, or if it consists solely 
in moral struggle or religious emotion, or again in mere 
labour or in any activity without rest and enjoyment. We 
can be sure that our truth is not the full possession of reality, 
we can know that there are ends beyond aesthetic achieve 
ment and joy, and something again of value beyond life 
in society and in the family. Such things, we feel, are good, 
but there is not one of them which includes all the rest. 
There is none of them which possesses unqualified goodness, 
and hence there is not one of them to which all the others 
can be subject. 

I will go on from this to consider briefly the various 
aspects of life, and to show the imperfection inherent in each. 1 

(a) If first we take pleasure, we are impressed at once 
by its claim to be the Good. From whatever source it comes, 
so long and so far as it is intense and pure, it seems to give 
us a sense of absolute reality. But on the other side, apart 

1 In what follows I am to some extent repeating what has been said in 
Appearance, pp. 458 ff. 



I INTRODUCTORY 5 

from any doubt as to pleasure s purity, it is the commonest 
experience that life cannot be taken as included in one 
moment, or comprised within a single feeling. And, again, 
mere pleasure is an abstraction which we make from what is 
pleasant. Hence we seem unable in the end to say anything 
about pleasure, unless the pleasant, unless, that is, other 
things, are brought into the account . And it seems impossible 
to show either that, or how, these other things are really 
dependent on and subject to pleasure. And if any one 
replies that he for his part has chosen so to take them, that 
is no proof, I apprehend, that his choice need be considered. 
We are forced in reason to distinguish between pleasure and 
that which is pleasant, and, so far as I see, we cannot in 
reason make the second of these to be subject to the first. 
We may put it otherwise by saying that, where pleasure 
exists, it is the whole man who feels the pleasure, the whole 
man with all his practical and other activities and the 
complete range of his emotions. The Hedonist puts on one 
side this rich complexity, and on the other side he puts 
pleasure by itself, and he tells us that the entirety of the 
first exists for the sake of the second, and that nothing 
in the world excepting pleasure is good at all. But this 
assertion, unreasonable and arbitrary in itself, would appear 
to lead in the end to a further consequence. For if everything, 
as we have seen, in the end is subject to the Good, the Good 
(it seems to follow) must be the one and supreme Reality, and 
there will therefore be in the end nothing real but pleasure. 
But to any such consequence the ordinary Hedonist is 
blind. He has not seen that, in denying value to all other 
aspects of life, he is from the first in collision with common 
sense, and he does not understand that to make the whole 
of life subordinate to pleasure as the Good, results in the end 
in a position which is incapable of defence. 1 

1 Cf. Appearance, pp. 373-4, and Chap. XI of the present volume. It 
will, of course, be understood that the remarks in the text do not apply 



6 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

(b) In practical activity, to take that next, a man may 
feel that certainly here at last is both goodness and reality. 
But the attempt to take practice in itself and by itself 
as good, must lead us once more to an untenable consequence. 
Practice clearly is the alteration of existence by me, and 
this alteration, taken by itself, is an abstraction which, I 
suppose, no one could desire. To make the Good consist 
irr mere doing, or in the bare quantity of mere doing, indepen 
dent of and without regard to any quality in what is done, 
or to anything which accompanies the doing, is a position 
which, when understood, can hardly be maintained. Life, 
I presume, we all feel to be in some sense a qualitative 
whole, and we therefore cannot subordinate life to the aspect 
of bare alteration of existence. 1 

There is again inherent in practice a well-known incon 
sistency. Practice I take to imply and to depend on an 
unrealized idea. It contains the idea of a to be and 
a not yet , a something which has to be carried out in fact, 
but which, as soon as it is carried out, has ceased forthwith 
to be practical. Practice is the perpetual undoing of the 
condition which is implied in its own existence, and it 
cannot therefore offer by itself a satisfaction which is 
ultimate. The inconsistency is plainly visible from the 
side of the idea. The idea, since it is taken as a not here , 
does not qualify my world , but on the other hand, since 
after all an idea qualifies something, 2 the idea is real in 
a world which is other than mine. Either then there is 
a world outside practice, and practice does not cover the 
whole of things, or on the other side practice is somehow 
a passage and a transportation between two worlds which 

to the Hedonism which contents itself with using pleasure merely as the 
mark by which to discover goodness, without denying that other things 
really are good. 

1 For further explanation on this point see Chap. IV of the present 
volume. 

1 This point is discussed hereafter in Chap. III. 



i INTRODUCTORY 7 

seem to have no real unity. This difficulty is brought out 
in a striking form by the postulate made in religion, in any 
religion, that is, which is not imperfect. The Good, which 
in religion is the complete Good and the supreme Reality, 
must be carried out in practice, and yet, in order to be made 
real, it is presupposed. The Good, that is, cannot in religion 
be taken as unreal or as merely real elsewhere ; for, if so, 
the Good would be no longer supreme. The Good therefore 
must be taken by faith as already real here. But, with this, 
it has become clear that, while practice consists in altera 
tion, the alteration which it makes does not, as such, qualify 
the reality. In other words, if you regard the Good as 
entire or supreme, the Good ceases before your eyes to be 
merely practical. It is idle here to reply that a Good, 
however inconsistent with itself, may after all be complete 
if it satisfies me fully. For internal inconsistency is sure 
by the nature of things to work out into practical discrepancy 
and dissatisfaction. And that which really satisfies in the 
inconsistent process, so far as it satisfies me, is not the mere 
process. It is the realization of ends which, while entering 
into the process, are also above and beyond it. 

(c) And to seek in the beautiful for perfect or unqualified 
good leads once more to disappointment. A man may 
feel assured that, in one form or in many, beauty, as he 
would say, is all the world to him. And yet it is too plain 
that all the world, if so, is but a part of the reality. The 
beautiful, even when attained, is not all beauty, and again 
there is toil and anxiety in the pursuit, and the pursuit may 
and even must entail more or less of disappointment. And, 
if beside beauty there is no other end and joy in life and 
other ends and other joys there surely must be there is 
at least together with beauty more or less of ugliness and 
of care and pain in existence. In short there undeniably are 
things which are not beautiful, and life has aspects which 
are not beautiful and cannot become so. There is perhaps 



8 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

nothing which cannot be made beautiful in art, and in the 
artistic vision which abstracts from the crude whole which 
it perceives. But in any case the art and the vision, even 
if perfect themselves, must leave something outside, and 
there are elements which refuse persistently to own their 
supremacy. It is only in some world far from c irs 
that the consummation is reached, and music and moon 
light and feeling are one . And the lover of beauty, like 
the lover of morality, is condemned to fall back on fa .th. 
To him the whole after all, if we could see it, is certainly 
beautiful. But since on the other hand to be beautiful is 
to be an object for some sense, some sense which is other 
than that which it perceives, this all-inclusive and ideal 
beauty could nowhere be realized. Or, if it is at once real 
and supreme, it has ceased forthwith to be merely beautiful. 

(d) With regard to intellect and the intelligible world 
we do not need many words. Science in its widest sense is 
a pursuit, and it never becomes wholly an attained object. 
It is but one side of life which is entangled with other sides, 
and again, as a pursuit, it has a practical aspect, and it 
therefore itself is burdened with the inconsistency of practice. 
In any case, its object, even so far as that is attained, is the 
world of mere truth, and does not include all reality. To 
understand, as it is given to us, or given to any one, to under 
stand, is not wholly to possess even in apprehension, and 
still less is it the same as to enjoy and to do. 

Knowledge, taken apart from being, has no goodness or 
reality at all, and, further, a mere knowledge of being cannot 
satisfy by itself. For, if it is not to pass beyond knowledge, 
it is forced to leave being more or less outside. It is in short 
one thing to know and another thing to be, and hence our 
knowledge cannot satisfy even itself, and much less the 
whole man. 

For faith it is true once again that complete knowledge 
is realized. What is sought can be found, and it is itself 



i INTRODUCTORY 9 

waiting there to be found. But, with this, since the pursuit, 
as a pursuit, has lost ultimate reality, and since it is in the 
pursuit that philosophy lives, with such an end there is 
also an end of mere philosophy. 1 

(e) When we dismiss these abstractions we may be led 
finally to place our ultimate good in some higher totality 
of life. In the love and friendship between individuals, 
and in the social union which we find in the family and 
in wider wholes, we may claim to have reached at last 
the concrete and all-inclusive good. But, though in this 
position there is much truth, it seems impossible to accept 
it as final. For, if we judge by what we can perceive, the 
individual members, in whatever higher unity, are more or 
less the sport of change and accident. And the whole, in 
which they are united, has itself the defects of finitude. 
Its existence seems more or less precarious and subject to 
chance, and on the other side its inward being more or less 
suffers from narrowness. When you consider even our 
human aspiration in its breadth and in its intimacy, it is 
difficult to set this down as owned entirely by any common 
life that we know. And it is hard to see how its satis 
faction could be merely the fulfilment of any known 
higher unity. And hence our common life and our supreme 
good escapes once more to take its place in an invisible 
world. It is in some city of God, in some eternal church, 
that we find the real goodness which owns and satisfies our 
most inward desire. But on the other side such a reality 
exists only for faith. This does not mean that we cannot 
know at all the supreme good and reality. It means that we 
are ignorant as to the variety of those forms of finite soul 
which may make part of its life, and it means that in the 
end we do not know how they, together with all their 
inward and outer diversities, reach harmony within it. 
I am therefore forced to deny that the chief good is merely 

1 Later on, p. 15 and elsewhere, I shall return to the above point. 



io INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

social. 1 Or, from the other side, if I take the Good as the 
extension of any common life that I know, I am driven 
to admit that the extension is only for faith. And I do not 
know, at the point where the desired consummation is 
reached, what will, at that point, have become of the 
starting-place. I am ignorant, in other words, as to how 
far the individuals themselves may have been essentially 
modified and transformed. 2 

We have seen that every aspect of life has goodness and 
realizes the Good, and we have seen, on the other hand, 
that no one aspect has goodness by itself and that none 
is supreme. The various sides of our nature appear to be 
connected, and more or less this connexion everywhere shows 
itself. But the complete truth as to this connexion seems 
not to be within our grasp. And hence the main aspects 
of our being must be allowed, each for itself, to have a rela 
tive independence. If I could think that I understood our 
essence, throughout and from the bottom upwards, I might 
conceivably follow those who judge otherwise here. But 
for me, as I am, every aspect within its own realm is in 
a certain sense supreme, and is justified in resisting dictation 
from without. I do not, however, propose to develop this 
main result except in reference to philosophy. 

The supremacy of philosophy within its own field might 
be assailed from various sides, but I shall confine myself 
here to the attack made on behalf of morality and religion. 
The claim of practice, it may be said, will apply to the 
whole of life, and must hold good therefore in the case of 

1 Here to my mind is the objection to taking love as ultimate. There 
is no higher form of unity, I can agree. But we do not know love as the 
complete union of individuals, such that we can predicate of it the entirety 
of what belongs to them. And, if we extend the sense of love and make it 
higher than what we experience, I do not see myself that we are sure of 
preserving that amount of self-existence in the individuals which seems 
necessary for love. 

2 Cf. here my Ethical Studies, pp. 200-3, and Appearance, p. 415. 



I INTRODUCTORY n 

philosophy. But this claim, we must reply, though it is 
well founded and though it covers the whole of life, is subject 
to a very serious limitation. 1 Wherever we have to do with 
non-practical activity or enjoyment, the regulation of this 
by practice must be external. Morality, that is, can dictate 
to me within what limits I am, for instance, to pursue art 
or philosophy, but within those limits it cannot dictate 
to me the nature of the pursuit. Religion and morality, 
we may say, are so far in no better position than are choice 
and caprice. You may choose or not choose to philosophize 
or to paint, but you certainly cannot altogether paint or 
philosophize as you choose. Whether and how far you will 
do these things, you may from the outside determine accord 
ing to what you think moral. But it is only from the inside 
that you are able to learn the right method of doing them, 
and that method is independent of anything which may 
count as right outside. My will and my conscience can in 
short no more tell me how I ought to pursue truth, than they 
can show me how to ride a horse or to play on a piano. 

It is difficult for morality, and it is still more difficult 
for religion, to recognize its own limits with regard to art 
or philosophy. 2 I can enter here no further on this matter 
than to express my opinion that to invade the region of 
philosophy is contrary to the interest of a sound morality 
or religion. Any such invasion is likely to lead to a disastrous 
conflict within our nature. The independent pursuit of 
beauty and of truth feels its own sufficient justification ; 
and, if it is forced into a collision with duty and goodness, 
there may be a revolt and a rejection of goodness and duty. 
And we have seen that morality and religion are too incom 
plete, and too much weakened by internal defect, not to 
suffer when such a contest has been provoked. 

Philosophy aims at intellectual satisfaction, in other 

1 For a further discussion of this matter I must refer the reader to 
Chap. IV. 

2 There is some further discussion of this point in Chap. XV. 



12 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

words at ultimate truth. It seeks to gain possession of 
Reality, but only in an ideal form. And hence it is the 
realization of but one side of our being. Now among the 
various aspects of our nature we have seen that not one 
is supreme, but that each within its own limits has a relative 
supremacy. And hence you cannot carry over conclusions 
and results from morality or religion which, as admitted 
results, are to be received and accepted by philosophy. 
These results for philosophy can be no more than material. 
It will recognize them as it has to recognize every species of 
fact, but to judge with regard to final truth belongs to itself 
alone. Certainly I agree that if philosophy were to contradict 
either morality or religion, these, or either of them, would be 
fully justified in refusing to give way. In such a case we should 
have a conflict where there is right on both sides. But I do not 
think, myself, that a true philosophy will conflict with 
a sound morality or religion. In my opinion a true philo 
sophy certainly does not contradict the postulates required 
for conduct. It will or it may understand them otherwise 
as to this I do not doubt but I cannot admit that to 
understand otherwise is necessarily to deny. It is surely 
possible to take a view as to the principle on which a man acts, 
a view with which he would not agree, and yet neither really 
to contradict him nor in action to dissociate oneself from 
him. So much seems clear ; but whether on the other hand 
a true philosophy will be able to guarantee and to justify 
the postulates of conduct, is another question altogether. 
What I desire to insist on here is that neither a different 
understanding, nor even a failure to justify, need amount 
to anything like a real contradiction. If a man is assured 
on the part of philosophy that his religious belief is false, 
he is warranted, at least formally, in replying that this is 
so much the worse for philosophy. But the position becomes 
different when, without any such assurance, and perhaps 
even against a contrary assurance, a man insists that some 



i INTRODUCTORY 13 

philosophy contradicts his moral or religious belief. He 
may doubtless here be right, but, if he is right, it is because 
he himself, so far, is the better philosopher. He in any case 
has carried the question away from practice into the realm 
of theory, and has so far left the limits within which theory 
could have no hold against him. There are two questions 
in short which it is common but most dangerous to con 
found. The first asks about the sense of a doctrine as 
a working belief, while the second investigates the ultimate 
meaning and theoretical guarantee of that doctrine. The 
second inquires into the position of something in the 
universe at large, while the first asks merely how it stands 
to my heart and conscience. 

In philosophy we must not seek for an absolute satisfac 
tion. Philosophy at its best is but an understanding of 
its object, and it is not an experience in which that object 
is contained wholly and possessed. It is the exercise and 
enjoyment, in other words, of but one side of our nature. 
I do not forget that philosophy has often been made into 
a religion. From time to time it has been taken as the one 
thing needful, as the end and rule of our lives, and as all 
the world to its worshippers. But the same thing, we must 
remember, would be true again of art and perhaps of other 
pursuits. It must be an unhappy world where a man can 
say that, if he had no philosophy, he would be left destitute 
of practical belief. And the philosophy that is led to take 
up such a burden must be weighted in its course, and tempted 
perpetually to lose sight of its main end. 1 A true philosophy 
cannot justify its own apotheosis. Nay, from the other side 
the metaphysician might lament his own destiny. His 
pursuit condemns him, he may complain, himself to herd 

1 It would be easy to enlarge on this theme. I will note one consequence 
which may follow where a man turns his philosophy into a religion. A 
difference in opinion in this case between rival philosophies may more or 
less drift into the practical antagonism of conflicting creeds. And in the 
interest of philosophy such a situation is not to be desired. 



14 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

with unreal essences and to live an outcast from life. It 
is three times more blessed, he may well repeat, to be than 
to think. 1 But in such a mood the man would so far fall 
away from philosophy. A true philosophy must accept and 
must justify every side of human nature, including itself. 
Like other things it has its place in that system where 
at once every place and no place is supreme. The mastery 
of that system in thought, however far we carry it, leaves 
philosophy still the servant of an order which it accepts 
and could never have made. 

Certainly from its own nature philosophy must be con 
versant with the highest things, and, unless it is false in 
itself, it must recognize these things in their proper character. 
And such familiarity, it is clear, must have some effect on 
the mind. But it is hard to anticipate in any given case 
the amount of this force, nor is it easy to foresee its nature 
and direction. Familiarity, here as elsewhere, may under 
some conditions lead to contempt. And it cannot, I think, 
be denied that even genuine philosophy may be practised 
in a spirit which is immoral or irreligious. The same thing 
will be true once again of art and of all study of human 
nature either from the side of body or mind. If we take such 
instances as the novelist, the poet, the painter or the anthro 
pologist, it is well known that any of them is liable to 
immoral inspiration. All that need be said here is that, 
while on the one hand every pursuit fixes its own limits, 
on the other hand every pursuit is by the same principle 
bound to sincerity and single-mindedness. No pursuit 
can justify a lapse from its own code of honour, or a search 
or a love for alien ends and effects. And thus an immoral 



1 I may perhaps illustrate this by transcribing one of those notes in 
which, some twenty years ago, I used to attempt to fix my passing moods. 
The shades nowhere speak without blood, and the ghosts of Metaphysic 
accept no substitute. They reveal themselves only to that victim whose 
life they have drained, and, to converse with shadows, he himself must 
become a shade. 



i INTRODUCTORY 15 

spirit in the philosopher is, I presume, certain, unless kept 
in check, more or less to injure his philosophy. But from 
the other side the same thing holds of an unusual gift of 
conscientious or religious feeling. Unless such a gift is 
controlled and regulated, it may more or less injure or even 
ruin the work of the philosopher or artist. 

What I have been trying to say comes perhaps briefly 
to this. Philosophy like other things has a business of its 
own, and like other things it is bound, and it must be allowed, 
to go about its own business in its own way. Except within 
its own limits it claims no supremacy, and, unless outside 
its own limits, it cannot and it must not accept any dicta 
tion. Everything to philosophy is a consideration, in the 
sense that everything has a claim and a right to be con 
sidered. But how it is to be considered is the affair of 
philosophy alone, and here no external consideration can 
be given even the smallest hearing, 

I will go on from this to add another preliminary remark. 
Philosophy demands, and in the end it rests on, what may 
fairly be termed faith. It has, we may say, in a sense to 
presuppose its conclusion in order to prove it. It tacitly 
assumes something in general to be true in order to carry 
this general truth out in detail. And its conclusion, further, 
is not, and never could be, carried out in detail actually and 
completely. Thus philosophy stops short of a goal which 
it takes nevertheless to be somehow reached. And, if 
philosophy has to admit that in the end it fails to see and 
to understand exactly how this goal is attained, the end of 
philosophy is realized outside philosophy and, in a sense, 
only for faith. The meaning and justification of this remark 
I will not discuss further here, and we may content ourselves 
with a more evident aspect of the same truth. Philosophy, 
we saw, was a search, a search for that which in the end is 
true. And we observed that, so far as a man stands outside 
of this pursuit, it cannot in the end justify its existence 



16 INTRODUCTORY CHAP. 

against him. He may decline, to some extent at least, to 
enter into the pursuit, and the decision, at least to some 
extent, lies with his own choice or caprice. How far in the 
end it is possible actually so to remain outside, I shall not 
offer to discuss, though on this point self-deception, it is 
clear, is both easy and common. I will content myself with 
stating the doctrine, which I have to urge, in a hypothetical 
form. A man may enter on the pursuit of truth, or he may 
abstain from this pursuit ; but, if he enters on it and so far 
as he enters on it, he commits himself inevitably to a tacit 
assumption. 

The want of an object, and, still more, the search for 
an object, imply in a certain sense the knowledge of that 
object. If a man supposed that he never could tell when 
possession is or is not gained, he surely never would pursue. 
In and by the pursuit he commits himself to the opposite 
assumption, and that assumption must rest on a possession 
which to some extent and in some sense is there. Naturally 
I do not mean that at the start the philosopher has proposi 
tions which he lays down in advance. 1 I mean that his 
action has no sense unless he does assume, or, if asked, 
would assume, that, when he has got propositions, he is 
able to judge of them, and can then tell whether they do 
or do not put him in ideal possession of reality. Negation, 
we may remind ourselves, must presuppose and always 
must rest on a positive ground. 2 

1 Cf. here Chap. XL 

2 It may be replied here that a rejection need not, in psychology, start 
from and presuppose any positive basis which is mental. Without offering 
here to discuss the whole matter, I should answer that, at the stage of 
reflection which we suppose above to exist, the objection will not hold. 
When at this stage I reject an untruth, I feel that I am asserting something 
positively, though I could not say what that is. The suggested idea does 
not simply disappear after having first perhaps become unpleasant. The 
idea, on the contrary, is banished, and in its banishment I feel that I gain 
positive assertion, if only for the moment. My natural expression for the 
process is not merely That is gone , or, again, I will not have that , My 
natural expression here is something like I know better . 



i INTRODUCTORY 17 

Hence the only scepticism in philosophy which is rational 
must confine itself to the denial that truth so far and 
actually has been reached. 1 What is ordinarily called 
philosophical scepticism is on the other hand an uncritical 
and suicidal dogmatism. For it undertakes to know and to 
judge as to possible knowledge, while really itself assuming 
the knowledge which it seeks to deny and to disprove. 
This procedure is far too easy and too plausible ever to go 
out of fashion, though in principle it has now long ago been 
exploded. But, in speaking of philosophical scepticism, we 
must remember always that this is a different thing from 
mere scepticism about philosophy. The latter scepticism, 
however rational it may be, stands outside of philosophy 
itself. It addresses itself, we may say, and it appeals to the 
human person, while for the philosopher, so far as he has 
engaged himself in his special pursuit, it has no relevant 
word. 

Passing to another point I would end this chapter by 
remarking on at least one advantage possessed by philo 
sophy. We should all agree that, except within limits, 
doubt is an evil ; and one remedy against doubt, we know, 
consists in its extrusion. This is the way in which, in 
our lives, doubt is banished or controlled, and, while it is 
a necessary way, in principle it is not satisfactory. The 
doubt in itself and in its root may remain unat tacked, and 
all that perhaps has happened is that the ground has been 
invaded and overgrown by something else. Certainly this 
counter-occupation may in the end destroy the doubt 
through inanition. On the other hand, being temporary, 
it itself may die down, and the doubt, undestroyed in its 
root, may appear as before. But in philosophy, so far as 
philosophy succeeds, the case is otherwise. The doubt 
here is not smothered or expelled but itself is assimilated 



1 Cf. on this point Chap. V. 

1574 C 



i8 INTRODUCTORY CHAP, i 

and used up. 1 It becomes an element in the living process 
of that which is above doubt, and hence its own development 
is the end of itself in its original character. And even if 
philosophy fails partially, as it may fail, yet still it furnishes, 
I think, something of a remedy against doubt. A scepticism 
that has tried to be thorough tends, we may say, to weaken 
doubt by spreading it and making it more general. The 
doubt, if really it is intellectual and not a mere disease of 
the will, loses strength and loses terror by losing its contrast. 
By widening and extension it may have become so attenuated 
and so feeble as in a particular application to have no 
working force. But the reader may feel that I have indulged 
myself now too long in preliminary reflections. 



1 Though the case is not wholly parallel, we may recall here the difference 
between attempting to combat a morbid fixed idea from the outside, and 
its removal through internal modification under hypnotic suggestion. 



CHAPTER II 
FAITH i 

THE object of these pages is to inquire as to the meaning 
of faith. They will be concerned, not merely with religious 
faith, but with faith in general. I will endeavour first to 
fix loosely and within limits the sense of the term, and will 
go on next to state and to explain a narrower view which 
has much to recommend it. I shall have, however, to point 
out, thirdly, that this view is not in accordance with all the 
facts. Unless, that is, we take it as a definition more or less 
arbitrary, it requires modification. From this I shall proceed 
to adduce by way of illustration a number of instances, and 
will finally ask how philosophy and faith are connected. 
I may, however, add that for myself the inquiry as to the 
meaning of our term possesses no great importance. As 
long, that is, as some definite sense is attached to the word, 
I do not for myself much care how it is defined. 

I. It is obvious that faith is in some way opposed to 
knowledge proper, but it is obvious also that faith implies 
some kind of believing and knowing. If you descend, that 
is, below a certain intellectual level, the word faith becomes 
inapplicable. It is therefore not knowledge but knowledge 
of a certain kind which is excluded by faith, or which, 

1 This chapter appeared first in the Philosophical Review of March 1911. 
It was written, so far as I remember, some four years previously. The 
reader will notice that the scope of the inquiry is limited. Faith is treated 
here merely from what may be called the formal side. The aim has been 
simply to define faith so as to enable one to ask, in any particular case, 
Is this faith or not ? What may be called the material aspect of faith 
the question as to what truths of various kinds can, and how far they 
should, come by way of faith has been throughout ignored. 

C 2 



20 FAITH CHAP. 

to speak more accurately, falls outside of that which 
constitutes faith s essence. Mere feeling (I do not ask here 
if this is to be called knowledge) is certainly not faith. I do 
not deny that a man may have faith in that which he feels, 
but in any case his faith must go beyond mere feeling. 
And the same thing must be said once more of sensible 
perception. You cannot have faith in what you see, so long 
as you have nothing but seeing. And again everything that 
can be called intellectual perception must, as such, be 
external to faith. The mere apprehension of a principle 
or of a logical sequence is certainly not that which, taken 
by itself, we should call faith. And we may go on generally 
in the same sense to exclude all knowledge so far as that is 
grounded in ideas or is verified in facts. 

On the one side, the object of faith must be ideal. To 
believe in a person, for instance, is, however vaguely, to 
believe something about him. In order to have faith I 
must, that is, entertain an idea. On the other side, not 
every such entertainment is faith. For faith is limited to 
that ideal region where, apart from faith, doubt is possible. 
Its positive essence lies in the overcoming or prevention of 
doubt, actual or possible, as to an idea. And the doubt 
further, as we have seen, must be excluded in a way which 
cannot in the ordinary sense be called logical. The non- 
logical overcoming from within of doubt as to an idea, or 
the similar prevention of such doubt, appears, so far, to 
be the general essence of faith. 

II. I will now proceed to state a meaning in which faith 
may be more narrowly understood. We have here a view 
which, except as an arbitrary definition, will not cover all 
the facts, but which nevertheless is instructive and in great 
part tenable. There are two questions which are naturally 
asked as to the nature of faith. How in particular is faith 
able to prevent or to overcome doubt, and what is the result 



ii FAITH 21 

of faith s presence ? I have spoken of these two questions 
as two, because in the end, as I think, they must be divided. 
But for the view which I am about to state briefly, no such 
division exists. 

Faith according to this view will exist so far as an idea 
is a principle of action, whether theoretical or practical. 1 
The doubt is not first removed or prevented before we act, 
but by and in the process of our acting. And our state in 
thus acting remains faith so long as and so far as the idea 
is not verified. Thus, to take theory first, an attempt to 
reconstruct the world ideally might, and, we may even add, 
must begin in faith, but the process ceases to depend 
on faith so far as it visibly succeeds. And, if our theory 
ever became intelligible throughout, faith would have 
ceased wholly to exist in it, since no further doubt as to that 
theory s beginning or end would be possible. On the other 
hand, apart from such complete verification, faith must 
always remain, since your doubt, actual or possible, is 
removed only because, and so far as, you resolve to act in 
a certain manner. What overcomes your doubt, therefore, 
is in the end action and not vision. And on the practical 
side the same account holds good. For practical success 
tends to banish doubt as to those ideas on which we act, 
and therefore, so far as it goes, tends to remove the condi 
tion of faith. But because neither in theory nor in practice 
is a complete success attainable throughout and in detail, 
we are left, so far as this aspect goes, still dependent 
on faith. 

Even on such a view, the reader will have noticed, faith 
is not essentially practical, if that word is taken (as above) in 

1 The reader is not to identify this view with what is called Pragmatism. 
Pragmatism, as I understand it, is merely a one-sided perversion of the 
more complete view. Its essence consists in the attempt to subordinate 
every aspect of mind to what it calls practice, the meaning of practice not 
having been first ascertained. But, in reprinting the above, I should like 
to qualify the statement as to the essence by the proviso if it has any 
essence . For the distinction between theory and practice see Chap. IV. 



22 FAITH CHAP. 

its more ordinary sense. On the other hand, all faith both 
in its origin and its result will (upon this view) be active. 
Doubt, that is, will be overcome always by that which 
I may be said to do, to do, if not in practice, at least 
theoretically. My contemplation even may be called 
active, and must everywhere, so far as doubt is removed 
by action, imply faith. So that, if we like to use practical 
in the widest sense as equivalent to active , faith (on this 
view) will be essentially practical. But the view, however 
much truth it contains, cannot in my opinion be defended. 
It does not throughout answer to the facts. Even in the 
widest sense of practice I cannot find that faith is always 
practical in its origin or even always in its issue. 

(a) The origin of faith, it seems to me clear, may be what 
we call emotional ; and, even perhaps apart from emotion, 
faith can arise through what may be termed a non-active 
suggestion. The reason why I have come to believe in an 
idea must in some cases be said to be aesthetic, and in others 
sympathetic and social ; or again it may be found in the 
magnetic force of a commanding personality. To maintain 
that in every one of such cases I believe because of some 
thing that I do, and that faith arises through action, would 
surely be contrary to fact. And the objection that in such 
cases there is no possibility of doubt, and that there is there 
fore no faith, seems once more untenable. To me it seems 
clear that I may believe in ideas the opposite of which I am 
able to conceive, and that my possible doubt is overcome 
by an influence which is not properly intellectual, and yet 
which certainly does not consist in action. And I do not 
see how to deny that such a process is faith. If and so far 
as I go on to act, the action, I agree, will and must affect 
the source from which it arises. But we have here a sub 
sequent reaqtion, and to conclude from this to the nature 
of the first origin seems illogical. 

(b) Hence, even in the widest sense of the term, the origin 



II 



FAITH 23 



of faith is certainly not in all cases practical. And it may be 
doubted whether even the result can in all cases be called 
action. For example (to take first action which is practical 
in the narrower sense) I may believe that to-night it will 
rain because some one in whose opinion I trust tells me so. 
And this belief may, so far as I see, in no way influence what 
I call my conduct. And to urge that under other conditions 
that influence would be there, and that therefore it is there, 
to myself seems not permissible. Hence the issue of faith 
need not always be called practical, if that term is to keep 
its ordinary meaning. 

And even if we extend that meaning so as to embrace every 
kind of mental action, a difficulty may still remain. If I 
believe upon faith that to-night it will rain, my conduct, 
we saw, may remain uninfluenced. A difference of some 
kind will, however, have been made in what in the widest 
sense I may call my mental furniture. And, since I always 
in some way am acting theoretically, the difference made 
by any belief, however seemingly irrelevant, in my mental 
furniture, must affect every subsequent theoretical action, 
and therefore may be said to consist in activity. So far as 
I really and actually believe that to-night it will rain, so 
far any judgement of mine with regard to anything in the 
universe will be affected, and the result of my faith will 
thus be action. To this extreme contention I may naturally 
object that, whether I believe that it will or will not rain, 
may make apparently no visible difference. Still I may be 
asked, in reply, why and how the idea of rain is kept before 
me at all unless it is connected with some subsequent mental 
action ? We should thus be brought to the question, whether, 
and if so in what sense, I have faith so long as I do not 
exercise it, and so long as there is no actual idea before 
my mind. 

I do not wish to discuss this here, but must insist on the 
conclusion that the first origin of my belief must in some 



24 FAITH CHAP 

cases be passive. Again, as to the result, it is questionable 
how far in some cases we can speak of any actual result at 
all. We may infer a result on general grounds, but there 
may be nothing that we can verify in detail. And, further, 
an action resulting from faith need not be practical. We 
must therefore conclude that certainly faith does not in all 
cases arise from action, and that, whether it issues necessarily, 
in act, even a theoretical act, seems highly doubtful. 

If we pass from faith in general to religious faith, this 
conclusion must be altered. Religious faith consists, I 
should say, in the identification of my will with a certain 
object. It essentially is practical and must necessarily be 
exercised in conduct. I do not contend that in its origin 
all religious faith must be practical. On the contrary, it 
may be generated, I believe, in a variety of manners. But, 
except so far as the accepted idea is carried out practically, 
the belief (we should perhaps most of us agree) is not properly 
religious. And of course the practical exercise of a belief 
must react on its origin. But, unless we wish to lay down 
a definition which is more or less arbitrary, I do not see 
that we are justified in arguing from the nature of religious 
faith to that of faith in general. For reasons that have been 
given I could not agree that everywhere faith involves the 
identification of my will with an idea. 

III. It may perhaps help the reader to judge as to the 
truth of the doctrine we have laid down, if I go on to offer 
some applications in detail. And a certain amount of repeti 
tion may perhaps be excused. It is not, for instance, faith 
where I draw deductions from a principle accepted on faith. 
So far as the sequence is visible, faith so far is absent. 
Further, an unverifiable assumption as to detail an assump 
tion made because a principle demands it seems hardly 
to be faith, unless so far as the principle itself is taken on 
faith. Wherever a principle is seen and grasped apart from 



ii FAITH 25 

faith, my confident acting on this principle should not be 
called faith. And from the other side, where through 
weakness of will I fail to act on my knowledge, we must not 
everywhere identify this defect with want of faith. In the 
first place, the knowledge itself may or may not rest on 
faith, and again, the knowledge itself may still be faith even 
if it apparently is followed by no action. It is only, we saw, 
in the case of religious faith that this must be denied. The 
apparent fact of my failure to act upon knowledge will 
always, I presume, create difficulty, since the detail in each 
instance may vary and is hard to observe correctly. In 
some cases my failure may have its origin in doubt, in 
doubt, that is, not with regard to the principle but as to 
the detail of its application here and now. And, so far as 
the right ideas would be secured and the contrary ideas 
banished by knowledge or faith, my want of action may be 
attributed to a defect in faith or knowledge. But there are 
other cases where such an account of the matter seems not 
to answer to the facts. 1 To pass to another point, when we 
hear that the infant, who has found the way to the mother s 
breast for food, and to her side for warmth, has made 
progress in the power of faith , 2 we are at once struck by 
the inappropriateness of the phrase. The action in such 
a case need not arise from any kind of belief and idea. And 
in the second place, where there is an idea from which 
the action proceeds, the conditions may exclude the possi 
bility of faith. Where an idea, suggested by perception or 
otherwise, cannot be doubted, faith is obviously inapplicable. 
Faith, in the proper sense, cannot begin until the child is 
capable of entertaining a contrary idea. 

At the risk of wearying the reader I will add some further 
illustration. When serving on a jury a man may come to 

1 I have discussed this difficult question in an article in Mind, N.S., 
No. 43. 
8 Bain, Emotions, Ed. Ill, p. 506. 



26 FAITH CHAP. 

a decision in various ways. If he accepts and rejects testi 
mony, and in the end judges according to probability and 
by what he knows of the world, the process so far is not 
faith. If he is influenced by another man simply because 
he infers that the other man knows better, faith once more 
is absent. If he is influenced by the other man otherwise, 
let us say morally and emotionally, and in consequence 
follows the other man with belief, this is certainly faith. 
But we cannot call the same thing faith where, and so far 
as, the belief is absent. The influence of another person on 
my conduct tends, we may say, normally to influence my 
belief, but this consequence may be absent, and, if so, 
we cannot speak of faith proper. Finally, if our juryman 
cannot decide rationally, and if he says, * Since I must 
decide in some way, I will take the plaintiff as being in the 
right, that again certainly is not faith. The man s doubt 
here is not overcome, nor is there any principle, rational 
or otherwise, which he accepts as the ground of his particular 
decision. 

IV. I will end by asking whether and, if so, in what sense 
faith is implied in philosophy. The question how far in 
philosophy we can be said to go to work with our whole 
nature, and not merely with our intellect, need not here be 
discussed. 1 But, to pass this by, philosophy, I should say, 
in a sense must depend upon faith. For we do not rest 
simply on a datum, on a given fact or a given axiom. On the 
contrary, we may be said to depend on a principle of action. 
We seek, that is, a certain kind of satisfaction, and we proceed 
accordingly. In and for philosophy (I do not ask if this holds 
also in the separate sciences) truth in the end is true because 
I have a certain want and because I act in a certain manner. 
The criterion may be said in the last resort to involve my 
act and choice. And thus in the end truth is not true 
1 See Chap. VIII. 



ii FAITH 27 

because it is simply seen or follows logically from what is 
seen. Further, philosophy in my judgement cannot verify 
its principle in detail and throughout. If it could do this, 
faith would be removed, and, so far as it does this, faith 
ceases. But, so far as philosophy is condemned to act on an 
unverified principle, it continues still to rest upon faith. 

You may indeed object that here there can be no faith 
since here doubts are impossible, but this objection, I think, 
will hardly stand. The doubts may be said to be impossible 
only because of our principle of action. And, if it were not 
for our faith, we have perhaps a right to say that the other 
ideas, now meaningless, might at least in some irrational 
sense be entertained. But how we are to decide on this 
point, and whether we are to assert or to deny that philo 
sophy in the end rests on faith, is to my mind of no great 
consequence. 



CHAPTER III 
ON FLOATING IDEAS AND THE IMAGINARY * 

IN this chapter 2 I shall attempt to deal briefly with 
several subjects or perhaps aspects of one subject. My aim 
throughout is to advocate the same main conclusion, but 
no satisfactory treatment of the questions opened is possible 
within these limits. The first discussion will be about the 
existence of floating ideas, the next will examine the difference 
in content between the real and the imaginary , and the 
third will inquire as to the relation between imagination and 
play, together with the distinction between play and earnest. 
The conclusion to be urged or suggested in each case is that 
a hard division between the real and the imaginary is not 
tenable. The true nature and criterion of reality must hence 
be sought and found elsewhere. 

I. I will take first the question as to floating ideas. This 
should be preceded by a discussion of the nature of ideas in 
general, but such an inquiry is obviously not possible here. 
I must content myself here with referring to the conclusion 
which I have advocated elsewhere. 3 Every idea 4 essentially 
qualifies reality, but no idea on the other hand does this 
simply and bodily. Every idea has its own existence as 
a fact, and with this side of its being it, as an idea and so 
far, does not qualify reality. Its essence, we may say, lies 
in ignoring or in discounting this side of itself. And thus 

1 This chapter was first published in Mind for April 1908. 

2 The first two divisions of this chapter may be taken as a commentary on 
various parts of my book Appearance and Reality. See especially pp. 366 ff. 

3 In Appearance (see the Index) and in various articles in Mind (O.S., 
No. 49, p. 23 ; N.S., No. 40, pp. 5, 6 ; No. 41, p. 17, and No. 44, pp. 27, 28). 
Cf. Chapters IX and X of this volume. 

4 This holds even of the idea of nothing . See below, p. 41. 



in FLOATING IDEAS AND THE IMAGINARY 29 

everywhere truth and ideas have a double aspect. But every 
idea, used as an idea, must so far attach itself as an adjective 
to the real, and hence in the end there will be no such thing 
as an idea which merely floats. 

This conclusion is very commonly rejected as false. Its 
falsehood is at times even silently assumed against those who 
maintain its truth. And certainly at first sight any such 
doctrine seems open to grave objection. An idea , it may 
be said, always, if you please, refers in some sense to the 
real world, and always, if you please, neglects or discounts 
its own private existence, if, that is, it possesses any. But 
on the other hand there are ideas which plainly do not 
qualify the real. When an idea is taken as false it may even 
be repelled and denied. And, apart from this, ideas may be 
recognized as merely imaginary, and, taken in this character, 
they float suspended above the real world. The same thing 
happens wherever we deal with questions, with ideal experi 
ments, and again with those suggestions which we merely 
entertain without pronouncing on their truth. And how, 
when you do not know that an idea is true, or when you 
even know that it is not true, can you say in such a case 
that the idea qualifies reality ? In such cases the idea, it 
is plain, can do no more than float. There is force in 
this objection, and with myself, I admit, the objection at one 
time more or less prevailed. 1 I will now, however, attempt 
to show briefly that it rests upon misconception. 

1 Principles of Logic, p. 4. There are, besides, various more or less 
objectionable expressions used in the account of ideas which is given there. 
So far as I know, these expressions have not been used by me since, though 
I hardly understand how a careful reader of the volume could be deceived 
by them. The term sign or symbol , for instance, implies strictly, 
I suppose, the recognized individual existence of the sign. And obviously 
with an idea this aspect may be absent. There are other expressions also 
which, if you take them literally, are certainly false, and also inconsistent 
with what may be called the general doctrine of the book. But I hope 
that the statements as to ideas, which I have made several times since 1883, 
are less misleading. I should have added that, from the first and through 
out, Prof. Bosanquet has consistently advocated the true doctrine. The 
debt which philosophy owes to him here has not been adequately recognized. 



30 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

The misconception is in short a false assumption as to the 
limits of the real world. Reality is identified with the world 
of actual fact, and outside of this world floats the unsub 
stantial realm of the imaginary. And actual fact, when we 
inquire, is in the end the world which is continuous with my 
body. It is the construction which in my waking hours * 
I build round this centre. My body, taken in one with my 
pfesent feelings and with the context which in space and 
time I can connect with this basis, is regarded by me as 
actual fact while all else is unreal. Thus my dreams are 
facts so far as they take their place as events in the real 
series, while the contents of my dreams are not real since 
they cannot so be ordered. The real world on this view is 
a group and series of actual events, and the test in the end 
is continuous connexion with my felt waking body. This is 
the doctrine which consciously or unconsciously underlies 
our common view as to the actual world. And it is this 
doctrine, I think, which usually is asserted or implied when 
the existence of mere floating ideas seems plausible. 

I do not purpose here to discuss formally the truth and 
consistency of this view of reality s limits. 2 The doctrine is 
in trouble at once with regard to the actual existence of past 
and future. It fails wholly to explain the position given to 
the sphere of general and of abstract ideas. And to say 
that, when confronted with the facts of the spiritual world, 
with art and science, morality and religion, it proves inade 
quate, is to use a weak expression. The truth is that no one 
except for certain purposes really believes in such a view, and 
that no one for other purposes can fail, however unawares, 
to reject it. And, without pausing to consider any possible 
attempts at defence, I will proceed to offer another view 
which seems at least more in accordance with fact. 

1 In the end in my present waking moment. The point is further 
discussed later in this chapter. Cf. Chap. XVI. 

* The foundation of this view is exposed in the second part of the 
present chapter. Cf. Chap. XVI. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 31 

Every man s world, the whole world, I mean, in which his 
self also is included, is one, and it comes to his mind as one 
universe. It necessarily does so even when he maintains that 
it truly is but plural. But this unity is perhaps for most 
men no more than an underlying felt whole. There is, we 
may say, an implicit sense rather than an explicit object, but 
none the less the unity is experienced as real. On the other 
hand above this felt totality there is for the average man an 
indefinite number of worlds, worlds all more or less real but 
all, so far as appears, more or less independent. There are 
the facts perceived by the outer senses, and there is the inner 
realm of ideas and intimate feelings and passing moods. 
And these regions more or less may correspond, but they do 
not correspond wholly. Then there is my present actual 
world, and the ambiguous existence of what has been and is 
about to be. There are the worlds of duty and of religious 
truth, which on the one side penetrate and on the other side 
transcend the common visible facts. And there are the 
regions of hope, desire and dream, madness and drunken 
ness and error, all * unreal , if you please, but all counting 
as elements in the total of reality. The various worlds of 
politics, commerce, invention, trade and manufacture, all 
again have their places. Above the sensible sphere rises the 
intellectual province of truth and science, and, more or less 
apart from this, the whole realm of the higher imagination. 
Both in poetry and in general fiction, and throughout the 
entire region of the arts and of artistic perception, we 
encounter reality. Things are here in various ways for us 
incontestable, valid and true , while in another sense of the 
word truth these things could not be called true. But this 
multiplicity of our worlds may perhaps be taken as a fact 
which is now recognized. 1 The diversity and even the 
division of our various worlds is indefinite and in a sense is 
endless. And, without entering further into detail, I will 

1 Cf. Prof. James s Psychology, chap. xxi. 



32 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

state at once how this diversity bears on our problem. 
Because there are many worlds, the idea which floats sus 
pended above one of them is attached to another. There 
are in short floating ideas, but not ideas which float abso 
lutely. Every idea on the contrary is an adjective which 
qualifies a real world, and it is loose only when you take it in 
relation to another sphere of reality. 

On the one side the whole Universe or the Absolute Reality 
is the subject to which in the end every idea is attached. On 
the other side (and this is the side on which we have to 
dwell here) the reality qualified by an idea depends always on 
a distinction. The subject in a judgement is never Reality in 
the fullest sense. It is reality taken, or meant to be taken, 
under certain conditions and limits. It is reality in short 
understood in a special sense. 1 And hence when an idea 
floats above, and is even repelled by, one region of the world, 
there is available always another region in which it inheres 
and to which as an adjective it is attached. And every 
where, where we seem to find ideas which float absolutely, we 
can discover the ground to which really they are fixed. 

I will go on to point this out in a variety of instances, but, 
before proceeding, I must lay stress on an important distinc 
tion. If judgement is used in its ordinary sense of explicit 
judgement, where we have a distinct predicate and subject 
taken one as applied to the other, then it certainly is true 
that apart from judgement we have ideas. And if the issue 
is raised thus, and if not to be so predicated means to float, 
then inevitably we shall be forced to believe in floating ideas. 
For in doubt and in denial, to take obvious instances, we 
should find the evidence that they exist. But the issue, if so 
raised, I must go on to urge, is raised wrongly. We have not 
to choose everywhere between an idea which is predicated 

1 It is not possible for me to attempt here to explain and justify the 
above. I may perhaps in passing point out that, if the subject were the 
entire reality, no place would be left for the existence of the idea. Cf. p. 41 , 
note. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 33 

and an idea which simply floats. On the contrary, an 
ideal content can qualify and be attached to a subject apart 
from any predication in the proper sense or any explicit 
judgement. And by virtue of such an attachment the ideas 
which relatively float are everywhere from another point held 
captive. The idea comes before my mind as in suspension 
and as loose from a certain subject, and so far it floats. But 
none the less as an adjective it qualifies another subject. It 
is not predicated of this other subject, but it comes as at 
tached to it or as inhering there. This other subject may be 
more or less specialized or more or less vague and general, 
and the union again between this subject and the idea may 
be more or less implicit. It may amount to little more than 
the immediate inherence of one aspect in a felt whole. But 
in every case of a floating idea this other subject and its 
attachment can be found. The idea in short, held free from 
one subject, coalesces more or less immediately with another 
subject from which in varying degrees it is distinct. 

Thus in negation the idea denied is not in the proper sense 
predicated of another subject. But this idea in every case 
qualifies an alternative more or less distinct, and hence no 
where floats absolutely. The idea repelled is, in other words, 
felt to fall somewhere else. It may qualify another alter 
native more or less specified before the mind, or it may 
coalesce with that vague whole which comes to us as the 
residue of the Universe. But to existence unsupported 
within a void it never attains. 

This qualification apart from explicit judgement can by 
reflexion everywhere be turned into formal predication. 
Whether before that we should speak of judgement I need 
not discuss. The point is that apart from predication ideas 
can qualify a subject. Hence you cannot conclude that, 
where predication fails, ideas, if present, must float, since 
the possibility of informal union between ideas and reality 
destroys this conclusion. The reader may now have realized 

1574 D 



34 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

the bearing and the importance of the above distinction, and 
I will go on to explain and justify it in detail by considering 
various instances of floating ideas. We find obvious ex 
amples in negation and supposition, in the use of imperatives 
and questions, and in the world of imagination and of mere 
idea. I will deal first with the case of imaginary ideas. 

The imaginary in general is defined by exclusion from the 
real. It is something which positively possesses the character 
of this or that real world and hence suggests its inclusion 
there, but on the other hand is shut out from the limits of 
the world in question. And the world which excludes is 
primarily the world of actual fact. This world, we saw 
above, is made by construction from my real body. It is 
the region, in short, which is taken as continuous with that 
basis. 1 Whatever, having more or less the character of this 
series, nevertheless falls outside it, is imaginary, or, taken 
more generally, the imaginary is whatever is excluded by 
actual fact. And in a secondary sense the imaginary is what 
in the same way falls outside of any kind of world which is 
taken as actual. Now if an idea is admitted to be imaginary 
(which we have seen means unreal), how, it will be objected, 
can such an idea be the adjective of reality ? And this pro 
blem is solved, we have seen, by the plurality of real worlds. 
The idea is repelled from one sphere but qualifies another, 
and in this other sphere is real. Reality, we feel, is a whole 
which extends beyond any special world. It is something 
which comes to us as wider than the distinctions we make 
in it. Hence, wherever an idea is repelled by a subject, 
there remains another field which in some sense is real. In 
this field the idea falls positively, inheres in it and qualifies 
it, and, when we reflect, we can express this inherence in a 
judgement. The idea, before we so reflect, is not a predicate, 
but the idea on the other hand is still not free. It is in the 

1 In the second part of this chapter I will further discuss the nature of 
the basis mentioned above. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 35 

air, if you will, but you must add that it qualifies this air 
which is its support and reality. 

Consider for example the world inhabited by the characters 
in some novel. Things not only here are so or otherwise in 
actual literary fact, but beyond this fact we recognize a world 
of reality. And this world does not consist in or depend on 
the mere event that Balzac or Thackeray chose to write down 
this or that detail. 1 It is the same elsewhere and in every 
world of the arts. The imaginary, we all say, has its laws, 
and, if so, we must go on to add, it has its own truth and own 
life, and its ideas, floating in reference to common fact, are 
hence attached to this its own world of reality. Thus again 
in abstract science, where we should refuse to say that truth 
is imaginary, we could hardly assert the existence of any and 
every truth as an actual fact. On the other hand, whatever 
we might protest, we feel and know that truth somewhere 
must be real. Nay, even in the practical relation of desire 
and will, ideas are felt somehow to be real. Indeed, their 
reality in collision with their non-existence makes the con 
flict in which we suffer. We suffer there most where most 
we feel that the idea has reality superior to the existence 
which excludes it. Our will is moved by, and it unawares 
insists on, the reality in another world of that idea which it 
brings here into fact. The star that I desire does not wander 
outcast and naked in the void. My heart is drawn to it 
because it inhabits that heaven which is felt at once to be 
its own and mine. 

In the end and taken absolutely (to repeat this) there can 
be no mere idea. Reality is always before us, and every idea 
in some sense qualifies the real. So far as excluded it is 
excluded only from some limited region, and beyond that 
region has its world. To float in the absolute sense is 
impossible. Flotation means attachment to another soil, a 

1 See OD this point Prof. Bosanquet s Knowledge and Reality, pp. 144 ff., 
followed by Prof. James in his Psychology, ii. 292. 

D 2 



36 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

realm other than that sphere which for any purpose we take 
here as solid ground and as fact. Now the region which we 
oppose to fact may be a distinct world, or may be a residue 
more or less unspecified. It may be this or that province of 
the ideal, or it may be no more than the undefined space 
which falls beyond what we distinguish as fact. But the 
province, or the mere residual space or vague background, 
is still reality felt as positive, and to this reality the idea is 
bound. 1 

We may deal rapidly with the position of the idea in 
imperatives and questions. The nature of an imperative 
has been discussed by me elsewhere (in Mind, N.S., No. 49, 
pp. 4 and 5), and we have no need to enter on that general 
topic. But with regard to reality it is with the idea here 
as in the practical relation generally. The idea, ordered to 
exist in our world, qualifies already the world of ideas and 
has reality there. The same thing holds again in interroga- 
tives. In a question we have some known aspect of reality 
before us, which we regard, at least here, as actual fact. We 
have next the suggestion of an idea, more or less specified 
or again undefined, which we assume to be somehow con 
nected with our known fact. We have finally a demand for 
further knowledge in this direction. The demand is addressed 
to another mind, or even secondarily to our own, or again to 
material nature. The further knowledge (of which we have 
the idea) is absent from our known fact. But on the other 
hand this knowledge, the answer to our question, is not 
fetched from nowhere. We take it to be truth which already 
is there and which in some sense exists. 2 It already, that 
is, qualifies another realm of reality, and to this realm it is 
attached. 

1 The idea again may be excluded from the subject taken simply and 
in itself, or again from the subject taken merely as so far known. The 
negation in the latter sense may, if we please, be called privative. 

1 The reader possibly may object that, in the case of the future which 
I am to make, the above account will not hold. I reply that it holds 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 37 

We may pass from this to consider the case of supposition 
and hypothetical judgement. In supposition we use an idea 
which in one connexion is true and is real. This ideal truth 
we bring into relation with a fact taken in another 
sphere, in order to discover what result comes in a certain 
direction. This result is truth which is considered now, as 
before, to qualify and to be rooted in the ideal world. Sup 
position in short presupposes that the actual or real fact is 
not the whole of reality. It implies that there are other 
spheres, or other provinces of the same sphere, all connected 
in a wider Universe. Hence ideas once more never float 
except relatively. Their suspension involves a positive 
attachment to a point of support taken elsewhere. 

I may perhaps be allowed to dwell somewhat longer on the 
problem raised by hypothetical judgement. It is obviously 
impossible for me here to discuss this fully in regard either 
to its psychological origin or logical value, and I must content 
myself with calling attention to a point which is essential. 
In a hypothetical judgement we have an assertion, and it is 
really idle to dispute this. If you suppose something then 
something follows, and, unless you know that this is so, you 
cannot say it. There is an assertion, but this assertion 
(properly) is not of actual fact. On the other side you have 
before you a datum which in some sense you take to be fact 
and actually real. And there is some connexion, you assume, 
between this fact and your ideal truth. But in spite of this 
connexion the fact is not the subject of your judgement, or 
rather it never is so except improperly and through mere 
implication. 

In order to understand the hypothetical judgement we 
must keep in mind the following essential aspects, (i) The 

here unquestionably as it holds elsewhere, and that otherwise the attempt 
at prevision would be meaningless. The difficulty is caused by the nature 
of a real fact which is future, a construction which is full of radical incon 
sistency. But in any case, if the idea of the future cannot qualify the world 
of fact and truth, it still does not float but is attached to the imaginary 
world. 



38 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

subject of this judgement is never the actual fact. (2) On 
the other hand the actual fact to some extent enters into the 
judgement. And (3) in many cases the judgement contains 
an unavowed implication. It more or less covertly implies, 
that is, a certain connexion between its subject and the 
actual fact. 

(1) In every hypothetical judgement there is actual fact 
to which the subject is opposed. This actual fact may be 
a perceived existence, or again it may belong to some ideal or 
imaginary world. But in every case the use of if marks 
a distinction between what we think and what is otherwise 
real. If a square could be round then something follows, 
which does not follow from an actual square. And * if you 
attacked that man he would defend himself does not make 
its assertion about that man. The man is not attacked, the 
square is not round, and you do not even suggest that 
either is so. And in c if he goes there he will succeed you 
do not say that he will go there. From him, as you know 
him, that predicate is absent, and your if means that you 
are not speaking of the known actual man. In every case 
you are speaking of that which you suppose, and whatever 
you suppose you ipso facto oppose to what you take to be 
real. Otherwise there would be no sense in supposing and no 
meaning in * if . 

(2) On the other side your assertion clearly in some sense 
refers to the actual fact. For otherwise, and if there were 
no connexion, who could think of supposing ? If your asser 
tion had positively or negatively nothing to do with your 
actual reality, it would be meaningless or at least must 
lose its hypothetical form. Thus on the one side you are 
dealing in some sense with actual fact. The subject of your 
judgement on the other hand is not an actual fact. But the 
actual fact is referred to and to some extent it enters into 
the subject of the judgement. We have first the actual man 
who is not attacked and who is not the subject, and we have 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 39 

next the supposed, the ideal, man of whom the judgement is 
true. If these two men are the same, our if at least im 
plies that we do not know this, while on the other side our 
if implies that these men are connected. There is in short 
enough known identity between the two men to warrant a 
supposition. We thus assert about the ideal man but also 
refer to the other man. Our reference assumes that certainly 
between the two there is a partial identity, while our 
supposition means that, for anything we really know, there 
is a difference which on the whole is superior and prevails. 1 
(3) So much as the above belongs to the essence of hypo 
thetical judgement. Many cases, however, present an 
additional aspect, which has given rise to difficulty and to 
error. We have often a further implication as to the 
amount of identity between the ideal subject and the fact, 
and, owing to this implication, the judgement, while hypo 
thetical in form, may assert or deny of the actual. In 
si vales bene est there is an implied identity, between the 
supposed and the actual, sufficient to justify the use of est. 
On the other hand in si tacuisses philosophus esses we assume 
a known difference, between the two cases of yourself, suffi 
cient to warrant a denial of the conclusion in fact. This 
implied identity or difference can exist in a variety of degrees, 
and the actual meaning conveyed by the judgement may 
depend upon this implication. But this implication, we 
must not forget, falls outside the hypothetical form. It 
is often absent from it, and when present it may even be 
said to contradict it, since it involves knowledge on a point 
where the use of if assumes ignorance. Hence this acci 
dental meaning conveyed by some hypothetical judgements 

1 A hypothetical judgement (to state this otherwise) is itself always 
universal, but it implies that there is a question of bringing a designated 
case under this universal judgement. It implies that this question is worth 
considering, and (taken strictly) it implies that the answer is unknown. 

I should remind the reader that in the above discussion I assume through 
out the correctness of the account of existential judgements which I have 
given elsewhere. See my Principles of Logic. 



40 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

is foreign to the essence of the hypothetical form. And 
a want of clearness on this point must everywhere, I think, 
preclude an understanding of that essence. 

With these brief but, I fear, too lengthy remarks, I must 
pass from the hypothetical judgement. Assuming every 
where, as that does, various realms of reality and truth, 
the consideration of it has tended to confirm our main 
conclusion. The ideas which float have in every case another 
world in which they are based and secured. 

When we pass to the alleged existence of floating ideas in 
the case of negation, we find a subject too intricate and too 
difficult for discussion here. I must content myself with 
a summary statement of the conclusion which I adopt. 1 
By negation I understand a denial of the intelligible and not 
a mere refusal to entertain the unmeaning. And the main 
point here is this, that all negation is relative. Negation, 
whatever else it is, is repulsion, repulsion not absolute but 
from a subject formed by distinction within reality. Reality 
therefore is always wider than the subject which negates, 
and beyond this subject we have always a region taken in 
some sense to be real. And the idea, which is repelled from 
the subject, falls within this other world and qualifies it. 

I do not mean that in all negation the alternative is dis 
tinct. The alternative on the contrary may be unspecified 
in various degrees. Our other world may amount to no 
more than that vague residue which remains after the subject 
has been selected. But, however undefined this other may 
be, it is the region into which the banished idea is sent. 
The idea never floats, like Mahomet s coffin, between both 
worlds, or somehow hangs nowhere. And the idea once 
more belongs to and qualifies that world which it inhabits. 
I do not mean that the idea, when repelled from one subject, 
must be predicated of another subject. Predication, we 

1 On the subject of negation I would refer the reader to Prof. Bosanquet s 
admirable Logic. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 41 

have seen above, is not asserted wherever floating ideas are 
denied (p. 33). The union of the repelled idea with the 
other world may be no more than a coalescence in feeling, 
and in various degrees may be immediate. But this union, 
we have seen, is a qualification and amounts to a bond. 
And with this summary result I must pass from the claim of 
floating ideas to exist in negation. 1 

1 I will deal briefty and in passing with several difficulties, (i) Where 
the subject, from which the idea is repelled, is the Universe at large, it 
may be objected that we have no longer here a distinction taken within 
reality. The answer is that here the Universe as a whole is distinguished 
from its own partial contents. What we deny is that the idea, which 
qualifies a finite sphere within the Whole, is in the same sense true of the 
Whole. (Cf. Chap. XI.) But obviously I cannot here discuss the difficulties 
which in the end beset the general doctrine of truth and the ultimate dis 
tinction of subject and predicate, (ii) It may be asked how the idea of 
nothing can qualify reality. I answer, as before, in general that exclusion 
from the Universe admits presence in a field of distinction falling within 
the Universe. And I answer further that nothing , being always relative, 
can always qualify such a field. If there were a genuine idea of sheer 
nothing, the case would be altered. But without entering into further 
difficulties and into refinements for which there is no space, I may state 
broadly that this is impossible. We cannot have a consistent idea of 
nothingness if that is made absolute, (iii) But I may be asked further 
how an idea, if self-contradictory, can qualify the real, and whether there 
fore, in asserting that all ideas qualify reality, I am not in conflict with 
the Law of Contradiction. The question is interesting, and to myself it is 
even more interesting when followed by another. How, when self-contra 
dictory ideas in some sense exist (as is allowed to be the case), is it possible 
that such ideas should not in some sense qualify the real ? Such questions 
cannot, however, be properly discussed apart from an inquiry into the 
ultimate meaning of contradiction. I have undertaken this inquiry else 
where (Appearance, pp. 562-72, and Mind, No. 20, p. 482), and must here 
be allowed to take the result reached by it as true. And resting on this 
basis I reply as follows to the objection just raised (cf. Chapters IX and X). 
The self-contradictory, as it anywhere qualifies the real, is taken so far not 
to contradict itself. Incompatibles, such as round and square, if you con 
nect them in another world are not taken as simply united in one subject. 
And, apart from such a union, they are no longer incompatible. You 
may suppose a distinction more or less specified in the imaginary subject 
to which they belong. Or again, without any such positive supposition, 
you have at least by your repulsion from the real world removed the 
point of identity through which they collide there. The incompatibles 
hence fall into and coalesce with the residual mass of unspecified con 
junction. As qualifying this somehow they are compatible, and you can, 
if you please, go on to predicate both as true. On the other hand, if even 



42 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

I have now in various instances attempted to justify the 
denial of floating ideas. If the principle has been made clear 
to the reader, I think that further detail would be super 
fluous. Ideas float, but they float relatively, and there is 
another ground always which supports them, and of which 
they are adjectives. They need not be predicated of this 
ground, and, if such a necessity is assumed, then the denial 
of floating ideas, I agree, is untenable. But this necessity 
rests, I urge, upon a false alternative. Without predication 
an ideal content can qualify more or less immediately a 
subject from which it is distinct. And such a qualification 
is all that our conclusion requires. 

Every possible idea therefore may be said to be used 
existentially, for every possible idea qualifies and is true 
of a real world. And the number of real worlds, in a word, 
is indefinite. Every idea therefore in a sense is true, and is 
true of reality. The question with every idea is how far and 
in what sense is it true. The question is always whether, 
qualifying reality in one sense, the idea qualifies reality in 
another sense also. For, true in one world, an idea may be 
false in another world, and still more false if you seek to 
make it true of the Universe. 

II. It may serve to throw light upon the whole subject if 
I go on to discuss briefly a well-known doctrine. We often 
hear that between an object as imaginary and the same 

in an imaginary world you seek to unite round and square simply in one 
subject, they once more cease to qualify this real world. They are once 
more exiled to a further outlying world of mere imagination, in which, being 
again merely somehow conjoined, they can both together be real. The 
references given above will, I hope, furnish the explanation of this brief 
answer. I would, however, once more remind the reader that in any case, 
by even speaking of contradictories, we tacitly assume them to be somehow 
conjoined, and I would add that any view of contradiction which fails to 
deal with this aspect of the case is at best incomplete and is probably 
defective. The difficulty raised in connexion with the Law of Contradiction 
will I think, when fully considered, tend to confirm on every side the truth 
of the main conclusions which I defend. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 43 

object as real there is no difference in content, or at least 
that such a difference, where it exists, is not essential. This 
doctrine is often stated as axiomatic or as at any rate in 
contestable, and certainly I do not doubt that it possesses 
truth. On the other hand the truth possessed by it seems 
partial and limited. And in the end and in principle the 
doctrine must even be called false. 

About its plausibility there is no question. What is the 
difference, we are asked, between a real and an imaginary 
shilling, and, if they differ as shillings, how do they differ ? 
Suppose that they differ, then take this point of difference, 
whatever it is, and in imagination remove it. There will 
now no longer be any diversity in content between the two 
shillings, which still remain two. This contention obviously 
is plausible, and, though there are difficulties to my mind 
insoluble which result from its acceptance, the prevalence 
it has acquired is not surprising. 

On the other hand, when we reflect, the counter-doctrine 
seems no less plausible. The real shilling, it has been re 
marked, does things, where the imaginary shilling has no 
power. The former is an active and in some sense a per 
manent constituent of the real world. And this difference 
appears to be essential and to affect the internal content of 
the shilling. You may perhaps deny this, and may attempt 
to argue that any such difference falls outside the two 
shillings. They are to differ, that is, barely in and through 
their external relations and not at all in themselves ; and of 
course continuance will be a mere matter of external context. 
But this is to assume that a thing s relations, which make 
all the difference to other things, or at least all the differ 
ence beyond itself, make no difference whatever to itself. 
And this assumption, if it is tenable, seems at least not free 
from difficulty. For in the end the doubt is suggested whether 
in the end, when you have removed the relations, there is 
any shilling at all left. 



44 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

You may answer perhaps that this abstract difficulty 
leaves you unmoved. At any rate, when the real external 
relations are cut off, what in fact is left is no more or less 
than the imaginary shilling. But this answer, I will go on 
to show, apart from any objection based on general principle, 
is in practice unavailing. For we have not to deal merely with 
two shillings, the one real and the other fancied. There is not 
on one side a single * real world of fact and on the other 
side a single world that I call imaginary . On the contrary 
a man has, as we saw, an indefinite plurality of worlds. 1 

Now this diversity of worlds, and the presence of the same 
object in various worlds, seems to bear on our problem. If 
on the one side you agree that these worlds are diverse, each 
through a different content, it seems natural to think that 
the object s quality may be affected in each case by this dif 
ference. But if on the other side all these worlds are to 
be diverse without differing in content, such a doctrine, if 
tenable, has surely at least ceased to be plausible. It seems 
to commit us to the view that there is an indefinite number 
of distinctions without any difference, or that there are 
differences between things which do not really differ. 2 For 
myself such a conclusion tends to the dissolution of all things, 
whether real or imaginary, and at any rate there will be few, 
I think, to whom it commends itself at once as plausible. 

If now leaving general considerations we test our doctrine 
by applying it to special cases, we discover that at least it 
has limits. The whole distinction in short between the 
imaginary and the real tends, as we apply it, to become 
invalid. The first instance I will take is the case of the 
Universe or Reality, for it is better, I think, here not to use 
the instance of God. Can we speak of the Universe as being 
merely real or as being merely imaginary ? Is it not on the 
other hand plain that such a distinction falls within the 

1 In a work of fiction, for instance, we have the imaginary worlds of the 
characters over against their real world, and so on indefinitely. 

* On this point and on external relations cf. Chapters VIII, IX, and X. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 45 

Universe ? If we oppose the real to the imaginary, then 
clearly the Universe is neither or both. Taken as a whole 
it falls on neither side of this opposition, and is not com 
prised in either the real or the imaginary world. Both these 
worlds on the contrary are contained within the Universe. 
So far then as we maintain the hard distinction between 
imaginary and real, we can neither say that All is real nor 
that All is imaginary. This distinction, and with it the 
whole doctrine which we are considering, has proved in 
applicable or mistaken. 

Again, let me take the case of my real self. My real self, 
as I am now aware of it, appears to be unique, and in con 
trast with it I have a variety of imaginary selves. Now, if 
the doctrine in hand is correct, the difference between my 
imaginary selves and my real self does not rest on content. 
It must on the other hand somehow consist in mere external 
relations. But this conclusion, if in the end it is not sense 
less, seems contrary to what experience here suggests. The 
distinction between imaginary and real seems, at least here, 
to rest on a felt difference, and, where there is a felt differ 
ence, it is natural to assume a diversity in content. To sup 
pose that my real and imaginary selves are in themselves 
interchangeable, and that there is no diversity here except 
in that which falls outside each, seems, in the presence 
of the actual fact, to be untenable if not unmeaning. Thus, 
as applied to the Universe, we found that the doctrine 
which we examine proved invalid, while now in the case of 
my real and my imaginary self it seems even vicious. 

But the doctrine without doubt possesses truth, truth not 
unlimited but partial. So far as you can abstract from the 
diversity of your different worlds, whether real or imaginary, 
you can take their contents as merely the same. And to a 
certain extent and in many cases it is legitimate and useful 
so to abstract. But, while the doctrine taken in this sense 
is true, in any other sense it seems not true. It is, first, not 



46 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

true that the content so abstracted is in the strict sense 
imaginary. This content on the contrary is so far neither real 
nor imaginary. And again it is not true that all the diversity 
from which you abstract must consist in something other 
than content. You cannot take this diversity as everywhere 
something external, which leaves objects unaffected in their 
character. For in the end the whole distinction of imaginary 
from real fundamentally rests, we shall find, on a difference 
in quality. If, to repeat, you abstract from the difference 
between the imaginary and the real, you obviously so far 
have no difference of any kind between them. But, if on 
the other hand the difference between them is to be main 
tained, it must rest in the end on a difference in felt content. 

What is the imaginary ? l This is a question which up to 
a certain point we have answered already. The imaginary, 
we saw, is not something indifferent, to which reality could 
simply be added. The imaginary is qualified by exclusion 
from real existence, and apart from that exclusion it loses 
its character. And real existence, I have now to urge, 
depends on a positive quality. 

My real world , we saw, is a construction from my felt 
self. It is an inconsistent construction, and it also in the 
last resort depends on my present feeling. You may protest 
that its basis is really my normal waking self, but in the end 
you have no way of distinguishing such a self from the self 
which is abnormal. In the end my foundation is and must 
be my present self, whatever that happens at the moment to 
be. In madness or drunkenness we have the distinction of 
imaginary from real, and the distinction seems here to be as 
good as elsewhere. Nay even in dream I may construct 
another world which is the environment of my dream-body, 
and may oppose to this reality a mere imaginary world. 
The basis of the opposition everywhere is, in a word, present 
feeling, and one present feeling, if you take reality so, stands 

1 There are some further remarks in Chap. XII. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 47 

as high as another. And the conclusion suggested is that 
the above opposition of real existence to mere imagina 
tion is in the end invalid and breaks down. 

But, however arbitrary my procedure, my real world is 
taken as that which is continuous with my normal waking 
felt self. And it is by exclusion from this real world that 
the imaginary is made. Thus if I and a hundred other men 
were to dream the same dream, and in somnambulism were 
to act from our dreamt world, this world would remain 
unreal because not continuous with the world of my self as 
normal and waking. By virtue of exclusion from this world 
the realm of the imaginary is denned. And it is only at a 
stage of mind which is comparatively late that such a division 
is made. Thus the gulf fixed between imaginary and real 
existence, however necessary and useful it may be, is at 
once arbitrary and novel. 

And the points to which I would direct the reader s atten 
tion are these, (i) The existence of the imaginary depends 
upon my real world, and (ii) the existence of my real world 
depends on a felt quality. 

(i) A content is not made imaginary by mere privation 
and through simple failure. If you abstract from all relation 
to what is called my real world, you have so far not got the 
imaginary. Abstract truths, for instance, do not express 
real matters of fact, but they fall elsewhere than in the 
realm of mere imagination. This realm is made by positive 
exclusion from the special world which I call real. And 
in a word if you desire to turn imaginary into real , 
you cannot effect this by mere addition. You require also to 
subtract the above exclusion, though, this subtraction being 
unimportant practically, has been generally ignored. 

(ii) And my real world, difference from which and exclu 
sion by which, we have seen, is the essence on what does 
that rest ? It rests on a quality, on a felt content, on that 
of which I am aware when I say this myself which is now . 



48 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

I experience this content when I feel the difference between 
the mere idea and the actuality of my present self. But it 
is impossible for me to bring this content wholly before me 
as an object. With every object I have still the difference 
felt between this object and my felt self. And, if this were 
not so, the difference and the relation between subject and 
object would vanish. And thus what I call my real world, 
the world which is made by a construction from my self, 
depends in the end on a content, a content not explicit but 
positive, not brought before me but felt. If you take away 
this content, and the exclusion by this content, then at one 
stroke you have removed the characters of both imaginary 
and real. And if such a mere felt quality seems but a pre 
carious foundation for our edifice, that is precisely the con 
clusion which I desire to suggest. For what I call my real 
world is something other than Reality. It is a construction, 
required for certain ends and true within limits, but beyond 
those limits more or less precarious, negligible, and in the 
end invalid. 1 

The imaginary then is made by exclusion from my real 
world. It rests in the last resort on a felt difference from 
a felt unique quality, and this, I apprehend, is a difference 

1 It is useless to insist that my real world is real because it is the world 
where we all meet really through the real connexions of our real bodies. 
For, as was remarked above, in my dreams my own dream-body possesses 
its world of things and of other persons ; and this order of things, while 
I dream, is real to myself. Nay an indefinite number of persons might, for 
all we know, dream a world of identical content, in which each with a 
difference occupied his proper place. And if you ask for the criterion by 
which to decide between my dreamt and my waking worlds, something 
more is required than a mere arbitrary choice. You are led in the end to 
find that the superiority of my waking world lies in its character, in the 
greater order and system which it possesses and effects. But, with this, 
the hard division has turned into a question of degree, and this question 
once raised will tend to carry us still further. 

I may remark in passing that the real world is by some writers defined 
so exclusively, that whatever is perceptible but to one person becomes 
unreal. But obviously any man might under individual conditions have 
an experience which would not be shared by others, and which would 
yet belong to the order of events in the real world of fact. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 49 

in content. Such a result, I admit, entails difficulties which 
I do not here discuss. But, if we reject it, we seem forced 
to conclusions which to my mind are far less tolerable. 
For I cannot see how things or orders of things are to be 
distinct, if they are not different, or what in the end can be 
meant by a relation which is merely external. 

The difference between the real and imaginary thus rests 
in the end upon content. So far as you abstract from the 
difference, the content of both worlds is obviously the same. 
For many purposes the abstraction is permissible and useful, 
but it is not everywhere valid. And so the doctrine of 
the identity in content between real and imaginary has 
but partial truth. When you take the instance of the Uni 
verse or again of my real self, the doctrine proves inapplicable 
or vicious. 

We have hence been led once more to the main theme of 
this chapter. The difference between my world of fact and 
my other worlds is important and necessary, but the exag 
gerated value we often tend to attach to it is really illusory. 
Its pretensions are in practice refuted incessantly by ex 
perience of other kinds. And, when we examine its theo 
retical claim to possess ultimate truth, we find that this is 
founded on arbitrariness, is built up in inconsistency, and 
ends in obscurity. The difference for us between real and 
unreal is vital. This can hardly consist in a division founded 
on felt quality condemned for ever to be latent, and, while 
seeking for another foundation, we found none which is 
intelligible. Hence this difference, vital for us, must be 
sought and be discovered elsewhere. It must depend on 
the internal character of those various worlds which claim 
our allegiance. And our impassable gulf and our hard and 
fast division will have to give way to degree and to differ 
ences in value. 1 

1 On the nature of the imaginary compare Chap. XII, and on the real 
world see further in Chapters XIV and XVI. 
1574 E 



50 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

III. I propose now to discuss briefly the meaning of play 
in its contrast with earnest, and to remark on the mistaken 
view that play is essentially concerned with the imaginary. 
The following pages will be found, I hope, still to be more 
or less concerned with our main subject, since the discussion 
of these topics will tend once more to break down the divi 
sions erroneously forced into life. We shall again discover 
the mistakes which follow from any attempt to sunder the 
human world, to divide things from ideas, to identify the 
real with matter of fact, or to set apart somewhere by itself 
a superior realm of earnest. 

What is play ? It is activity, we may say, so far as 
that is felt to be unconstrained. 1 And hence the activity 
must in the first place be pleasant. It must be enjoyed 
and exercised for its own sake, and, so far as it is mere play, 
it must not be felt as subject to any sort of control. In 
play I have nothing which I do or seek because I am forced 
from the outside, because I am driven by desire, or becaiise 
there is a valuable end which I pursue and which thus is 
able to dictate. Play is therefore mere amusement, and, 
so far as it remains mere play, it owns no master but 
caprice. In playing I realize myself not only apart from 
the compulsion of force or appetite, but as free from any 
thing that could define and so limit and constrain me. 
Play is thus incompatible with foreign control, and again 
it is further opposed to earnest. Where you have something 
that is valuable and that matters, you have so far no play, 
or rather you have no play here except within restraint and 
limits. For, wherever I am in earnest, my activity is 

1 The reader will observe that I am not attempting to deal with the 
subject of play generally. Neither its origin, nor its varieties, nor its 
position in the whole of animal and human life can be touched on here. 
And again from the point of view of education I am not offering to say 
a word. Even if space allowed it, I am not competent to speak on the 
whole subject, and the reader must be referred to works such as those 
of Prof. Groos. I am concerned here with the sense of play, and with 
play as we experience it in contrast with earnest. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 51 

defined by an end. And, even if there is no end outside the 
activity, the control is still present. For where my activity 
is valuable, its detail is relative to the whole, and its detail 
is therefore more or less subordinate and subject to restraint. 
And, so far as I feel this, I lose the sense of mere play and 
caprice. Play is thus activity spontaneous and agreeable 
and qualified by the absence of compulsion or earnest. 

It may be asked if this contrast is really inherent in the 
sense of play. The opposition to earnest, it may be objected, 
need exist nowhere except in the spectator s mind. There 
is natural activity which bursts forth apart from any sense 
of limit- and restraint. Such activity we can find everywhere 
in the. young, and we may even imagine it, if we please, as 
existing in a perfect mind. And here, it will be said, there 
is a sense of freedom and of self-assertion and of play, un- 
coloured by any feeling of contrast or restraint. But the 
above objection turns, I think, upon a question of words. 
I fully agree that there is such a sense of spontaneous 
activity, but, apart from a felt contrast, I could not myself 
call it an experience of play. And at any rate I propose 
here to use the word otherwise. Where there is play, felt 
as play, I shall suppose the more or less remote contrast 
with a more or less withdrawn earnest. I shall assume the 
presence of a more or less specified sense of something, more 
or less prominent or in the background, which is felt as 
control or limit. Restraint, whether as what is forced on 
me or as what matters, I shall take therefore as a necessary 
element implied in play. But in what follows I shall confine 
myself to the consideration of play as limited not by force 
but by earnest. 

If you ask what is earnest and what matters, then in the 
end it is life as a whole which matters. Every pleasant 
activity therefore is so far good, and all matters because 
and so far as it realizes the main end. But on the other 
hand within the contents of this whole there are degrees of 

E 2 



52 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

necessity and of importance. In general or in particular, 
against something that either is indispensable or that matters 
more, some aspect of life may be unimportant. And any 
aspect which thus relatively does not matter, can be felt 
here and now not to matter at all. Here is the province of 
play in its contrast with earnest. Where there is activity 
which as a whole or in its detail is thus relatively of no 
moment, we have a limited sphere of caprice and amusement 
and, in a word, of play. 

But there is no hard division in life between play and 
earnest, and there is in short no genuine human end which in 
principle excludes play. The absolute separation in life of 
optional and necessary, of play and work, leads essentially 
to error. And the error is palpable where everything except 
maintenance of life is identified with play. Certainly my 
bare subsistence is an end which may be said to come first, 
because everything in life is lost if there is no more living. 
But on the other hand a mere living which is not good itself 
or for the sake of something good, is neither necessary nor 
desirable. Work for the sake of work and practice for 
practice sake are, in fact, ends which no one apart from 
illusion could accept. 1 

And generally the sundering of life into spheres of work 
and spheres of play is indefensible. It is true that in life 
there are things which are everywhere necessary. There is 
a certain amount of physical well-being and a certain degree 
of mental and moral development which are fundamental. 
Human life is impossible except on this basis of individual 
and social virtue. But beyond this common basis are those 
special stations in social life the occupation of which is more 
or less a matter of choice. And further there are non-social 

1 What Prof. Taylor has well called the Gospel of Drudgery is still 
too much with us. But labour without joy in labour is no moral end. It 
is a necessity, tolerable, if at all, only for the sake of something else. And, 
preached as in itself a duty, it is nothing short of inhuman nonsense 
and cant. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 53 

modes of human self-realization which in a sense are higher 
and in a sense are still more optional. They are optional in 
the sense that deprived of them life could be lived, and that 
with regard to them the individual has a right and a duty to 
choose. But on the other hand to treat these higher functions 
as mere play would be obviously absurd. 1 We have in the 
next place what may be called the minor graces of life, 
things the detail of which is more or less variable at our 
pleasure. And finally we end in what are called amusements. 
Here, where the amusement is mere amusement, the detail 
is optional. It has no value in itself, but is desirable solely 
for the sake of its effect on human welfare. 

Play may be called necessary in the sense that without 
play human life is not fully realized, and hence we may 
speak of a general duty and obligation to play. But on the 
other hand the obligation stops short of prescribing the 
details, which in the main are left to our pleasure. Hence 
we may find here the merely optional, which we may oppose 
to the merely necessary, and may forget that neither of these 
in abstraction and by itself is a human end. In short to 
identify the barely necessary with that which matters and 
is to be taken in earnest, is in principle indefensible. You 
cannot in life make a hard division into separate spheres 
of work and play, for play in a word exists everywhere so far 
as I am able to play there. 

I will point out briefly first how in principle every human 
activity admits of play, and in the next place how more or 
less all plays 2 in a sense are serious pursuits. 

(i) It is possible first to take a serious pursuit and to amuse 
myself with it. I may, that is, occupy myself with this 
activity just so far as it amuses me, and I may treat it as 
something which, for me, falls outside of what really matters. 

1 In connecting fine art with the play-impulse it is easy, I may remark 
in passing, to fall into serious error. 

* This use of the plural is adopted solely for the reader s convenience 
and I hope on that ground may be excused. 



54 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

In comparison with other things the pursuit has no serious 
claim on me. I am not in earnest with it, I may do with 
it as I please, and in a word I may play with it. But to 
distinguish here between mere trifling on one side, and on 
the other side interests which are serious though limited, is 
often impossible. There are again interests with which, in 
the case of this or that man or of every man, no trifling is 
permissible. But, without attempting further explanation, 
it is safe to conclude that within limits it is possible and 
right to play at a serious pursuit. What, however, I here 
desire to insist on is this, that in principle every human 
activity, however grave and even sacred, admits of some 
play. Play is here the expression of certain conquest and of 
absolute mastery over detail. And this joyous aspect is 
wholly absent from work only where, as too often happens, 
the conditions are inhuman. The most serious aspects of 
human life admit of play in this sense. In religions, not 
one-sided, there is an element of merry-making and sport, 
such as comes naturally with a sense of full security and 
triumph. And the morality which ignores the charm of 
sportive well-doing, has lost sight of the full ideal of 
human goodness. To trifle with a principle, to make it 
the sport of mere self-will, 1 is forbidden. It is another 
thing to be filled with an implicit sense of relative value, 
and in the service of a higher principle to enjoy its triumph 
over the fixed detail and limits of human duties. This is 
a gracious element seldom absent from the highest wisdom 
and love. 

(ii) There is no serious pursuit, we have seen, which in 
principle excludes play. And on the other hand play hardly 
can maintain complete severance from earnest. Mere amuse 
ments, it appeared, as general amusement are necessary 
for our welfare, and in most cases perhaps they are more 
than mere amusements. Plays may advance some social 

1 In other words, to make game of it. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 55 

end, or may develop some individual faculty which in its 
effects or in itself is really valuable. They tend in other 
words, so far, to pass into useful performances, or into ac 
complishments worth having because adding to the sum of 
human perfection. And again from another side plays are 
something more than mere playing. They are subject in 
each case to special restraint by the rule of the game. They 
are limited not only by a more or less specified world of 
earnest, but they become in various degrees defined in them 
selves. And so far as in playing you must not trifle with 
the rule of the game, your playing has taken on a feature 
of earnest. 

Plays contain usually a large element of chance and 
caprice, but apart from that, as plays, they keep essentially 
the following character. They have no individual worth, 
their detail in itself does not matter, and one of them has, 
in itself as against the others, no value at all. You are 
therefore, so far, free to choose amongst them at your 
caprice. If one of them is your best way of playing, that 
one has special value for you. But, on the other side, its 
value is generic merely, and it has worth only as a means to 
an end. In this point plays differ from accomplishments, 
which have value so far as they each contribute individually 
to human perfection. Plays on the other hand, so far as 
mere plays, have no end but a general end which falls out 
side of all taken individually. And where this principle is 
ignored, and where the rule of the game perhaps gains more 
than a conventional value, we are too familiar with the 
result. Plays are perverted into the serious pursuits of life, 
the moral perspective is distorted or destroyed, and the effect 
on life is, according to circumstances, more or less injurious 
or even ruinous. The above distinction, however, between 
mere plays and accomplishments, though clear in principle, 
is often in practice not easy to maintain. 

Play is any activity in life so far as that is agreeable, is 



56 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

unconstrained, and is felt here and now not to matter. 1 
Play is not in principle excluded, we have seen, from any 
aspect of life. And when we come to mere amusements which 
exist for the sake of playing, they tend, as we have seen, to 
develop a character, too often perverted, of work and earnest. 
There is in short no natural separation of life into spheres 
of necessary work and of mere play. And, when we con 
sider these extremes, we find that, differing otherwise, they 
share the same essential feature. Neither has its end in 
itself, neither contributes, individually and in itself, a special 
element to human value. Each on the contrary is desirable 
solely for the sake of an effect, particular or general, which 
it produces. 

The division of human existence into spheres of necessary 
work and of optional play leads therefore, when developed, 
to confusion and absurdity. The world of play turns out 
to be the only world which a man could seriously desire, 
and the world of earnest, when you examine it, proves to 
be that which by itself has no importance or value. Every 
thing which possesses human interest becomes mere play, 
while the residue could be an end only for irrational caprice. 
Any such view breaks down at once when confronted with 
the facts of actual life. Thus a stage-play, to take that 
instance, is even to the spectator not mere playing, while to 
the actor it is the serious business of life. It -is not merely 
the work by which he lives, but it is the main end of his 
being, the special function by which he at once contributes 
to humanity and realizes himself. On the other side the 
necessity of living is no real necessity, unless the life, which 
in oneself or others it subserves, is really desirable. A mere 

1 If I play because I am compelled to play, that, so far, and while the 
sense of compulsion lasts, is not playing. And we must even say the same 
thing where I play because of a want to play. My playing, that is, to the 
extent to which, in general or in particular detail, it is felt to be necessary 
to the satisfaction of a want, so far is not mere playing. But of course the 
detail of play is seldom felt to be thus necessary, and obviously the feeling 
tends, if the activity lasts, to disappear. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 57 

inhuman subsistence and an empty practice are (I would 
repeat) things which, except through an illusion, no one 
could take in earnest. 

Play, we have thus seen, is one aspect of life. It is, or in 
principle it may be, everywhere present. The division of life 
into spheres of work and play may be most important and 
even necessary, but any such division after all is not absolute 
but relative. If you take it otherwise it becomes an error 
which even practically may have bad results, and which 
theoretically cannot fail to be more or less injurious. It is 
parallel to the separation of the world into real and imagin 
ary, matter of fact and mere ideas. And it proves, when we 
consider it, to be another offshoot of the same fundamental 
error. It will, I think, tend further to illustrate the same 
theme if I add some words on the supposed connexion of 
make-believe with play. 

Play has been held to contain essentially the presence of 
make-believe and illusion. It has been alleged in short to 
depend upon a sense of the imaginary in its contrast with the 
real. This doctrine to my mind is in such obvious collision 
with plain fact, that I think it better to begin by asking how 
it can come to be adopted. And there is (i) the undoubted 
presence of make-believe in some playing. This feature, 
having been wrongly generalized and taken as essential, is 
then postulated in spite of appearance as existing every 
where. We have again (ii) the so-called imitative actions 
in young animals. These, or many of these, it is natural to 
call playing. And our minds are thus insensibly led to 
regard such actions as performed in imitation and with 
a consciousness of unreality. And (iii) there is finally the 
more or less specified sense of limitation and restraint, 
which, we have seen, is essentially involved in playing. 
Hence, where the erroneous division of the world into im 
aginary and real is accepted, the former of these tends to be 



58 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

taken as that which in playing is limited by the latter. Thus 
we conclude that in play we essentially have a sense of the 
imaginary as opposed to matter of fact. We shall realize 
both the character and the extent of this mistake when we 
ask as to the nature of that restraint which, we agree, is 
present in play. 

But it is better first to illustrate briefly the collision of the 
above doctrine with fact. When two young dogs are chasing 
one another or biting, when boys let out of school behave in 
much the same manner, when a man aimlessly strikes at this 
or that with his stick, or falls into some other trifling activity 
where, as we say, he has nothing to do it seems obvious 
that make-believe here has no concern in the matter. And 
when we take part in the athletic pastimes of boyhood or 
manhood, and play at hockey, football or cricket, or again 
at such games as cards or chess how can it be seriously 
maintained that illusion is present always and essentially ? 
The opposite conclusion, to my mind at least, seems too 
clear for argument. When for example I play at cricket, 
what am I pretending to do other than the thing which I 
do ? An outsider doubtless can insist that everywhere we 
have a mimic battle of this or that kind, but the mimicry 
surely exists only in the mind of the outsider, and for my 
mind, as I play, has no existence at all. And if it is objected 
that in play we have a sense of limit, and that the restraint 
must come from a sense of the real as against the imaginary, 
that brings me to the point which I wish to discuss. On the 
one hand I agree that in play we have some sense of limit, 
but on the other hand I urge the absence in many cases of 
anything like make-believe. And I will proceed to show the 
real nature of that restraint which seems everywhere present 
in play. 

In many cases of play the restraint, we may say in a word, 
is not theoretical but moral. Consider the natural sporting of 
a young dog or a child. There are certain natural activities 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 59 

which in themselves are pleasant. To bite, for instance, 
or to struggle or run is delightful. But and here is the 
point with my playfellow I must not bite beyond a limit. 
If I go too far and hurt my playfellow the result is unpleasant, 
unless indeed I am angry and want to fight and am not 
afraid to do so. Hence I exercise my delightful activities 
so as to stop short of that result. I need not be thinking 
of this all the time, but any approach to excess brings on 
what is discordant with my pleasant condition, both in my 
own mind and perhaps palpably outside my mind also. 
Such a result is felt to be incongruous, and, as soon as 
it is suggested, it suppresses the excess of the activity. If 
the reader will observe a young dog gnawing the flesh of his 
hand and watching him to observe if the line is at any time 
crossed, he will, I think realize my meaning. There is ab 
solutely no illusion here, but there is restraint, a restraint 
which later may be formulated as the rule of the game. On 
the other hand when a dog exercises his activity on a stick, 
the rule of the game, we may say, is simply that he is not to 
hurt himself. 1 

It may be objected that so far we have not the distinction 
between play and earnest. But so far, I reply, I am en 
deavouring merely to establish the presence of restraint 

1 It is surely only through a course of actual experiment that an animal, 
such as a young dog, learns how hard he may bite in play. And I should 
have added that, in the case of a dog, part of the course consists in his 
biting himself. Dr. McDougall (Social Psychology, p. in) objects to the 
account in the text that it is impossible because it implies deliberate 
self-restraint which in a young animal does not exist. I venture to hope 
that to the reader it will be even obvious that nothing of the kind really 
is implied, and that the objection rests on the merest misunderstanding. 

What Dr. McDougall s own view is, and whence according to him comes 
the difference of a dog s behaviour ^when he plays with another dog and 
then again with a stick, I have not been able to understand. His whole 
account here seems to myself to have fallen to such a low level that 
I feel bound in justice to him to suppose that on this subject I have failed 
to follow him. Whether some such supposition on his side also, where I 
am concerned, would not have been prudent, I will leave to the reader 
to decide. 



60 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

without illusion. I am pointing out that the limit to pleasant 
activity may be, in a word, not theoretical but moral. And 
this result still holds, I now go on to urge, where the specific 
sense of play is clearly present. In cricket, for example, or 
in cards I am obviously under restraint, while as obviously, 
at least to my mind, there is no trace of make-believe. Un 
less I am a professional or a devotee, I am aware that these 
activities are optional. They do not matter in themselves, 
and their scope is limited by that in life which really does 
matter. And, in the second place, to secure a better exercise 
of the activity, it is carried on subject to conventional 
restraints. I am, in other words, limited by the rules of the 
game, which exclude at once mere trifling and violence, as 
well as by the consciousness that, as against what is more 
serious, my activity does not matter. This is the nature of 
the restraint which, to my mind, is both effective and 
obvious. Illusion and make-believe on the other hand I am 
unable to discern. 

But/ I shall be told, you are ignoring the play in 
which make-believe is obvious. A girl with her doll, a boy 
with a wooden sword, are plain instances which confute you. 
And the actor in stage-plays, you seem to forget, is called 
a player. And to deny here the presence of every kind 
of make-believe and illusion is surely irrational. To this 
I reply that such a denial is no part of my case. All that 
I have been urging so far is that illusion does not belong 
essentially or everywhere to play. Playing, on the contrary, 
we may now go on to see, is of various kinds. And playing of 
one kind undoubtedly involves make-believe. It implies 
within limits the treatment of the imaginary as if it were 
real. If you take make-believe as the playing at practical 
belief, as our acting within limits as if the facts here and now 
were qualified, as we know that in fact they are not qualified 
then make-believe, it is obvious, belongs to some play. 
But to argue from this that, where I do not play at believing, 



Ill 



AND THE IMAGINARY 61 



I must pretend in order to play, seems clearly illogical. 
Whether in short, and how far, in any play there is illusion, 
depends in each case that is all I urge upon the nature 
of the play. 

We have seen that in some play there is no pretence or 
illusion. The exercise of the activity involves no excursion 
into the imaginary world. But, as can easily be seen 
with children, this imaginary element soon appears, and in 
playing it occupies a great space, how great I need not 
discuss. The perceived facts here do not suffice for the 
required activity. They are therefore extended by im 
aginary qualifications, and the activity becomes possible. 
And at this point a new kind of restraint and limit can be 
observed. 

All playing involves a limit, but in some plays this limit, 
we saw, was simply what we called moral. Beyond a certain 
point, that is, I must not. But where make-believe comes 
in, we find a new sort of control. The child that pretends 
in play knows that morally it must not cross a certain line. 
But it knows now also that it has an imaginary world, which 
is limited by real fact, and again in some cases by con 
ventional suppositions. A schoolboy playing at soldiers 
knows first (a) that he must hurt no one too much, but he 
knows also (b) that he is a schoolboy as well as a soldier. 
And he knows (c) that, so long as certain conventions are 
observed, no consistency is required even in his imaginary 
character. 1 

The control, in a word, has become theoretical as well as 
moral. The playing dog knows, we may say, that beyond 
a certain point he must not. The playing boy knows this 
in all his playing, and in some cases he knows no more. But 
in other cases he knows also that beyond a certain point the 
thing is not. He has here a world of imagination, qualifying 

1 So of course mutatis mutandis with the girl and her doll. On the above 
point the reader may be referred to Prof. Sully s Human Mind, i. 384. 



62 ON FLOATING IDEAS CHAP. 

the real world but always subject to and restrained by 
that world. 1 

These two controls, the moral and theoretical, are in 
much play so joined and blended that to separate their 
several effects would be hard or impossible. In playing 
a part/ on the stage or again in real life, this intimate 
mingling may be observed. We have first of all the let ting- 
go of certain activities subject to a certain moral restraint. 
But we have in addition the entrance, for ourselves or for 
others or for both, into the sphere of pretence, make-believe 
and illusion. This entrance is limited by our consciousness 
of the real fact, and again by conventional rules, wherever 
and so far as these exist. And to what extent the control is 
before the mind, and how far illusion actually is present, de 
pends in every case upon the conditions and the individual. 2 

Thus pretence and make-believe do not belong to the 
general essence of play. They are obviously present often 
where there is no playing and where they are used con 
sciously as means to a serious end. On the other side there 

1 I do not mean that in playing the moral or theoretical control must 
be kept always before my mind. As we saw before, it is enough that 
this control should be ready at any moment to come in, and that any 
suggestion of excess should at once bring it before me, or at least bring 
it into action. 

* The amount of actual illusion is said, for instance, to differ widely with 
different actors. See Mr. Archer s well-known collection of facts in his 
Masks or Faces. Again flirting, the amatory game, is an instance where 
it is not easy to distinguish between the two kinds of control, theoretical 
and moral. The amount of illusion or pretence varies widely in various 
cases, and in many cases probably amounts to nothing. You may have 
simply the letting loose of certain sexual feelings and actions without 
pretence or illusion but within a certain moral limit. The beginning of this 
is easy to observe, for example, among dogs. 

The main essence of the affair is in short not illusion but limit. That is 
why (as Prof. Groos rightly observes in The Play of Man, p. 253) we do 
not in the same way play at eating, for there short of the satisfaction of 
appetite the means are not by themselves sufficiently agreeable. But to 
a certain extent, I should say, we may play at eating, for instance at dessert. 
And children play thus habitually, I suppose because the real satisfaction 
is out of their power. But here of course the imaginary element comes in 
and is important. 



in AND THE IMAGINARY 63 

are many plays (we have seen) from which illusion certainly 
is absent. In other plays again the activity is exercised 
within an area more or less qualified as imaginary. Lastly 
there are cases where illusion and pretence are not essential, 
but where more or less they tend to come in. And the extent 
here will be determined by the individual conditions. 

We have found once more that the ready-made division of 
our world into matter of fact and ideas, into imaginary and 
real, has conducted us to error. And we saw that to sunder 
life into separate spheres of play and earnest is indefensible. 
Life and the world do not admit those compartments which 
are blindly fixed by hasty theories. Life and the world 
offer us an indefinite number of aspects and distinctions, 
and the worth and reality of these is in every case relative, 
though, because relative, it may in a given case become 
absolute. 

This is the general conclusion which, I trust, throughout 
this chapter has been suggested as true. That world of fact 
which we so confidently contrast with the imaginary, and 
which we set up as real, has turned out, when we take it 
absolutely, to be false appearance. And in our practice, 
where we do not sink into convention or worse, we assume 
our right to deal freely with such reality, to treat it as of 
secondary moment, or even, it may be, as illusory. But in 
theory this illusion tends to cling to us, to hamper us and 
to blind us, when we endeavour to do justice to the various 
aspects of life. To be or do anything, we assuredly must 
maintain and control our bodies, and we depend on the 
world which is immediately continuous with these. Apart 
from this foundation we cannot have reality, and with this 
foundation we must therefore be in earnest. This is truth, 
and it is a truth, I agree, which must not be ignored. But 
on the other hand this basis and condition, if you try to take 
it by itself, is worthless and in the end it proves unreal. In 



64 FLOATING IDEAS AND THE IMAGINARY CH.III 

truth it is itself a mere imaginary abstraction. The world 
of reality, we may say in a word, is the world of values, 1 
and values are not judged absolutely but are everywhere 
measured by degree. 

1 I should be willing here to add of human values , so long as human* 
is not understood as merely human . To use the term humanity 
loosely as covering at once all finite mind and again merely some of the 
inhabitants of a certain planet , may, as a support to certain views, be 
found convenient or perhaps necessary. But whether such ambiguity is 
permissible is of course another question. In this note I find myself 
repeating that which in another connexion I had to urge now many years 
ago (Ethical Studies, pp. 305-7), and even then, in 1876, the matter was 
far from new. On humanity see the references in the Index to the 
present volume. 



CHAPTER IV 
ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

THE following chapter contains the greater part of an article 
published in Mind, N.S., No. 51 (July 1904). I have removed 
the beginning, and later on have made omissions which are noted 
each in its own place. Otherwise the article is reprinted unaltered. 
What has been left out has been omitted for two reasons. Its 
interest in the first place seems to myself to have been ephemeral. 
And in the second place, if now republished, it might be taken 
as an attack upon writers who at the time were either not in my 
mind or who were there more or less incidentally. 

The occasion of this paper in Mind was the appearance of 
a volume, supposed to represent a movement called Personal 
Idealism, together with some periodical writing which I took to 
be connected with the same movement. I do not suggest that all 
the writers in that volume knew beforehand of any movement, 
or had at any rate much of an idea as to its meaning. And 
Personal Idealism, I imagine, if it ever lived, is to-day dead. In 
its place we have now on one side, I presume, the acceptance, 
partial or complete, of Realism and Pluralism, and, on the other 
side, we have the tendency to what may be called Irrationalism. 
The doctrines which group themselves under the name of Pragma 
tism will fall more or less under each of these heads. Their best 
exposition is, perhaps, to be found in the works of Prof. Dewey 
and his followers. These writers, as well as Prof. James, I have 
never hesitated to criticize ; but I should be sorry indeed to give 
the idea that I associate any of them in my mind with anything 
that is not wholly creditable. 

Both in the present chapter and in later pages of this volume 
the reader will find some criticisms on Pragmatism. My difficulty 
with regard to this doctrine has remained insuperable. And the 
difficulty arises, I cannot but think, at least in part from real 

1574 F 



66 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

obscurities, obscurities which, if removed, would unmask radical 
incoherence. I cannot, that is, believe that so-called Pragmatists 
are really of one mind either as to what they assert or as to what 
they wish to deny. They are agreed, I suppose, in opposition to 
Intellectualism whatever that may be ; but, while some of 
them apparently desire to emphasize the importance and the 
claim of the individual person as against the Whole, others on 
the contrary appear at least to lean in the opposite direction. 
And even the degradation of theory and of fine art to the level of 
mere instruments seems not to be, after all, a necessary tenet. 
In short, a gospel of Practice where no one knew, and (I had 
almost written) no one was to know, what Practice means, has 
produced its natural result. The disciples for the most part see 
with different eyes, wherever, that is, they are not simply blind. 

A point where all Pragmatists appear to be agreed is this, that 
at least their doctrine is new ; for, whatever else it is, it certainly 
is preached as revolutionary. 1 But agreement is easier where 
one does not know in what a gospel really consists. I will there 
fore proceed to offer some brief remarks both on the meaning of 
Pragmatism and on its asserted novelty. For further explanation 
I would refer the reader to later pages of this volume (Chap. V 
and Appendices). 

i. Pragmatism might have meant something which, if carried 
out systematically, would, so far as I am aware, be new. It might 
have taken truth to be mere working ideas, 2 and human interests 
in their entirety it might have taken as the one end, and as the 
criterion of knowledge and reality. It might have set these 

1 I am of course aware that Prof. James stated that there was nothing 
new about the Pragmatic method. But all I would add is this, that, if the 
statement in the text is not true, the whole attitude of Prof. James, and 
still more that of some of his followers, seems to have become inexplicable. 
But see Chap. V (Appendix I). 

1 Such a position would, however, not entail downright Instrumentalism, so 
long as the pursuit and possession of truth is itself allowed to be an intrinsic 
human interest. All that such a position is called on to deny, is the existence 
of a criterion of truth which is intrinsic and supreme. The criterion of 
truth, that is, would lie in its contribution to the aggregate of human 
interests, and, as so contributing, truth might be allowed a value beyond 
that of an external means or instrument. I am not, however, suggesting 
that by taking the aggregate of human interests as our end it is possible 
to reach a consistent view. So far as we keep to a mere collection we are 
without any principle of order. There are some further remarks on 
Instrumentalism below, see p. 68. Cf. also Appendix I to Chap. V. 



iv INTRODUCTORY NOTE 67 

interests out fully, and not merely at the dictation of prejudice 
and caprice, and might have made them, severally and again 
collectively, and perhaps even in an order, the test everywhere 
of truth and value, in science, in art, and in morals and religion. 
Such a work would indeed be welcome, and, so far as I know, it 
has not been accomplished. But obviously this is not the task 
which Pragmatism has even attempted. Obviously Pragmatism, 
I should say, has never even faced the above problem in earnest, 
and much less has it ever applied itself to reach a satisfactory 
solution. But for a justification of this statement I must refer to 
a later part of this volume. 1 

From this point, on which misunderstanding is only too 
prevalent, I will pass on to deal with some questions of detail. 

2. We find in Pragmatism the conception of Society as an 
organism, a living body in which and of which the individual is 
a member and a function an organism which of course develops 
in time. And I have been led to suppose that there are Pragma- 
tists who believe that we really owe the above idea to Pragmatism. 
But such a writer as Prof. Dewey would, I cannot doubt, inform 
such persons (if they exist) that any notion of the kind is baseless. 
And he would tell them again that there is nothing new in the 
same idea of organic development as applied to Humanity. 

But, this being admitted, it may be said that the real point is 
the position which Pragmatism gives to Humanity. The novelty 
achieved by Pragmatism perhaps resides in the way in which it 
takes the relation between Humanity and the Universe. This 
is, however, a claim which the outsider is hardly in a position to 
examine. The question as to exactly how far Humanity is and 
is not to be identified with Reality, seems certainly vital. To 
discuss, for instance, the nature of truth when you are ignorant 
as to your answer to such a question, appears, to me at least, to 
be futile. But the Pragmatist to myself has seemed content to 
meet challenges on this point by an attitude of prudent obscurity. 
And I must be allowed to conclude that he is obscure here because 
he is insolvent, but that, if he were forced to speak, whatever 

1 Chap. V (Appendix I). So far as I know Prof. James never even raised 
the question whether, and how far, truth is compelled to forgo self- 
consistency. He appears to have simply assumed that truth must be 
consistent. But here surely is a problem that should have met him, and 
should have been even obvious, from the first. 

F 2 



68 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

answer he gave would most certainly not be novel. Nor again, 
1 think, is there any answer which, if stated intelligibly, would 
be accepted by all Pragmatists. 

3. But the organic evolution of Humanity, it may be said, as 
previously understood was teleological, and the banishment of 
all idea of End is the novelty brought in by Pragmatism. But 
surely, after all these years of Darwinism not to mention the 
earlier preaching of the mechanical view such a claim, if 
made, would be monstrous. It would be different if, after having 
removed from organic development the aspect of Good or End, 
Pragmatism could point to what it offers to set in the place of 
that idea. But it can offer nothing, so far as I see, that is not 
old and familiar. The doctrine that there is no end except what 
happens, that whatever happens is true and right and good, or at 
least that there is no sense in asking, about anything else that 
might have happened, if it really would have been better such 
a doctrine surely, whatever else it is, would not be new. And 
to take the old idea of the organic development of Humanity, 
and merely to couple this with the old denial of any Human End, 
would hardly pass, I should imagine, as an original achievement. 

4. Nor, once again, can I find anything new in the idea of 
Instrumentalism. The degradation of philosophy, science and 
fine art, to the rank of mere means, subserving an end falling 
outside themselves, is surely nothing novel. And we do not 
even gain a new attitude if, while denying intrinsic value to these 
things, we forget to ask what it is that, lying outside them, has 
itself intrinsic worth. 

There is, indeed, a sense in which Instrumentalism, though 
not novel, would, as I think, be tenable. Everything" in the 
world or in our life can, that is, be regarded as a means. No 
element apart from all the rest will retain its value, and each 
therefore, we may say, has worth only in so far as it conduces 
to the welfare of the Whole. But on the other hand the value of 
the Whole is not separable from that of its diverse aspects, and in 
the end, apart from any one of them, it is reduced to nothing. 
In the above sense Instrumentalism, I should say, is true, so long 
as you emphasize the fact that everything alike (though not to the 
same degree) is an instrument, and so long as you insist that there 
is nothing in life which, viewed otherwise, has value. The instru 
ment in other words is such, only because it is not taken as a means 



iv INTRODUCTORY NOTE 69 

to some end which fails to include itself as intrinsic and valuable. 
But surely Instrumentalism, asserted in the above sense, would 
be equivalent to its own denial. Instrumentalism in other 
words, unless it is to be a misleading misnomer, should imply 
in principle and throughout the acceptance of Mechanism. But, 
so far as I see, considerations of this kind are ignored by 
Pragmatism. 

5. I do not know if any Pragmatist seriously takes his school 
to have originated the Primacy of Will. Any such claim would 
of course ignore the existence both of Fichte and Schelling, 1 and 
it would be another proof, where unfortunately no other proof is 
wanted, that to our general public even such a writer as Schopen 
hauer remains unknown. And as for the idea that the pursuit of 
truth and knowledge implies a desire for these objects, it is 
a doctrine in which Pragmatists, like the rest of us, were or might 
have been brought up. If one had perhaps not learnt it before, 
one might at least have learnt it from Hegel. 

6. My attitude remains the same in presence of the denial of 
idle or useless truths, and the assertion that a truth apart from 
its working is not true. If this is Pragmatism, then surely Hegel 
was long ago the Pragmatist par excellence, and I doubt if any 
one who knows the facts would venture to deny this. The general 
view, which others and myself may be said to have inherited, is 
this that the criterion lies in the idea of system. An idea is true 
theoretically because, and so far as, it takes its place in, and 
contributes to, the organism of knowledge. And, on the other 
hand, an idea is false of which the opposite holds good. How can 
there be any question here of separating an idea from its conse 
quences ? How could a true idea possibly make no difference to 
anything else ? Of course, if, and so far as, consequences are 
identified with the consequences which are practical, the case 
is altered. But as long as we do not know what words like 
practical , action , and working are to mean, any claim 
to novelty here must remain ambiguous. 

With regard to what is called verification the same remark 
holds good. The necessity for, and again the ambiguity of, 
verification, were topics for discussion long before any Pragma- 
tist began to utter his boasts. What is to verify ? Is it to find 
the object of an idea as a sensible event ? Is it to envisage an 
1 I refer specially to the latter s treatise on Human Freedom. 



70 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

ideal content clearly and convincingly, or to experience coercion 
from ideas and their relations ? Is it to show that an idea, taken 
for true, makes the body of our knowledge at once wider and more 
consistent ? To maintain that insistence on verification in any 
of the above senses is a new thing, would be surely to show oneself 
grossly misinformed. The only real novelty left to Pragmatism 
is the claim to verify truth by its practical results. But here we 
have once more on our hands the question as to what practice 
is to mean. And any serious attempt to define practice , would, 
or should, rend asunder the Pragmatist church. Such leaders, 
at least, as the late Prof. James and Dr. Dewey appear on this 
vital point to teach doctrines which are in radical conflict. 1 

It may perhaps be instructive if we allow ourselves here to 
digress and go back to a writer whose work on certain topics it 
is too much the fashion to ignore. More than half a century 
ago Prof. Bain made belief consist in practice. The difference 
between having a mere idea and holding it for true, lay, according 
to him, in our practical action on and from the idea. Now if, 
starting from Bain s view, we go on (as he did not) to write truth 
for belief, we have what I took to be the essence of Pragmatism. 
Judgement and truth are the practical working out of an idea by 
me, and they are nothing else at all. Whether in this interpre 
tation I was mistaken or was right, is a point to which I will 
return, but with regard to Bain I argued long ago that his doctrine 
cannot stand. 2 It is in conflict with fact, and it is not even held 
consistently by himself. And what I find instructive is this, that 
Prof. James and Dr. Dewey have repeated Bain s inconsis 
tency. Unconscious apparently both of his doctrine and of the 
objections brought against it, they are forced by the same false 
principle to the same vicious procedure. 

In maintaining that belief consisted in practical action Bain 
had to face the fact that we sometimes believe in an idea on 
which we do not act. He answered that here, if we do not act, 
we at least, if called on, should do so. This he called prepared 
ness to act , and he considered that by this distinction his theory 
was saved. To the obvious objection that one cannot at discretion 
identify the possible with the actual, he, so far as I am aware, 
did not attempt to reply. The truth is that unless permitted, 

1 For evidence of this the reader is referred to Chap. V (Appendix I). 

2 Principles of Logic (1883), pp. 18 ff. 



iv INTRODUCTORY NOTE 71 

wherever they please, to treat mere possibilities as actual fact, 
while never so much as asking what is meant by possible , Bain 
and J. S. Mill, together with their whole school, are in principle 
bankrupt. 1 

And, apparently unaware of this open pitfall, Prof. James 
and Dr. Dewey seek to escape from a like difficulty by the same 
misleading road. In presence of ideas which do not actually 
issue in practice, they take refuge in some prospective or potential 
action, assisting themselves with what I must venture to call 
mythology or verbiage. The evidence for this fact is given later, 2 
and I will leave the reader, if satisfied as to the fact, to draw 
the appropriate conclusion. 

To pass from this inconsistency, I shall be told that Pragma 
tism does not identify truth with the idea which works best for 
the individual, and that hence the following chapter, or much of 
it, does not bear on Pragmatism. I fully accept the statement 
of fact made on this point by Prof. James, 3 but in the matter 
of principle I remain unconvinced. For, if Pragmatism repudiates 
the doctrine that the idea which most works practically in and 
for the individual is true, the question is what foundation, and 
whether any foundation at all, is left to Pragmatism. On this 
essential point I have failed to gain assistance from either 
Dr. Dewey or Prof. James. The idea that works on the whole 
may, so far as I see, conflict with the idea which works in and for 
me. And for the subordination of one of these aspects to the 
other I can find no reason in principle. The conflict might indeed 
be avoided by an external coincidence which everywhere occurs 
between these two aspects. But the assertion or postulation of 
such a coincidence I cannot attribute to either of the writers 
mentioned. 

What on the other hand I find is an apparent difference between 
these two leaders, which, if developed, would lead, so far as I can 
judge, to open schism. Dr. Dewey, I understand, stoutly holds 
to Instrumentalism, to the denial of intrinsic worth to theory, 
and he still maintains the principle that the idea which works 
practically is the truth. Prof. James on the contrary ended 

1 I had to make the same criticism on the same fallacy in connexion 
with the doctrine of pleasure taught by Bain, Mind, O.S., No. 47, p. 18. 
I have had to return to this same point again later. 

2 Chap. V (Appendix I). Ibid. 



72 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

(however he began) by using practice as a mere general name 
for the Good, by the allowing of intrinsic value to theory, and 
perhaps also to fine art, and in short he seems implicitly to 
repudiate Instrumentalism, however vague and inconsistent 
that repudiation may be. Even on the word practical he 
apparently ceased to lay any emphasis. 1 And whether on these 
heads there is not an actual split between his doctrine and that 
held by Dr. Dewey, the reader must judge. And, like myself, 
he may be led to wonder what, if Pragmatism meant no more 
than it meant at last to Prof. James, has become of Pragmatism. 
If theory after all, as theory, is practical , and, as theory, has 
intrinsic value, the revolutionary Pragmatic Church seems to 
have been built on something like self -imposture. On the other 
hand, if strict Instrumentalism remains the orthodox creed, then 
apparently Prof. James, and those who follow him, have ceased 
really to be Pragmatists. But perhaps Dr. Dewey, who fortu 
nately is still with us, can show how all this is otherwise. 

7. Further, Pragmatism, it may be urged, lays an emphasis 
on the genetic, on the historical, side of things. The intellectual 
aspect of human nature is, it insists, to be understood, like every 
other aspect, apart from abstraction. Knowledge is to be viewed 
as it arises inseparably intertwined with every other factor in 
human development. 2 Philosophy must be studied, in short, from 
the point of view of history or psychology. Now I am sure that 
such a contention is both useful and welcome, though its claim to be 
novel, I confess, surprises me. This is, however, a question which 
I will leave to others, better informed, to discuss. But that such 
a view is to be identified with Pragmatism to myself seems 
incredible. For a doctrine like the above is surely as easy to 
understand and to state plainly, as it is difficult to apply and to 
carry out in detail ; while on the other side the inability of 
Pragmatism, so far, to make its position generally understood, 
seems even admitted. And again, whatever else it is, Pragma 
tism claims to be the denial in principle and the supersession 
in practice of the mass of previous philosophy. The real essence 

1 The reader is referred specially to The Meaning of Truth, pp. 206-11. 
The strength of the language used there by Prof. James suggests to my 
mind some awareness on his part of the weakness of his case. Cf. Chap. V 
(Appendix I). 

2 II y aura, Balzac has said, toujours de I homme dans la science 
humaine. 



iv INTRODUCTORY NOTE 73 

then of Pragmatism is perhaps to deny that there is anything 
in truth, in beauty, and even perhaps in reality at large, except 
its appearance in human development. Nothing, in other words, 
is at all except as, and just as far as, it occurs as a human event. 
The inconsistency and irrationality of such a view, when you 
work it out, soon becomes obvious, and Pragmatism has naturally 
here preferred to remain obscure and ambiguous. Still that in 
such a position, if it were made clear, there would be anything 
new is not easily credited. 1 

I would end by repeating that which I remarked at the begin 
ning. Pragmatism seems a collection of various tendencies, in 
part inconsistent one with the other, and to a large extent left 
undefined. In the minds of some of its exponents it seems 
identified with blind reaction against other views, themselves 
imperfectly understood. Pragmatism, so far as it is positive, 
seems to be not so much a doctrine as the expression of a desire, 
or rather of two separate desires or half-conscious drifts. The 
one of these seeks perhaps to find a consistent philosophy of 
Darwinism, while the other aims perhaps to reach a view which 
will be just to every side of man s nature and will satisfy the 
entirety of human interest. But whether these two ends conflict 
or are in harmony, Pragmatism does not know, and does not 
inquire. 

There is an opportunity here, I think a great opportunity, for 
the Pragmatist who is willing, and who is able, to go to work 
radically and systematically. Such a man will have in the first 
place to be in earnest with scepticism, and he must know enough 
to be able to understand what a thorough scepticism means. And 
he will have learnt to distrust his own prejudices, even when 
directed against that which he is pleased to call Intellectualism 
and Absolutism. But whatever else he may discover, such a man 
will most assuredly find that he himself is face to face with the old 
question, the unavoidable problem, What is Reality ? 

The following article, I have already intimated, if taken as 
a criticism on what is called Pragmatism, is in some points not 
defensible. In it Pragmatism is too much identified with Personal 

1 For a discussion on Genetic Theory in Logic the reader may be referred 
to Prof. Bosanquet s Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, chap. vii. 



74 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP, iv 

Idealism, as I understood that movement, and is assumed to be 
a kind of individualistic voluntarism. But neither individualism 
nor even perhaps voluntarism seems to be a necessary feature 
of Pragmatism. I should now doubt if there is a single doctrine 
which a Pragmatist is called on to hold, so long at least as he 
abjures Intellectualism whatever (I once more add) that may 
mean. In this introductory note, and in later chapters, the 
reader will find, I hope, a more correct treatment of Pragmatism. 
But I have judged it better (except for omissions mentioned) to 
reprint my old article. It contains matter which, I believe, may 
be useful to the reader, and it is even, I still think, a refutation of 
the principle of Pragmatism, if, that is, we are able to suppose 
that Pragmatism has any principle. And for various reasons 
I have not cared to re- write it. I will add here the greater part 
of what was the footnote to its opening sentence : 

This paper was written in the early summer of 1903, and has 
been left much as it was. I have, however; since that date made 
acquaintance with the interesting volume called Studies in Logical 
Theory. There is much in the position taken here by Prof. Dewey 
and the other writers which seems to me to be suggestive and 
valuable. On the other hand that position as a whole has not 
become clear to me. I agree that there is no such existing thing 
as pure thought. On the other side, if in the end there is to be 
no such thing as independent thought, thought, that is, which in 
its actual exercise takes no account of the psychological situation, 
I am myself in the end led inevitably to scepticism. And on this 
point I have so far failed to gain any assistance from Prof. Dewey. 
The doctrine that every judgement essentially depends on the 
entire psychical state of the individual and derives from this its 
falsehood or truth, is, I presume, usually taken to amount to com 
plete scepticism. This is a matter which doubtless Prof. Dewey 
has considered, and a discussion of it by him would I am sure be 
welcomed. 



CHAPTER IV 
ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 

I. In maintaining that truth essentially does not consist 
in the mere practical working of an idea, I would first of all 
remove a probable misunderstanding. For myself I have 
always held that at the beginning of its course the intellect 
directly subserves practice, and that between practice and 
theory there is as yet no possible division. I have expressed 
this belief long ago, 1 and I have repeated it since, as I 
believe, unequivocally and plainly. Again I hold that in 
the end theory and practice are one. I believe in short that 
each is a one-sided aspect of our nature. And for me the 
ultimate reality is not a mere aspect or aspects, but it is 
a unity in which every distinction is at once maintained and 
subordinated. On the other hand, wherever the word truth 
has its meaning, that meaning to me cannot be reduced 
to bare practical effect. And at our human level, and 
throughout at least some tracts of our life, the words true 
and false have to me most certainly a specific meaning. 
The nature of this I cannot here attempt to point out, 2 
but I hold that it is other than the mere fact that an idea 
works or fails practically. It is on account of this denial, 
I presume, that I am to be termed an intellectualist , and 
this denial I will now proceed to justify. The view that 
truth everywhere subserves practice directly seems to me 
contrary to fact ; but, even where this is the case, truth 
itself is not merely practical. This distinction appears, as 
I have said, to be often ignored. At an early and unreflec- 
tive stage of mind no idea will be retained unless it works 
practically, or unless at least it practically satisfies me. 

1 Principles of Logic, pp. 459-60. On the position of practice in life see 
further the note at the end of this chapter. 

1 [The reader is now referred to other parts of this volume.] 



76 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

We can have at this level no reflection on disappointment, 
failure and falsehood. And hence I agree that here there is 
no truth except where an idea works practically. But to go 
from this to the conclusion that truth s essence even here lies 
wholly in such working, is a further step which to me seems 
not permissible. The idea works, but it is able to work not 
simply because it is there and because I have chosen it. It 
is able to work because, in short, I have chosen the right idea. 

Everywhere in conation and will there is an idea which 
is opposed to existence. And this existence nowhere is 
characterless, but it is a determinate being. And the char 
acter of this being again is not something inert. On the 
contrary it is an element in the whole situation, and it 
dictates to my idea as well as submits to dictation. If my 
idea is the right one, and if it works, this, we may say, is 
because the nature of the whole situation selected it. My 
idea, I agree, then reacts, and I agree that it then makes the 
situation to be different. But to speak as if the entire nature 
of the situation were first made by the idea seems really 
extravagant. If my idea is to work it must correspond to 
a determinate being which it cannot be said to make. And 
in this correspondence, I must hold, consists from the very 
first the essence of truth. I will proceed to show this first 
on the positive side, and then again where in failure and in 
falsehood we meet the opposite of truth. But I shall take 
our experience now at a level more removed from its lowest 
point, and shall consider it at a stage where reflection is 
possible. 

(a) The fact which first offers itself is the case of finding 
means to a positive end. I desire, let us say, to cross a 
stream in order to gather fruit. The stream is swollen, and 
there is hence a gap between my idea and its reality. On 
this let us suppose that I retain my general idea of crossing, 
and that other ideas as to the particular manner of crossing 
are suggested. This is in the main what we understand by 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 77 

finding means to an end. Now these ideas, I agree, may all 
be said to be practical ideas. My end will remain my cross 
ing somehow, and the means will probably consist in my 
doing something so as to cross. But these means surely 
must correspond to the actual nature of the stream, and 
surely to suggest that my ideas manufacture that corre 
spondence is absurd. The stream is wider lower down, so 
that there I may wade. The stream is full of rocks higher 
up, so that there I may leap. If I will only wait quietly 
the stream is falling of itself. If I will only sit still, my 
companion has promised that he will come with a float. 
My end is practical doubtless, and my means still are the 
idea of myself doing something if at least you stretch that 
so as to include my waiting till something happens of itself 
or is done by another. But when you ask what it is which 
makes each idea right or wrong, you cannot exclude its 
agreement or its discord with fact other than my will. And 
to ignore this aspect of the case, or to treat this aspect as if 
it were something somehow immaterial, to my mind, I must 
repeat, is wholly unprofitable. In selecting my means I am 
forced to consider their relation to the facts, and, if my idea 
works, it is because of this relation which is not made by my 
idea. And it is in this relation that we have to seek the 
distinctive nature of truth. Or we may say that the whole 
situation, inward and outward, dictates to me the selection 
of such an idea as can work, and that hence to treat this 
conge d elire merely as my act on the situation is a foolish 
pretence. Let us take again the case where I go hunting 
and where my end is the capture of some beast. I obviously 
here may have to reflect carefully on the nature of the means. 
Where the animal is, and what it is likely to do under certain 
conditions, all this I may have to infer from a general know 
ledge of its nature and from a variety of indications that 
I gather from facts now perceived. And, if others are to 
co-operate, I have to take account also of their natures and 



78 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

of their probable conduct. The whole of this is fact to 
which my idea has got first to correspond. It has, that is, 
first to be true as a condition of its working. On the other 
side doubtless the idea of the means is dependent on the 
end, and doubtless, if you remove the end, you remove at 
one stroke the idea and its truth. But from this you cannot 
logically conclude that the entire truth was made by your 
end and your ideas. It would be as rational first to insist 
that without the given facts there are in fact no ideas and 
no truth, and then go on to infer that in the end truth and 
will consist barely in what comes to my mind. 

(b) I shall be charged, I do not doubt, with idle insistence 
on the obvious. But where I understand little more than 
that there is a denial of what to me are plain facts, no course 
is possible to me except thus to insist on the obvious. And 
so I proceed to view the facts from their negative side. 
When, at a certain mental stage, I fail, I do not at this stage 
merely try again and again, but I retain my failures and use 
them to determine my conduct. My being carried away 
by the stream if I attempt to cross here, my falling amongst 
the rocks if I try to cross there, my being captured by my 
enemies if I remain where I am these ideas remove possi 
bilities and they qualify the situation by narrowing it. They 
are practical ideas, and in the end they may subserve another 
idea which actually works. But, taken in and by them 
selves, you can hardly say that they work directly. On the 
other hand, however indirectly, they do seem to make an 
assertion about things which are other than my will. And 
taken as ideas of my doing they have to fall under the 
head of avoiding . But that avoidance is based, I submit, 
on what things do to me. It depends on a character in things 
which hinders me or even actively makes me suffer. For 
we are not to say, I presume, that I avoid evils merely 
because of my desire to do something in the way of avoid 
ance. We may see this more evidently where I am not 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 79 

engaged in any positive pursuit, but where a danger threatens 
me from which terrified I desire to escape. It is dusk and 
the man-eating tiger will be coming, and I do not know how 
to avoid him whether by this course or by that. And surely, 
in order to find some idea which will do , I must before 
all things consider his nature and what he on his side is 
likely to do. The same thing is evident again where my 
enemies are human. My end is practical, but surely my 
ideas about the means must be dictated to me by something 
which is clearly not myself. And this forced agreement 
of my ideas with a nature other than my volition is, I pre 
sume, that which in general we understand by truth. 

And there are moments when nothing works and where 
every idea fails. I am starving, but I am helpless for I can 
not climb to reach the fruit. I am dying of thirst, but my 
legs are broken and I cannot move to reach the water. I am 
tortured by an internal pain which I can do nothing to 
assuage. And here I need not idly repeat my futile efforts 
until exhaustion and stupor supervene. I may realize my 
fate and I may become aware that this now is my doom. 
The nature of that which is opposed to my will has triumphed. 
Or I may see my companion in the jaws of some inevitable 
danger where I am impotent. This to me is true, it has 
whatever truth belongs to death, pain and evil, but I hardly 
know in what sense it is an idea which works. You may 
possibly reply that suffering and death are undeniably prac 
tical, and that my idea at any rate exactly meets the 
practical situation. But to me there is more sense in the 
old view that my idea meets the situation theoretically 
and not practically. The idea of a failure in another or 
of failure in myself surely here does not itself produce 
the failure, and, if it did so, surely that would be the worst 
failure of all. And to make here the agreement of my idea 
with facts into a practical success, would be the mark of 
insanity rather than of philosophy or common sense. The 



80 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

idea of avoidance is here an idea which obviously cannot 
carry itself out. And the reflection that failure is but the 
deferred and assured coming of triumph, if such an idea 
were suggested to creatures in these straits, might seem to 
them the one idea which above all others neither works 
theoretically nor practically. 1 

There is indeed an ancient doctrine for which no power 
in the end is mere force, and which finds no evil in the world 
except for self-will. And the self that can apprehend all 
force and all suffering as in the end will and love, does 

1 It may be said that every idea, even of failure, works successfully in 
producing a corresponding attitude or other change in my body or some 
part of it. I agree that, to speak in general, an idea tends thus to express 
itself emotionally. This in brief is one aspect of an idea s general tendency 
to realize itself. But this way of realization in emotional expression is not 
to be confounded with the other specific ways which we call thought and 
will. Every one, we may say, in practice would distinguish a gesture or 
a blush from a volition or a judgement. The mere emotional expression 
of an idea is in short not my act, and you cannot attribute it to my will. 
Again this emotional expression of the idea, if for the sake of argument 
we assume it everywhere to exist, cannot possibly, I presume, be more 
than generic. It must therefore fail to correspond to the individuality of 
the idea. And again it depends so much upon the psychical liveliness of the 
idea, that an idea counted false may possibly express itself more forcibly 
than an idea which is taken to be true. We should in short here have 
a doctrine in principle the same with Hume s theory of belief, and open 
to the objections which seem fatal to that theory. The emotional expression 
of an idea or of one aspect of an idea is, we may say, a mere incidental result 
from the strength and dominance of that idea or its aspect. Any attempt 
to find in it the specific essence of truth and falsehood in the end must break 
down. But in any case, so far as what is called Pragmatism is concerned, 
to fall back on such a doctrine would be suicidal. For this emotional 
expression is plainly not will. It is the working of an idea on me, and it is 
not my working. We have here a psychical effect and not properly an act 
of mine. It would (to pass to another point) be interesting to know how 
our new gospel conceives its relation to Dr. Bain s theory of belief. It might 
seem to have taken that theory, and, without considering the objections to 
which it is liable, to have gone beyond it by simply writing truth for 
belief . 

Every idea of course works by inhibiting so far the action of other ideas. 
And, since these other ideas may be practical, every idea, if you please, 
is practical negatively. But on the other hand surely it is clear that the 
meaning of truth is something positive. Truth surely can never be barely 
negative, nor can you find its essence in its mere prevention of the happen 
ing of something else. In fact here, as everywhere, it is in the end nonsense 
to take anything as consisting merely in inhibition. 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 81 

itself thus succeed and does triumph even in its own anguish 
and despair. And the way to this end, however hard, is 
at least familiar, for it is the open secret that has been 
revealed by the Teachers of the East, and, whatever you 
like to say against it theoretically, it is a faith which cer 
tainly can work. But this is the way which our new gospel 
of personal individualism seems to advertise as henceforth 
closed. At least if my ideas and my will, or the will and the 
ideas of any man or set of men, are to be the measure of 
truth, then, so far as I see, the reality cannot lie beyond 
the private ends of individuals. And to realize the self 
by self-surrender to the supreme will, must, I presume, be 
set down as at once irrational and immoral. For there is 
not, I understand, and there ought not to be any will which 
is supreme, and really sole master of the world, and lord 
of suffering and of sin and of death. And again in no possible 
case could any will which is quite external to my own 
become really and in truth something personal to myself. 

But at this point our new gospel, it seems to me, begins to 
falter, and it seems evasively to point to an ambiguous way 
of escape. If the world and its power which confront me 
are the funded accumulations made by striving beings (Mind, 
N.S., No. 45, p. 94), then after all the world can be no force 
which is alien to my will. But such a plea to my mind 
sounds like trifling or like mockery. For to view ourselves 
as insects on a coral reef is hardly a solution which works. 
If the world in fact is hostile to my will, then it does not 
cease to be hostile because others like myself have had the 
same or a different experience before me. They have 
altered the world, I know, and they have improved it, if 
you will, but they have not altered it so that it does not 
oppose me. 1 No gratitude of mine for past efforts will 
transform the living fact, and no belief in some happier 

1 I shall deal lower down with the apparent claim that my world has 
thus been actually made and not merely altered. 
1674 G 



82 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

future, when I am past, can serve to change the actual 
present. If indeed to me there were no force in the world 
but the veiled love of God, if the wills in the past were one 
in effort and in substance with the one Will, if in that Will 
they are living still and still so are loving, and if again by 
faith, suffering, and love my will is made really one with 
theirs here indeed we should have found at once our 
answer and our refuge. But with this we should pass surely 
beyond the limits of any personal individualism. For this 
we must have more than the mere accumulation of several 
efforts. We cannot rest in a God who is no more omnipotent 
than one of ourselves, and who, though animated, I dare say, 
by the best intentions, cannot answer for the unknown force 
which confronts himself and us. 1 And, as I understand, 
the remedy is for us to discard such perverted wants and 
such unnatural desires. We shall find our glad tidings in the 
unfailing advertisements of the new way in philosophy, where 
every doubt and all disease has found its certain cure, and 
where at last every tub can stand upright on its own bottom. 

II. I will pass on to consider another aspect of the case. 
We often hear a cry which seems to set forth the virtues of 
practice. But, when before all things I seek to understand 
in what this practice consists, then I scarce can apprehend 
a word which to me is intelligible. And, since my ignorance 
and perhaps my bias is not peculiar to myself, I will venture 
without apology once more to lay bare the nakedness of my 
mind. 

A young man frequently hears it said, why cannot you 
take up something practical ? Why cannot you, in other 
words, place your first end in what is called a comfortable 
life, and seek to eat and to drink and to reproduce your 

1 Instead of a God I should perhaps have written a God or a set of 
gods . Our new gospel seems not to have decided at present whether 
monotheism or polytheism is to be the creed of the future. I should be 
inclined to agree that from a religious point of view the difference in this 
case has no importance. 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 83 

species, while enjoying the social consideration and the 
amusements of the average man ? And the young man 
may reply that, so far as he sees, this would not bring him 
happiness. He prefers to place his chief end perhaps in art 
or in science, or again in the excitement of the chase or of 
gaming or amours, or possibly, it may even be, in some form 
of mystical religion. And to seek my happiness, he would 
exclaim, however far away from what the world calls practi 
cal, how can there be for me any course more practical than 
this ? l And evidently here there is a failure to use words 
on each side with a common meaning. Our confusion may 
be further heightened when we reflect on the one hand that 
everything in our lives must be practical. For conduct is 
practical, and nothing that we are and do can possibly, it 
seems, be external to conduct. But on the other hand in 
at least some men we seem to discover non-practical wants. 
We seem to find a desire for the cultivation of truth or 
beauty for their own sakes, or even a longing for the con 
templative absorption in the eternal. And thus while on 
the one side every desire and every want must be practical, 
on the other side some practical aims seem to entail the 
subordination of practice. 

These familiar doubts, idle to those minds which have 
risen far above doubt, to other minds have suggested serious 
questionings. And I will go on briefly to state that which 
has served as perhaps a sufficient answer. My practice may 
be called in general the alteration by me of existence, inward 
and outward, and existence we may understand as what 
happens or as the series of events. 2 And since, whatever 
else it is, my whole life certainly is a process in time, certainly 
everything which I am or do has, or may have, this practical 

1 Cf. Prof. A. E. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysics, p. 317. 

1 [Cf. Principles of Logic, p. 18. The objection that will does not always 
aim at alteration, but sometimes at prevention of change, was long ago 
made by Lotze. In Mind for October 1892, pp. 339, 440, I noticed and 
discussed this objection. It has been urged against me since, I believe, 
and without any reference to Lotze or myself.] 

G 2 



84 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

aspect. 1 Our being is realized, we know, by maintaining 
ourselves and our race against natural accident and decay. 
We have to eat and to drink and to multiply our kind. 
Then again there is our life in the family and in society. 
We are born into and enter into wholes wider than our 
selves, and in these the individual finds his own self in its 
connexion with other men, and has his being in their con 
sideration and also their love for him. But now let us suppose 
further that a man is able to go even beyond this. Let us 
suppose him capable of pursuing and of enjoying truth and 
beauty for themselves, and able to find his own nature 
realized in the unselfish love of these objects. Such a 
supposition, I am aware, is in principle contrary to indivi 
dualism, but our discordance with individualism (by what 
ever new name it likes to call itself) has begun long before 
such a point had been reached. However that may be, 
let us suppose that a man can in fact desire and can enjoy 
for its own sake what is beautiful and true. These objects 
on one side exist for his theoretical activity, and they involve 
obviously and necessarily an alteration of his personal 
existence. They and their pursuits are therefore practical, 
how intensely practical is known to all who have experience 
of the facts. 2 Alteration of existence is implied inseparably 
in the being of truth, but truth, to confine ourselves here 

1 [The word practice lays stress on the alteration of existence, I do 
not mean merely outward existence. Now obviously every purpose 
carried out must alter the series of events, and every purpose therefore is 
obviously from one side practical. But this does not mean that the interest 
and the object aimed at are always practical, except incidentally. This 
plain distinction the Pragmatist has failed to see, and hence is led at one 
time to inveigh against the theoretical interest, and at another time to 
admit it, and in each case blindly. Even in the year 1909 Prof. James was 
still evidently confused as to what practical means (Meaning of Truth, 
p. 209). Prof. James appears to me to be attempting here under the stress 
of criticism to carry out an inquiry which obviously should have come first, 
and should have been made independently.] 

* There is an admirable passage on this subject in Balzac s Cousine Bette, 
which is, I hope, well known to the reader. The only reference I can give 
is to pp. 179-81 of vol. xvii of the edition of 1865. 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 85 

to truth, has another side also. And, when you take in 
this side, you cannot say that the essence of truth consists 
in a change made in or made by this or that individual. 
The angles of a triangle may, if you will, not exist outside 
of the geometer s head, but their equality to two right 
angles is hardly nothing but a present change made in him. 
The laws of the planets and stars, we believe, in part revealed 
themselves truly to Newton, but the revelation, if so, was 
something more than a mere personal event. It is only 
in poetry that America rose from the waves at the will of 
Columbus, and even in poetry the America which appeared 
was a thing found as well as done. There is for us no truth, 
we may say, save that which discovers itself to us. The 
finding of truth is on one side an alteration of the world, 
but this alteration on the other side does not x contain the 
truth itself which is found. It is impossible to make the 
truth a mere deed and a mere outcome and a mere adjective 
of the person who discovers or enjoys it. As my theoretical 
activity it is a practical change in my existence, but as my 
object it has another character and a different purpose. 
Its essence cannot lie merely in that which I do either to 
myself or to the world. 

The gospel of practice for the sake of practice, and every 
thing else for the sake of practice, makes, I doubt not, a good 
cry. But it will satisfy in the end only those who have not 
asked what practice is. Practice we have found to consist 
in my alteration of existence. Now, if we take this as our 
end, we seem to place the end in mere quantity of being and 
change. Our end must be being and doing, maintained and 
reproduced, without regard to any quality possessed by it, 
except of course so far as difference in quality goes to sub 
serve quantity. But such an end is hardly what in general 
men seek or can desire, and it will, I think, be obvious to 
any one that in his own case he would not care for mere 

1 [ does not, that is, as such. 1 See Chap. XI.] 



86 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

increase of being apart from quality. We might of course 
set up mere pleasure in abstraction as our end, and we might 
endeavour to subordinate consistently every other aspect of 
our being to this one reality. Truth and falsehood would 
in this way become mere increase and decrease of pleasure. 
And these characters would be no facts to be ascertained by 
an independent intellect, since the whole of their truth and 
reality would have to consist in their accordance with my 
present feeling. This is a view which, so far as I know, no 
Hedonist among us has advocated, 1 and in any case it would 
hardly square with the gospel of practice. And hence, 
unless I am to take mere quantity of doing as my end, I can 
myself find in the end no sense in the cry of practice for 
practice sake. 

And, if I may be allowed to put on one side things which 
I am unable to comprehend, I would venture to state in 
a few words how I understand the relation of practice to 
life. The end I take to be the fullest and most harmonious 
development of our being, and, though I will not deny that 
this coincides with the largest amount of mere doing, 2 the 
latter aspect I must regard as but incidental. Now, if our 
being is to be realized, its main functions must be regarded 
as ends, and every side of our nature in being realized will 
thus assuredly be practical. For, to speak in the main, 
whatever we are and whatever we acquire, becomes and 
remains ours only on the condition that we are active and 
doing. Thus everything in life, to speak once more in the 
main, is a practical end, and every possible side of our life 
is practical. But among these ends and aspects there is 
on the other hand an important difference, 3 for we are forced 
to deny in a sense that some of them are practical. Some of 
them, that is, do not involve the alteration of existence except 

1 Cf. Appearance, p. 374, and Chap. XI of this volume. 

2 I wish here neither to deny nor to assert this. The question is a 
difficult one. 

3 I have further enlarged on this point below, pp. 101-6. 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 87 

incidentally, while with the rest this alteration is, in various 
senses and degrees, essential and vital. Eating and drinking, 
and life in the family and in society and the state, may be 
called practical essentially. Our actual existence in time 
and in space has in various senses to be changed by all of 
these functions. And in addition their contents can be 
said to fall within the world of what we do and make. Their 
product can be said in the main to qualify that existence 
which we produce and alter. And further the arts and 
sciences which subserve these practical ends, are them 
selves, so far as they subserve these, practical also. But 
the attitude of mere theory and of mere apprehension is 
on the other hand not practical. It has to alter things, 
but, so far as it remains independent, its chief end and main 
purpose does not consist in any such alteration. Truths 
must exist in a mind, and, to exist in it, they must come 
there, and, to speak roughly and in the main, they must 
also be brought there. And so of course, in order to exist, 
they must alter that mind. But the truth itself does not 
consist in its existence in me. Neither I nor any other man 
can make truth and make falsehood what they are. 1 Truth 
may not be truth at all apart from its existence in myself 
and in other finite subjects, and at least very largely that 
existence depends on our wills. But, though I can find in 
truth the satisfaction of a want, and though I can recognize 
my own being in the possession of truth, yet on the other 
side I cannot regard its nature as subject to my will. If 
for its realization a change in myself is indispensable, I 
cannot on the other hand say that its main being lies in 
that alteration of existence. While truth is mere truth, 
I do not even carry it out into the world. And to make its 
essence a bare quality or a mere deed of our minds is to 
destroy that essence. 
The same thing holds again of what is beautiful in nature 

1 [See further in Chap. XI.] 



88 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

or in art. The nature of that is in principle not subordinate 

to an external end. We can make it to exist or appear, but 

we cannot on the other hand make it to be that which it is. 

Its character is something which is beyond my power, it is 

something which I must recognize and cannot alter. So far 

as it is a product it is a product which cannot be taken as 

the mere adjective of the function or process. Beauty, in 

other words, is from one side independent of our wills. It 

is an end the specific nature of which is not subject to our 

choice, and cannot consist in a relation to anything else 

which is so subject. And if truth and beauty have this 

character, and if on the other side truth and beauty are 

human ends, then clearly we have ends which are not 

practical. They are practical, that is to say, incidentally, 

but not in their essence. Thus on the one side these ends 

may be called independent, though on the other side they 

must involve human need and desire. And hence, if our 

life is to satisfy its desires, these ideal ends should be desired 

and be pursued for themselves. And, viewed in this way, 

it is clear that, though practical, they are still not subordinate 

to practice. 

If we take things from another side, then all, as we saw, 
can fall under the practical end. For everything in life is 
subject to life as a whole, and the end of morality is to 
develop, to order and to harmonize, our human existence. 
There is no element therefore to which the moral end is 
unable to dictate, and even truth and beauty, however in 
dependent, fall under its sway. Beauty and truth therefore 
are at once dependent and free. The moral end dictates to 
us their pursuit and it sets limits to that pursuit. The space 
which these objects are to occupy in my life, how far and 
how long it is right for me to follow them, nay even to some 
extent the kind of truth and beauty which I should ignore 
or should follow, all this, it is obvious, is or may be the 
affair of morality. But the nature of that which is to be 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 89 

beautiful or true falls outside of the moral control. It is 
the vision, and it is not the object, which is subject to our 
wills. The ideal does enter into my life and it makes a part 
of my existence, but it is only in one aspect that I can master 
it and subject it to my power. And the practical human end 
is, in very truth, to follow ends which in themselves assuredly 
are not all practical or all merely human. 1 

Any such creed is perhaps as obsolete as it is old and 
familiar, and, if we believe the advocate of pragmatism , 
it is but foolishness and falsehood. And yet in philosophy, 
if error is to be removed, it possibly after all should be 
removed by discussion. It is hardly mere darkness to be 
dispelled by the rising of some luminary however refulgent. 
And yet, since neither of us seems to understand what the 
other can be meaning, a rational discussion between the 
* personal idealist and any adherent of the old doctrine 
seems unattainable. There is a view that the independent 
use of the intellect is impossible, that the intellect has neither 
freedom nor any being of its own, and that, except so far as 
it consists in practice or again indirectly squints at practice, 
the intellect is nothing. This view, to me at least, seems 
contrary to the plain facts of human nature, and to me at 
least this view seems to end in nonsense. There is again a 
view that the independent use of the intellect is possible but 
is undesirable, and this view again, though less obviously 
absurd, seems to me indefensible. Certainly on my side I 
should insist that any one-sided development is not desirable. 
I should insist that the realization of any aspect of human 

1 We may put it thus, that in the end the practical end must be the 
Good, but that the Good, when you examine it, is plainly more than 
mere practice. Or from the other side we may say that in the end there 
is no criterion which is not practical, and that the true and the real will 
in the end fall under the Good. But, when we have shown this, we find 
ourselves forced on the other hand to make distinctions within the Good, 
and to recognize, as before, that the Good consists in more than practice. 
And practice itself, when we examine it, will be found even in itself (I cannot 
deal with this here) to involve and to depend upon judgement and truth. 



90 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

nature should, to speak in general, be limited by due regard 
for the whole. But to distort this truth into a vicious error, 
and to suppress wholly in its specific quality one main 
function of my being, this is to me a deplorable and inhuman 
mutilation. If you could show that the science and art 
which fails to squint at practice is an evil excrescence, and 
that like sexual aberration it perverts a desirable function, 
the case would be altered. But the loud assertion of the 
Personal Idealist 1 will not move those who have learned 
otherwise from the facts. And it will move them the less 
since they are convinced that the assertor, if he understood 
his own doctrine, must hold any end, however perverted, 
to be rational if I insist on it personally, and any idea, 
however mad, to be the truth if only some one is resolved 
that he will have it so. 

The following of science for the sake of science and of art 
for the sake of art is, if I may repeat what I have accepted, 
to be kept within limits. Like every other side of human 
nature it is thus subordinate to the welfare of the whole, but 
on the other hand within its own limits it should be per 
fectly free. This relative freedom is even dictated by the 
interest of the spiritual commonwealth ; and hence this 
freedom is in the end the most practical course, if we take 
* practice in anything but a limited sense. And it will be 
a mistake in practice after all, when you take our world as 
a whole, to seek to banish from it the pursuit of unworldly 
objects and ends. But you do in effect condemn these 
pursuits, you vitiate their nature and you destroy them, 
when you sentence them to keep throughout at least one 
eye upon the world. On the one hand obviously our 

1 Personal Idealism, p. 85. I shall briefly notice lower down the difficulty 
which arises with regard to a knowledge that truth ought not to be inde 
pendent. Clearly this truth also is dependent, but it is hard to say on what. 
[In reprinting this paper I should perhaps add that the particular example 
of perversion, given in the text, does not itself appear in the passage referred 
to. It is, however, fully justified by its general statement, and on this point 
I should be glad if the reader would satisfy himself.] 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 91 

available supply of energy is limited. On the other hand, 
if due regard is had to this limit, the independent cultiva 
tion of any one main side of our nature promises advantage, 
for it promises (at least to those who hold to the unity of 
that nature) to react and to contribute to the general good. 1 
We believe in short in relative freedom, and we do not 
believe in divorce or in one-sided suppression. And we do 
not believe that the way to advance our human nature is 
to subordinate all of it to one aspect I do not care what 
that aspect is. At the beginning, I agree, there is no distinc 
tion between theory and practice, and again I am clear that 
there is none in the end. But on the other hand our human 
life is to me assuredly neither all beast-like nor all divine. 
And, if I am so far condemned to follow a philosopher who 
lived before the coming of the new light, I am for my part 
well content to share in his darkness. 

But I shall doubtless be told that the intelligence springs 
from and depends upon need and desire. There is no under 
standing, it will be urged, and no truth, except where there 
is an interest ; and since interest and want must be admitted 
to be practical, we have here a clear proof that all in the end 
is subordinate to practice. To myself, however, this proof 
adduced by the logic of Pragmatism seems hardly to require 
any serious discussion. To me it seems obvious that, if 
some function belongs to our nature, there will be a need 
and desire which corresponds to that function. Hence, if 
the free use of the intellect is really one aspect of our being, 
we shall in consequence have a need and a desire for that 
use. And how this can prove that no interest is in the end 
intellectual, I fail wholly to perceive. There is an attempt 

1 I have of course not forgotten that there are developments of 
human nature which are undesirable and vicious. Why these are un 
desirable is a question which I cannot discuss here. The answer in general 
is that such things not only are contrary to the interest of our whole nature, 
but also are hostile to the realization of that very side of it to which they 
belong. They therefore are not in the best sense developments but are 
perversions of our nature. 



92 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

apparently to pass direct from my want must be practical 
to the required conclusion with regard to the object of my 
want. But since the doctrine attacked denies this con 
clusion, and since it holds that interest and want, practical 
on one side, may nevertheless be directed on an object 
which in itself is not practical, there is literally, so far as I 
can see, no argument at all. All that I can find is the sheer 
assumption that a certain view is mistaken, coupled appar 
ently with an entire failure to apprehend in what that view 
essentially consists. And you might as well come to me and 
offer to argue that I cannot want to look at a star, because 
my vision and my want are always terrestrial. And you 
might as well demonstrate to me that plainly I can love 
nothing beyond me, because my love after all must be a 
piece of myself. But the Personal Idealist, I imagine, is 
likely to smile at my belated logic. 

III. I will now attempt briefly to point out the various 
senses in which we may try to subordinate truth to practice. 
We have already learnt the ambiguity of any assertion that 
truth is practical, but it may repay us to realize this ambi 
guity more in detail, even if that detail is far from exhausting 
the subject. 

(i) We may affirm that reason is the slave of the 
passions . We may hold that, except to find means to 
a foreign end, truth is (a) idle and useless or (b) even 
impossible, (a) The first of these statements does not deny 
the possibility of a truth which is merely theoretical. It 
denies it only so far as to insist that such a truth is worthless, 
and that it therefore does not deserve to be called truth. 
(b) The second statement on the other hand appears to make 
an unqualified denial. But it seems inconsistent with itself 
so far as it assumes an independent knowledge of means ; 
for any such knowledge would appear to contain truth 
which so far is theoretical. Further the doctrine that the 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 93 

world and my nature are of such a kind that all truth must 
be practical, appears itself, so far, to be a truth which is 
theoretical and therefore is no truth. 

(2) We may from this proceed to a position with which we 
all are more or less familiar. Truth, we may hear, is after 
all nothing but working hypothesis. We have truth when 
we can say of an idea that it will do , and an idea will * do 
only when, and so far as, it will work. There is, in short, 
no meaning in truth other than the idea which works best. 
This general statement, however, admits of more than one 
interpretation, (a) It might mean that truth is the idea 
which works best theoretically. There is in other words 
here no truth in the sense of something which is given 
as absolute. There are no data which we may assume and on 
which we may build as certain each by itself. All is material, 
in short, with which we experiment ideally, and the ideal 
experiment which in the end best satisfies itself and us is 
what we mean by truth. It is, however, obvious that, with 
so much, truth has not become merely practical. Indeed 
such a position would be consistent with an extreme intellec- 
tualism. And on the other hand the doctrine that truth is 
what works, usually means to make truth the mere servant 
of something else. We may therefore pass on to consider 
another meaning, (b) The order and series of my sensations 
may be taken for granted, and truth may be regarded as 
a construction which is formed out of these. The end for 
which the construction is made may remain unspecified, 
and at present at least this point may be ignored, for in any 
case the doctrine has failed to make truth merely practical. 
Truth is our construction, but truth is forced to start with 
an order of sensations. This order is in the main independent 
of my choice and my will, and is a given fact which dictates 
to me and to my choice of means. It is hence hard to see 
how such a fact can be excluded and left outside of truth, 
or how again such a fact is merely practical. Reality 



94 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

which in the outer order confronts me is such, that to reach 
a certain end I am obliged to hold for true this or that 
a truth like this, I agree, is highly imperfect, but I cannot 
see that it has ceased to be so far theoretical. Or, if we 
enlarge our doctrine by ceasing to lay a one-sided stress* 
on what is outer, and if we call truth the ideal construction 
based on the entire order of what happens, we have still, 
so far as I see, made no advance in principle. Whatever 
end we may desire, the means to this end are still dictated 
by something which we have to call matter of fact ; and this 
knowledge as to matter of fact still remains and must remain 
at least in part theoretical. And our knowledge further 
with regard to this entire state of things seems once more 
truth which has not itself the character assigned by us to 
all truth, (c) We may go on therefore to seek a remedy in 
the removal of our one-sided prejudice. We may reject 
the limitation of knowledge to the mere world of events 
which happen, and may deny the claim of this world to be 
taken as an ultimate foundation. Reality, or the Good, 1 
will now be the satisfaction of all the wants of our nature, 
and theoretical truth will be the perceptions and ideas 
which directly satisfy one of those wants, and so indirectly 
make part of the general satisfaction. This is a doctrine 
which to my mind commends itself as true, though it 
naturally would call for a great deal of explanation. But, 
with this, evidently truth is not subordinate to practice. 
It has a practical aspect, no doubt, but its whole essence 
is not practical. Its end is an element in the general end, 
and is in this sense subordinate ; but its end is not sub 
ordinate to any other partial aspect of the whole. And 
practice on its side will be no more than such a partial 
aspect. Hence, if truth is to be practical, this whole view 
must be given up or else must be modified. And it must, 

1 The Good is here taken once more in its highest sense, a sense in which 
it has ceased to be merely practical and has ceased to be merely good. 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 95 

I presume, be modified by the denial of any want save that 
which in the end is practical in its essence. Truth will there 
fore once more become dependent and subordinate, and will 
consist in the ideas which serve as external means to the 
practical end. But, with this, we seem thrown back once 
more into the midst of our old difficulties. For the nature 
of things does not seem to depend upon and to consist in 
subserviency to the practical want and choice of myself 
or of any set of men. And on the other side truth seems 
forced to take account of the whole nature of things. In 
other words I may choose to isolate what I call my practical 
end, but the means to that end must be prescribed largely by 
something other than my choice. And since truth is forced 
to express something which thus dictates to practice, the 
essence of truth can hardly consist in subservience to the 
practical end. We may perhaps put the same thing by asking 
how, if truth has no independence, there is in the end any 
possibility of real argument or of real error. And our 
knowledge of the whole situation and of the nature of truth 
seems once more incompatible with the position which we 
have thus given to knowledge. 1 

(3) A more radical view is the doctrine that reality in the 
end is will, and that intelligence has somehow a secondary 
position. A view of this kind was upheld in the first quarter 
of the last century by more than one well-known philo 
sopher, and it has naturally been subjected to a good deal 
of criticism. This is a point which our new gospel seems to 
think calls for little attention, and I could not myself be 
expected here to enter into it at length, even were I able 
to do so. I may, however, be permitted to state briefly the 

1 The question how far anywhere we are to use working ideas the nature 
of which is to be dictated in some sense by a practical end, is a question 
I do not discuss. The point, I agree, is both interesting and important, and 
it deserves a discussion which would be impossible within the limits of this 
paper. I am concerned here simply with the assertion that all truth is in the 
last resort merely practical. 



96 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

main reasons which have always made it impossible for me 
to accept in any form the primacy of will. 

(a) Will in my judgement must imply something in the self 
or beyond the self which is other than will, and, apart from 
this other , I cannot find any sense or meaning in the will 
either of man or of God. There is to me no thinking with 
out something which thinks and again something which is 
thought of something in either case which is other than 
mere thought. And in the same way there is no willing 
except that which both proceeds from something and changes 
something something again in either case which is other 
than will. And I may add that to me will involves not only 
perception but also idea, and that I find this hard to reconcile 
with a secondary position of intelligence. 

(b) The necessity for an other may lead to an admitted 
plurality of wills, and in any case without such a plurality 
the whole doctrine tends in effect to negate itself. But on 
the other hand the plurality, if admitted, raises difficulties 
which to my mind are insuperable. If will demands a per 
ceived * other which it alters, how is this to consist merely 
in another will ? To me it seems that each will must pre 
suppose in the other will something which is more than bare 
willing. My volition, to me, is a process of passage from 
idea into existence. Hence, as soon as and as far as that 
passage is realized, my volition in the proper sense has 
ceased to exist. The outer existence which is the expression 
of my will is in a sense certainly my will, but in the strict 
sense it is not my will. Thus I do not understand how the 
inner side of another will is to serve as that perceived other 
which my will demands, while again, if the other will is 
taken as a perceived existence for me, I must understand 
it to be something which is more than and is other than 
mere volition. 1 And we have already seen that, if you 

1 The fundamental difficulty I take to be this, that will must imply and 
must presuppose what is other than itself. Thus on the one hand bare will 
is no will, while on the other hand, as soon as will has ceased to be bare, 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 97 

confine yourself to my will, that demands both an * I and 
an * other as conditions of the process. Further with an 
admitted plurality of wills there is a difficulty with regard 
to their relation. The relation (that seems evident) cannot 
be the mere adjective of either of its terms. But, if it falls 
beyond each, then neither term by itself is all reality, and 
there is at once a question on our hands with regard to 
their togetherness or unity. This again apparently must 
be will ; but, if it is will, I do not see how it is in the end 
to have an other . If on the contrary it is not will, then, 
since we hardly can take the unity as barely unreal, reality 
seems at once to include more than will. 

Will in fact implies all reality, and in this it is like thought, 
for in thinking once more you can find all reality. You can, 
that is, identify a complex whole with one of its aspects, 
and then naturally in that aspect you can go on to find 
everything contained or implied. But for myself I see no 
advantage in such a procedure. And I see no advantage in 
rushing blindly from the rejection of one extreme to the 
acceptance of the other, especially since I have now been 
acquainted with both extremes for more years than I care 
to recall. 

it has become something more than will. This main difficulty is, to me, 
at once radical and insuperable, and it shows itself in the relation between 
will as inward and as carried out. If you do not here admit an existence 
which in some sense is more than mere will, you, so far as I see, make will 
an unmeaning word. Thus with a plurality of wills, if each will is to have 
any known world outside itself, you are on the above ground forced to 
admit some existence beyond it which is more than any mere will. For 
I cannot see how, if each will has no outside of its own, each is going to 
serve as the outside for another. This idea may seem plausible, but I at 
least cannot carry it out. And if, leaving this, you assert that will itself is 
a whole which possesses in itself both an inward and an outward side, then 
I do not understand what you are to reply when some one else chooses to 
assert that this same whole is intelligence or feeling. 

To find the solution of the world s problem in a number of wills, which 
serve amongst themselves, each to the others, as outward existence, is, 
I agree, at first sight a very promising adventure. For myself I have 
never been able to surmount the obstacles which I have mentioned. But 
it would be a pleasure to me to learn that they can be surmounted. 

1574 H 



98 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

If further we give to intelligence a secondary place, we 
have to reconcile this fact with our knowledge that it is so. 
We may say that Will possesses an awareness of itself, and 
on this awareness we may base our philosophy of Will. 
But, not to speak of the difficulty which arises from the 
evident or at least the apparent fact of other experience and 
knowledge, it is hard to see how this awareness can justify 
its position. For we are in a difficulty on one side if we 
regard it as secondary. On the other side if this knowledge 
and this truth is to be primary, the secondary place assigned 
to all intelligence seems hardly intelligible. 

(4) I must pass from this attempt to identify reality in 
the end with will. For the Will, which is reality, is not for 
such a view my mere individual will. And it is my individual 
will with which, so far as I understand the matter, we have 
to do when we come to Prof. James and his followers. At 
least, if it is not my will which makes reality and truth to be 
what they are, I hardly see what can be left of the gospel 
which they preach. 1 I have already noticed what to my 
self appears a mere endeavour to compromise. If you take 
the world to be a funded accumulation made by striving 
beings (Mind, N.S., 45, p. 94), you unite in one creed, it 
seems to me, every opening to objection. In the first place, 
since this fact is not your mere individual will, you either 
are confronted with a reality which is other than your will, 
or else you must accept a real identity between this existing 
will and yours. And what then has become of individualism 
and of pluralism and of personal idealism I am unable 
to guess. 2 And further your knowledge of the fact of this 

1 [And, so far as I can now judge, really nothing in principle is left. Prof. 
James (the evidence is given in Chap. V and its Appendix I) ended 
apparently by abandoning every doctrine which can be taken as distinctive 
of Pragmatism. When once a Pragmatist allows intrinsic value to theory, 
surely the whole bottom of his gospel may be said to have fallen out. This 
remark has no application to Dr. Dewey, who, I understand, still remains 
consistent.] 

* The self-elected leader of our Personal Idealists seems at times to fall 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 99 

accumulation, on what does that knowledge rest ? Is it 
dictated to you by a fact which is other than your will ? 
Then, so far as I can judge, the whole doctrine has in prin 
ciple vanished. Does it depend on and consist in your 
individual want and choice, and is it this which in the end 
both is and makes all reality and truth ? It is strange, if 
so, that you should seem unable to say what you mean, and 
should fly for refuge to the unexplained phrase of condi 
tions . It is useless again to offer a reference to Aristotle 
and to Fichte, for there is more than one reason why such 
a reference gives no satisfaction. The preachers of a new 
gospel should, in short, be ready with payment in cash. 
And, when they seek to put me off with a cheque drawn 
on their account with Moses and the prophets, I take it as 
a practical admission of insolvency. 1 

I will recall some beliefs which our new gospel seems 
called on to meet. Practice is a necessary aspect of human 
nature and of the whole of things, but practice is not the 
whole of things nor is it the entirety of human nature. It 
is a pernicious error to set up one aspect of our being (I do 
not care what that aspect is) as an end by itself to which 
everything else is subordinate. Our nature is complex, and 
on the other hand our nature has and ought to have a unity, 
but its unity is not to be found by setting up one element 
as absolute, and by turning all the rest into mere external 
means. Further it is true that any one-sided expenditure 
of our limited energy is so far hurtful. And it is true that 

back on the old and well-known view, that truth is merely what happens 
to prevail, merely those sensations and ideas which happen to enforce 
themselves among a particular set of men, and that truth has no meaning 
which is other than this. He even appears to be under the impression 
that this doctrine is new as well as salutary. But, for myself, I could never 
see that whatever is the result of a crude interpretation of Darwinism must 
therefore be novel. And when the same writer preaches that Man (with 
a capital) is to be the measure, I should not infer that he has asked himself 
what in the end this capital is to mean. 

1 [About a page of the original article has, after this, been omitted.] 

H 2 



ioo ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

in the interest of the whole such expenditure must be 
limited. But it is wrong to conclude from this that within 
its own limits no element is to have free play, and that the 
whole in short is best served by the work of slaves. And, 
before a man lays down the law as to practice, it might be 
better if he told us what in the end he takes practice to mean. 
And before we rush or drift from a rejection of intellec- 
tualism to a setting up of voluntarism , we might perhaps 
inquire whether after all we are inevitably condemned to 
choose between conflicting abstractions. 1 

The contention that truth and falsehood depend on my 
will is to the last degree ambiguous, and it may end in what 
is unmeaning or is plainly false. To make the whole essence 
of truth consist in a choice made by this or that person 
subverts the very nature of truth. On the other hand to 
treat the will of others, or to treat the result of any past 
volitions as being my will and choice, seems really a thought 
less attempt at compromise. Finally the essence of will 
requires an other which is not will, and without this 
other bare will, like bare intellect, ceases to be itself. 
Itself is reduced in either case to vacancy and to nothingness. 
And the question of this other cannot be disposed of by 
unexplained phrases, and still less can it be met by any 

1 Personal Idealism, it seems to me, supplies us with two striking illustra 
tions of the tendency to avoid Scylla and to find a haven in Charybdis. 
[An omission has been made here.] The omnipotent and omniscient 
infinite God of Christian theology has of course given rise to well-known 
difficulties. And an exit from these difficulties may naturally be sought 
by the removal of one or more troublesome attributes. If God is made 
finite, and, I presume, in part ignorant and in part impotent, and in short 
is reduced in principle to the level of one creature among others, certain 
objections, it is clear, will at once lose their force. Thus, if you want to 
treat God as one person over against others, your readiest course is to 
deny that he is infinite. And, if you wish to relieve any person of moral 
responsibility, it is a well-known expedient to seek to deprive him either 
of knowledge or of power. But there are unfortunately obvious objections 
and difficulties on the other side. And these obvious difficulties, I presume, 
were present to and moved the minds of the more orthodox theologians. 
In any case surely they exist, and surely there can be no excuse for ignoring 
them. [Cf. p. 124 and Chap. XV.] 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 101 

appeal to authority. And once more, if knowledge is known 
to be secondary, the fact of this knowledge itself calls for 
explanation. 

It is well to protest against one-sided intellectualism and 
to insist on the reality and on the worth of practice. It is 
well to lay stress on the defects of Monism and on the 
positive claims of Individualism and Pluralism. Such pro 
tests against one-sidedness are perhaps never out of place. 
Such criticisms, even where they are not deserved, can per 
haps do no harm ; and they can never perhaps fail to be 
more or less deserved. But these protests and these criti 
cisms, it seems to me, are one thing, and the setting up and 
the preaching of some counter-onesidedness is surely another 
thing. And before anything, no matter what it is, is pro 
claimed as a new gospel, it will be better, I think, to ask if 
account has been taken of objections, objections which at 
least exist, even if they are not old and obvious. 

NOTE. It may be useful, even at the cost of some 
repetition, to add a few words on the difference between 
practical and non-practical activity. The doctrine which I 
have advocated is briefly this, that the above difference 
exists and that on the other hand it is not absolute. 

There is in the first place no activity which in the end is 
merely practical, and the merely practical would in the end 
be nothing real. It would, so far as I see, be the mainten 
ance and alteration of existence in complete abstraction 
from the quality of the existence and the change. Its end 
would be to produce the greatest quantity of bare doing. 
How far such an ideal is in principle self-consistent, I will 
not inquire, for certainly it is an ideal which no one would 
accept, no one at least who understood clearly what it means. 
And the assumption that such a practical activity exists 
anywhere must be rejected. You will find no creature out 
of whose life you can strike quality as irrelevant. However 
low you descend you will reach no stage where the what , 



102 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP, 

that is sought and done, is subordinate to bare doing, and 
except as a means to bare doing is worthless. 

And that at least not everything in life is thus practical 
or a mere means to practice seems manifest when we glance 
at the facts of life. We need not appeal here to that which 
in the narrower sense is intellectual or aesthetic. The 
pleasure of rest after accomplished labour, the song that 
gives vent to the joy in being, the heightened self-feeling 
from the perceived presence of one s kind it seems strange 
to insist that these things are barely practical. For myself 
I prefer to think that each creature has its own quality and 
its especial delight, and that in the quality of that which 
fills its self it finds and it seeks its own fulfilment. 

This is a view which, I admit, I did not learn from philo 
sophy, and, even if it were refuted by philosophy, I could not 
forget what I imbibed in my youth. I learnt that Jehovah 
found his work good, and took pleasure in it because it was 
so, and not merely because his own activity had been some 
thing extreme, or because (as a Personal Idealist might say) 
he had been young strong and virile . 1 And I learnt from 
the poets that every life in its own quality partakes of the 
divine. There is nothing so humble or so vile as to have no 
nature of its own in which it finds happiness, but every 
creature realizes, however strangely, what is at once its 
special being and something beyond it. And every creature 
rejoices not merely because so much is in doing or has been 
done, but because its own need is satisfied or because the 
object of its own particular desire has become reality. 

Any such doctrine is divided by a chasm from the creed 
of the Personal Idealist, the Personal Idealist, that is, who 

1 [The reference is to a passage from Humanism (p. viii) which was quoted 
in an omitted part of the foregoing. It runs thus : The ancient shibbo 
leths encounter open yawns and unconcealed derision. The rattling of dry 
bones no longer fascinates respect nor plunges a self-suggested horde of 
fakirs in hypnotic stupor. The agnostic maunderings of impotent despair 
are flung aside with a contemptuous smile by the young, the strong, the 
virile. ] 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 103 

comprehends his own principle. To his mind, when the male 
creature is drawn towards its mate, there is no feeling of an 
overmastering end beyond self. There is no object to which 
passion ascribes, for however fleeting a moment, an infinite 
worth. Nor is there a common existence where love, how 
ever imperfect and rude, gives in an object the abiding sense 
of an inward contentment. In the view of the Personal 
Idealist no object counts for any more than a worthless 
means to one s own mere activity. The object is recognized 
as something which is good barely because it serves the turn, 
as something which in short has value just so far as it is 
found to be practicable (Pers. Id., p. 98). The ideal is, in 
short, the abstraction of activity and of function from the 
quality of its object. This abstraction represents, perhaps to 
most of us, the essence of that which is false in theory and 
sordid in conduct. And the reason why the Personal 
Idealist is unaware of such a radical collision, is that he 
has made no attempt to realize the true meaning of his 
own doctrine. 1 

On the one hand no activity is barely practical. There 
is in the end no activity which exists for its own sake as 
a process, without any regard for its own nature and quality, 
and in abstraction from all that can be regarded as a product. 
On the other hand we may say that in the end all activity is 
practical. For there is nothing which is apart from process 
and change in existence. And in one of its aspects it is 
possible to view the whole Universe as a will which every 
where asserts itself practically. Between that which is 
practical and that which is not practical we thus seem in 
the end unable to maintain any difference. 

1 The passage referred to, which deals with Identity, is obviously full 
of intellectual confusion, whatever we may think of it otherwise as a sample 
of academical literature. [The reader will, of course, bear in mind that the 
text speaks of a view, not as it is in fact, while confusedly and inconsistently 
entertained, but as it really in principle is, and as it would be if it under 
stood itself.] 



104 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP. 

And there is in truth no such difference which is absolute. 
On the other side a relative distinction may be useful and 
necessary, and I will point out the principle on which this 
may be drawn. If you like to say that the difference in 
any given case is a matter of degree, to some extent I am 
able to accept that contention. 

As against a non-practical activity my activity is practical 
when and so far as its product directly qualifies the existence 
which is altered. When I am active it is plain that I make 
a change in my existence. Now can the product of my 
activity be taken as the adjective of my changed existence ? 
So far as this can be done my activity is practical, and other 
wise not so. When I dig the ground I make a change in my 
world, and it is my world which so far is altered. When I 
morally order myself, the moral arrangement becomes the 
adjective of my own existence. When I eat and drink, the 
result is that food and drink have been consumed, and that 
on the other side I am changed by having eaten and drunk. 
When I unite with other men in supporting and developing 
a social community, the result of what we do is, at least in 
the first instance, an adjective of our organized existence. 
Thus and so far the above activities are practical distinc 
tively. On the other side when I perceive a horse that is 
present, or think of one that is absent, certainly by my so 
perceiving or thinking my existence is changed, but the 
alteration cannot be said to consist in the horse. For my 
perception or thought has not, on any sane theory, brought 
the horse into being. My activity therefore is so far not 
practical. And when after digging the ground I contemplate 
it, and when I say My work is good , my activity here 
has ceased to be practical. For I can hardly so far be taken 
to have altered the ground or myself, and to have given 
to either of them a new quality not owned before. And, 
in short, all apprehension, whether theoretical or in the 
widest sense aesthetic, will fail to be practical except 



iv ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE 105 

incidentally. It is practical only so far as what comes in 
it is the adjective of that existence into which it has come 
and which it has changed. Thus an activity is not prac 
tical because existence has been changed by it. It is 
practical only so far as the changed existence can be taken 
as qualified by the product of the activity. And again in 
a secondary sense anything is practical so far as it is taken 
as subserving a practical change. On the other hand, so 
far as the change made is, in a word, a revelation, to that 
extent the change is not practical. Thus the apprehension 
of an object is never merely practical. Again when I make 
a spade purely for the sake of digging, the end is practical ; 
and a perception of the means, though not practical itself, 
is subordinate to practice. But, when I adorn the handle 
of the spade and so regard it with pleasure, my perception 
and my pleasure have ceased to be practical. For the spade 
has now been revealed to me so far as a joy in itself. And 
it is an object which, apart from desire for its possession, 
we may call in itself desirable . Wherever, in short, in 
the life of the family or of society, wherever in love morality 
and religion or beauty and truth, I have a product which 
is more than a mere quality of what is altered, I have some 
thing which so far goes beyond practice. I so far have 
something which is a revelation and is not a mere doing 
or something done. But we have entered here on a theme 
which goes far beyond the limits of this Note. 

In any case the abstraction of mere doing is not a rational 
end. The good, in other words, so far as it is good in itself, 
is so far not merely practical. And as good in itself, we may 
believe, it is revealed in some measure even to the humblest. 
And as good in itself, which in different senses and in various 
degrees is more than the mere adjective of passing events 
and of finite existence, it is apprehended by and becomes 
clear to the human intellect. On the other hand I must 
repeat that no such distinction is absolute. Thus to the 



106 ON TRUTH AND PRACTICE CHAP, iv 

religious mind everything which is good is but the bringing 
to light of God s perfection and glory ; and yet to the same 
religious mind nowhere is God more really present than in 
that will for good which in myself and others makes changes 
in the world. This double nature and aspect of things will 
remain foolishness to the Personal Idealist, and it cannot be 
held consistently in human life ; but the constant sense of 
it together with the endeavour to realize it in thought, may 
perhaps be said to make the life of philosophy. And thus 
philosophy is hard, while to think one-sidedly and to make 
theories which ignore the deepest instincts of our nature, 
is not so difficult. Philosophy always will be hard, and 
what it promises even in the end is no clear theory nor any 
complete understanding or vision. But its certain reward 
is a continual evidence and a heightened apprehension of 
the ineffable mystery of life, of life in all its complexity and 
all its unity and worth. And I have not myself cared to ask 
if philosophy suffers violence, or lavishes after all its best 
gifts on the young the strong and the virile . 



CHAPTER V 

ON TRUTH AND COPYING 1 

MR. JOACHIM in his interesting work on The Nature of 
Truth did, I think, well to discuss once more that view for 
which truth consists in copying reality. It is a view which, 
for myself, I have been accustomed to treat as exploded, 
but it is a natural way of taking things, and, I suppose, can 
never cease to be popular. And, since from time to time 
a discussion of this topic is likely to be useful, I will venture 
to offer some remarks on it here. 

The idea that truth consists in mere copying is suggested 
from many sides. A man through language and ideas has 
to convey fact to other men, and how can he do this unless 
his ideas copy fact so far as the purpose requires ? And, in 
dealing practically with the present or the future situation, 
unless I have mirrored in my mind the main features of that 
situation, how can I hope to succeed ? And in recalling the 
past we are bound above all things not to alter it, and how 
can we avoid this unless in some way, however indirect, we 
produce a copy ? Finally truth implies agreement amongst 
the ideas of separate individuals. And, since this agreement 
is not made by one or another individual, and so not by all 
of them, it therefore seems due to all of them following one 
original fact. But unless they mentally repeat this fact, how, 
it will be asked, can they follow it ? 

The above view is natural, but, even as it stands, seems 
hardly consistent with itself, for how the past or future can be 
copied is at least not evident. And it is soon in trouble, as is 

1 This chapter appeared in Mind for April 1 907. On the whole subject 
of it, cf. Chap. XI. 



io8 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

well known, with regard to the sensible properties of things. 
But, not to dwell on this, the whole theory goes to wreck in 
principle and at once on a fatal objection. Truth has to copy 
facts, but on the other side the facts to be copied show already 
in their nature the work of truth-making. The merely 
given facts are, in other words, the imaginary creatures of 
false theory. They are manufactured by a mind which 
abstracts one aspect of the concrete known whole, and sets 
this abstracted aspect out by itself as a real thing. If, on 
the other hand, we exaggerate when we maintain that all 
facts are inferences, yet undeniably much of given fact is 
inferential. And if we cannot demonstrate that every 
possible piece of fact is modified by apperception, the out 
standing residue may at least perhaps be called insignificant. 1 
Or (to put it from the other side) if there really is any datum, 
outward or inward, which, if you remove the work of the 
mind, would in its nature remain the same, yet there seems 
no way of our getting certainly to know of this. And, if 
truth is to copy fact, then truth at least seems to be in fact 
unattainable. 

If the above objection cannot be met (and I do not know 
how it can be met) the theory in principle is ruined. In the 
end truth is not copying ; but it is possible, while admitting 
this, to attempt to save the theory in a modified form. 
We may draw a distinction between perceptional and reflec 
tive thinking. As to what is perceived we may allow that 
we cannot argue that this is copied, but in any case, we may 
go on to urge, our ideas must copy our perceptions. And 
thus, after all, our secondary and reflective truth must seek 
to mirror reality. But the position taken here, though 
founded on a distinction, which in itself is important, for 
the purpose in hand seems wholly ineffectual. And, apart 
from such difficulties as might once more be raised as to 

1 I am not assuming here that we have no feelings so elementary as to 
be unmodified by apperception. But any assumption on the other side 
seems hazardous and could at any rate not extend far. Cf. p. 204. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 109 

given facts which are past and future, we have only to apply 
this view in order to find it break down in our hands. 

Disjunctive, negative, and hypothetical judgements cannot 
be taken as all false, and yet cannot fairly be made to conform 
to our one type of truth. And in general the moment we 
leave perceived facts and seek explanation which after all 
is implied in the desire for truth we find that we are 
moving away from the given. Universal and abstract truths 
are not given facts, nor do they merely reproduce the given, 
nor are they even confined to the limits of actual perception. 
And in the end, when we come to general truth about the 
Universe, it seems impossible to regard this as transcribed 
from the given Universe. Our truths in short can all of 
them in some sense be verified in fact, but, if you ask if they 
all are copied from fact, the answer must be different. And 
we are driven to admit that, at least when we pass from 
individual truths, our truth no longer represents fact but 
merely holds or is valid . And, asking what these 
phrases mean, we are forced to perceive that both truth and 
reality go beyond the perceived facts. The given facts in 
other words are not the whole of reality, while truth cannot 
be understood except in reference to this whole. 1 

We saw in the first place that given facts are even them 
selves not merely given, but already even in themselves 
contain truth. And secondly we have seen that, even if the 
perceived facts were given, truth cannot merely transcribe 
them. And, since truth goes beyond the given, it is impos 
sible to understand how truth can copy reality. For, before 
the reality has been reached, there is no original to copy, 
and, when the reality has been attained, that attainment 
already is truth, and you cannot gain truth by transcribing it. 

I will now break off the consideration of that view for 
which truth consists in copying fact, and will endeavour 

1 This is the main conclusion which was urged in my Principles of Logic. 
It did not occur to me that I should be taken there or anywhere else to 
be advocating the copy-theory of truth. 



no ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

briefly to indicate a better way of resolving the problem. 
But I must begin by pointing out the main error which, if 
left unremoved, makes the problem insoluble. This error 
consists in the division of truth from knowledge and of 
knowledge from reality. The moment that truth, knowledge, 
and reality are taken as separate, there is no way in which 
consistently they can come or be forced together. And 
since on the other hand truth implies that they are some 
how united, we have forthwith on our hands a contradic 
tion in principle. And according to the side from which the 
subject is approached, this contradiction works itself out into 
a fatal dilemma. 

This defect in principle has been illustrated by the view 
we have been examining, and it may repay us to notice in 
a different case the result of the self-same error. An attempt 
is sometimes made to escape from difficulty by insisting that 
truth is merely what holds , or is what merely * serves 
or merely works . But since these phrases are relative 
and, I presume, relative to something which is known, we 
have at once a division of truth from knowledge. On the 
one side is known reality, and on the other side is mere triith, 
and in short we have repeated the error of that view which 
took truth as a copy. And the fatal result of our proceeding 
soon becomes manifest. 1 Truth is merely to be that which 
subserves something else, and I am to know that this is so, 
and that this is so is true. But such a truth about truth 
seems itself to go beyond truth, and our theory is dissolved 
in self-contradiction. 

Let us consider this more in detail. We are, it seems, to 
take an end, such say as the abstraction of practical success 
or of felt pleasure, and we are to understand truth as a 
means, an external means, to this end. And what, we may 
hear, can be more plain and intelligible than this ? It is, 
I agree, almost as clear as the former view for which truth 

1 Cf. the note at the end of the article. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING in 

merely copied things, and perhaps this suggestion may be 
an omen. But first let us ask as to our end, is this known or 
unknown ? If it is unknown, how do we know that it is 
an end served by means ? And, if it is known, then what 
are we going to say of Ms knowledge ? Is it true ? Can we 
discuss it ? Have we got a truth about our end, and, if so, 
does about mean no more than merely subserving ? I 
do not myself know how these particular questions should 
be answered, but in general I cannot see how to defend truth 
which is external to knowledge or knowledge which is external 
to reality, and with this I must pass to another difficulty 
which attaches to the present view. Truth has been taken 
as being merely the means to an end, and we naturally under 
stand this to say that truth is really the means. But here at 
once arises a well-known puzzle. The end, we all agree, in 
a sense dictates the means, but on the other hand the end, 
we are accustomed to think, must choose those means 
which are really possible. We are hence, given the end, in the 
habit of discussing the means. We have to consider, in short, 
about suggested means whether they are means really and 
in truth. But, with this, we seem to have knowledge and 
truth and reality, certainly all in relation with the one real 
end, but on the other side all external to it and apparently 
more or less independent of it. We started in other words 
by saying Truth is nothing beyond that which subserves , 
and we have ended in explaining that Truth is that which 
in fact and in truth subserves . And when in a given case 
a question is raised as to this fact and truth, it is answered 
apparently by appealing to something other than the end. 
Any such appeal obviously is inadmissible ; but, when we 
reject it, we seem now to have excluded all truth about our 
means, just as before we seemed to have no knowledge nor 
any truth about our end. 1 

1 One is, I presume, naturally led to avoid this difficulty by maintaining 
that our knowledge in the end is intuitive. We have, that is to say, an 
experience in which reality, truth, and knowledge are one. But, with this, 



H2 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

And a prescribed remedy, if I rightly understand, is to 
throw overboard all preconceived ideas as to truth and 
reality. Truth is merely the ideas which are felt in a certain 
way, and are felt to dominate in a mind or in a set of minds, 
and any further question as to their truth is senseless. 1 You 
may indeed ask psychologically, if you please, how they have 
come to dominate, but, however they have come to dominate, 
their truth is the same. If you and I disagree we both so 
far have truth, and if you argue with me and persuade me, 
that is one way of agreement But, if you prefer to knock 
me on the head, that, so far as truth goes, is the same thing, 
except that now there is truth not in two heads but one. 
And as to there being any other truth about all this state of 
things, or in short any truth at all beyond mere prevalence, 
the whole notion is ridiculous. And, if you deny this, you 
do but confirm it, since your denial (though of course true) 
must also be false, since it is true only because in fact it has 
prevailed. And if you want further proof, you can perhaps 
demonstrate all this by a downward deduction. For either 
this or the copy-theory must be the truth about truth, 
and as the copy-theory will not work, this by inevitable 
consequence remains as true. But there is no one, I think, 
who is ready apart from some reserve to accept wholly the 
above result. 

It would be easy, passing on, to point out how the same 
main error, appearing in other forms, works itself out from 
other sides into conflicting dilemmas. But the limits of this 
chapter compel me to proceed. The division of reality from 
knowledge and of knowledge from truth must in any form 

there is an end at once and in principle of the view that truth is an external 
means to something else. And on our new ground the problem of Error, 
the question how we can hold for true what is false, obviously threatens to 
become pressing. 

1 For some further discussion on this point the reader is referred to 
Chap. XI. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 113 

be abandoned. And the only way of exit from the maze is 
to accept the remaining alternative. Our one hope lies in 
taking courage to embrace the result that reality is not 
outside truth. The identity of truth knowledge and reality, 
whatever difficulty that may bring, must be taken as neces 
sary and fundamental. Or at least we have been driven to 
choose between this and nothing. 

Any such conclusion, I know, will on many sides be 
rejected as monstrous. The last thing to which truth pre 
tends, I shall hear, is actually to be, or even bodily to possess, 
the real. But though this question, I know, might well be 
argued at length, the issue in my judgement can be raised 
and can be settled briefly. Truth, it is contended, is not to 
be the same as reality. Well, if so, I presume that there is a 
difference between them. And this difference, I understand, 
is not to be contained in the truth. But, if this is so, then 
clearly to my mind the truth must so far be defective. How, 
I ask, is the truth about reality to be less or more than reality 
without so far ceasing to be the truth ? The only answer, 
so far as I see, is this, that reality has something which is 
not a possible content of truth. But here arises forthwith 
the dilemma which ruined us before. If such an outstanding 
element is known, then so far we have knowledge and truth, 
while, if it is not known, then I do not know of it, and to 
me it is nothing. On the one hand to divide truth from 
knowledge seems impossible, and on the other hand to go 
beyond knowledge seems meaningless. 

And, if we are to advance, we must accept once for all 
the identification of truth with reality. I do not say that we 
are to conclude that there is to be in no sense any difference 
between them. But we must, without raising doubts and 
without looking backwards, follow the guidance of our new 
principle. We must, that is, accept the claim of truth not 
to be judged from the outside. We must unhesitatingly 
assert that truth, if it were satisfied itself, and if for itself it 

1574 I 



ii4 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

were perfect, would be itself in the fullest sense the entire 
and absolute Universe And agreeing to the uttermost with 
this claim made by truth, we must attempt, truth and our 
selves together, to judge truth from its own standard. 

I will endeavour first to point out briefly in what this 
standard consists. The end of truth is to be and to possess 
reality in an ideal form. This means first that truth must 
include without residue the entirety of what is in any sense 
given, and it means next that truth is bound to include this 
intelligibly. Truth is not satisfied until we have all the facts, 
and until we understand perfectly what we have. And we 
do not understand perfectly the given material until we have 
it all together harmoniously, in such a way, that is, that we 
are not impelled to strive for another and a better way of 
holding it together. Truth is not satisfied, in other words, 
until it is all-containing and one. We are not obliged here, 
I think, to inquire further how these aspects of the idea of 
system are related, and whether, and in what sense, they 
have their root in a single principle. It is sufficient here to 
insist that both aspects l are essential to truth, and that any 
theory which ends in dividing them is certainly false. 

But, when we judge truth by its own standard, truth 
evidently fails. And it fails in two ways, the connexion 
between which I will not here discuss. 2 (i) In the first place 
its contents cannot be made intelligible throughout and en 
tirely. A doubt may indeed be raised whether even in any 
part they are able wholly to satisfy, but this again is a ques 
tion on which here it is unnecessary to enter. For in any 
case obviously a large mass of the facts remains in the end 
inexplicable. You have perpetually to repeat that things 
are so, though you do not fully understand how or why, and 

1 We may use a variety of phrases here. We may speak, for instance, of 
homogeneity and specification, or again of integration and differentiation. 
The main point is this, that truth must leave nothing outside, and, with 
regard to what it contains, must not have to ask for further explanation 
as to how one part stands to another part. 

* The reader is referred on this and other points to later chapters. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 115 

when on the other hand you cannot perceive that no how or 
why is wanted. You are left in short with brute conjunctions 
where you seek for connexions, and where this need for 
connexions seems part of your nature. 1 (ii) And, failing 
thus, truth fails again to include all the given facts, and 
any such complete inclusion seems even to be in principle 
unattainable, (a) On the one hand the moment s felt 
immediacy remains for ever outstanding, and, if we feel this 
nowhere else, we realize at each moment the difference 
between the knower and his truth, (b) And on the other 
hand the facts before us in space and time remain always 
incomplete. How is it possible for truth to embrace the 
whole sensible past and future ? Truth might understand 
them (do you say ?) and so include them ideally. Well but, 
if truth could do as much as this, which I myself think not 
possible, truth after all would not include these facts bodily. 
The ideal fact after all and the sensible fact will still differ, 
and this difference left outside condemns truth even as ideal. 
And in short we are entangled once more in our old dilemma. 
We have an element given which in no way we can get inside 
the truth, while on the other side, if we leave it out, truth 
becomes defective. For there seems really no sense in 
endeavouring to maintain that what remains outside is 
irrelevant. 

With this at first sight we have ended in bankruptcy, but 
perhaps we may find that the case is otherwise and that our 
failure has carried us to success. For we were looking for 
the connexion between truth and reality, and we discovered 
first that no external connexion is possible. We then 
resolved to take truth as being the same with reality, and 
we found that, taken so, truth came short of its end. But 
in this very point of failure, after all, lies the way to success. 
Truth came short because, and so far as, it could not become 

1 You want in other words to answer the question What by and from 
the object itself, and not by and from something else. 

I 2 



n6 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

that which it desired to be and made sure that it was. Truth 
claimed identity with an individual and all-inclusive whole. 
But such a whole, when we examine it, we find itself to be 
the Universe and all reality. And when we had to see how 
truth fails, as truth, in attaining its own end, we were being 
shown the very features of difference between truth and 
reality. And in passing over into reality and in thus ceasing 
to be mere truth, truth does not pass beyond its own end 
nor does it fail to realize itself. Hence, being the same as 
reality, and at the same time different from reality, truth 
is thus able itself to apprehend its identity and difference. 
But, if this is so, we seem to have reached the solution of 
our problem. 1 

Truth is the whole Universe realizing itself in one aspect. 
This way of realization is one-sided, and it is a way not in 
the end satisfying even its own demands but felt itself to be 
incomplete. On the other hand the completion of truth 
itself is seen to lead to an all-inclusive reality, which reality 
is not outside truth. For it is the whole Universe which, 
immanent throughout, realizes and seeks itself in truth. 
This is the end to which truth leads and points and without 
which it is not satisfied. And those aspects in which truth 
for itself is defective, are precisely those which make the 

1 On the whole question see my Appearance. From this basis we can 
deal with the difficulty as to truth s being able consistently to pronounce 
itself imperfect. The dilemma that arises here was noticed by me (p. 513) 
and solved by a distinction (pp. 544-7). On this a sceptical critic (in 
Mind, No. n, p. 336), seizing his opportunity, urged against me this 
dilemma which I had noticed, forgetting to mention that I had noticed it, 
and omitting the fact that, having noticed it, I had offered a solution. 
This opportunity for criticism I confess that I had not observed, but in 
the second edition of my book, desiring always, so far as I can, to be of 
use to all the world, I called attention to this opening, more or less by 
way, if I may say so, of invitation (p. 620). And this standing invitation, 
I was going to add, has been accepted by Captain Knox, in Mind, 
No. 54, p. 212. But in view of this writer s extensive ignorance of the 
work which he came forward to criticize (see Mind, No. 55), I can hardly 
suppose that such an assertion would be justified. Still, if I cannot credit 
myself here with a successful invitation, I think that at least I may lay 
claim to a true prophecy. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 117 

difference between truth and reality. Here, I would urge, 
is the one road of exit from disastrous circles and from inter 
minable dilemmas. For on the one side we have a difference 
between truth and reality, while on the other side this 
difference only carries out truth. It consists in no more 
than that which truth seeks itself internally to be and to 
possess. 

Truth, we thus can say, at once is and is not reality, and 
we have found that the difference is not external to truth. 
For truth would be satisfied in its own self-sought completion, 
and that completion would be reality. And if you ask how 
truth after all stands to reality, and whether after all truth is 
not a copy, the answer is obvious. Apart from its aspect of 
truth the reality would not be the reality, and there surely is 
no meaning in a copy which makes its original. In truth and 
in other aspects of the Universe we find one-sidedness and 
defect, and we may go on to see that everywhere the remedy 
for defect lies in the inclusion of other aspects more or less 
left out. But as for comparing the Universe, as it is apart 
from one aspect, with the Universe as complete, such a 
comparison is out of our power. And it is even, when we 
reflect, ridiculous to seek to discover by thinking what the 
Universe would be like without thought. You cannot take 
reality to pieces and then see how once more it can be com 
bined to make reality. And thus, if we are asked for the 
relation of truth to reality, we must reply that in the end 
there is no relation, since in the end there are no separate 
terms. All that we can say is that, in order for truth 
complete itself into reality, such and such defects in truth 
itself would have to be rectified. 

That there are difficulties in the way of this solution I 
readily admit, 1 but difficulties and impossibilities, I urge, are 

1 On this whole matter see my Appearance. One difficulty, on which 
stress has been rightly laid, is that we have no direct experience of any 
total experience which comprises in itself finite centres (cf. Chap. XV). I do 
not however myself see that this is more than a difficulty. 



n8 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

not the same thing. And any other exit from our maze is, 
I submit, closed impassably. On the one hand we must 
not use words that have no positive sense, and, with this, all 
reality that falls outside experience and knowledge is, to 
my mind, excluded. On the other hand we cannot rest in 
that which, when we try to think it, conflicts with itself 
internally, and is dissolved in dilemmas. But, in order to 
know that the Universe is a whole with such and such a general 
nature, it is not necessary to perceive and to understand 
how such a Universe is possible, and how its various aspects 
are held apart and together. We desire to know this, I agree, 
but I fail myself to see how we can, and I think that with 
less than this we can gain positive knowledge enough to 

ve us from mere scepticism. 1 

If we now return to that view for which truth is a mere 
copy of things, we have seen that in the end no such doctrine 
is admissible. But from a lower point of view it may be 
convenient to speak of truth as corresponding with .reality 
and as even reproducing facts. In the first place the 
individual in truth-seeking must subject himself. He must 
(I cannot attempt to explain this here) suppress ideas, 
wishes and fancies, and anything else in his nature which is 
irrelevant to and interferes with the process of truth-seeking. 
And hence in a sense the individuals can have something 
in common, correspondence to which is essential for truth. 
Secondly, in truth-seeking the individual (once again I 

1 By scepticism I of course do not mean any positive view as to know 
ledge in general, and still less any kind of conclusion supported by proof. 
I mean by it denial or doubt with regard to the existence de facto for me 
of that which satisfies intellectually. This denial or doubt rests certainly 
on a positive basis, but, so long as the basis is not made explicit and the 
denial remains particular, the basis itself is not denied, and the position 
remains consistent. On the other hand the scepticism which itself poses 
as a doctrine, which deals in general truth, and in a word claims to be 
de jure, to my mind does not understand itself. No consistent scepticism 
can, in my opinion, offer a reasoned proof of itself, nor can a consistent 
scepticism maintain any general positive doctrine, or indeed any universal 
thesis of any kind whatever. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 119 

cannot try to explain this) must follow the object. Our 
understanding has to co-operate in the ideal development 
of reality, and it has not, like will, to turn ideas into existences. 
And thus following the object the ideas of the individual in 
a sense must conform to it. 1 In the third place reflection, 
as we have seen, must take up sensible qualities as given 
matter, and it must accept also more or less brute conjunc 
tions of fact. Intelligence of itself does not recreate the 
given past nor does it procreate entirely the given present 
or future. And it may be said to wait on and to follow 
a course of events which it is powerless to make. And, 
finally, to some extent language and truth must seek even 
to copy perceived facts, and, as we saw, to convey them 
faithfully, though of course in a partial manner. In the 

1 So far as concerns the suppression of the subjective , as it is some 
times called, that of course belongs alike to everything serious in life. 
In this general respect there is no difference between the pursuits of truth 
beauty and moral goodness. When, in order to create a work of art, a man 
has to keep down (so far as is necessary) what is merely particular to 
himself, that does not mean either that the work of art makes itself without 
him, or that it is not different because he in particular has made it. So also 
in the process of the will for good. When that is called objective , the 
meaning is not that the individual s will makes no difference. The meaning 
is that whatever in him is irrelevant to the issue, is suppressed as merely 
subjective . So again in truth- seeking. The ideal development of the 
object itself, which I follow, does not make itself. In the first place apart 
from individual minds there is no object anywhere. In the second place, 
so far as I in particular am concerned, the process of truth demands my 
personal self-realization. If you took that away, the objective process 
would not exist in me at all, and, more than that, its nature would to some 
extent be modified by my personal failure. On the other side the objective 
development cannot possibly take up into itself then and there everything 
that is at the moment psychically present in myself when I seek truth. It 
calls therefore for the suppression, so far as is required, of whatever in me 
falls outside of and is irrelevant to this special development. 

Any reader who wishes not to criticize but to understand, must try to 
bear in mind two things, (i) The suppression of the subjective takes 
place in regard to truth beauty and goodness alike, and not more in regard 
to one than the others, (ii) The merely subjective does not mean what is 
personal. It means that which for the special purpose in hand is irrelevant 
and in this sense is merely personal (see Appearance, p. 237). On the other 
hand the reader who wishes simply to criticize will, I think, find no difficulty 
so long as the above points are ignored. 



120 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

above senses truth may be spoken of as corresponding to 
facts, and it is right and proper as against one-sided theories 
to insist on this correspondence. 1 But, as we have seen, 
such a way of speaking is not permissible in the end. 

I will ask, in conclusion, how what we may call the copy- 
theory of truth is affected by the connexion between thought 
and volition. That in some sense thought depends on desire 
and will is even obvious, and it is a doctrine in which most 
of us perhaps have, we may say, been brought up. But it 
is a doctrine on the other hand which can be interpreted in 
various ways. If in the first place truth is made wholly to 
depend in its essence on the individual s desire, then in this 
case, naturally, since truth itself goes, the copy-theory of 
truth goes also, together with every other sane theory of 
truth. But otherwise, if you simply take truth to be copying, 
the desire for truth will be a desire for copying, and by laying 
emphasis on the aspect of desire I do not see that you add 
anything. 

Further, if you adopt a one-sided intellectual view, and 
maintain that reality is an original system of thought which 
you try to rethink, or a world of ideal essences whose presence 
you desire it seems useless in such a case to speak about 
copying, since copying is excluded. There may be an 
original here, but, whatever else you are doing, you do not 
copy that original, since obviously you have no original 
before you to copy. The realization in detail of a general 
end is clearly in itself not repetition, and on the other side, 
as clearly, repetition and reproduction cannot all be called 
copying. Hence to ask here why we should desire to copy, 
is obviously irrelevant. The rational question to ask is 

1 This I myself did in Mind, N.S., No. 51. I did not refer here to the 
fact that I had written elsewhere on the nature of truth, but I took care 
to warn the reader (p. 311, now p. 75 of the present volume) that I could 
not in that article attempt to point out the meaning of truth and falsehood. 
Notwithstanding this my article has literally been taken as a statement of 
my view as to the ultimate nature of truth. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 121 

about our desire for reproduction and repetition or for the 
presence in or to our minds of a self-existent reality. 

But, if we adopt a more concrete view, all such questions 
become idle. On such a view my desire and my will to have 
truth is the will and the desire of the world to become truth 
in me. Truth is a mode of the self-realization of myself and 
of the Universe in one. And if you ask why the full reality 
cares to spill itself into gratuitous vessels, or whence and why 
to me comes this mania for turning myself into a superfluous 
receptacle or instance the answer is ready. Such inquiries 
are based on and betray a most stupendous misconception. 
The Universe is nowhere apart from the lives of the indi 
viduals, and, whether as truth or otherwise, the Universe 
realizes itself not at all except through their differences. On 
the other side the individuals, if they are to realize themselves 
personally, must specialize this common life of which truth is 
one aspect. And to suppose that the individuals can seek their 
end and their reality somehow apart (say in the abstraction 
of mere practice or of private pleasure) is in the end really 
meaningless. Thus truth, the same in all, is from the other 
side not wholly the same, since difference to it is vital and 
it gains difference in each. The personal diversity of the 
individuals is hence not superfluous but essential. 1 For 
viewed from one side this diversity brings with it fresh 
quality, and from the other side, even so far as truth is com 
mon to the individuals, it must be taken none the less as 
modified in each case by its fresh context. But I must 
hasten here to add that no such general doctrine can be 
verified in detail. 

The process of knowledge is, on any view like this, not 
something apart and by itself. It is one aspect of the life 
of the undivided Universe, outside of which life there is no 
truth or reality. And to speak here of copying as in a mirror, 

1 See further in Chap. XI. 



122 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

we may once more repeat, is absurd. If you like to add that 
the absurdity is heightened when we remember that life in 
general, and knowledge in particular, imply will and desire, 
to this naturally I make no objection. But for myself I have 
always been contented to know that the whole suggestion of 
copying is here ridiculously irrelevant. Still, as according 
to some critics my destiny is to illustrate what they call 
intellectualism , this chapter, if I could understand it, is 
doubtless a blind flutter against the limits of my cage. 

Note to page no. Compare here Mind, N.S., No. 51, p. 323 , l 
and again Hoffding, Problems of Philosophy, pp. 79 foil. (Eng. 
trans.), a passage the force of which, it seems to me, Prof. James 
fails to appreciate. I may perhaps use this opportunity to say 
something with regard to points really or apparently at issue 
between Prof. James and myself. I cannot undertake to criticize 
Prof. James s ultimate view as to truth knowledge and reality, 
because that is accessible nowhere, I believe, except in more or 
less occasional and fragmentary articles, and I do not think that 
justice can be done to it until it is put out in a more complete 
and systematic form. But it has been a relief to me to see that, 
as I understand him, Prof. James rejects the idea that the 
essence of truth consists in nothing but its mere practical results. 2 
In accepting the standard of clearness and inclusiveness and self- 
consistency (Mind, N.S., No. 52), Prof. James apparently adopts 
the view in which I at least was brought up, a view for which 
of course the notion of any external standard of truth was an 
exploded fallacy. This explanation on the part of Prof. James 
seems to me to have removed wholly one supposed point of 
disagreement. 

Next as to working , I of course agree that in proportion 
as a truth is idle it is less true, and I again agree that in the 
end no truth can be wholly idle. A truth that makes no difference 
to truth is to my mind an impossibility. But I cannot agree 
that, wherever we fail to see this further difference, it is non 
existent, and the alleged truth therefore not true at all. It is 
one thing to say that, so far as we perceive, such or such a truth 

1 Chap. IV, pp. 92 foil., of the present volume. 

* But on this and other points see the Appendices to this chapter. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 123 

has no importance, and to act accordingly, and it is surely 
another thing to insist that such a truth has no truth whatever. 
And I seem in passing to remember that Hegel, rightly or wrongly, 
incurred censure for an attitude more or less of this kind towards 
some facts or truths of natural science. Next I agree that in the 
end all truth has practical and again aesthetic consequences. 
I believe in a word in the implication of all aspects of reality with 
one another. But once more I cannot believe that we can see this 
implication in detail, so as everywhere to use the consequence 
(whatever consequence it is) as a criterion. And to my mind it 
would be senseless to allege that the several aspects of the whole 
are each nothing but their consequences. Further I have no 
objection to identifying reality with goodness or satisfaction, so 
long as it is clear that this does not mean mere practical or any 
other one-sided satisfaction. Again I agree that any idea which in 
any way works , has in some sense truth. Only to my mind it 
has not on this account ultimate truth. It need not be a way 
of expression which gives a theoretical satisfaction in which we 
can rest. In the sciences we use working ideas and convenient 
mythology, and, while not admitting that these have ultimate 
truth, I should think it absurd to deny to them truth altogether. 
And surely so it may be again with morality and religion. The 
ideas that are really here required, most certainly, I should say, 
must be true. But to conclude from this that they have ultimate 
truth for metaphysics is to my mind irrational. And if you ask 
what I am to say then when these truths are contradicted by meta 
physics, I reply that in my opinion they are not so contradicted, 
though certainly in my opinion metaphysics must understand 
them otherwise. If however any one believes in this contradic 
tion, he should in my judgement on no account sacrifice or 
subordinate his practical truths, though as certainly he should 
not offer them as the sole and final truth about the Universe. 
But nothing, I fear, that I can say is likely to shake the pernicious 
prejudice that what is wanted for working purposes is the last 
theoretical truth about things (see my Appearance, p. 451 and 
elsewhere). This prejudice tends everywhere to result in one-sided 
attempts at consistency. In our moral practice, for instance, 
there evidently in fact is involved some element of uncertainty 
as to the issue. Hence on this point the Christian religion, cling 
ing to the concrete whole, on one side maintains this element of 



124 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP. 

moral struggle, but on the other side completes it (inconsistently 
no doubt) by an assurance of final victory. And here from 
both sides comes a protest, and a one-sided cry for clearness and 
consequence. Unless really, and as an ultimate fact, there is an 
uncertain future, morality, we hear, is destroyed. God therefore, 
to save morality, must be made sufficiently ignorant and suffi 
ciently weak for the future really to be doubtful. And apparently 
it is not seen that, with this, there is an end logically of all that 
is meant (and much is meant) by the peace of God . Again, on 
the same principle but from the other side, some fanatic from 
time to time insists on the utter supremacy of Good. And hence 
he concludes in the older style that morality is irrelevant and 
worthless, or to-day in a newer mode that the individual, as such, 
is perfect, and that there is no toothache but ignorance. But 
for practical purposes surely there is something higher than 
theoretical consistency, even if such consistency in practice were 
actually attainable. Hence, unless ultimate theoretical truth 
itself may be inconsistent, it is better for practice surely not to 
identify our working ideas with ultimate truth. For practice you 
want ideas which keep hold of all sides of the main substance, and 
to sacrifice any part of that substance to theoretical consistency 
is practical error. But on the other hand the reader must be 
warned that to agree with us here is to incur the peril, whatever 
that is, of being called an Intellectualist . 

To come now to that which Prof. James would call humanism , 
I am reminded forthwith that an accusation of mere humanism 
was one of the charges long ago brought against German Idealism. 
And since (if I may speak for myself) I do not believe in any 
reality outside of and apart from the totality of finite mind, 1 and 
since there is certainly nothing original in my disbeliefs or beliefs, 
once more here I fail to perceive the chasm which separates the 
new humanism from what went before. And I am again 
relieved to find that on the whole Prof. James himself takes this 
view, and regrets an attitude of hostile criticism on our side as 
due largely to mistake. Prof. James doubtless here does not 
remember that on our side nothing was said until we found our 
selves judged and sentenced. The philosophic world, ostensibly 

1 This statement (with others) is liable to be misunderstood, and perhaps 
as it stands, is one-sided. The reader is referred to the footnote on 
pp. 350-1, in which a question as to Nature is discussed. 



v ON TRUTH AND COPYING 125 

in Prof. James s behalf, was divided into sheep and goats, and 
the trumpet was blown, and Plato and Aristotle summoned from 
the dead to witness the triumph of the one philosopher and the 
confusion of the sophists. 1 But for my part I have no wish to 
recall such extravagances, if Prof. James will not forget that it 
was his fortune, however ill-merited, to inspire them. And if 
I can do anything to remove or to throw light on any issue between 
Prof. James and those who cannot follow him, it will be a pleasure 
to me to attempt this. 

(i) In the first place as to pragmatism , we want to hear 
definitely from Prof. James whether the practical side of our 
nature is to be made supreme, or whether there is anything else 
which has value and rights of its own. Even now I ask myself 
in what sense, or whether at all, mutilation is advocated. I still 
do not know if I am called on to enter into life halt and maimed, 
to say nothing of being blind of one eye. And a reassuring state 
ment in general terms is, I think, not sufficient. But if Prof. James 
would explain to us how in the end he understands the human 
Good, and how its elements are related to one another, this point 
perhaps would become clear. We might at last know whether we 
all should or should not call ourselves Pragmatists. (2) Next as 
to humanism , surely we should be informed, first, whether 
finite mind is to stand merely for some of the inhabitants of 
a single planet, or is to have a far wider meaning, and, if the 
latter, we should be told what that meaning is. This is not a new 
question (it might even be called an old and familiar one), and 
in some aspects the difference here between various views may be 
really enormous. It seems, to myself at least, imperative that 
such a point should not be left in darkness. And (3) in the process 
of Humanity (however Humanity is understood) we have to 
inquire how the individuals stand to the whole. Have both sides 
of the process equal reality, or, if this is not so, what is the 
alternative ? If the individuals are the final realities, what in the 
end are we to say of the together and of the whole process ? 
These are well-known problems, and they surely call for systematic 
treatment. (4) Then, to say nothing of questions about know 
ledge a subject with which Prof. James has in some degree 
dealt what in the end is the meaning of and the truth about 
Progress ? Endless progress as an ideal is itself hardly above 
1 The reference is to Mind for April 1902, N.S., No. 42. 



126 ON TRUTH AND COPYING CHAP, v 

criticism, but is there in the end any meaning in progress at all ? 
Is mere prevalence and survival to be the same as progress, and, if 
not that, then what else is progress to mean ? And is the temporal 
process of the Universe (which process is apparently the one 
reality) to be taken as a progress, and if so, on what grounds ? 
We have once more here an old problem which calls for solution. 
(5) Finally I need perhaps say nothing as to the difficulty with 
regard to a condition outside of finite minds, except to point 
out that any obscurity on this head must naturally affect the 
entire view. 

The above questions, and others, can hardly be answered 
satisfactorily unless they are dealt with all together and as 
connected parts of one inquiry. Prof. James s answer to them, 
when it comes, will not altogether, I imagine, meet all our diffi 
culties, but most assuredly it will be welcome. Even at Oxford 
we have not yet been so deafened by periodical manifestoes and 
by prophetic outcries as to be incapable of hearing. And there, 
as indeed everywhere else, Prof. James may count upon willing 
and respectful attention. 



APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 
ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 1 

LIKE other readers of Mind I have been occupying myself lately 
with Prof. James s lectures on Pragmatism, and with these I have 
been reading the defence of Pragmatism offered by Prof. Dewey 
in a late number of Mind (No. 63). Their account of the matter 
strikes me as in certain points calling for further explanation, and 
I am venturing to offer some remarks on this head. If Profs. James 
and Dewey do not yet know what Pragmatism means, there is 
no one, I imagine, who is likely to be in a better case. For this 
reason I have felt justified in confining my attention here to 
these acknowledged leaders, and in ignoring other Pragmatists. 
In what follows I am concerned solely with Profs. Dewey and 
James, and I will begin with the latter. 

I. While reading the lectures on Pragmatism, I, doubtless like 
others, am led to ask myself, Am I and have I been always 
myself a Pragmatist ? This question I still find myself unable to 
answer. 2 The meaning of practice and practical is to my mind 
with Prof. James most obscure and ambiguous. On the one side 
he insists on a doctrine acceptable perhaps only to the minority. 
On the other side he extends so widely the limits of his creed that 
few indeed would in the end be left outside the fold. I will 
remark first on the wide and next on the narrow sense given to 
Pragmatism. 

(i) One of the objections raised against Pragmatism has been 
its alleged degradation of truth. All value except of a borrowed 
kind has apparently been denied to theory. What it is which in 

1 This paper appeared first in Mind for April 1908. 

2 Cf. Mind, No. 62 (Chap. V of this volume). For the ambiguity of 
Pragmatism I would refer the reader to Mr. McTaggart s admirable review 
in Mind, No. 65. I saw this only after the whole of what follows had 
been written. 



128 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

the end has ultimate worth for the Pragmatist, has remained to 
myself a matter of mere inference and conjecture. But what has 
seemed certain is that theorizing has been condemned as worthless 
except as a means, while that which has value in itself has been 
left undetermined. Whether for instance the Pragmatist takes 
the world of art to belong to the region of the worthless-in-itself , 
I at least could not learn. This situation, surprising to myself, 
has on one understanding of Prof. James ceased, so far as he is 
concerned, to exist. For he takes the Good as a genus of which 
truth is one species. He denies or subordinates the distinction of 
theoretical and practical. Theory is one kind of practice, and so 
apparently is theoretical enjoyment (p. 217). And I suppose that 
fine art and the beautiful once more fall under this same head of 
practice . And I conjecture that Prof. James would also include 
under practical all human enjoyment. And, if this is so, who, 
except perhaps some narrow Hedonist, would wish to dissent ? 
Life in all its main aspects is allowed to be the end, and none of 
these aspects is excluded and degraded to the level of a mere 
external means. Theory, besides its use in altering the course of 
events, may be pursued independently within certain limits, 1 may 
be allowed to satisfy its proper want, and to use its own criterion. 
And the same thing again will hold good in the case of fine art. 
I indeed may wonder what purpose is served by torturing every 
thing that is good and valuable under the head of practice . But, 
if the substance of all for which I have fought is conceded, I should 
think it unreasonable to dispute about a word. 

In the ordinary sense of the word practice therefore, according 
to Prof. James, truth need not be directly concerned with practice. 
Truth indeed must not become transcendent. It must not turn 
itself to some other world out of relation with the world of our 
perceptions and actions. But, so long as truth maintains its 
connexion, however indirect, with the sphere of our doing and 
suffering, the Pragmatist is satisfied. Any idea that helps us to 
deal, whether practically or intellectually, with either the reality 
or its belongings . . . will hold true of that reality (p. 213). This 
denial of transcendence, this insistence that all ideas, and more 
especially such ideas as those of God or again the Absolute, are 

1 I have endeavoured to define these limits elsewhere. See Mind, N.S., 
No. 51 (pp. 86-91 of this volume). 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 129 

true and real just so far as they work, is to myself naturally most 
welcome. Most of us have, I think, now for some time accepted 
and tried to act on this principle. It hardly appears to me to be, 
at this time of day, revolutionary ; but still, if this is what 
Pragmatism means, so much the better for Pragmatism. 

And there is a further point on which Prof. James seems once 
more to endorse our ideas. I had been, I confess, led to think 
that, where the Pragmatist took successful practice as the test 
of truth, he meant this to hold of the individual agent. The idea 
that worked best in the furthering of my individual existence, 
I thought, was truth for me. I understood in short that good for 
the individual and true for the individual were much the same 
thing, and that further the individual could apply this criterion. 
And naturally I found that this led to difficulty. We speak, for 
instance, of a man s life being ruined by the useless discovery of 
some truth, say of his deceased wife s infidelity, and we hardly see 
our way to set down a truth of this kind as error. But the whole 
difficulty, we now learn from Prof. James, was manufactured by 
ourselves. It is a living witness to our blindness, our incompe 
tence and injustice, not to use terms still more abusive (p. 233). 
For Pragmatism, I now understand Prof. James to say, does not 
pretend to hold of the individual. The idea that in a man s case 
does not work, or that works to his ruin, may for all that be true. 
For the true is the expedient in the long run and on the whole 
(p. 222). And, this being understood, the whole difficulty so far 
disappears. 

It is succeeded, however, I would urge, by fresh troubles. For 
what is the long run and the whole , and how does the 
individual get to know about things like these, which seem really 
beyond him ? On this vital matter Prof. James, it seems to me, 
leaves us without much assistance. We may conjecture that the 
long run is the process that leads (if it really does lead) to the 
final victory of Good. We are reminded perhaps of that 

One far-off divine event, 

To which the whole creation moves. 

But I am very far from sure that we are reminded rightly. And 
what the whole is to mean seems, to my mind, beyond probable 
conjecture. Is it this or that set of beings inhabiting our planet, 
or is humanity but a small, a microscopical and an inconsiderable 

1574 v 



130 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

element among the beings that have value ? In speaking of that 
which he terms humanism Prof. James would have felt himself 
compelled, we might have supposed, to deal with such dangerous 
ambiguities and such distressing uncertainties. But another 
course unfortunately seemed to him more desirable. The result, 
however, so far as I see, is that the expedient in the long run 
and on the whole remains unknown and unknowable. And yet 
it is this apparently by which the individual has to regulate 
his life. 

And possibly Prof. James holds that the individual must walk 
here by faith (p. 296) . The individual does not know and he cannot 
see that truth and goodness now are one, or how they ever will 
become one. But he must do what seems to him to be best, and 
again accept what seems to him to be true, and he must trust and 
believe that truth and goodness in the end will not be divergent. 
But, with this, the relative independence for us of truth, beauty 
and practical goodness, seems fully justified, and, so far as the 
practice of the individual is concerned, Pragmatism seems in 
short admitted not to work. 

And with such a result I, in the main, naturally find myself in 
accord. To me, as to many others, it seems that in the end truth, 
fact and goodness are one, though I am forced to admit that we 
cannot perceive and verify this unity in detail, and that therefore 
in and for the individual a relative divergence must be recognized. 
Hence between Prof. James and myself the difference in the end 
would be practically trifling. But, on the other hand, theoretically, 
as soon as Prof. James attempts to deal with first principles, the 
case, I think, will be altered. For, as against our principle of 
immanent Reality, he seems to have adopted a transcendent Ideal. 
And that, I imagine the history of philosophy has tended to show, 
is a thing which, as an ultimate principle, will not work. 

(ii) If the above interpretation of Prof. James is correct, Prag 
matism is no militant creed. It is in harmony with views against 
which it is commonly understood to protest, and to imagine that 
it portends a new dawn of philosophy (p. 6) would be obviously 
ridiculous. And I hasten to add that I have not imagined that 
Prof. James would accept his doctrine as it is above interpreted. 
I think it at least possible that he takes the whole theoretical side 
of mind to be an instrument worthless in itself, used to gain 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 131 

a valuable end which he finds it convenient to leave in darkness. 
I am sure that the common antithesis of intellectual or theoretical 
and practical appears in his pages (e. g. pp. I86-8), 1 and that the 
former of these words is used derogatorily. The conclusion that, 
at least for the practice of the individual, Pragmatism is untrue, 
seems to me contrary to the whole tendency of Prof. James s 
teaching. And, if I rightly understand him, Pragmatism, far 
from being a view which tends to reconcile extremes, is committed 
to the denial of anything contrary to pluralism. It is committed 
to the assertion of the absolute mutability of the Universe and 
the absolute reality of individual disaster and evil. With regard 
to Prof. James s doctrine of human Freedom, here, as elsewhere, 
I find it impossible to decide what it means. 2 But the pragmatic 

1 In his Meaning of Truth (1909), pp. 206 ff., Prof. James not only seems 
to recognize the validity of the theoretic interest, but also to condemn in 
unmeasured terms the critics of Pragmatism for having failed to see that 
this recognition was taught from the first as the doctrine of Pragmatism. 
I submit that Prof. James here did these critics a serious injustice. 

What are the facts ? Is it true that from the first Pragmatism stated 
clearly that theory has an intrinsic value of its own, and that Instru- 
mentalism if you take that in the sense of making theory a mere means 
to practice is a false doctrine ? Is it true that from the first practical 
was not opposed to theoretical , and that, in making the test of truth 
practical, it was never said or meant that the appeal was to be to practice 
as distinct from theory ? Is it the case that all that in fact was insisted on 
was that the test is to be empirical ? Of course, if all this is so, the critics 
of Pragmatism have been greatly to blame. But I submit that any such 
account of the matter would be quite untenable. 

Not only was the fact otherwise, but, further, if it had not been otherwise, 
I suggest that Pragmatism could hardly have preached itself as a new 
gospel, have talked about a new dawn of philosophy and a turning-point in 
the history of philosophy (Pref. vii, viii). And I must doubt whether even 
now Prof. Dewey would accept the position apparently taken by Prof. James. 

The real fact, I presume, is this, that Prof. James and some of his 
followers (for we have not to do merely with Prof. James) believed them 
selves to have in Pragmatism a new and revolutionary doctrine, but, on the 
other hand, had never realized exactly what Pragmatism and practical 
were to mean. Then, under the pressure of criticism, being forced to 
discuss the sense of their battle-cry, that sense, in becoming more or less 
realized by them, became, I submit, seriously altered, though of course 
without their knowledge. And then the critics are abused for their failure 
to understand and accept a statement, supposed now, in the teeth of facts, 
to have been put clearly before them. But I have little doubt as to the 
judgement which will be passed on all this by the reader who is acquainted 
with what really has taken place. 

* I remarked on this point some years ago in Mind, No. 43, pp. 296-8. 

K 2 



132 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

doctrine of Free Will, as it appears in this volume, seems to 
myself to be repeating that which I, for instance, under Hegelian 
influence sought to urge, in my Ethical Studies, more than thirty 
years ago. And Prof. James s view of Freedom, whatever else it 
may be, must, I assume, be something which leaves him at 
liberty to denounce Hegel and his followers. 

The conclusion then which I would submit to the reader is that 
Prof. James s Pragmatism is essentially ambiguous, and that he 
throughout is unconsciously led to take advantage of its ambiguity. 
It can at discretion be preached as a new Gospel which is to bring 
light into the world, or recommended as that old teaching of 
common sense which few but fools have rejected. The reader 
may, I think, be helped to appreciate this attempt to make the 
most of both worlds, if I sketch briefly for him another and, as 
I think, a better working creed. 

I perhaps may here recall the fact that I have advocated else 
where certain views on first principles. But on the other hand 
I have seen, if I may say so, far too much of metaphysics to think 
of staking vital issues on the result of speculative inquiry. And 
for practical purposes I hold in reserve a belief, in common, 
I imagine, with an increasing number of persons, a belief, the 
advantages of which Pragmatism would, it seems, like to appro 
priate surreptitiously. According to this practical creed there is 
in the end no truth for us save that of working ideas. Whatever 
idea is wanted to satisfy a genuine human need is true, and truth 
in the end has no other meaning. Our sense of value, and in the 
end for every man his own sense of value, is ultimate and final. 
And, since there is no court of appeal, it is idle even to inquire if 
this sense is fallible. It is this which in the end decides as to 
human interests, and whatever ideas are needed to serve those 
interests are true, however much these ideas are in contradiction 
with one another or even with themselves. The one question in 
the end is whether the ideas work. But there are degrees of truth, 
because ideas may work better or worse, and because again the 
interests which ideas subserve are more or less valuable. The 
above is scepticism, if you please, but it is not the stupid scepti 
cism which offers itself as positive theoretical doctrine. It is the 
intelligent refusal to accept as final any theoretical criterion which 
actually so far exists. And there is here no mutilation of human 
nature, since every side of life, practical, aesthetic and intellectual, 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 133 

is allowed its full value. We are emancipated once and for all 
from the narrowness of all one-sided attempts at consistency. 1 

When a man, holding to this less one-sided Pragmatism, says 
that he for instance believes in God, not a God but a God through 
whom perfect goodness in spite of appearance is real how futile 
in the case of such a man are Prof. James s findings ! Prof. James 
will tell this man that he is a quietist, that he wants to give up 
and to lie back , and to avoid paying the just price of salvation 
through individual sacrifice and effort (pp. 276, 289, 292, 295). 
But the man will answer that, while he believes in the reality of 
perfect goodness, he believes also that nothing is more intensely 
real than individual action for good, and that he believes in these 
two things not one in spite of the other, but one even because of 
the other. And he will regret that Prof. James should be so 
wanting in experience as to be unable to perceive obvious facts, 
and should be in such bondage to the traditional worship of 
theoretical consistency. And as against such a position, which 
I do not suppose Prof. James will call novel, what has he to offer 
and to object in the name of Pragmatism ? He has offered at 
present nothing, so far as I see, beyond one-sided prejudices, and 
a blind appeal to theoretical consistency, and an uncritical faith 
in the ultimate validity of some undiscussed Law of Contradiction. 

But that Prof. James could accept the position I have sketched 
above to myself seems impossible. I do not suggest that the 
result is too sceptical for a Professor to endorse, but beyond this 
there are other obstacles which seem insurmountable. For, if 
the above is accepted, there is at once apparently an end of the 
new Gospel, with all its promises and all its boasts about a new 
dawn of philosophy, together with its anticipatory outbreak of 
dithyrambic ecstasy (p. 257). And something perhaps even worse 
than this would follow, For Prof. James would forfeit all right 
to emphasize as ultimate truth the absolute mutability and 
incoherence of the world, and the absolute value of this or that 
individual success or disaster. In short all those prejudices on 
which he rides to the attack on Absolutism would have to be 
forgone. These ideas could, none of them, claim more than 
a relative worth, and their opposites would also and at the same 
time possess truth. 

But if Prof. James cannot be content with so broad a 

1 Cf. Chap. IV. 



134 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

pragmatism , his alternative, I submit, is to develop his theory 
of first principles. Assuredly I am not alone in the desire that he 
would turn his back for a time on sporadic articles and on popular 
lectures, with their incoherence and half-heartedness and more 
or less plausible ambiguities, and would work in the way in which 
a man who seriously aims at a new philosophy is condemned to 
work, and with a result which I at least feel sure would repay his 
labour. And perhaps in the meantime he might remind his 
followers on this side of the Atlantic that, of course without 
prejudice to the future, it is not yet true that the crowing of the 
cock brings the sun above the horizon. 

II. I pass on now to consider the account of Pragmatism given 
by Prof. Dewey in Mind, No. 63, and here, as with Prof. James, 
I find much which to myself seems ambiguous. I am again left 
uncertain whether in the end I also am a Pragmatist, or where and 
how on the other hand I fail to deserve that title. But I have to 
begin by putting on one side what to my mind are sheer irrele- 
vancies. I myself long ago (1883) pointed out that theory takes 
its origin from practical collision, and again for myself theory 
implies a theoretical want and its satisfaction. And it is obvious 
that, if Pragmatism means no more than this, I, as I presume 
Prof. Dewey is aware, have been for many years a Pragmatist, 
and, however well he preaches, he is preaching here to one long 
ago converted. 

Certainly I must suppose therefore that for Prof. Dewey more 
than this is wanted for Pragmatism, and I must go on to inquire 
how much more is wanted. In the first place Prof. Dewey, I 
understand, insists that theory is only an instrument. 1 Now we 
all know that there are instruments and activities which have no 
value but a borrowed one. They may be necessary,, but still in 
themselves they may be valueless or even worse. Hence we 
naturally ask if this is to be the case with theory, and again with 
fine art. And, if this is to be the case with one or both, we naturally 
want to be informed as to the ultimate source of the value which 
is transferred to them. But, so far as I see, Prof. Dewey leaves 
us here without any answer. And I do not myself understand 
how any thinking person is justified in accepting a doctrine left 
in this ambiguous state. In philosophy surely one has no right 
1 On Instrumentalism see the references in the Index. 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 135 

to teach that something is only a means, unless one is prepared 
to state the end to which it conduces and by which it is measured. 1 
And I must even be allowed to set this down as to my mind 
elementary. 

Passing on then unsatisfied from this point let us ask what is 
meant by the practical nature of thinking and truth. Let me say 
here at once that I have failed, I am sure, to understand what 
practical means for Prof. Dewey. 2 But an idea, it appears, is true 
only so far as it issues in behaviour. Now, as applied to the early 

1 Prof. Dewey (p. 328) certainly denies that the end is the abstraction 
of mere practice , but such a denial is obviously no positive answer. And 
when he adds that he cannot believe that any empiricist has ever enter 
tained such a thoroughly intellectualistic construction , I confess that 
he amazes me. The empiricist in my own experience is precisely the 
man who more than others takes mere abstractions for realities. In any 
case if the Pragmatist cannot even attempt to state his own doctrine of 
ultimate value, that, it seems to me, is something like an admission of 
bankruptcy. 

8 By practical , he says, I mean only regulated change in experienced 
values (p. 328). But, if Prof. Dewey means no more than this, his whole 
article is surely one long ignoratio elenchi. How does such a definition 
exclude the existence of pure theoretical activity and practice ? And, if 
it does not, what becomes of Prof. Dewey s polemic ? Pragmatism on this 
understanding is in agreement with even an extreme one-sided intellec- 
tualism, so long as that asserts an intellectual need and activity. The 
reason, I venture to think, why Prof. Dewey fails to realize this, is that 
he uses practical in a further sense and passes unconsciously from one 
sense to another. In this further sense there is the usual opposition 
between practice and mere theory, and it is, I presume, with this sense 
in his mind that Prof. Dewey asserts (p. 335) that the truth of a mechani 
cal idea is inseparable from the construction of a working model. In 
short, Prof. Dewey seems to define practice in one sense and then to slide, 
wherever it is convenient, into another sense. Either this, or he fails 
wholly to realize the nature of the position which he believes himself to be 
attacking. 

Another point which I may notice is the connexion, according to Prof. 
Dewey, between having an idea and holding it for true. There are state 
ments as to assumption (p. 328) and hypothetic (p. 341) which I probably 
have failed to understand. They look to myself, however, as if Prof. Dewey 
was assuming the reality of floating ideas when in controversy with 
persons some of whom at least regard these ideas as a delusion untenable 
both in psychology and logic. And it seems to me further that the rejection 
of floating ideas tends to raise difficulties, the existence of which Prof. Dewey 
fails to recognize. I cannot but think that here, as elsewhere, a reference 
to Bain s views would have been useful. But in any case the existence and 
possibility of mere ideas, Prof. Dewey should remember, is denied, and 
cannot in controversy be assumed (see Chap. III). 



136 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

life of the soul, I am prepared for the sake of argument to accept 
this statement unreservedly. It is not, I think, even as applied 
to the beginnings of intelligence, entirely correct. But I need not 
here enter on any reservation which seems to me to be required. 
Let us for the sake of argument agree that early soul-life (as I, for 
instance, urged some twenty-five years ago) has no ideas about 
things except the ideas of its own practical attitude towards 
them. And let us agree that, except so far as an idea actually 
issues in practical behaviour, it cannot be retained. 1 Still, does it 
follow from this that later on a theoretical need and satisfaction 
is not in fact developed ? Apart from such a hazardous conclusion 
the entire argument from origin appears to me to be worthless. 
And I presume therefore that Prof. Dewey s main contention is 
this, that there is not now in fact any theory which is not practical 
and practical essentially. 

I would repeat that I have failed to understand Prof. Dewey s 
real position. And I have remarked above on the fatal ambiguity 
that attaches to the word practical. But if we take practical in 
the sense in which it is opposed to theoretical and if we do not 
take it so the whole controversy seems to vanish objections to 
such a position present themselves at once, (i) Suggested ideas 
some of them apparently remote from anything which I am to 
do or could do are accepted as true. And not only this, but in 
many cases these ideas appear to coalesce with and to qualify my 
world, without any experienced collision and apart from anything 
which I myself seem to do. This account holds good of a large 
amount of actual present beliefs. And, though Prof. Dewey fails 
to recognize the extent to which this takes place, he appears to 
admit that in the case of tested ideas (p. 341) we have judgements 
not issuing in actual behaviour. Further, even where ideas do 
concern my conduct, I would submit that even here they need 
not be entertained practically and need not in this sense be 
practical. But in any case, as we have seen, a large number of 
ideas appear in no sense to relate to my behaviour either in 
themselves or in their results. (2) I have so far dealt with cases 
where no actual preceding want or desire for the result can be 
shown to exist. But, even where the attained truth is the satis- 

1 I do not discuss here the doubt which might be raised with regard to 
the ideas of suffering as apart from doing. If you go back far enough 
I should not suppose that such ideas exist. 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 137 

faction of an actual desire, that desire and that want may be, in 
a word, a desire for truth itself. Knowledge here, practical in 
one sense, will still not be practical in the sense of being concerned 
merely with my behaviour. And concerned is not the word, 
for according to Prof. Dewey, if I rightly understand him, truth 
consists merely in my practical behaviour and is itself nothing 
otherwise. And, when I apply such a description to the solution 
of every possible historical or abstract problem, I appear to 
myself to have arrived somewhere out of contact with actual 
facts. I can keep hold of them only when I admit that practice 
itself may be essentially theoretical. 

Prof. Dewey to some extent seems to be aware of these objec 
tions, but how he considers himself to meet them I am unable 
except in part to understand. I can therefore do little more than 
set down what seems to me to be possible ways of reply. The 
reader will understand that in what follows, except where this is 
stated, I am not pretending to criticize Prof. Dewey s account. 
I am detailing some points on which it seems to me that clearness 
is essential and has not been secured, (i) The first answer to 
the above objections would consist in urging that truth is the 
behaviour of an idea rather than that of a man. When an idea 
acts and works in me in a certain manner, that is truth, and 
therefore truth in this sense is practical. I mention this view 
though I do not suppose that Prof. Dewey would accept it. 
(ii) Another way of showing that an idea is practical, although 
I really do riot act on it, is to urge that I should act on it if 
the conditions were otherwise, or shall act on it perhaps in the 
future (p. 339). This is" the position taken long ago by Bain, who, 
for some reason that I do not understand, is here ignored. It is 
of course open to the obvious reply that the question is about 
the actual and not about the possible or future, and that to 
identify these is not permitted. 1 We may perhaps put the same 
point otherwise by asking in what my knowledge that con 
ditionally or in the future I should or shall act, itself now actually 
consists. To answer for instance that with an idea there is a more 
or less tentative struggle to act, and that therefore there is an act 

1 This point was dealt with by me many years ago. I have ventured to 
remark that the uncritical identification of the real and the possible is 
a leading characteristic of English empiricism. On this subject the 
reader is referred to the Index, s.v. Possible. 



138 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

seems unsatisfactory. We do not always seem concerned with 
any struggle, and as to what tentative is to mean we require 
information. Any such phrase we recognize as an old device for 
going on saying that a thing is so, when obviously and visibly it 
is not so. But whether, and, if so, how far any of the above is 
applicable in the case of Prof. Dewey I am unable to say. (iii) Let 
us then pass from the view that thought implies essentially an 
issue in external behaviour. Let us suppose that thought is 
always an act, and implies therefore of course a psychical altera 
tion of myself. But let us suppose that this psychical alteration, 
though necessary, is not the main essence of thought. And let us 
take that main essence to lie in a qualification of reality which is 
ideal. If this is the view urged by Prof. Dewey, as I can hardly 
imagine it is, I must lament that he has so failed to express it 
clearly. With such a view it is obvious that in the main I agree, 
and how it should be urged against myself I am unable to under 
stand, (iv) And yet, agreeing in the main with such a view, 
I cannot wholly endorse it. For in the word act there is still 
too much ambiguity or else downright mistake. There are truths 
suggested and at once accepted where certainly there seems 
no act, in the sense of my will or of my act. The idea seems to 
coalesce with, or, let us say, to be apperceived by my world or 
one of my worlds. In this case I am altered of course, but in 
what sense do I act ? And can we even say here that, so far, the 
idea s truth for me lies in its working and in its theoretical conse 
quences ? Have we not got in such a case, so far as I am con 
cerned, something like passive acceptance of the idea ? I agree 
that, when we reflect and when we come to the criterion of truth, 
the truth of an idea is inseparable from its theoretical results. 
And, if you like to add that here I always act, I am not concerned 
to deny this. But how this is to hold in the case of all acceptance 
of truth I am unable to see. Prof. Dewey seems to perceive the 
above difficulty, not wholly but so far as it applies to tested 
ideas (p. 341). But his answer is, I regret to say, to myself unin 
telligible. \Vhat is permanent status ? What is energy of 
position (p. 341) ? To my mind these phrases seem to be no 
better than mere mythology. And to me they come as a tacit 
admission that the theory will not work when applied to 
facts. 1 And I have already dealt above with the apparent 
1 Cf. Prof. James s cold storage . Why not hibernation or slumber 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 139 

attempt to revive Bain s method of escape, (v) Finally (to 
pass on) the issue of the idea in behaviour may be admitted 
not to hold now and here, at this time or of this agent. No 
more may be meant than that at some time the true idea will 
also be true practically. I hesitate, however, to understand 
Prof. Dewey in this sense even more than I hesitated in the case 
of Prof. James. With such a conclusion I should agree, if for 
at some time will I may be allowed to write somehow does . 
Still in neither case, I submit, can such a criterion be used in 
detail. To some extent obviously therefore, I urge, we must 
remain content with mere theory. And really this is all for which 
I myself have contended and contend. And if you insist that 
such a state of things is only provisional, then, so far as I see, 
the provisional state of things will last as long as there are finite 
beings. 1 

Against the preceding it may be urged, though I do not say by 
Prof. Dewey, that the question is about the main and general 
tendency of things. That general tendency is that the true idea 
is the idea which works best even externally. And it may be 
added that this general tendency justifies the ultimate definition, 
although we cannot verify this definition in detail and in the case 
of all ideas. But such a position, if occupied by Prof. Dewey, 
would to my mind be wholly untenable, if at least he is committed 
to the doctrine that nowhere for us in our experience can truth 
be other than that which works practically. For such a denial 
is not only (as we have seen) out of harmony with fact, but in the 
end it would itself destroy the general conclusion and the ultimate 
definition. 

For how, I ask, are we to arrive at ultimate knowledge of the 
main tendency of things ? Take this very question which seems to 
be at issue between Prof. Dewey and myself. We each of us are 
face to face here with a colliding situation, and as to this and so 
far we are agreed. Now what are we trying to do with this 
situation ? I on my side say that we seek primarily a theoretical 
solution. We are each of us attempting to find an idea which will 

or on half-pay or any other mythological metaphor, whichever for the 
moment seems to bring most conviction ? 

1 The above, of course, justifies the distinction in practice between the 
idea which is really true and the idea which works best practically (p. 337, 
note). 



140 APPENDIX I TO CHAPTER V 

work, work in the sense of qualifying reality ideally in such a way 
that the collision so far is at an end. 1 And I urge that this true 
idea does not in respect of its truth or falsehood imply a passage 
into any practical behaviour on my part. The idea involves 
a psychical change in me certainly, but that, I contend, is not the 
essence. If Prof. Dewey replies (as I think probably he does not), 
that this aspect of psychical change in me is the essence of truth 
and of falsehood, then I would ask him to state this plainly and to 
attempt to face the problem on this basis. And I would ask him 
to remember that the question is not whether with belief and judge 
ment there is a psychical change in me. The question is what we 
are to say about this psychical event, and how otherwise it must 
be qualified, so that it is not merely a psychical event but is 
specially a true or false belief and judgement. But if Prof. Dewey 
falls back upon practical result and non-theoretical behaviour, 
then I would invite him here to say what this is. What is it that 
I do here and what is it that he does here, each of us, I presume, 
differently in the case of the diverse ideas which we accept ? 
I myself am unable to verify this issue in practical behaviour, and 
in any case the contention that this issue makes truth s essence 
remains to my mind untenable. 

If however in this ultimate appeal to fact we are forced to 
recognize theoretical truth, then to go on from this basis to deny 
such truth would be suicidal. To upset by knowledge about the 
main tendency of the world something for us more ultimate than 
such knowledge, seems to destroy knowledge altogether. To 
build further upon the foundation on which we stand is of course 
legitimate. To insist that truth, to reach perfection, must also in 
every case somehow issue in act, does not deny that truth for us, 
at least to some extent, must be sought and found otherwise. 2 
On the other hand to insist on the practical result of the idea 
everywhere as the criterion of truth, and wholly to deny truth 
as existing otherwise, is, I submit, to ensure disaster. But I must 
end as I began, both in the case of Prof. Dewey and of Prof. James, 
by deploring their ambiguity or my blindness, which in the end 

1 On p. 330 Prof. Dewey appears to traverse this statement directly. 

2 In the same way when a too ardent Darwinian teaches that the true 
idea is the idea which prevails, his position so far is consistent. But, when 
he goes on perhaps to insist that truth is nothing but prevalence, he falls 
into inconsistency if he now offers at least this truth as more. 



ON THE AMBIGUITY OF PRAGMATISM 141 

leaves me uncertain what it is that they mean to affirm and 
to deny. 

So much indeed of what Prof. Dewey urges seems to me so true 
and so admirably stated, that I can only applaud and regret that 
it should seem to be directed against views which I hold. I agree 
that practical collision is the origin of truth, and I agree that for 
truth to pass into a new practical result may be called (if we speak 
at large) truth s natural and normal end. But that by us men 
theoretical truth, as well as fine art, must be cultivated, at least 
to some extent, independently, I am no less assured. The denial 
of this appears to me to violate facts and to threaten us with the 
mutilation of our human ideal. And if theory and fine art, or 
either of these, is to have no worth of its own, let us at least be 
informed what in the end it is which really possesses value. On 
such a point to state no positive doctrine, and to leave it to 
opponents to lose themselves in more or less mistaken conjec 
tures, is a course, I would submit, unworthy of such writers as 
Profs. Dewey and James. 

Prof. Dewey s article raises a number of interesting questions 
which would well repay discussion. Among these the apparent 
contention (p. 334) that truth is nothing but that which I do with 
an idea, and that truth therefore is made by me, could hardly be 
dealt with except at length. 1 That contention would become less 
ambiguous and more instructive, if the problem of falsehood were 
included, and again that of beauty and ugliness. The question 
whether and in what sense I can bring into being truth and 
beauty, ugliness and error, good and evil, and in one word value, 
has of course the highest interest. The answer that not only do 
I bring all this into existence, but that the distinctive essences 
of all these things are nothing beyond what I do and make, 
I hesitate to attribute to Prof. Dewey. And his isolated treatment 
of this question so far as regards truth, ignoring even the diffi 
culties caused by falsehood, seems to me obviously insufficient. 
But to deal with this and other interesting issues raised in Prof. 
Dewey s article, is here clearly impossible. 

I propose again to say nothing here in reply to Prof. Dewey s 

discussion of certain views held by me. It is not that I do not 

value his criticism, or again that in most cases I should find it 

difficult to make an explanation or a reply which, to myself 

1 See Chap. XI. 



142 APPENDIX II TO CHAPTER V 

perhaps, would be satisfactory. But I think it far better to defer 
anything which I have to say to another opportunity. 1 Pragma 
tism proclaims itself, I understand, as a great new way in philo 
sophy. Hence, if it is true, it is not true because those particular 
views with which I for instance am identified, are demonstrably 
false. Such an alternative might be convenient, but it is, of course, 
indefensible, and with the injustice which it would offer to other 
views I could not associate myself. Pragmatism is true, if at all, 
because it can successfully deal with all ultimate issues. It may 
indeed be shown otherwise to be invalid, but it cannot otherwise 
be shown to hold good. And I will venture to add that in my 
opinion some such reminder as this (though perhaps not in the 
case of Prof. Dewey) seems desirable and necessary. 



APPENDIX II TO CHAPTER V 2 

ON PROF. JAMES S MEANING OF TRUTH 

I HAD written, some months before Prof. James s lamented 
death, a criticism of some of the views set forth in his Meaning 
of Truth. My purpose in writing this was to invite Prof. James 
to furnish certain explanations. And now, especially as the fol 
lowing remarks are not a general estimate of his work, and as 
they give no expression to my feeling of admiration and genuine 
respect, I have hesitated to publish them. But for the reader 
who will take them merely for what they are, I think it better to 
do so. And I will begin with the question of Relativism. 

We must here understand relativism in two senses, (a) In 
the first of these, truth and reality are simply for this or that 
finite individual, while (b), in the second meaning of the term, 
it is some set of individuals on which everything depends, (a) In 
the first sense Prof. James certainly did not advocate relativism. 
What he calls Pragmatism and Humanism are obviously com 
patible even with an undue disregard of the individual person, 
and with an exaggerated emphasis laid on the universal side. 
With regard to Humanism, the tendency of what may be called 

1 See Chap. IX. 

1 These pages appeared originally in Mind for July 191 1. A few slight 
alterations have been made. 



ON PROF. JAMES S MEANING OF TRUTH 143 

Humanism to depreciate the aspect emphasized by Personal 
Idealism, may be called historical, for it appeared years ago in 
one part of the Hegelian school. In other words there is no 
connexion in principle between Personal Idealism and the 
doctrines of Pragmatism and Humanism. Certainly, then, Prof. 
James did not intend to teach relativism in this first sense, 
though whether his doctrine, when worked out, would have led 
to that result, I am unable to judge. 1 

(b) In the second meaning of relativism truth and reality are 
something merely for this or that set or collection of persons. 
And, in inquiring how far Prof. James was in this sense a relati 
vist, we are brought up short by the ambiguity, which (though 
invited to do so) he, so far as I know, made no attempt to remove. 
The only thing, I would submit, which lends plausibility to Prof. 
James s doctrine of Humanism, is the equivocation by which 
Humanity stands, at discretion, either for the inhabitants of a 
certain planet or for the whole of finite mind, however and 
wherever and whenever finite mind appears. If we take Hu 
manity in the first sense, as being merely one set of creatures, 
then relativism seems to follow. How am I to deny that our 
truth, our goodness and beauty, may be utterly false and bad 
and ugly to another race of beings, and that this other race is, 
notwithstanding this, as good as ourselves if indeed there were 
any sense in such a comparison ? And, if I cannot deny this, am 
I not really a relativist ? What is the ground (I ask once more) 
on which the human race is to dictate to the Universe ? (Cf. 
Chap. VIII, p. 243.) What is the value of our inference to the 
nature of reality at large simply from what we happen to know 
of the history of one set of creatures ? Prof. James s doctrine, 
I would repeat, to myself seems plausible merely so far as he 
succeeded (I do not of course mean intentionally) in keeping it 
ambiguous. 2 

1 The words quoted by Prof. James from myself (Meaning of Truth, p. 71 ) 
as applying to the humanist , were used by myself of Personal Idealism. 
See Mind, No. 51, p. 322 (p. 90 of the present volume). 

2 Prof. James, in Pragmatism, p. 30, inveighs against the monstrousness 
of holding that, given certain hideous crimes, good on the whole is realized. 
He insists, that is, on taking the crime in its abstraction as absolutely real. 
And then he goes on (Hegel would have smiled) to denounce abstrac 
tionism . But, apart from that, on what ground could Prof. James have 
denied that a crime, however hideous, is no crime at all except for certain 



144 APPENDIX II TO CHAPTER V 

Possibly Prof. James really held that our race on this planet 
is the same thing as all finite mind, or as all the finite mind, at 
least, that anywhere counts. His Humanism, if so, would have 
meant nothing new. He would have been in company which 
to myself is respectable, but, in attempting to make good this 
thesis, his hands, I think, would have been more than full. And 
such a conclusion, so far as I know, he never endorsed unequivo 
cally. But, apart from some such conclusion, is it not futile to 
speak of getting to absolute truth by simple inductions from the 
past extended to the future by analogy ? (Meaning, p. 267). 

I am not saying that Prof. James s doctrine really consisted 
in a blind oscillation between two meanings of the word human . 
He had, I must imagine, a view with two aspects, the connexion 
between which he did not, and perhaps could not, work out. 
On the one side this view seems much the same as that made 
popular by J. S. Mill. It differs, so far as against J. S. Mill Prof. 
James insisted on continuity. The difference, certainly, is real, 
but a question remains as to how far it will carry you ? Continuity 
takes you, in some sense doubtless, beyond the present, but can 
it take you, and on what ground can it take you, to a real past 
and a real future ? I will return to this point, and will merely 
say at present that Prof. James seems to myself to follow here 
J. S. Mill to a common bankruptcy. 

But Prof. James s teaching presents another and a very diverse 
aspect. It suggests to my mind that in a great measure he really 
shared that view of the world which in the main I, for instance, 
inherited from Hegel. Prof. James desired to insist that there 
is much more in human society and in its history, and, I presume, 
in the Universe at large, than the changing accidents of a mere 
collection. And he held, I think, that in our own experience we 
touch intimately, and to a certain extent know, the real character 
of the whole Universe which there is immanent. Naturally 
I do not suggest that the difference between asserting and deny 
ing the ultimate reality of change, is a trifling difference. But 
the necessary consequences, as regards the value of the individual 
person and his place in the Universe, are surely far from being 
evident. And in short the radical opposition which Prof. James 

persons, while for other persons (for anything that he really knew) it might 
be a virtue ? And what other aspect is there in his doctrine to save it 
from relativism in the extremest sense ? 



ON PROF. JAMES S MEANING OF TRUTH 145 

took to exist throughout between his own doctrine and that of 
monistic Absolutism, rested, I venture to think, on what I must 
call his partial ignorance about the latter. There are certain 
points in Absolutism which he did not like, and I myself could 
not say that I like everything in Absolutism. Clearly it is a 
hard doctrine. But to expect to get in detail all that you 
want just precisely as you want it, is to take a position which 
seems to myself justifiable only when stated with the very last 
degree of honesty and explicit ness. And, apart from such a 
position, the real question is this, How, if you reject Absolutism, 
are you going to secure that which you must have, any more cheaply 
elsewhere ? l This second aspect of Prof. James s teaching, in 
which emphasis is laid on the universal side, appears to myself 
joined to the former aspect of individualism by no intelligible 
bond. The connexion in his mind between these two characters 
of the Universe was, so far as I know, never clearly set forth. 

I will proceed now to offer a few critical remarks on some of 
the doctrines contained in Prof. James s Meaning of Truth. The 
misunderstandings which these remarks are likely or certain to 
involve, may even themselves, I hope, lead to the removal of 
what, I submit, is real obscurity. 

(i) Prof. James calls his own view the pragmatic view. 
If by this he means (as he sometimes seems to mean) merely 
that view which works best, we have here an attempt to beg 
the question at issue. The objection taken to Prof. James s 
account of truth is taken precisely on the ground that this 
account fails to work theoretically. And practically (cf. pp. 67 
and 133) Prof. James seems never really to have faced the problem 
of a genuine working creed. He never, I think, saw what is 
involved in treating all ideas, without exception, as merely 
useful. He, so far as I know, never even inquired whether 
truth in the end has to be consistent with itself. With regard 
to the practical character of all truth I will say no more here, 
as Prof. James himself seems willing (pp. 206 foil.) to treat the 
matter as of no moment. If this is really so, he would be at 
issue, I presume, with Prof. Dewey, and little or nothing of 
Pragmatism would, I imagine, be really left but the name. 

1 Prof. James s idea as to Absolutism, that it is a way of getting what 
you want without paying anything for it, is surely (to any one who knows) 
a striking revelation of the limits of his knowledge (cf. Chap. V, p. 133). 

1574 L 



146 APPENDIX II TO CHAPTER V 

(2) To pass to another point judgement really, on my view, 
involves mediation. This aspect of the matter has not escaped 
Prof. James, but he has, in my opinion, turned truth here into 
ruinous error. For he has taken intermediation to consist in 
a temporal process from the idea to a perceived object. To this 
conclusion, in spite of much obscurity, he seems committed. 
Where an idea merely leads to an object, we, according to 
Prof. James, have knowledge. Whether there is a relation of 
identity in difference between the idea and the object, a relation 
which is also for the knower, I am unable to say. The importance 
of both these questions is obvious, but the answer, if there is an 
answer, remains to me obscure. Apparently we have truth 
wherever an idea leads to an object. 1 

Any such doctrine is liable to objections which, I think, can 
never be fairly met. I recognize that I have now my chronic 
pain for which nothing can be done. I notice that a tree is 
about to fall upon the head of a distant person. The suggested 
idea of some action leads in me to its performance. In the third 
of these cases we have the definition without truth, while in the 
two former cases we have truth without the definition. 2 With 
abstract truths, again, the verification in every instance by a 
process of events leading to a particular object cannot be shown. 
Or consider truths about the past. Is there a real past, and, if 
there is such a thing, can it turn into a perception ? Or have our 
ideas about it, if it is there, really nothing to do with it ? Or, 
again, is the reality of the past merely ideal ? I shall have to 
return to the difficulty raised by these questions. But even with 
regard to the future Prof. James s view will not work. Suppose 
that I foretell an earthquake to happen next year or after my 
death, how does my idea lead to the earthquake, and where 
does the process of truth fall ? The doctrine that there is no 
truth apart from the action of some person here and now, if 

1 I am of course prepared to give references throughout, but (since I admit 
that I do not understand) I think it useless to trouble the reader with 
them. And I confine myself here to the teaching of the volume mentioned. 
I can now, in republishing these pages, refer the reader to what follows in 
this volume. 

* In the second case (it may be said) there is a continuous process of 
fulfilment from the idea to the object, and this is truth. The doctrine 
here stated will be examined later, pp. 154-6. For the present I would 
reply that the judgement, this tree is about to fall there, may be complete 
before the object exists in fact. 



ON PROF. JAMES S MEANING OF TRUTH 147 

action is taken broadly, I accept, while I reject the view that 
truth s essence is limited to that action. And this latter view 
seems hardly even to coincide with Prof. James s teaching. 1 

If what Prof. James meant was merely this, that truth, to 
be true, must be in vital connexion with the world of particular 
feelings and perceptions, and in some sense is verifiable in this 
world, I am of course fully in accord with him. But to offer 
such a doctrine as something new, and as something which is 
to make a revolution in philosophy, would be to my mind 
ridiculous. 

(3) I will notice now one method by which Prof. James appears 
to have thought that at least some troubles could be met. This 
is the old device by which at discretion the potential or virtual 
is substituted for the actual. As a good empiricist Prof. 
James here kept to the tradition of his school. I could not say 
that he has here done nothing more than blindly follow his 
blind leaders, but I at least have not been able to discover what 
more on this point he has done. What has to be proved is, for 
instance, the existence of actual intermediaries in time. The 
possibility of such intermediaries does not asser,t their existence. 
It asserts something else, and what it really asserts is not a lapse 
of events. 2 

(4) I will return now to a point of extreme importance. Prof. 
James is of course against transcendence, but in this very matter 
he (so far as I can perceive) is threatened with ruin. The question 
is whether the object-reality, which he has to know, is not often 
in a world which should be beyond his knowledge. Take once 
more the instance of a past or future event. What are we to 
say with regard to the existence of such a fact ? Does it tran 
scend, is it outside of and beyond, the present Reality now im 
manent in my knowledge ? To this question, as I have already 

1 Cf. here, p. 129. I cannot venture to attribute to Prof. James the 
doctrine that the earthquake is a social event to which my idea leads by 
a human process. 

* A fact virtually pre-exists when every condition of its realization 
save one is already there (Meaning, p. 93). An explosion therefore has 
pre-existed whether I have, or have not, gone on to apply the match or 
pull the trigger. But the real question surely is as to what in every such 
case it is which does actually exist and pre-exist. And here the reader is 
of course put off with mere phrases. And I ask myself whether this really 
is to be taken as a great advance in philosophy ? 

L 2 



148 APPENDIX II TO CHAPTER V 

explained, I myself reply with an emphatic negative, but Prof. 
James s answer to it remains to my mind unintelligible. And 
any intelligible answer, I submit, must ruin his theory. Let us 
say, first, that the reality of dead Caesar is nothing beyond that 
which is immanent in what I know now then what, if so, be 
comes of the absolute reality of time and particular events ? 
How does this latter doctrine agree with the idea that the past 
is only ideal ? But take a different view, and then what for me 
now is the past object ? It has become a Thing-in-itself which for 
knowledge is nothing. And the intermediaries, which lead to 
this nothing, what are they for me ? Obviously, through nearly 
all their extent, they again for me are nothing. And to speak of 
approximating where you can know neither the goal nor the road, 
appears really to be senseless. The above dilemma, I urge, 
entails ruin if left unmet, and I cannot believe that it ever was 
steadily faced by Prof. James. 1 

We obviously are here concerned with the relation of truth 
to knowledge and of both to reality. Have they any essential 
connexion at all ? Can reality be a something outside which 
makes no difference ? Can truth have no relation to it, or again 
a relation which is merely external ? On the other hand, are 
we ready to bring reality within truth and knowledge, and both 
within ourselves, and to do this in earnest ? After the criticism 
of now a century back one might expect that questions such as 
these could not be ignored. And it certainly would not be true 
to say of Prof. James that he ignored them. But, if any one can 
understand his answer, I cannot. 

In a succession of volumes, perhaps too hastily composed 
and too hurriedly published, Prof. James wrote, I must believe, 
from a central point of view from which these essays were thrown 
out. But for a reader to discover this centre by following the 
opposite direction is far from easy, more especially when the 
reader stands outside and is perhaps not sympathetic. And if 

1 The question of truth about the past has been discussed by Prof. Dewey 
in his interesting volume, Influence of Darwin, pp. 159 ff. The result to 
my mind is failure. If Prof. Dewey would remember that the person whom 
he calls the intellectualist has been long ago refuted, and that the real 
question is as to the nature and truth of his own view, the issue, I think, 
would become clearer. But nothing, I am sure, can fully clear the issue 
except a definite statement by Prof. Dewey as to what he means by reality. 
Why we cannot have this I do not understand. 



ON PROF. JAMES S MEANING OF TRUTH 149 

the central point of view has never really been worked out, have 
we, after all, any right to say that in a proper sense it was there ? 
It is, I think, for those who believe that Prof. James made a 
revolution in philosophy, to justify that belief by an explanation 
of his doctrine as to the ultimate nature of reality and truth. 
And if the mistakes, which I doubtless have here made, serve 
to contribute to this result, then, however great they are, I shall 
not regret them. If on the other hand I am told that I have no 
right to ask for metaphysical doctrine where none was ever 
offered, I shall content myself with a smile. If there is anything 
in philosophy of which I am fully assured, it is this, that to seek 
to discuss the nature of truth apart from a theory of ultimate 
reality ends and must end in futile self-deception. And I can 
hardly suppose that the answer suggested above would have 
satisfied Prof. James. But, however that may be, and even 
though I fear that they may have robbed us of something better, 
the later works of Prof. James will have profited philosophy. To 
have excited inquiry and to have stimulated interest in the 
highest problems of life, is to have succeeded where, I suppose, 
most philosophers have failed, and where it can always be 
doubted if any further success is possible. But Prof. James s 
contribution to psychology will remain, I believe, indubitable. 



APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

ON PROFESSOR JAMES S RADICAL EMPIRICISM 

HAVING read once more Prof. James s article, A World of Pure 
Experience, as republished in the Essays on Radical Empiricism, 
I am tempted to add here some remarks on his ultimate meta 
physical views. These remarks, though made by one who does 
not profess to understand, may perhaps be useful. For I am in 
agreement with so much of Prof. James s premisses that my 
criticism, however wrong, can hardly be quite external. 

With Prof. James (so much seems plain) there is no reality but 
experience, and that which falls outside of what is experienced is 
not real. But is experience the same as that which we should 
call actual experience, or are there regions of the possible and 



150 APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

ideal which also are real ? Can an intellectual construction 
claim to be an experienced reality ? Prof. James at first sight 
seems bound to reject any such suggestion, but to me his view 
is not clear. What (to go for the moment no further l ) are we to 
say of past and future experiences ? Are these, or either of these, 
to be called actual facts ? For Prof. James the series of events 
in time seems to be ultimately real and not a mere construction. 
If so, this series (it seems) is actually experienced, and, if so, 
I presume is experienced as present. But then we have to ask, 
experienced by whom and when ? The dilemma which con 
fronts us is evident and is old. If the real temporal order exists 
only in a succession of actual experiences, then how is this succes 
sion and order itself experienced actually ? If, on the other 
hand, the whole series is ever present now, then how can its past 
and future be, as such, ultimately real ? 2 

Did Prof. James hold, or suppose, that there is, or perhaps 
some day will be, an actual experience in which the whole time- 
sequence is given as the content of one immediate now , a 
present in which the succession of our lives and events is at once 
a passage and yet is all there ? If possibly this was his thought, 
he never, so far as I know, faced the danger or the ruin with 
which it threatens the ultimate reality of time. For, if the 
whole temporal series is nothing but one aspect of the actual 
now , we are far on our way to deny that this aspect is, as such, 
ultimately real, or more than a relative appearance. But the 
reader will, I think, seek help here from Prof. James in vain, 
unless he can find it in what to me is some obvious conjuring 
with delusive terms such as possible and virtual . 

Leaving for the present this unsolved dilemma, I will notice 
next an ambiguity with regard to the nature of what is ex 
perienced. Have we terms and relations given as such, and 
therefore, as such, ultimately real ? Or is what we actually 

1 See pp. 148, 156, and Index, s.v. Time. 

1 You do not, it seems to me, touch the above difficulty by making 
consciousness separable from experience. The dilemma, I should say, 
can be met only by denying, or else by subordinating, the fact of change 
and succession as it appears in immediate experience. The latter way 
(that of subordination) is the course which I myself adopt. But neither 
way, so far as I see, is open to Prof. James. He, apparently, has both 
(a) to identify the experienced present with all reality, and (b) to keep 
past and future experiences ultimately real in their character of events. 



ON PROF. JAMES S RADICAL EMPIRICISM 151 

experience, on the contrary, a non-relational whole, a continuous 
flux, with relative emphases of its diversities, but with no actual 
relations or terms ? Are terms and relations, in a word, abstrac 
tions and mere ideal constructions, or are they given realities ? 
The above two views to myself are irreconcilable, and to myself 
Prof. James seems committed to both of them. 

In arguing for Pluralism and against Monism he urges habitu 
ally that terms and mere conjunctive relations, are, as such, 
immediately experienced ; and indeed any contention short of 
this would leave his arguments baseless. But while he identifies 
himself thus with the first view, the second view, that immediate 
experience is non-relational, seems essential to his doctrine. And 
yet how to combine these contrary views we are, I think, no 
where informed. 1 

The doctrine of Pluralism and of external relations may of 
course be advocated otherwise. It may be offered as an inference, 
as a true construction from what is given, and as the one rational 
account of the world. But this is a different thing from a direct 
appeal to immediate experience, and a claim to find there terms 
and conjunctive relations as given facts. Still this is the claim 
and the appeal which, whenever it suits his purpose, seems made 
by Prof. James. 2 

There is a point here which it is instructive to notice in passing. 
Not only is Prof. James concerned to advocate Pluralism and 
external relations as directly given, but he is concerned no less 

1 In arguing against myself for the ultimate reality of external relations 
(Radical Empiricism, Essay III, or Pluralistic Universe, Appendix A), 
Prof. James assumed me to hold that terms are, as such, ultimately real, 
while relations are not so. He at that time apparently had no idea that 
the view to which he opposed himself was that both terms and relations 
are alike, as such, mere abstractions, and neither ultimately real, though 
of course for certain purposes we use these ideas as true. How could 
I reply to such an argument ? And what can I say now when I read 
(Rad, Emp., p. 52), Throughout the history of philosophy the subject 
and its object have been treated as absolutely discontinuous entities ? 

2 The reader will not, I hope, take me to suggest that, in order to estab 
lish such Monism as I accept, no more is wanted than the rejection of 
Pluralism (I use this word of course in the proper sense). With the 
rejection of Pluralism I understand that forthwith Monism follows ; but, as 
to the further character of this Monism, nothing follows forthwith. The 
One may, so far, be irrational and in a sense incoherent and even discordant. 
We are, so far, only at the beginning, and, to advance, must make use 
(as I have shown elsewhere) of a further argument. 



152 APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

to maintain the ultimate reality of change as an experienced 
fact. And, so far as I know, it did not occur to him that these 
two contentions are apparently in conflict. For, if in change 
something really is altered, and, if the alteration can consist 
merely in difference of position, and if in this difference the 
terms and the relations are neither of them altered then either 
we have an alteration where nothing is changed, or else our 
premisses have been wrong. Something, if so (we shall have 
to allow), is concerned in the change, which something is more 
than and other than the elements admitted by Pluralism. If (to 
repeat) you hold to reality in the form of external terms and 
relations, you must deny the ultimate reality of change as actually 
given. If, on the other hand, you affirm this latter, you must 
insist that the experience of change is a non-relational totality. 
And, if so, terms and relations become, as such, abstractions, 
constructions, true perhaps or perhaps vicious, but assuredly in 
neither case things, as such, actually experienced. How it is 
possible to avoid this dilemma and simply to maintain both 
theses at once, I myself do not know, but apparently nothing 
less is required for the position taken by Prof. James. 

The doctrine which Prof. James would, I think, have pre 
ferred is the view that given experience is non-relational, that 
it is an unbroken fluid totality containing in one now an un 
divided lapse, and is in itself foreign to any terms or relations as 
such. This I also have taken to be the true account of the 
matter ; and what I would notice here is the fact, that, while 
urging this view as a fatal objection ignored by Absolutism 
and Idealism, Prof. James might, like others, have himself learnt 
it at the very source where according to him it is most unknown. 
The doctrine in question, Prof. James stated very candidly, has 
been advocated by myself since I883. 1 He seems even to give 
me the credit of having broken away here from the tradition of 
my school, and of having, conjointly with M. Bergson though at 
perhaps an earlier date, originated in modern times the true view 
ignored by and fatal to idealistic Monism. Now for myself (I am 
of course not concerned with M. Bergson s attitude) I at once, in 
the same journal, disclaimed, and I now again emphatically dis 
claim any such originality. When it was that the view in question 
was first advocated in modern philosophy, I cannot, 1 regret to 
1 See The Journal of Philosophy, &c., for January 1910. 



ON PROF. JAMES S RADICAL EMPIRICISM 153 

say, inform the reader. But that I myself derived it from Hegel 
is perfectly certain. If I had ever been asked if it was Hegel s 
teaching, I should have replied that so much at least was in 
dubitable. And the feelings of the idealist , forced to hear it 
proclaimed aloud that this position not only is his ruin, but is 
also something of which he has lived totally unaware, may be 
left undescribed. The fact, I presume, is this, that Prof. James, 
like his public, failed to realize the wealth, the variety and the 
radical differences, which are to be found in that outburst of 
German philosophy which came after Kant. 

What is the true issue between Prof. James and those who 
here follow Hegel ? There is agreement on both sides that 
immediate experience is the beginning, and the vital question is 
whether this experience is also the end. Is immediate experience 
real in the sense that it is all there is which is real ? To this 
question I will return, but I will first ask as to Prof. James s view 
of knowledge. For knowledge itself is a fact. 

We have had, so far, the reader will recall, reality taken as 
immediate experience. We saw indeed that the fatal dilemma 
as to past and future experience was left unmet. But, leaving 
this, we have to take reality as being a succession of immediate 
experiences, and, if so, where in such a world can ideas and 
knowledge fall ? 

It is better, I think, to begin by asking what, in dealing with 
this problem, Prof. James had supplied by others and ready to 
his hand. He had, in the first place, the identity of reality and 
experience. He had, next, the doctrine that ideas are what may 
be called symbolical . While on the one side they are psychical 
events, on the other side they are self-transcendent and refer 
to a reality other than themselves. This reality is, on one view, 
viewed as being, at least in some cases, beyond experience, but 
on another view, also lying before Prof. James, any such tran 
scendence is denied. The actual experience, on this view, is 
transcended, but transcended only as immediate. The reality, 
referred to by the content of the idea, is the Universe itself, 
which Universe is immanent in the immediate experience, and 
always itself is actually experienced. A past event, for instance, 
is on one side present, while on the other side its content ideally 
qualifies Reality taken in the character of a temporal series 



154 APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

beyond the present this same Reality being also actually present 
here and now in, and as, immediate experience. 

Now why could Prof. James not adopt a conclusion worked 
out from premisses so near akin to those which he took up ? 
The reason is that, if so, reality could hardly be no more than one 
immediate experience or a succession of such experiences ; and 
this, on the other hand, Prof. James is bound to maintain. But, 
then, what according to Prof. James is to become of the fact of 
knowledge and truth, a fact apparently not included in mere 
immediate experience ? His answer, however unsatisfactory, will, 
I think, up to a certain point be found to be instructive and 
interesting. 

Since only particular events are real, Prof. James denies that 
an idea can be more, and can be self -transcendent (Rad. Emp., 
p. 57). The psychical fact must know, without itself referring 
beyond itself. And what is it to know ? The answer obviously 
is other events , for there is nothing else to know. And, in 
order for these events to be real, they (the logic is not mine) must 
be future. If now, following the same logic, we ask what know 
ledge is and where it falls, the answer is that knowledge is essen 
tially a temporal process of facts. It falls in, and it *s, the 
mere series of experienced events, beginning with the idea and 
ending with the object. 1 

This conclusion at first sight seems no more than a paradox, 
but, as advocated by Prof. James, it became more or less plausible. 
But the plausibility is gained by two expedients, neither of which 
will bear the light. The first of these (i) is the covert rein 
statement in the idea of that symbolical character, that very self- 
transcendence, which the doctrine denies. And (ii) the second 
means to making plausible the view that in knowledge the object 
is nothing but an experienced future event, is to bury the true 
issue under a cloud of misleading ambiguities. 

(i) Suppose that I know that somewhere near there is a spring 
of water. Does my present knowledge consist in my actually 



1 I may remind the reader that the view, that explanation consists 
merely in showing intermediate sensible detail, is not new. See my 
Principles of Logic, pp. 490-1. How far in Prof. James s mind his doctrine 
of knowledge was connected with, and due to, such a view as that held 
by Bain with regard to the practical character of all belief, I am unable 
to say. 



ON PROF. JAMES S RADICAL EMPIRICISM 155 

finding this water ? Has it, in order to be knowledge now, got 
to wait for this future event ? Such a contention seems obviously 
absurd, and it forthwith is covertly modified. With regard to 
the relation of similarity between the image and the object, 
I will say no more than that there arise at once well-known, 
and perhaps fatal, difficulties, nowhere, I believe, faced by 
Prof. James. What I wish to emphasize here is the point that, 
while the self-reference of the idea beyond itself is explicitly 
denied by Prof. James, he uses, and is forced to use, words which 
re-affirm it. The present idea of water, he says, leads to the 
finding. There is a continuous advance to the object, with an 
experience of developing progress, and therefore the object was 
meant (Rod. Emp., pp. 57, 60, 62). Bu,t is it not, I ask, obvious 
that such language implies at the start, and before the finding, 
a self-transcendent idea of the water ? 

Let us suppose first, for the sake of argument, that ths water 
happens to be found. The finding of course must be taken, not 
as one sensibly present experience, but as a series of such ex 
periences. And at the start we have, according to Prof. James, 
nothing which refers beyond itself. But, if so, for leading you 
are, I submit, bound to write mere priority in succession , and, 
as to any experience of progress developing to an end, so far as 
I see, it is excluded. If the starting-place really leads, it is 
because that place points, and, if it really points, then, at once 
and now, it refers beyond itself. From the very first it plainly 
is self-transcendent and qualifies an object beyond itself, and it 
needs no process of waiting for something else to happen to it 
in the future. Knowledge of what is now is not, we may say, 
what it is, just because something comes later to make the fact 
that it was. 

It would be useless for me to labour a point which, as I under 
stand it, is obvious. But take the experience of a pain decreasing 
gradually over a space of some minutes. Even this experience 
is, on Prof. James s view, I should say, impossible. But, in any 
case, could we say here even plausibly that the beginning knows 
the end, and that the end, when it comes, makes the knowledge ? 
Or think of a desire, say for water, which later is satisfied. Here 
we have, first, an idea qualifying an object beyond itself, which, 
according to Prof. James, is impossible. And next, when the 
end is fulfilled in fact is it not monstrous to contend that our 



156 APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

desire now has been, and was, the knowledge of this fact s 
existence ? 

(ii) But suppose that, in looking for the spring which I know 
to exist, I do not happen to find the water. How, again, if the 
object is, not merely no future event but no particular event 
at all ? What in all such cases (we ask) has become of that inter 
mediate series of actual events in which alone knowledge can 
consist ? Clearly the series is not there ; and, if so, apparently 
in the whole of these cases there can be no such thing as know 
ledge. From this inevitable conclusion, and from the open 
bankruptcy which follows, Prof. James seeks to escape. But 
the means which he adopts are (so far as I see) merely the old 
inherited devices now long ago exposed. Attempts to conjure 
by the substitution at discretion of virtual and possible for 
actual , are neither profitable, nor, when once the trick is known, 
are they even interesting. And in the ingenious discussions, by 
which Prof. James seeks to recommend his view, I have failed 
really to find anything more than such attempts. Hence we 
must conclude that the greater part of our knowledge obviously 
falls outside of what Prof. James takes to be the essence of all 
knowledge, while even the residue can be included only by covertly 
importing that self-transcendent idea which we have been 
ordered to exclude. It would be difficult, I submit, for any account 
of the fact of knowledge to break down more completely. 

Passing from this we come to the final question about the 
nature of reality. Reality, according to Prof. James, appears 
to be one stream of immediate experiences, and nothing beyond 
this is real. And Prof. James seems even to wonder how any 
one like myself can in the main agree with him at the start, and 
yet leave him in the end (Journal ofPhilos., January 1910). The 
explanation is, however, very simple. In the first place, if this 
stream is to be one, there is the doubt about its real unity. Is 
the whole of Reality, with its past and future; a single actual 
immediate experience, or not ? We have seen above that in this 
dilemma Prof. James does not help us, and this one difficulty, to 
go no further, to my mind is enough. 

But we are here only at the beginning. We have on our hands 
the whole intellectual sphere of terms and relations, the world 
of abstractions and ideal constructions, and the wide region of 



ON PROF. JAMES S RADICAL EMPIRICISM 157 

mere possibilities and fancies and illusions. All this is fact of 
a kind, and no phrases can banish its existence. Now, is all this 
mass to be simply predicated of immediate experience ? Ob 
viously, in my judgement, this cannot be done, and yet, if I do 
not do this, there is at once something in reality beyond my 
reality. And, if you reply that I am not to predicate, but am 
to use an and or together , with this surely there is an end. 
You have now admitted, beside and beyond immediate experience, 
another reality ; and still to persist that immediate experience 
is all there is that is real, seems plainly perverse. 

In one sense I agree that we never can break out and pass 
beyond feeling. Everything that is real must be felt (cf. Chap 
ter VI). But, on the other side, I urge that our felt content is 
developed in such a way that it goes beyond and conflicts with 
the form of feeling or mere immediacy. And it is in the character 
also of this ideal content that we must, I submit, seek to find 
the full nature of the Real. We must conclude to a higher 
Reality which at once transcends, and yet re-includes, the sphere 
of mere feeling. 

The above result, if we start from the ground accepted by 
Prof. James, can, so far as I see, be avoided only in one way. 
The sole remedy is flatly and utterly to deny what I should call 
the entire fact of the ideal world. Urge that the reality at first 
is a mere flux diversified by sensible emphases, 1 and insist further 
that, beyond these emphases, there is at any stage absolutely 
nothing ideal, nothing even in appearance. Hold to this, and, 
whatever else you may be, you are so far consistent. 2 But, even 
so, against the dilemma of the flux itself, which you know to 
exist beyond the actual flux felt now you have still to seek 
a further medicine, or else to admit that the disease is not curable. 
And to say that Prof. James would have seriously accepted even 
the first partial remedy, is more than I myself could affirm. 
I can imagine no task more interesting to, and more incumbent 

1 In Mind, for July 1887, I myself wrote, In the beginning there is 
nothing beyond what is ... felt simply. . . . There are in short no relations 
and no feelings, only feeling. It is all one blur with differences, that 
work and that are felt, but are not discriminated. But of course, follow 
ing Hegel, I was always clear that this beginning is not the whole of our 
actual world, and cannot possibly be the end. 

1 As long, that is, as you succeed in maintaining that your own assertion 
also is no more than a mere sensible emphasis. 



158 APPENDIX III TO CHAPTER V 

on, the disciples of Prof. James, than to make an attempt in 
earnest to explain and to develop his doctrine of Radical 
Empiricism. 

Judging so far as I can judge, I must doubt that claim, to take 
high rank as a metaphysician, which has been made not by, but 
on behalf of, Prof. James. I cannot find in his metaphysical 
views (as I understand them) much real originality, and what 
I miss, perhaps even more, in his metaphysics is the necessary 
gift of patient labour and persistent self-criticism. With all his 
merits as a philosopher, and assuredly they are great, I cannot 
think it is as a metaphysician that Prof. James s name will hold 
its place in the history of thought. 



CHAPTER VI 

ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF IMMEDIATE 
EXPERIENCE 

IN this chapter 1 1 am to treat of a difficulty which arises 
in connexion with immediate experience. The scope of the 
discussion must however be limited. Problems will be raised 
on all sides with which here I shall be unable to deal. And 
even on the main point I must be satisfied, if I have shown 
how the question presses for an answer. 

I have had occasion often 2 to urge the claims of immediate 
experience, and to insist that what we experience is not 
merely objects. The experienced will not all fall under the 
head of an object for a subject. If there were any such 
law, pain and pleasure would be obvious exceptions ; but 
the facts, when we look at them, show us that such a law 
does not exist. In my general feeling at any moment there 
is more than the objects before me, and no perception of 
objects will exhaust the sense of a living emotion. And the 
same result is evident when I consider my will. I cannot 
reduce my experienced volition to a movement of objects, 
and I cannot accept the suggestion that of this my volition 
I have no direct knowledge at all. We in short have experi 
ence in which there is no distinction between my awareness 
and that of which it is aware. There is an immediate feel 
ing, a knowing and being in one, with which knowledge 
begins ; and, though this in a manner is transcended, it 

1 First published in Mind, January 1909. 

2 See, for instance, Mind, N.S., Nos. 6 and 33. The reader is also re 
ferred to the Index of Appearance, s. v. Feeling. The article in Mind, No. 6, is 
now reprinted as an Appendix to this chapter. Cf. Chap. V, pp. 152, 157. 



160 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

nevertheless remains throughout as the present foundation 
of my known world. And if you remove this direct sense 
of my momentary contents and being, you bring down the 
whole of consciousness in one common wreck. For it is in 
the end ruin to divide experience into something on one side 
experienced as an object and on the other side something 
not experienced at all. 

The recognition of the fact of immediate experience opens 
the one road, I submit, to the solution of ultimate problems. 
But, though opening the road, it does not of itself supply an 
answer to our questions. And on the other side in itself it 
gives rise to difficulties. With regard to these there are 
some points which I have dealt with elsewhere, and other 
points which perhaps I have failed wholly to see. There 
are again questions which have come before my mind, but 
have been passed over, or at most have been touched on by 
the way. It is one of the latter which in these pages I shall 
attempt to discuss. The problem was noticed by me years 
ago, and Prof. Stout in my opinion did well to insist on its 
urgency. 1 This difficulty may be stated by asking, How 
immediate experience itself can become an object. For, if it 
becomes an object, it, so far, we may say, is transcended, and 
there is a doubt as to how such transcendence is possible. 
On the one hand as to the fact of immediate experience being 
transcended we seem really certain. For we speak about 
it, and, if so, it has become for us an object. But we are 
thus led to the dilemma that, so far as I know of immediate 
experience, it does not exist, and that hence, whether it 
exists or not, I could in neither case know of it. And with 
such a result the existence of immediate experience becomes 
difficult to maintain, and the problem which has been 
raised calls urgently for treatment and solution. 

The solution, if I may anticipate, is in general supplied 

1 In the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1902-3. I had called 
attention to the problem and the general mode of its solution in Appear 
ance, p. 93, footnote. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 161 

by considering this fact, that immediate experience, how 
ever much transcended, both remains and is active. It is 
not a stage which shows itself at the beginning and then 
disappears, but it remains at the bottom throughout as 
fundamental. And, further, remaining it contains within 
itself every development which in a sense transcends it. 
Nor does it merely contain all developments, but in its own 
way it acts to some extent as their judge. Its blind uneasi 
ness, we may say, insists tacitly on visible satisfaction. We 
have on one hand a demand, explicit or otherwise, for an 
object which is complete. On the other hand the object 
which fails to include immediate experience in its content, is 
by the unrest of that experience condemned as defective. 
We are thus forced to the idea of an object containing the 
required element, and in this object we find at last theoretical 
satisfaction and rest. 

This may be stated in general as the solution of our 
problem, and we might proceed forthwith to work out this 
solution in detail. I have however thought it better to begin 
by examining two difficulties well known to psychologists. 
My object in thus digressing is to show that our problem is 
not merely metaphysical, recondite and negligible, but that 
the principles applied in treating it cannot elsewhere be 
ignored. The reader can, however, if he pleases, omit this 
whole digression as irrelevant. Of the two difficulties just 
mentioned the first concerns Attention and the second 
Introspection. 

I. With regard to the effects of attention there is a 
familiar puzzle. I am going here to take attention in the 
sense of noticing, without entering into any inquiry as to._its 
nature. 1 We all, when our attention is directed to our ex 
tremities or to some internal organ, may become aware of 
sensations which previously we did not notice. And with 

1 On this I have written elsewhere, Mind, N.S., No. 41, and O.S., No. 43. 
1574 M 



162 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

regard to these sensations there may be a doubt whether 
they were actually there before, or have on the other hand 
been made by our attending. And, though this question may 
seem simple, it really is difficult. Can we directly compare 
attention s object with something to which we do not at all 
attend ? To answer in the affirmative appears not easy. 
Can we then recall what we have not noticed, and, now at 
tending to this, compare it with some other object ? If 
reproduction necessarily depended on attention, any such 
process would seem impossible. But, since in any case this 
view of reproduction must be rejected as erroneous, we may 
reply confidently that the above comparison is a thing which 
actually happens. Still, asserting the possibility and the 
general principle, we have not removed all doubt as to the 
special fact. For how do I know in a given case that my 
present attending has not vitally transformed its result ? Am 
I to postulate that in principle attention does not and cannot 
alter its object ? Such an assumption, so far as I see, could 
hardly be justified. Certainly, apart from such an assump 
tion, we may argue that any effect of attention requires time, 
and that hence, if the sensation appears as soon as we attend, 
the sensation must have preceded. And this inference is 
strengthened when we are able to pass thus repeatedly and 
with the same result from inattention to its opposite. Still 
at its strongest an argument of this kind seems far from 
conclusive. And in any case I cannot think that no more 
than this is the actual ground of our confidence when we 
refuse to believe that attention has made the thing that we 
feel. I agree that in some cases we recollect our state before 
attention supervened, though such a recollection in most 
cases, I should say, is absent. And again usually, and if 
you please always, we have the persisting after-sensation or 
after-feeling of our previous condition. But, all this being 
admitted, the question as to the actual ground of our confi 
dence remains. In order to compare our previous state we 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 163 

ex hyp. are forced now to attend to it, and there is a doubt 
whether we can assume generally that attention does not 
alter. We have therefore to ask whether we are in a maze 
with no legitimate exit, and whether such a result, if accepted, 
does not throw doubt on the whole subject of this chapter. 

I will state briefly what I take to be the real way of 
escape, (a) We must first assume that anything remains 
the same except so far as I have reason to take it as altered. 
This assumption is everywhere necessary, and may be called 
fundamental. 1 (b) Next we must hold that apart from any 
attention we may be aware of a change in our condition. 
Without anything which could in any ordinary sense be 
called attending, we can experience a difference when 
a change takes place in our general or special felt state. 
(c) There is again an experienced change when attention (say 
to a feeling B) supervenes, and this particular experience is 
felt otherwise than as a mere change, say from A to B. Hence 
from the absence of this special feeling, as well as from the 
presence of the ordinary feeling of change to B, we infer that 
our sensation B does not depend on attention, but was 
previously there. We have, that is, on one side a mode of 
feeling when one sensation, A, merely changes to another 
sensation, B, while on the other side, when I attend to B, 
though that attention brings a change of feeling, it does not 
bring the same mode as goes with such a mere transition as 
from A to B. I therefore assume that the change made by 
my attending is not a change to B itself. And we may 

1 I do not mean by this that it is ultimate and self-evident (cf. Appear 
ance, pp. 601-2), for, if a thing remains, there must ex hyp. be some change 
about it. We therefore have to abstract from this change. We find 
a certain connexion of content in the thing, or between the thing and its 
context, and we take this connexion as true, and as hence not to be made 
false by any mere circumstance. Such a truth, like all truth, is an ab 
straction, and a doubt may be raised as to its ultimate legitimacy. But 
this is the principle which underlies and justifies our practical assumption 
and procedure whenever we assume that something remains the same 
amid change. 

M 2 



164 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

perhaps add that when, while already attending to B, I go on 
to observe it more specially, I may still fail to gain any feeling 
of change either to or from B, though on the other hand 
I am of course aware of a change in myself. Now I am 
not suggesting that in the above we have a demonstrated 
conclusion, but it furnishes, I think, the ground for our 
view as to attention s limits. Further this view, once 
suggested, justifies itself in working. And it leaves us with 
this main result that we have feelings, such as those of change 
from A to B, and that, though these feelings have not been 
attended to, they are both real and reproducible. In any 
case apart from this assumption there seems to be no way 
of exit from disastrous puzzles. 

I will now fill out this general sketch with further detail, 
which the reader who does not require it may omit. I feel 
a change, and that something has happened, say, to my 
finger. On attending I find that it is bitten by an insect. 
Of the previous sensation I have possibly enough remaining 
or reproducible to enable me to know that before the change 
my finger felt much like the others, and to enable me to 
repeat the change in idea. 1 I now attend to my other 
fingers, but they do not, on this, become bitten. There has 
hence been, I can argue, a felt change of my finger and an 
ensuing attention, the latter being felt as a different change. 
And by attending to my other fingers I cannot get the same 
result. I have neither the recalled felt change nor the 
present effect. My attention always gives me a felt change, 
but it will not give me these other special feelings, which 
therefore, I infer, have come to me otherwise. My present 
attention is in my power, but there are certain things, I find, 
that will not follow from my present attention. And, 
generalizing this, I conclude that, prima facie and apart from 
special evidence, attention does not alter its object. On the 

1 There is, we must remember, an identical basis of feeling in all my 
fingers. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 165 

other side I tend to assume that, where the felt change from 
A to B cannot be recalled, there, so far and apart from other 
evidence, it was absent. We obviously in all the above have 
no demonstrative proof. For on the one side we cannot 
prove that attention did not under some unknown conditions 
in a given case produce the entire result. And on the other 
side we must admit that, where the felt change of sensation 
was weak, its existence may now be for us irrecoverable. 
In arguing therefore from present defect to past absence we 
may well be deceived. And hence there are many cases 
where we have to remain doubtful. But generally where, 
beside the change I feel in attending, there is another 
recalled felt change ending continuously in the object, I 
conclude that the attention did not make this. And this 
conclusion is strengthened by repetition under varying con 
ditions. And it is confirmed by a mass of experience which 
becomes intelligible through the doctrine that, in general, 
attention does not make its object. On the other hand, 
where the above felt change cannot be verified directly or 
again on sufficient evidence be inferred, I may conclude, to 
speak in general, that it was absent, and that the attention 
has more or less produced its object. If, for instance, in my 
finger certain sensations follow and follow gradually when 
ever I attend, and, further, cease as I cease to attend, and if 
with this there is no other change recalled or to be inferred, 
I argue that attention is at least in part the cause. And this 
conclusion is strengthened and is generalized by experiences 
the same in principle which can be multiplied at pleasure. 
And once more, though not incontestable, the conclusion is 
found to serve. But my object here is not to enter into 
detail and in consequence to provoke discussion on points 
intricate and difficult and on which I have no special 
competence. What I am here concerned with is to urge 
merely one main result. This problem with regard to atten 
tion must prove insoluble except on a certain assumption, 



i66 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

the assumption of a felt change not noticed but effective 
and more or less reproducible. 

II. We may pass now to a kindred difficulty attaching 
to what is called Introspection. Can I observe my own 
present state, and, if not that, what in the end can I observe ? 
And, putting on one side all reference to attention, let us 
attempt to deal briefly with this puzzle. To say that my 
present state is not observed and that I depend wholly on 
memory, leads us (as in part we have already seen) into a 
position which is not tenable. Let us agree, rightly in my 
opinion, that I can reproduce that which at the time of its 
occurrence was not an object, yet where is the warrant that 
my reproduction is accurate ? I can hardly postulate that 
here there are no errors, and how are the errors to be cor 
rected ? And on the other side, if I can thus remember my 
past state, it seems strange that I am unable to make it an 
object while present. The appeal to memory seems there 
fore in any case inadmissible ; and further for myself I am 
unable to verify in introspection this constant presence of 
memory. To myself, when I try to observe exhaustively, 
say, some internal sensations, the idea that I am struggling 
to remember them seems even ridiculous. To myself I 
appear to be observing something which is, and, apart from 
certain unsound views, I have found no reason to discredit 
this appearance. What I feel, that surely I may still feel, 
though I also and at the same time make it into an object 
before me. And any view for which this is impossible 
begins, I think, by conflict with fact, and ends, I am sure, in 
inability to explain facts. That I cannot make an object 
of the whole of my felt self all at once, so much is certain in 
fact, and the principle seems clear. 1 But that I can observe 
nothing of what I now feel, seems the false inference of 
a perverse theory. 

1 The principle involved is this, that, in order to have an object at all, 
you must have a felt self before which the object comes. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 167 

But with this we are left face to face with a difficulty like 
the former one. Introspection is the attempt to observe my 
actual contents, and thus to take them as qualifying a con 
struction called my self. To do this without residue, we 
agreed, was impossible, but that limitation need not trouble 
us. The difficulty and the problem arise in connexion with 
the general mass that at any moment is felt but certainly is 
not throughout an object before me. Take an emotional 
whole such as despondency or anger or ennui. A part of this 
doubtless consists in that which, whether as sensation or 
idea, is before my mind. Any such object or objects we can 
observe, and, when we cannot keep them in view, we can 
postulate that they remain unaltered except so far as we 
have reason to suppose a change. 1 But in an emotional 
whole there are other felt elements which cannot be said to 
be before my mind. And now I desire both to bring these 
before me and to know that I have accomplished this task 
correctly. 

With regard to the second of these points we must recall 
some results already reached. We have to assume that a 
change in feeling is felt, not in general merely, but as a change 
of this or that character. When my mood alters I feel, not 
a mere difference, but my mood to be different. And, on the 
other side, observation of my mood is felt as a difference but 
not as an alteration of my mood. We may take it in general 
to be the case that observation does not alter. 2 Thus, when 
for instance in despondency I observe my visceral sensations, 
these feelings are translated into objects, into perceptions 
and ideas, but none the less, though translated, the original 
feelings remain. Hence (and this is the point) the persisting 

1 This is a mere application of the general postulate which we noticed 
before. It is unnecessary to discuss here our various special grounds for 
supposing the presence or absence of change. 

* On the other side it is true that observation of my feelings may, 
according to the conditions, go on to increase or to suppress them. But 
I think that this point may be ignored here. 



168 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

feelings can be felt to jar or to accord with the result of 
observation. For we have seen that generally in feeling we 
may experience the disagreement of elements. We have seen 
that a fresh fact, such as observation itself, must become 
an element contained in a new felt whole. And thus, when 
I pass psychically from despondency to despondency 
observed, I have not only a general sense of change to some 
thing new, but I feel more specially the presence or absence 
of novelty and an agreement or a jar with the object before 
me. When to my felt emotion, that is, its translation is 
added, I am aware of a harmony or discrepancy between that 
addition and what went before and still remains. 1 Apart from 
theory we should all agree that, when despondent or angry, 
a man can feel that a description of such states is right or 
wrong, though he may be unable to compare this description 
with another object. Again we should agree that, when not 
despondent, a man may assent to a description of despon 
dency, because he feels himself, as we say, into it, or may 
dissent because he cannot do so and this though in neither 
case he could assign a special ground. And what happens 
here, I presume, is that the description excites feelings which 
tend to fill themselves out to the content of the usual felt 
state. And between this content and the description offered 
there is then experienced, as above, the sense of agreement 
or jar. I have not forgotten that, in order to- test the truth 
of a description, a man may appeal to the usages of language, 
or again possibly may recall some definite action or other 

1 I am in a certain felt state which I go on to observe. The description 
which results from the observation is an object added to my former felt 
state, and is now itself an element in a new felt state. This object gives 
me (a) a feeling of change, but (b) not a change of my special felt mood, 
say, anger. The description further, if correct, brings (c) a sense of har 
monious addition without change, and if incorrect, (d) a feeling of incon 
gruity. If the incongruity is positive (a), I feel a jarring new element. 
If it is negative (/3), there is still a sense of discord, since defect has a posi 
tive quality. And there is, in this latter case especially, an instability in 
the object induced by ideal supplementation. This instability is largely 
the work of that which is merely felt. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 169 

symptom, or set of symptoms, from the past of himself or 
another. But, apart from an appeal to present feeling, 
nothing of this kind, however important it may be, is suffi 
cient by itself, I would submit, to account for the facts. 

I will now in passing touch briefly on the question of 
means. By what means and how am I able in, say, despon 
dency to make an object of that which I feel ? I am not 
inquiring how we come to have an object at all, nor am 
I even asking as yet how feeling in general can come to be 
an object. The question is limited at present to the above 
case of an emotion, but it has a more general bearing which 
will show itself later. And the point of importance is this. 
In any emotion one part of that emotion consists already of 
objects, of perceptions and ideas before my mind. And, the 
whole emotion being one, the special group of feeling is 
united with these objects before my mind, united with them 
integrally and directly though not objectively. 1 And this, 
I think, supplies us with an answer to our question. For 
when the object-part of our emotion is enlarged by further 
perception or idea, the agreement or disagreement with 
what is felt is not merely general and suffused, but is located 
through the object in one special felt group. And this special 
connexion and continuity with the object explains, I think, 
how we are able further to transform what is observed by 
the addition of elements from what is felt. There are features 
in feeling (this is the point) which already in a sense belong 
to and are one with their object, since the emotion contains 
and unites both its aspects. 

Finally if we reject the idea that what is felt can serve to 
judge of what is before us, let us consider the position in which 
we are left. The attempt to fall back on memory, we have 
seen, resulted in failure, and what else remains to us ? You 
may say, The object satisfies me or not, and that is the 

1 Again even on the object-side of the emotion there will of course be 
a greater or less extent of non-analysed content. 



170 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

whole of it and the end of it. But assenting to this very 
largely, if not in the main, I cannot agree that no more is 
to be said as to the special satisfaction. The object, you may 
reply, in the end is found to be self-contradictory or har 
monious ; but once more here, while agreeing in principle, 
I cannot sit down content with such a mere generality. 
Why, when my mood is incompletely or wrongly described, 
does the object go on to jar with itself and to be found self- 
inconsistent ? There is more at work here, we saw, than the 
associations of language, and there is more even than any 
redintegration, ideal or active, merely from the object by 
itself. For, with merely that, there is no accounting for the 
whole of the agreement or jar that I feel. You may appeal 
here to dispositions , and may argue that in one case my 
dispositions are satisfied and in the other case are restless. 
But if the disposition is not felt or in any way experienced, 
and to me is absolutely nothing but its effects, such an 
explanation once more seems insufficient. For in observing 
my mood I do not seem to be satisfied with the result, or 
to reject it, for no reason except that I find myself moved, 
I know not how, in this direction or the opposite. I seem 
on the contrary to myself to be engaged throughout and to 
be face to face with actual fact, and, wherever I dissent 
from or agree to an observed result, I seem to have a reason 
in this actual fact. And further I do not seem to have a mere 
general reason, but on the contrary something specific 
which I directly know and experience. The object before 
me is unstable and it moves so as to satisfy me ; and in 
this point and so far we are perhaps all agreed. Where 
I go on to differ is that I insist that, in addition to other 
influences (whose working I admit), the object is moved 
also by that which is only felt. There are connexions of 
content now actually present in feeling, and these are able 
to jar with the object before me. And they are able further 
to correct that object by supplementation from themselves. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 171 

And this, I submit, is the one account of the matter which 
on all sides is satisfactory. 

We have now considered the problem offered both by 
Introspection and by Attention, and we have been led in 
each case to the same main result. These puzzles are 
insoluble unless that which I feel, and which is not an object 
before me, is present and active. This felt element is used, 
and it must be used, in the constitution of that object which 
satisfies me, and apart from this influence and criterion 
there is no accounting for the actual fact of our knowledge. 
We must go on now to deal more directly with the main 
question of this chapter. We must ask how immediate 
experience is able to make a special object of itself. The 
principles which we have laid down and have hitherto applied 
will furnish us, I trust, with a satisfactory answer. 

I must however, before proceeding further, try to explain 
what I mean by immediate experience. And I will begin by 
pointing out a possible sense of this term which I desire to 
exclude. The Unconscious or the Subconscious may stand 
merely for that which I do not notice or notice specially, 
and it may stand again merely for that which, though I am 
aware of it, is no object before me. But these words on 
the other hand may bear a more extreme meaning. The 
Unconscious may signify something which is more than 
anything which at any moment I actually feel or in any 
sense actually am aware of. The Unconscious, in this sense, 
is still psychical, and it is continuous with my psychical 
contents, but it is outside all that at any moment I experience 
as mine. The matter contained in these two compartments, 
of the Unconscious and Conscious, may itself be to any 
extent one and indivisible, and may itself thus constitute 
a single world. But across this matter a line of demarcation 
is drawn, and while on one side of this line I feel and am 
aware, on the other side I have no actual experience at all. 



172 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

Across this opaque barrier may come to me influences or 
even messages, but the barrier can never be transparent. The 
influences or messages, to be anything for me, must take 
their place as elements in the region of my feeling and con 
sciousness, and outside that region I do not experience 
them. They belong in a word to the Unconscious. On the 
other hand the barrier, though opaque, is shifting. It may 
from time to time be moved so as to include elements which 
before were outside it. And this inclusion does but embrace 
what before was somehow psychical, though not experienced 
as mine. In something like this sense the Unconscious, 
whatever its previous history, has been used very widely 
and in varying applications by German philosophy since 
the beginning of the last century. It attained popularity 
in the well-known work of von Hartmann (1869), and has 
lately threatened to invade our literature under the specious 
title of the Subliminal Self. 1 

Against any interpretation here of immediate experience 
in the above sense I would desire specially to warn the 
reader. Outside that of which a man is aware there is, I 
agree, a larger world of experience. The content of this 
world, I again agree, is in a sense continuous with that 

1 Any one who can suppose that Mr. Myers s Subliminal Self was any 
discovery of his own, must, I think, either be ill informed or else unable to 
recognize the identity of ideas where the language is modified and the 
ultimate intention not the same. The term Subliminal is, I presume, 
the translation of a Herbartian phrase which has long been current, and 
with regard to the matter of Mr. Myers s book, while his industry and 
literary power are both unquestionable and admirable, it would be diffi 
cult, I imagine, to produce from it a single new idea. His capacity for 
philosophical thought can, I think, be easily estimated. Mr. Myers by 
his own showing was acquainted with von Hartmann s work. And yet 
he failed to perceive that, with regard to my subliminal self, the vital 
question is whether it is really my self at all, and, if so, then how far. He 
could not see that the problem which most pressed on him was not as to 
the existence of my self after death, but as to the existence and reality 
of my self at any time and at all. The conclusion to which I at least am 
forced is that in Mr. Myers s work there is a collection of everything and any 
thing which seemed to him usable prima facie as evidence for his foregone 
result, and that of inquiry in any other sense there is as good as nothing. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 173 

which directly fills his consciousness. But he cannot experi 
ence the former content immediately, and, were he to do 
so, then (as it seems to me) the man s self would be de 
stroyed. The position of the line dividing these two worlds 
no doubt may fluctuate. More and less of content may 
come from time to time within the man s feeling centre. 
But so long as that centre exists, there is a world within it 
which is experienced immediately, and a world without it 
which is not in this sense experienced at all. To call this 
world the region of the Unconscious, if this merely means 
that the man cannot be directly aware of it, to myself would 
be misleading. But in any case this world is outside his 
immediate experience. Whether tracts of a man s conscious 
ness can under any conditions be wholly split off and so 
exist independently, I am unable to say. 1 If, however, this 
takes place, the principle remains unaffected, for we have 
forthwith two or more centres of immediate experience not 
directly connected. I use, in brief, immediate experience to 
stand for that which is comprised wholly within a single 
state of undivided awareness or feeling. As against anything 
unconscious , in the sense of falling outside, this is im 
mediate as being my actual conscious experience. And 
further it is immediate as against those other special and 
mediated developments which throughout rest on it, and, 
while transcending, still remain within itself. I will now, 
dismissing all further reference to the Unconscious, attempt 
briefly to explain this difficult and most important sense of 
immediacy. 

Questions at once arise on some of which we may first 
touch in passing, (a) Was there and is there in the develop 
ment of the race and the individual a stage at which experi 
ence is merely immediate ? And, further, do we all perhaps 

1 The part split off may still be united in feeling with the rest (see 
Prof. James, Psychology), and, if so, is not split off wholly. But I do not 
suggest that an absolute division is impossible. 



174 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

at moments sink back to such a level ? We all (at least 
usually) have in what we experience the distinction of sub 
ject and object, or at any rate (it may not mean the same 
thing) the awareness of an object as a not-self. If we like 
to take consciousness as the state in which we experience 
a not-self, we may thus ask if there ever was or ever is an 
experience which is in this sense wholly subconscious. In 
such a state there would be feeling, but there would not be 
an object present as an other . And we should so far not 
be aware of any distinction between that which is felt and 
that which feels. For myself I think it probable that such 
a stage of mind not only, with all of us, comes first in fact, 
but that at times it recurs even in the life of the developed 
individual. But it is impossible for me to enter further on 
the matter here (see Mind, O.S., No. 47). What I would 
here insist on is the point that feeling, so understood, need 
not be devoid of internal diversity. Its content need not in 
this sense be simple, and possibly never is simple. By feeling, 
in short, I understand, and, I believe, always have under 
stood, an awareness which, though non-relational, may 
comprise simply in itself an indefinite amount of difference. 
There are no distinctions in the proper sense, and yet there 
is a many felt in one. We may thus verify even here what 
we may call, if we please, an undeveloped ideality. And, 
not only this, but such a whole admits in itself a conflict and 
struggle of elements, not of course experienced as struggle 
but as discomfort, unrest and uneasiness. We may, I think, 
go on to add that the whole in feeling can feel itself present 
in one part of its content in a sense in which it does not so 
feel itself in another part. And of course change in its con 
tents will be felt, though not experienced properly as change. 
Nor do I see reason to doubt that the laws of Redintegration 
and also of Fusion (if we admit such a law) will hold in 
this field. 

(b) I have thought it better to deal so far with the stage, 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 175 

real or supposed, where experience is merely immediate. 
But, in order to avoid controversy, I shall in this chapter 
consider this no further. And for our present purpose we 
need not assume that such a stage of mere feeling is even 
possible. I shall here take experience to exist always at the 
level where there is the distinction of object and subject, 
and a theoretical and practical relation holding between 
them. 1 I do not mean of course that this relation itself 
always exists for consciousness in the form of a relation 
proper uniting and dividing two terms. On the contrary 
we have no such object, I must insist, except so far as we 
have reached self -consciousness ; and to suppose that we 
are always self-conscious would to myself seem absurd. It 
is however impossible for me here to discuss these questions, 
on which I have entered elsewhere (Appearance. Cf. Mind, 
N.S., No. 46), and I must pass on to emphasize a further 
point which seems here all-important. 

(c) Whether there is a stage where experience is merely 
immediate I have agreed to leave doubtful. Feeling is tran 
scended always, if you please, in the sense that we have 
always contents which are more than merely felt. But on 
the other side at no moment can feeling ever be transcended, 
if this means that we are to have contents which are not 
felt. In a sense, therefore, we never can at any time pass 
beyond immediate experience. The object not-self, and 
again the object and subject related before my mind, all 
this is more than mere feeling. But again the whole of it 
would be nothing for me unless it came to me as felt ; and 
that any actual experience should fall somewhere outside of 
feeling seems impossible. At every moment my state, what 
ever else it is, is a whole of which I am immediately aware. 
It is an experienced non-relational unity of many in one. 2 

1 We may, as was noticed above, speak of this stage as consciousness 
in contrast with mere feeling. 

* I need not ask here if it is possible for my experience to consist of 
one single feeling. 



176 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

And object and subject and every possible relation and term, 
to be experienced at all, must fall within and depend vitally 
on such a felt unity. 

At any moment my actual experience, however relational 
its contents, is in the end non-relational. No analysis into 
relations and terms can ever exhaust its nature or fail in 
the end to belie its essence. 1 What analysis leaves for ever 
outstanding is no mere residue, but is a vital condition of the 
analysis itself. Everything which is got out into the form 
of an object implies still the felt background against which 
the object comes, and, further, the whole experience of both 
feeling and object is a non-relational immediate felt unity. 
The entire relational consciousness, in short, is experienced 
as falling within a direct awareness. This direct awareness 
is itself non-relational. It escapes from all attempts to 
exhibit it by analysis as one or more elements in a relational 
scheme, or as that scheme itself, or as a relation or relations, 
or as the sum or collection of any of these abstractions. And 
immediate experience not only escapes, but it serves as the 
basis on which the analysis is made. Itself is the vital 
element within which every analysis still moves, while, and 
so far as, and however much, that analysis transcends 
immediacy. 

Everything therefore, no matter how objective and how 
relational, is experienced only in feeling, and, so far as it is 
experienced, still depends upon feeling. On the other side 
the objective and the relational transcend the state of mere 
feeling and in a sense are opposed to it. But we must beware 
here of an error. We .cannot speak of a relation, between 
immediate experience and that which transcends it, except 
by a licence. It is a mode of expression found convenient 
in our reflective thinking, but it is in the end not defensible. 
A relation exists only between terms, and those terms, to 
be known as such, must be objects. And hence immediate 

1 Cf. Chap. X. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 177 

experience, taken as the term of a relation, becomes so far 
a partial object and ceases so far to keep its nature as a felt 
totality. 

The relation (so to express ourselves) of immediate 
experience to its felt contents, and specially here to those 
contents which transcend it, must be taken simply as a fact. 
It can neither be explained nor even (to speak properly) 
described, since description necessarily means translation 
into objective terms and relations. We possess on the one 
side a fact directly felt and experienced. On the other side 
we attempt a description imperfect and half-negative. And 
our attempt is justified so far as the description seems true, 
so far, that is, as though inadequate, it does not positively 
jar, and again is felt positively to agree with our felt ex 
perience. 

(d) There are several points which I cannot discuss here, 
but may notice in passing. 1 The felt background, against 
which the object comes, remains always immediate. But, 
on the other hand, its content may to some extent show 
mediation. Parts of this content may have at some time 
been elements included in the object, and may have been 
internally distinguished into relations and terms. However, 
none the less now, this relational content forms part of the 
felt background. Again in the object not-self, on the other 
side, we may find tracts the contents of which have never 
been analysed. They are, so to speak, nebulae in which the 
non-relational form still persists internally, and in which 
the complexity does not go beyond simple sensuous co- 
inherence. And, as we saw in the case of an emotion, the 
matter contained in these nebulae, and in the not-self 
generally, is continuous as to its content with that matter 
which remains merely felt. It is impossible, however, here 
to enlarge on these questions. And I cannot ask here 
how far the not-self both in its origin and its essence is 

1 Cf. Appearance, chapters ix and x. 
1574 N 



178 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

distinctively practical. Nor can I point out how far and 
in what sense we have special not-selves depending on 
various relations, permanent and transitory, to special selves. 
I must hasten onwards to attempt to deal directly with 
the main problem of the present chapter. 

I will, however, before proceeding, venture to repeat and 
to insist upon this main conclusion. Immediate experience 
is not a stage, which may or may not at some time have been 
there and has now ceased to exist. It is not in any case 
removed by the presence of a not-self and of a relational 
consciousness. All that is thus removed is at most, we may 
say, the mereness of immediacy. Every distinction and 
relation still rests on an immediate background of which we 
are aware, and every distinction and relation (so far as ex 
perienced) is also felt, and felt in a sense to belong to an 
immediate totality. Thus in all experience we still have 
feeling which is not an object, and at all our moments 
the entirety of what comes to us, however much distin 
guished and relational, is felt as comprised within a unity 
which itself is not relational. 

We may now approach the two main questions of this 
chapter, (i) How can immediate experience ever serve as 
a criterion ? and (ii) How can immediate experience itself 
become an object and a not-self, since ex hyp. it essentially 
is no object ? The first of these questions, after what has 
gone before, may be dealt with briefly. 

(i) I am not discussing here the general problem of the 
ultimate criterion. We may perhaps agree that the criterion 
consists in that which satisfies our wants, and is to be found 
where we have felt uneasiness and its positive opposite. 
That in which I feel myself affirmed, and which contents 
me, will be the general head under which falls reality, 
together with truth, goodness, and beauty. But I cannot 
enter further on this here, or inquire as to the special 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 179 

characters of these diverse satisfactions. 1 What on the 
other hand I wish here to emphasize is the point that I do 
not take immediate experience as being in general the 
criterion. I do not say that in agreement merely with the 
content of this we are to find in all cases our answer to 
the question of truth and reality. The inquiry as to why 
an object contents or does not content me, how it satisfies 
or does not satisfy a demand of my nature, cannot in all 
cases be met by an appeal to the actual content of my 
feeling. Hence the problem before us is limited to a special 
issue. How, we must ask, in the cases where my immediate 
experience does serve as a criterion of truth and fact, is it 
able to perform such an office ? 

We have already in the main anticipated the answer. 
I can feel uneasiness, we found, both general and special 
apart from any object or at least without regard to any 
object in particular. Again I can have a sense of uneasiness 
or its opposite in regard to a particular object before me. 
I do not, so far, make an object of my uneasiness and hold 
it before me in one with the object ; but so far, without 
actually doing anything of this kind, I feel the jarring or 
unison specially together and in one with the object. And 
we have now to ask how this disagreement can become 
a contradiction before me in the object, so that I am not 
merely dissatisfied with that but can go on to reject it as 
unreal. 

What is required is that the object should itself become 
qualified by the same content which was merely felt within 
me. As soon as this qualification has appeared, I have 
actually before me in the object that which previously was 
felt within me to be harmonious or to jar in regard to the 



1 I assume here that goodness is not to be used for the general term 
which is equivalent to satisfaction in general. But whether goodness is to 
be used in a wider or a narrower sense, is to myself a question merely of 
nomenclature. 

N 2 



180 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

object. The feeling (to speak roughly) remains what it 
was, but it no longer is merely grouped round and centred 
in the object. The feeling itself is also before me in the 
object- world, and the object now confronts me as being itself 
satisfactory or discordant. My description, e. g., is seen to 
come short, or to be otherwise conflicting, when compared 
with the corrected idea of my actual emotion. 

I will now notice briefly the various ways in which the 
object can gain its fresh qualification. The object naturally 
is unstable and in constant change. Apart from what we 
may call external alteration, there are reactions from the 
subject. Even where these are non-acquired, they often 
tend to make the requisite change in the object. And then, 
as we have seen before, there is redintegration from the object 
both physical and psychical. This redintegration again is 
all-pervasive, and holds good beyond the object-world and 
within the region of mere feeling. Hence the object, having 
been continuous with what is felt in me, both generally and 
in special groups, becomes an ideal centre and bond. It has 
a tendency both to restore and to qualify itself by associated 
content whether foregone or present. And further, as soon 
as this qualification from whatever cause has taken place, 
the identity of the content before me and within me is felt. 
Thus I am no longer merely satisfied or in unrest with regard 
to the object, but the object contains for me and itself is 
that which I feel must be accepted or rejected. 

We are attempting here to deal briefly with a difficult 
point which tends on all sides to lose itself in complications. 
I am endeavouring, therefore, so far as I can, to narrow and 
simplify the issue. We may feel satisfied or otherwise when 
we have contents felt to be harmonious or jarring, and further 
a perceived object may also in feeling be an element and 
an important element in a special felt group. Then, when 
the object (as may happen from various causes) itself acquires 
the content which before in feeling gave satisfaction or 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 181 

unrest, I become aware of the perceived object as that which 
in itself gives satisfaction or discord. And according to 
the nature of the dissatisfaction and of that which is done 
to remove it from the object, our general criterion acts in 
various specific ways. But all that concerns us here is the 
case where the particular content, which lies in my feeling, 
is used in order to judge of an object before me. 

We may recur to our former instance of an emotional 
state. If I shrink from or am attracted by some person, and 
do not know how this happens, I may endeavour accurately 
to realize the detail of my feelings, and perhaps to discover 
the real nature of the conduct which the object suggests. 
We have here an object, perceived and thought of, and on 
the other side we have dim uneasy feelings in myself which 
are not objective and before me. Let, however, the object 
from any cause an instinctive action, a chance sensation 
or an oscillation of emphasis develop its content in a certain 
direction, and the situation may at once be changed. That 
which formerly was but felt in regard to the object has 
become now, also and as well, a quality of the object. And 
it may satisfy us because it is that qualification which answers 
to what we felt and still feel. I know now what my feelings 
actually were, and whether and how far they were that for 
which I took them. And I understand now how the person 
himself has perhaps a character which suggests this or that 
behaviour towards him. In either case an object has been 
judged of in accordance with and from the content of 
immediate experience, and that experience has acted as 
a criterion of the object. 

(2) From this hurried treatment of a difficult problem I 
pass on to deal at last directly with the special subject of 
this chapter. We must ask how immediate experience is 
able to know itself and to become for us an object. That 
such knowledge exists in fact seems to me incontestable. 



182 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

Immediate experience certainly cannot make an object of 
itself throughout and in all its individual detail. And such 
a result not only fails in fact to be achieved but is impossible 
essentially. We can, however, set our immediate experience 
before us not only in partial detail but in its main general 
character. We can know about it as a positive experience, 
an awareness of many in one which yet is not relational ; 
and I must attempt to point out the steps by which such 
a conclusion may be reached. But I am not here offering 
any genetic account of the matter. That inquiry, however 
important, may here fortunately be ignored. The idea of 
immediate experience, once suggested, is, like other ideas, 
verified by its working. And all that I am concerned with 
here is to show that the origin of the suggestion is itself not 
in principle inexplicable. 

(i) We can in the first place have before us as an object 
the idea of a complete reality. Our actual object, as we saw, 
is unstable, and its advance (so far as it advances) in a certain 
main direction tends generally to remove uneasiness and to 
bring satisfaction. 1 Hence we can form (I need not ask how) 
the idea of an object with all uneasiness removed entirely, 
an object which utterly satisfies. But this means an object 
with nothing that is really outside it in the form of an else 
where or a not-yet . The elsewhere or the not-yet 
that falls really outside the object, precludes (this seems 
obvious) entire satisfaction. We hence are led to think of an 
object without any external elsewhere or not-yet , an 
object which in some sense contains within itself, and already 
is qualified by, every real possibility. We form in other 
words the idea of an all-inclusive Reality. And this idea, 
being set before us, may so far satisfy us as true and real. 
The Reality with anything outside of it will now not merely 
be felt as defective, but will in addition be discrepant with 

1 I am not saying that every satisfactory addition to the object is pre 
ceded by uneasiness and fulfils a felt need or want. That in my opinion 
would be going at least beyond the facts. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 183 

its own idea. And anything now that is suggested or that 
can be suggested, if it fails to be there in our actual object, 
must be made somehow of the actual object, if at least that 
object is to be complete. 1 

(ii) I have thus the idea of an object which is complete 
and all-inclusive, while on the other hand the object actually 
before me is incomplete. But this perceived object is changed 
and, let us here say, is changed by addition. And, with this, 
the source of the added elements goes on to become for me 
a problem, (a) These elements, I proceed to judge, come to 
me in part from the unknown not-self. This is an inevitable 
inference, the nature and validity of which it is perhaps not 
necessary here to discuss. We have hence, in this unknown 
province, a reality which has the form of an object not-self, 
but which on the other side is not present actually before 
me in perception. And this reality must be set down as 
included within my complete object, (b) Again within that 
object which I actually perceive there are contained (as we 
saw) tracts more or less undistinguished internally. These 
tracts are nebulae the contents of which have on the one hand 
manifoldness, but on the other hand are more or less without 
the relational form. They have within them adjectives 
which sensuously inhere and cohere, though these adjectives 
have not yet been ordered. But, as our knowledge increases, 
these sensuous wholes go on more or less to be broken up and 

1 The reader will bear in mind that I am not asking here if the above 
idea is true. That is a question which here may be ignored. There are 
two points which I may notice in passing, (a) It may possibly be sug 
gested that, instead of taking everything as of the object, I may take it 
as merely together with the object, and that this exception is fatal. But in 
this case I reply that the together has now itself become the object 
an object in my judgement most unsatisfactory but still answering the 
purpose of the text. (6) Again it may be said with regard to the not- 
yet that, given a recurrence of a certain character, the not-yet may be 
harmless. To this I answer that in such a case the not-yet qualifies 
this character which recurs, and in some sense is included within this 
character, and that taken as really external it still means incompleteness. 
But, obviously, innumerable difficulties attaching to what is said in the 
text may occur to the reader, and must here be passed by. 



184 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

discriminated. And the object, which of course is continuous 
throughout, appropriates the result of this process. Hence 
the object now possesses to some extent actually all its 
contents in a discriminated form, and for the rest it can 
assume (rightly or wrongly) that the same result, though not 
actual, is possible. The object will now include for us both its 
distinguished and undistinguished contents, the latter taken 
as distinguished ideally though not in actual detail. How 
far and in what precise sense it is proper to attribute reality 
to these unmade distinctions, we are not concerned here to 
inquire. It is enough for us that the idea of the complete 
object now includes within itself an objective not-yet 
external to its actual detail, and again an objective not-yet 
lying undistinguished within the fact which is given. And, 
having concluded so much, the self so far is satisfied with the 
idea before it, and it feels that this idea is somehow true 
and real. 

Now in the above two cases (we must go on to observe) 
there is a difference, a difference which is felt. When an 
addition is made to our object from the outside we feel this 
addition as new. I do not mean that in this respect it does 
not matter how the alteration of the object is made, and that, 
however the addition comes, we have precisely the same 
feeling. I admit the diversity, but I must insist that, in 
spite of this diversity, we have, when the object is added to 
from outside itself, a specific feeling of newness, and that 
this feeling differs from that which comes when the object 
develops itself from within itself. In the latter case (the case 
of what we called nebulae) the content was actually there 
though it was not yet distinguished, and the content was 
already felt as being there ; while in the former case (the 
case of addition from without) the content was not felt at 
all. The added features in both cases are felt as new, but in 
the one case these features arrive from a world which is 
unfelt, while in the other case the features already were 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 185 

somehow present in my actual awareness. And the difference 
between the two arrivals shows itself in each case in a 
different feeling. The reader who finds a difficulty here 
should recall the results we have accepted as true. In 
the first place everything, the object included, is actually 
felt, and, in the second place, a change in feeling itself also 
is felt. All that we have added here is the conclusion, that 
in the two cases distinguished above there is in each case 
a specific felt difference. 1 

(c) But beyond these two cases we have also a third. An 
addition may be made to our object, but neither from the 
unknown not-self without it nor from the undistinguished 
tracts within itself. We saw that, when a felt emotion is 
described, a man may feel that the description agrees or 
does not agree with an actual fact of which he is aware. And 
yet we found that this experienced fact, by which the 
description is measured, has contents not objectively before 
the man even in an undistinguished form. The object in its 
wavering, and in its movement to complete itself through 
redintegration and otherwise, changes in directions which 
cause on one side satisfaction and on the other side uneasi 
ness. And it is, largely or mainly, because these suggestions 
are felt to be in unison or discord with something already 
felt as present, that they are accepted or rejected. In some 
thing of the same way (we need not trouble ourselves here 
with the difference) the beautiful reality may seem to give 
you what you wanted, though what you wanted you did not 
know, or may seem to say for you what you always meant 
and could never express. This experience may doubtless 
in part be illusory. The want in part may not actually 
have been there before it was merged in satisfaction, and the 
meaning may in part never have gone before its expression. 
But upon the other side the experience certainly conveys 

1 I am of course not supposing that the consciousness which we are 
considering, knows at the present stage about these feelings all that we 
from the outside and at a later stage perceive. 



186 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

to us things that were not perceived but were actually felt 
within us. Again earlier in this chapter we saw how in psycho 
logical introspection my self is put before me as an object, 
an object to be completed ideally. And its content, we went 
on to perceive, is filled up in part out of elements which I 
merely feel, and which in no sense are before me in the shape 
of an object. And we may once more remind ourselves in 
general how the object is continuous in substance with the 
content that merely is present in feeling, and hence tends 
persistently to complete itself by that content. 

But, the fact being as above, how is the self ever to become 
aware of this fact or even to suspect its existence ? How 
is the merely felt to become in that character an object ? In 
the main, I think, this question has by now been answered. 
When my object is increased and the addition comes from 
that which was and is felt, there is, in such a case, first, a 
positive sense of expansion and of accord. And there is, 
next, an absence of the feeling of complete otherness and 
newness. We have not here quite the same experience as 
when the object is increased from the undistinguished not- 
self, but we have an experience more or less similar. This 
felt absence of disturbance, and this positive sense of some 
thing the same although new, prevent my attributing the 
change to that actual object-world which extends beyond 
my object. Can I then take the change as arising from the 
undistinguished tracts present within my actual object ? 
Once more here, we find, the path is closed. For the feeling 
here, though similar, is not the same as that of which in the 
present case I am aware. Again, however much I develop 
the object in idea, I seem always to be left with a sense of 
defect. Further in some cases (through a persisting after- 
perception or otherwise) I can reproduce the special object 
as it was experienced before the addition. And here I find 
that the new feature does not in fact fall even within the 
undiscriminated parts of that object. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 187 

To repeat, my object, felt to be unsatisfactory, is changed 
and now is qualified by an addition. This addition gives 
a positive sense of agreement and unison. It is without the 
sensation of disturbance, and it gives the feeling of identity 
with what went before. On the other side this feeling differs 
from that which I experience when the object is developed 
from its own undistinguished tracts. And in recalling the 
change of the object, where this is possible, there is, in pass 
ing between the earlier and the later object, a feeling of 
difference. And this difference remains even when I attend 
to those contents of the object which are not discriminated. 
For the above reason I cannot set down the change as due 
to the object even so far as that is undistinguished. 

Generally then my object is added to, and the new matter 
cannot be taken as without a source. But in the first place 
the matter is not felt as wholly new but as something 
already there and mine. And, in the second place, what is 
new cannot come from the object- world. It goes beyond my 
actual object, and yet I cannot attribute it to the non- 
perceived object- world, or again to any non-relational nebula 
contained within my object. The origin of my experience 
therefore is non-objective and it is also non-relational ; but, 
on the other side, positively, it comes to me as something 
which already was present to me. The idea, therefore, is 
suggested of an experience neither objective nor relational 
but, in a word, immediate. And this idea, being suggested 
(no matter how it is suggested), satisfies me so far, and is 
accepted as true and real. The process outlined above may, 
if you please, contain logical flaws. Whether that is or is 
not the case, I am not concerned to discuss. And the true 
history and the real genetic origin of the idea reached, you 
may contend, has escaped me. That would be an objection 
which once more I am not called on to answer. I claim to 
have shown how the idea of immediate experience can be 
brought before the mind, however otherwise normally it 



i88 ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

may be brought there. But the idea, once suggested, is 
verified by its working, and its acceptance does not logically 
depend upon the manner of its discovery. 

The whole process which I have sketched may be briefly 
resumed thus. Our actual object fails to satisfy us, and we 
get the idea that it is incomplete and that a complete object 
would satisfy. We attempt to complete our object by 
relational addition from without and by relational distinction 
from within. And the result in each case is failure and 
a sense of defect. We feel that any result gained thus, no 
matter how all-inclusive so far, would yet be less than what 
we actually experience. Then we try the idea of a positive 
non-distinguished non-relational whole, which contains more 
than the object and in the end contains all that we experi 
ence. And that idea, as I have endeavoured in these pages 
to show, seems to meet our demand. It is not free from 
difficulty, but it appears to be the one ground on which 
satisfaction is possible. 

The reader who accepts such an account of volition as 
I, for instance, have offered elsewhere, 1 may perhaps find our 
main result more evident when viewed from the practical 
side. Will, according to such an account, is on one hand 
the self-realization of an idea, but on the other hand it 
cannot be resolved into any complex of elements existing 
before the mind. We have in volition a positive experience, 
which is more than any sensation or idea or any mere set 
of sensations and ideas with their relations and movements. 
If you take my state of mind before the volition, followed 
by the actual satisfaction with its awareness of agency, and 
if you attempt to confine all this within the limits of what 
takes place before me in the objective field, the result is 
failure. You perceive forthwith that in your analysis there 
is something left out, and that this something is a content 

1 Mind, N.S., Nos. 44, 46, 49. Cf. Nos. 40, 41, 43. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 189 

which is experienced positively. The felt outgoing of myself 
and from myself has in short been ignored. And hence 
comes a consciousness of defect in the object as described, 
and a desire for its completion. On the other side, since the 
whole experience is integrally one, the objective side naturally 
tends to complete itself ideally and to fill itself out from 
what merely is felt. And the suggestion of a defect thus 
remedied, when once it has been made, is found so far to 
satisfy. But I would remind the reader that, neither here 
nor in what precedes, am I offering a true genetic account of 
the matter. 1 

In some such manner it, however, seems possible to reach 
the idea of immediate experience. That experience we have 
seen is a positive non-relational non-objective whole of 
feeling. Within my immediate experience falls everything 
of which in any sense I am aware, so far at least as I am 
aware of it. But on the other side it contains distinctions 
which transcend its immediacy. This my world, of feeling 
and felt in one, is not to be called subjective , nor is it to 
be identified with my self. That would be a mistake at once 
fundamental and disastrous. Nor is immediate experience 
to be taken as simply one with any subliminal world or 
any universe of the Unconscious. However continuous it 
may be with a larger world, my immediate experience falls, 
as such, strictly within the limits of my finite centre. But 
again to conclude from this that what falls within these 
limits is merely myself, would be an error entailing in the 
end theoretical ruin. The above idea of immediate experi 
ence is not intelligible, I would add, in the sense of being 
explicable ; but it is necessary, I would insist, both for 
psychology and for metaphysics. 

The genesis of the idea, I should agree, in the main may be called 
practical. I should presume it to arise when the sell is identified with 
the body, and when we become aware of something experienced within 
the body which is not the body nor yet things within it or outside it. 
To set down this experience as being further, like pleasure and pain, 
non-relational, is of course a step taken only by a later reflection. 



ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHAP. 

Its larger application would go far beyond the scope of 
these pages. Nothing in the end is real but what is felt, and 
for me nothing in the end is real but that which I feel. To 
take reality as a relational scheme, no matter whether the 
relations are external or internal , seems therefore im 
possible and perhaps even ridiculous. It would cease to be 
so only if the immediacy of feeling could be shown to be 
merely relational. On the other side relations in fact do 
exist and immediacy in fact is transcended. 1 And, just as 
we cannot explain the possibility of finite centres of feeling, 
so we cannot explain how this transcendence of feeling is 
possible. But the fact remains that feeling, while it remains 
as a constant basis, nevertheless contains a world which in 
a sense goes beyond itself. And when we seek for a unity 
which holds together these two aspects of our world, we 
seem to find given to us nothing but this unity of feeling 
which itself is transcended. Hence, as I have urged else 
where, we are driven to postulate a higher form of unity, 
a form which combines the two aspects neither of which can 
be excluded. That such a form is given to us directly in 
any experience 2 1 have never pretended. On the other hand 
against its possibility I have nowhere found a conclusive 
objection. And because this satisfies our demands, and 
because nothing but this satisfies them, I therefore conclude 
that such an idea, so far as it goes, is final and absolute 
truth. But, however that may be, I trust that the humbler 

1 We never in one sense do, or can, go beyond immediate experience. 
Apart from the immediacy of this and now we never have, or can have, 
reality. The real, to be real, must be felt. This is one side of the matter. 
But on the other side the felt content takes on a form which more and 
more goes beyond the essential character of feeling, i. e. direct and non 
relational qualification. Distinction and separation into substantives and 
adjectives, terms and relations, alienate the content of immediate experi 
ence from the form of immediacy which still on its side persists. In other 
words the ideality, present from the first, is developed, and to follow this 
ideality is our way to the true Reality which is there in feeling. 

2 Given, that is, adequately and as required. I am not forgetting the 
claim of, e. g., our aesthetic experience. 



vi IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE 191 

contentions of this chapter may in their way be useful. I 
have felt throughout that everything here which I have been 
able to say, could and should have been somehow put more 
simply. But if, while so far agreeing with me, the reader is 
nevertheless led to reflect further on this difficult theme, my 
main end will have been accomplished. The problem which 
has occupied us, however sterile and baffling it may appear, 
threatens, if left unresolved, to bring danger or even theo 
retical destruction. 



APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI 

CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERIENCE l 

THE idea of writing a few remarks on this head was suggested 
to me by Mr. Ward s article on Modern Psychology. These 
remarks are not intended as a contribution to the subject, and 
certainly not as a hostile criticism. We must all feel grateful to 
Mr. Ward for his interesting discussion, and for myself I feel 
sympathy with its general drift. And, as Mr. Ward has not yet 
worked out his positive view as to the Subject, it would be absurd 
in me to offer to criticize that view beforehand. But what has 
struck me is that in the discussion assumptions are used which, 
if true, are very far from appearing self-evident. And, though in 
his own mind doubtless Mr. Ward is prepared with a defence of 
them, I do not find that he has done anything to prepare the 
reader. Hence I thought it might be well to call attention to 
some points which seem ignored, but which to my mind appear 
to be fundamental. 

The main assumption seems to be the identification of experi 
ence with consciousness. Now, if by consciousness we under 
stand the being of an object for a subject, this assumption, I 
should say, is at least disputable. To my mind consciousness is 
not coextensive with experience. It is not original, nor at any 
stage is it ever all-inclusive, and it is inconsistent with itself in 
such a way as to point to something higher. 

(i) On the inconsistency of consciousness I can partly refer to 
Mr. Ward, but I must also state the case briefly in my own way. 
We have an object, a something given, and it is given to the 
subject. Is the subject given ? No, for, if so, it would itself be 
an object. We seem, then, to have one term and a relation 
without a second term. But can there be a relation with one 

1 These pages were first published in Mind for April 1893. It is with 
some hesitation that I have resolved to reprint them, but it seemed to me 
clear that, if republished, they should be left unaltered. Whether Prof. 
Ward has anywhere, since the above date, discussed the points raised in 
this paper, I regret to be unable to inform the reader. In his interesting 
and valuable work The Realm of Ends, lately published, he appears to 
myself still to ignore a view which, if it stands, tends to unsettle the 
foundation of his main theories. For his article see Mind, N.S., No. 5. 



CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERIENCE 193 

term ? No ; this appears to be self-contradictory, and, if we 
assert it, we must justify and defend our paradox. But, again, 
can a term be known only as a term of a relation or relations, 
while it is not, in any aspect, known otherwise ? No, once more ; 
this is impossible, and in the end unmeaning. Terms are never 
constituted entirely by a relation or relations. There is a quality 
always which is more than the relation, though it may not be 
independent of it. We may, of course, for certain purposes 
abstract and use working fictions, as we do, for instance, in the 
case of atoms and ether. But, outside natural science, it is a 
serious error to mistake these useful fictions for realities. And 
anything like a point without a quality in the end seems to be 
unreal, and constitution by relations a misleading phrase. 
But, once more, can we have a relation, one term of which is 
contained in the experienced and the other not ? No ; for a term, 
which is not in some sense experienced, seems nothing at all. 
If in itself it falls outside the experienced, then it appears to be 
unmeaning, and it cannot therefore consistently be said to exist. 
Or at least we must continue to hold this, until our difficulties 
are met. And they are not met by the mere repetition of those 
every-day distinctions which we have been forced to set down as 
barely relative. 

And now, leaving the terms, consider the relation. Is there, 
in the end, such a thing as a relation which is merely between 
terms ? Or, on the other hand, does not a relation imply an 
underlying unity and an inclusive whole ? And then, once again, 
must not this whole be experienced or be nothing ? Here are 
points surely which at least require some discussion. But con 
sciousness must lead to self-consciousness, where possibly these 
difficulties are lessened. If the object is given to me, then I also 
must be given, and on reflection I so find myself. I find myself 
given not in the abstract but as concrete experienced matter. 
Both terms are now objects, experienced with their relation, and 
the question is whether the difficulties are now less. We must 
reply in the negative. The correlated terms are for a subject 
which itself is not given. The correlation falls in the experience 
of this new subject, which itself remains outside that object. 
And of the relation to this new subject the old puzzles are true. 
This relation must have two terms, terms more than their relation ; 
and the more again must be experienced, or else be nothing. 

1574 O 



194 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI 

Any attempt to pass from within the experienced to that which 
in itself is not experienced, seems quite suicidal. The distinction 
between the experienced and experience seems in the end totally 
inadmissible. And the infinite regress is but an actual unremoved 
contradiction. It is itself an absolute irrational limit. 

(2) The form of consciousness thus seems in hopeless contra 
diction with itself. But is it necessary to identify experience 
and consciousness ? Here is a question which seems worth some 
consideration. Now consciousness, to my mind, is not original. 
What comes first in each of us is rather feeling, a state as yet 
without either an object or subject. Feeling here naturally does 
not mean mere pleasure and pain ; and indeed the idea that these 
aspects are our fundamental substance has never seemed, to me 
at least, worth discussing. I have ventured to consider it an 
absurd perversion of the older view. Feeling is immediate 
experience without distinction or relation in itself. It is a unity, 
complex but without relations. And there is here no difference 
between the state and its content, since, in a word, the experi 
enced and the experience are one. And a distinction between 
cognition and other aspects of our nature is not yet developed. 
Feeling is not one differentiated aspect, but it holds all aspects in 
one. And, though a view of this kind naturally calls for explana 
tion and is open to objection, I am forced to doubt the wisdom of 
ignoring it wholly. For, if it is difficult, it seems hardly so diffi 
cult as to take, for instance, our inward Coenesthesia as through 
out our object. And a reference to Volkmann s book would show 
that it owns, more or less, the endorsement of well-known names. 
But, if it is not false, then the identification of consciousness 
and experience is a wrong assumption. 

(3) But consciousness at all events, it may be urged, at a 
certain stage exists. Doubtless, but feeling on this account does 
not wholly cease to exist, and the experienced is therefore always 
more than objects together with pain and pleasure. Everything 
experienced is on one side felt, and the experienced is, also in part, 
still no more than felt. I fully admit the need here for explana 
tion and defence, 1 but I cannot admit that such a view deserves 

1 One point to be noticed is that the products of relation and distinction 
apparently come to be experienced without their process. In this way 
relational complexes may be experienced immediately, and, in a secondary 
sense, felt. Such felt masses can be attached to the object of conscious 
ness, but to a far larger extent they qualify the background [p. 177]. 



CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERIENCE 195 

to be ignored. The real subject, we may say, is always felt. It 
can never become wholly an object, and it never, at any time 
and in any case, ceases also to be felt. And on this felt back 
ground depends the unity and continuity of our lives, lost hope 
lessly by Associationism, and lost no less hopelessly by the 
identification of experience with consciousness. Our personal 
sameness consists in the ideal identity and the continuity of the 
experienced. Nothing more is wanted, and anything more, if it 
were possible, would, at least so far as we are concerned, be 
nothing. And the opposite of this, I venture again to urge, 
should not be assumed as self-evident. 

For, in dealing with the puzzles of consciousness and self-con 
sciousness, the difference brings important consequences. Those 
puzzles consisted in the internal difficulties of the relation and 
its terms, and then again in the fact of the relation itself. An 
experienced relation seems to involve an experienced whole, but 
this whole is at once supplied by feeling. For consciousness is 
superinduced on, and is still supported by, feeling ; and feeling is 
itself an experienced whole. And the difficulty of the relation 
and its terms might from the same basis be dealt with, though 
naturally I cannot attempt to work this out here. I will how 
ever try briefly to point out where the solution lies. There is a 
doubt, first, whether consciousness must imply self-consciousness. 
Can there, in other words, be an object, unless that object bears 
the character of a not-myself ? In this latter case the object 
itself will be but part of the whole object, for it will be given as 
one term in relation with another given term. This question to 
some slight extent, perhaps, is one of language, but for our 
present purpose it may be left unanswered wholly. The solution 
of the problem in any case remains the same. And that solution 
lies in the fact that between the felt subject and the object there 
is no relation at all. Whether the object contains, or does not 
contain, a self and not-self in connexion, on either view there is 
still a real felt subject. And the object qualifies this subject, but 
there is emphatically no experience of a relation between them. 
And when by reflection a relation seems given, the experience has 
been changed. That relation is now part of a new object ; 
and with that new object we have a felt subject, with which it is 
experienced, but to which it is not related. 
The above statement, I am well aware, calls for much 

o 2 



196 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI 

explanation, but the only proper explanation would be a full treat 
ment of the matter. What an object is, and how it differs from 
the rest of the experienced, how a content becomes an object, 
and how the transition is made from feeling to consciousness 
these are problems which in a small space could not be dealt 
with. But, assuming an object in the sense of a something/or me, 
I will say a few words on this preposition. The word for 
without doubt asserts a relation, and in addition it asserts a 
relation in space ; and, if so, clearly in language I contradict 
myself, when I deny that the object implies a spatial or any 
relation. And, if all metaphors are to be pressed, then I, and 
I think all of us, in the end must keep silence. But the question 
surely is whether such a contradiction is more than formal. And 
the question is whether on some matters, in order to speak ac 
curately, one has not to use metaphors which conflict with and 
correct each other. Believing this to be the case I repeat that 
the felt subject, in and for which the object exists, is not related 
to it and yet is experienced with it. 

The object in self -consciousness (for it is better to take that 
stage at once) is two concrete terms in relation with each other. 
The whole of it consists in content, in presented elements more 
or less qualified and extended by thought. What the content 
is on each side is not here my concern. My concern is to deny 
that this whole object is related to the subject, and yet to 
assert that it is there for the subject and present in it and to it, 
and that the subject itself is also experienced. 

The object-content is no longer in unbroken unity with the 
felt whole, but this breach itself is not, and cannot be, an object. 
It can become an object for reflection ; but, in becoming one, it 
generates a new experience and a fresh felt subject. The subject 
always is felt, and neither itself, nor its actual distinction from 
the object, can be got out and placed before it as an object. And 
there is no distinction here between the experience and what is expe 
rienced. 1 For the subject always is experienced because it is felt. 

1 For the outside observer, I may be asked, is there no distinction of 
this kind ? Unquestionably there is, but what it is, is a matter for dis 
cussion. If the observer takes the experiencing subject to be more than 
what is at one time experienced, taken together and in connexion with 
its experienced past he may possibly be right. But I must remind him 
that, if he assumes this, he is not arguing against any one. He is merely 
assuming without argument that he is unquestionably right and we are 
certainly wrong. 



CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERIENCE 197 

This view, briefly and, I must confess, obscurely indicated, 
does not of course remove all difficulties. But the difficulties it 
leaves are, I believe, not more than difficult. The elements we 
must deal with are at any rate contained in one world ; while 
to make a passage in any sense from one world to another will 
remain, I venture to think, entirely impossible. And this view, 
again, is surely not prima facie absurd. It is hard for one, who 
like myself learnt and tried to teach it now many years ago, to 
judge on this point, but I would appeal to the reader. Take 
such an experience as ordinary desire. Beside pleasure and pain 
we have in this state, I presume, a relation of something, that is, 
to an idea in me. These terms we may certainly agree to call 
objects, and, in some cases and in one sense, we may agree also 
to say this of the relation between them. But, beside the above, 
is there nothing experienced in desire ? I should say, yes, the 
whole experience is felt as one, and in that unity there is a 
background which is not an object. Desire, for me, is a felt 
whole containing terms and a relation, and pleasure and pain. 
But it contains beside an indefinite mass of the felt, to call which 
an object strikes my mind as even ludicrous. And I would ask 
the reader if this view is so irrational that it may safely be ignored, 
and that the opposite of it may, without any discussion, be 
assumed. 

And my purpose in writing is not at present to explain and 
justify this view, but to emphasize the fact that it exists. And 
I would venture on a respectful remonstrance against approaching 
these questions with undiscussed alternatives. I do not suggest 
that Mr. Ward is not familiar with all that I have set down, or 
that in his own mind he is not fully prepared to deal with and 
dispose of it. But his readers, I think, are left without informa 
tion. And the consequences, if so, must be injurious to the 
study of philosophy. When, for example, Mr. Ward assumes, 
or appears to assume, of unity and continuity, that, because they 
are not in separate presentations, they are in, or come from, a 
subject outside the experienced he can hardly realize the nature 
of the shock he administers. For unity and continuity, many of 
us have learnt, are always ideal. They consist wholly in content, 
or else they are nothing. And they come from content, or else 
they do not come at all. And any assertion of the opposite, we 
are ready to contend, is inconsistent with itself. We may be 



198 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI 

mistaken doubtless in all this, and Mr. Ward doubtless is prepared 
to show us how our positive doctrine is wrong, and our negative 
criticism mistaken. And when he produces, as I hope he soon 
will produce, his doctrine about the Subject, and its true con 
nexion with the change and sequence of phenomena, I trust he 
will take some account of our errors. I do not know what his 
doctrine will be, but it could hardly lose in clearness if it were 
defined against such criticism as, I presume, Hegel would have 
launched against it. And I do not say this for myself, who claim 
no right to assistance, and whose mind is, I suppose, presumably 
ossified. But with regard to the younger men, some of whom 
are growing up more or less in the same general view, the case is 
different. And they will hardly be helped by a tacit assumption 
that their conclusions, positive and negative, are not worth 
discussing. 

As for the Associationist, if he is not confuted, he surely never 
will be ; and I am sure that, however much confuted, he will 
never be convinced. Our business is, I suppose, not to be troubled 
about that, but to try to gain a positive result which on all sides 
will bear criticism. And is it not almost time to say, Let the dead 
bury their dead ? But, whether in metaphysics or in psycho 
logy, perhaps I hold the Associationist far cheaper, and differ 
from him more radically than Mr. Ward would think justifiable. 
For in principle Mr. Ward, I should say, has not broken with 
Associationism. The question of principle, to my mind, is about 
the nature of the universal in being and knowledge. But with 
that question Mr. Ward, as soon as he makes a serious attempt 
to work out his view of the identical (?) subject, will have to deal. 
Then I may find that these well-meant remarks have been super 
fluous, since any truth they may contain has been included and 
provided for. I offer them, notwithstanding, in the meantime, 
not as hostile criticism nor yet as positive doctrine. For I admit 
that there are difficulties attaching to the problem, which I cannot 
at present, to my mind, altogether remove. But I offer the 
above as some considerations, which ought not, in any case 
and by any view, to be quite ignored. 



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE TO CHAPTER VI 

IN republishing the two foregoing articles I would call atten 
tion to the metaphysical importance of their doctrine. Most 
of us, no doubt, agree that in metaphysics we start, in some sense, 
from what is given, and that hence the question as to what is 
given at the start is fundamental and vital. And the divergence 
of the answers, stated or implied, is a point which we are bound 
to recognize and deal with. There is, for instance, a well-known 
view that, whatever is given at first, it is not the One Reality ; 
and that hence the One must be reached, if at all, by some super 
vening process. Our beginning, it is asserted, is with the mere 
Many. Or we may hear that we have to start with the correla 
tion of subject and object, which correlation, we find later, we 
cannot transcend. 

Disagreeing otherwise, I would emphatically endorse this 
last result. If what is given is a Many without a One, the One 
is never attainable. And, if what we had at first were the mere 
correlation of subject and object, then to rise beyond that 
would be impossible. From such premisses there is in my 
opinion no road except to total scepticism. This is the ground, 
inherited of course from others, on which I may say that I have 
based myself always. If you take experience as above, then 
all the main conclusions which I advocate are assuredly wrecked. 
And nothing, I presume, is gained by simply urging against 
myself and others a result on which we ourselves have consistently 
stood. 

But what is more important to discuss is, I should say, the 
truth of the premisses. The doctrine that what is given at the 
start is a mere Many or a mere correlation, is, we contend, a fatal 
error. This, we maintain, is no genuine fact, but is a funda 
mental perversion of the fact. And while we are ready to inquire 
as to what would follow from any premisses alleged, we insist 
that the truth of the premisses is first in question, and we submit 



200 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE TO CHAPTER VI 

that, after all, it is perhaps better to begin by asking as to the 
nature of what is actually experienced. 

Any one who has read the foregoing papers (not to speak of 
what I have written elsewhere), 1 will, I think, see that for me 
at no stage of mental development is the mere correlation of 
subject and object actually given. Wherever this or any other 
relation is experienced, what is experienced is more than the 
mere relation. It involves a felt totality, and on this inclusive 
unity the relation depends. The subject, the object, and their 
relation, are experienced as elements or aspects in a One which 
is there from the first. And thus to seek to extrude the One from 
what at first is experienced, is in every case to mistake for fact 
what really is sheer abstraction. 

Everywhere, and not only here, a mere relation is in my 
view an abstraction, which never is given and could never be 
real. The experienced fact is not the mere terms and the 
relation. Over and above these it involves another aspect of 
given totality, and without this aspect the experienced fact is 
not given. And the same remark, of course, applies to the con 
tention that what is first given is a bare Many. 

I regret to repeat here once more what I have urged through 
so many years and so often. But, as long as what I hold to be 
fundamental fact is so much ignored, I have no choice but from 
time to time to repeat what to me seems indubitable. 

As to what would follow if I am here in error, and if a mere 
Many or a bare correlation were actually given, I will add a few 
words. Relations (this, I presume, must follow) would be at 
least as real as their terms and would have ultimate reality. 
What, however, is to be said about the experienced together 
ness of terms and relations, I do not know. Not only does the 
together seem to me, on this ground, to fall outside of know 
ledge and reality, but the whole fact of experience and know 
ledge has to my mind become non-existent and even impossible. 
Whether, if we start from the above basis, any subject could ever 
become aware of any other subject, I will not offer to discuss. 
But that the God of Theism could have his place in such a world, 
unless that world were radically changed, to myself seems 
inconceivable. 

1 I would refer the reader to an article in Mind, July 1887, as well as 
to my published volumes. 



CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPERIENCE 201 

But is it not better, I would ask once more, to begin by 
a discussion as to what is actually given in experience ? Is it not 
better to recognize that on this point there is no agreement, and 
little more than a variety of conflicting opinions ? The opinion 
which I myself, with others, have adopted, may of course be 
erroneous. But obviously I cannot desert it because certain 
doctrines, on the rejection of which it long ago was based, are 
assumed to be true. 



CHAPTER VII 
ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 1 

THE welcome article by the Editor in Mind, No. 65, con 
tains, we shall all agree, much food for reflection. Profiting, 
I hope, by all of it, there is nevertheless much from which 
I am forced to dissent. And in what follows here I shall 
try to deal with one point of disagreement. We can, I 
trust, isolate this point, at least sufficiently for a separate 
discussion. 

Prof. Stout denies, I understand, that coherence will work 
as a test of truth in the case of facts due to sensible percep 
tion and memory. Mr. Russell again has taken the same 
line in his interesting article on Truth in the Proceedings 
of the Aristotelian Society for 1907. This is the issue to 
which here I confine myself, neglecting the question as to 
other truths whose warrant also is taken as immediate. 
What I maintain is that in the case of facts of perception 
and memory the test which we do apply, and which we 
must apply, is that of system. I contend that this test 
works satisfactorily, and that no other test will work. And 
I argue in consequence that there are no judgements of sense 
which are in principle infallible. 

There is a misunderstanding against which the reader 
must be warned most emphatically. The test which I ad 
vocate is the idea of a whole of knowledge as wide and 
as consistent as may be. In speaking of system I mean 
always the union of these two aspects, and this is the sense 
and the only sense in which I am defending coherence. If 
we separate coherence from what Prof. Stout calls compre- 

1 This chapter appeared first as an article in Mind for July 1909. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 203 

hensiveness, then I agree that neither of these aspects of 
system will work by itself. How they are connected, and 
whether in the end we have one principle or two, is of 
course a difficult question. I hope to return to this, 1 but it 
is impossible for me to touch on it here. All that I can do 
here is to point out that both of the above aspects are for 
me inseparably included in the idea of system, and that 
coherence apart from comprehensiveness is not for me the 
test of truth or reality. 

So much being premised, I will proceed not to argue in 
detail against Prof. Stout and Mr. Russell, but to endeavour 
to explain the real nature of that view which I advocate. 2 
For the sake of clearness let me begin by mentioning some 
things in which I do not believe. I do not believe in any 
knowledge which is independent of feeling and sensation. 
On sensation and feeling I am sure that we depend for the 
material of our knowledge. And as to the facts of percep 
tion, I am convinced that (to speak broadly) we cannot 
anticipate them or ever become independent of that which 
they give to us. And these facts of perception, I further 
agree, are at least in part irrational, so far as in detail is 
visible. I do not believe that we can make ourselves inde 
pendent of these non-rational data. 

But, if I do not believe all this, does it follow that I have 
to accept independent facts ? Does it follow that perception 
and memory give me truths which I must take up and keep 
as they are given me, truths which in principle cannot be 
erroneous ? This surely would be to pass from one false 
extreme to another. Our intelligence cannot construct the 
world of perceptions and feelings, and it depends on what is 
given to so much I assent. But that there are given facts 
of perception which are independent and ultimate and above 

1 See Chap. VIII. 

* In speaking of this common view as mine, I merely wish to indicate 
to the reader that I have no right to commit others to every detail of 
my case. 



204 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

criticism, is not to my mind a true conclusion. On the 
contrary, such facts to my mind are a vicious abstraction. 
We have, I should say, the aspect of datum, and we have the 
aspect of interpretation or construction, or what Prof. Stout 
calls implication (p. 27). And why, I ask, for the intelligence 
must there be datum without interpretation any more than 
interpretation without datum ? To me the opposite holds 
good, and I therefore conclude that no given fact is sacro 
sanct. With every fact of perception or memory a modified 
interpretation is in principle possible, and no such fact 
therefore is given free from all possibility of error. 

The reason for maintaining independent facts and infallible 
judgements, as I understand it, is twofold, (i) Such data, it 
may be said, can be actually shown. And (2) in any case 
they must exist, since without them the intelligence cannot 
work. Prof. Stout is identified, 1 I think, only with the 
second of these contentions. 

(i) I doubt my ability to do justice to the position of the 
man who claims to show ultimate given facts exempt from 
all possible error. In the case of any datum of sensation 
or feeling, to prove that we have this wholly unmodified by 
what is called apperception seems a hopeless undertaking. 
And how far it is supposed that such a negative can be 
proved I do not know. What, however, is meant must be 
this, that we somehow and somewhere have verifiable facts 
of perception and memory, and also judgements, free from 
all chance of error. 

I will begin here by recalling a truth familiar but often 
forgotten, a truth of which Prof. Stout does not fail to 
remind us. In your search for independent facts and for 
infallible truths you may go so low that, when you have 
descended beyond the level of error, you find yourself below 
the level of any fact or of any truth which you can use. 2 
What you seek is particular facts of perception or memory, 

1 Mind, No. 65, p. 28. a Cf. Chap. V, p. 108. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 205 

but what you get may be something not answering to that 
character. I will go on to give instances of what I mean, 
and I think that in every case we shall do well to ask this 
question, What on the strength of our ultimate fact are we 
able to contradict ? 

(a) If we take the instance of simple unrelated sensations 
or feelings, a, b t c supposing that there are such things 
what judgement would such a fact enable us to deny ? We 
could on the strength of this fact deny the denial that a, b 
and c exist in any way, manner or sense. But surely this is 
not the kind of independent fact of which we are in search. 

(b) From this let us pass to the case of a complex feeling 
containing, at once and together, both a and b. On the 
ground of this we can deny the statement that a and b cannot 
or do not ever anyhow co-exist in feeling. This is an ad 
vance, but it surely leaves us far short of our goal. 

(c) What we want, I presume, is something that at once 
is infallible and that also can be called a particular fact of 
perception or memory. And we want, in the case of per 
ception, something that would be called a fact for observa 
tion. We do not seem to reach this fact until we arrive 
somewhere about the level of I am here and now having a 
sensation or complex of sensations of such or such a kind . 
The goal is reached ; but at this point, unfortunately, the 
judgement has become fallible, so far at least as it really 
states particular truth. 

(a) In such a judgement it is in the first place hard to say 
what is meant by the I . If, however, we go beyond feel 
ing far enough to mean a self with such or such a real exis 
tence in time, then memory is involved, and the judgement 
at once, I should urge, becomes fallible (cf. Mind, N.S., 
No. 30, p. 16, and No. 66, p. I56). 1 Thus the statement 
made in the judgement is liable to error, or else the state 
ment does not convey particular truth. 

1 Chapters XII and XIII, pp. 371-2, 384, of the present volume. 



206 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

(/3) And this fatal dilemma holds good when applied to 
the now and here . If these words mean a certain 
special place in a certain special series or order, they are 
liable to mistake. But, if they fall short of this meaning, 
then they fail to state individual fact. My feeling is, I agree, 
not subject to error in the proper sense of that term, but on 
the other side my feeling does not of itself deliver truth. 
And the process which gets from it a deliverance as to 
individual fact is fallible. 

Everywhere such fact depends on construction. And we 
have here to face not only the possibility of what would 
commonly be called mistaken interpretation. We have in 
addition the chance of actual sense-hallucination. And, 
worse than this, we have the far-reaching influence of ab 
normal suggestion and morbid fixed idea. This influence 
may stop short of hallucination, and yet may vitiate the 
memory and the judgement to such an extent that there 
remains no practical difference between idea and perceived 
fact. And, in the face of these possibilities, it seems idle to 
speak of perceptions and memories secure from all chance of 
error. Or on the other side banish the chance of error, and 
with what are you left ? You then have something which 
(as we have seen) goes no further than to warrant the asser 
tion that such and such elements can and do co-exist some 
how and somewhere, or again that such or such a judgement 
happens without any regard to its truth and without any 
specification of its psychical context. And no one surely 
will contend that with this we have particular fact. 

The doctrine that perception gives us infallible truth rests 
on a foundation which in part is sound and in- part fatally 
defective. That what is felt is felt, and cannot, so far as felt, 
be mistaken so much as this must be accepted. But the 
view that, when I say this , now , here , or my , what 
I feel, when so speaking, is carried over intact into. my judge 
ment, and that my judgement in consequence is exempt 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 207 

from error, seems wholly indefensible. It survives, I venture 
to think, only because it never has understood its complete 
refutation. 1 That which I designate, is not and cannot be 
carried over into my judgement. The judgement may in a 
sense answer to that which I feel, but none the less it fails 
to contain and to convey my feeling. And on the other hand, 
so far as it succeeds in expressing my meaning, the judge 
ment does this in a way which makes it liable to error. Or, 
to put it otherwise, the perceived truth, to be of any use, 
must be particularized. So far as it is stated in a general 
form, it contains not only that which you meant to say but 
also, and just as much, the opposite of that which you 
meant. And to contend for the infallibility of such a truth 
seems futile. On the other side so far as your truth really 
is individualized, so far as it is placed in a special construc 
tion and vitally related to its context, to the same extent the 
element of interpretation or implication is added. And, with 
this element, obviously comes the possibility of mistake. 
And we have seen above that, viewed psychologically, parti 
cular judgements of perception immune from all chance of 
error seem hardly tenable. 

(2) I pass now to the second reason for accepting infallible 
data of perception. Even if we cannot show these (it is 
urged) we are bound to assume them. For in their absence 
our knowledge has nothing on which to stand, and this want 
of support results in total scepticism. 

It is possible of course here to embrace both premisses and 
conclusion, and to argue that scepticism is to be preferred 
to an untrue assumption. And such a position I would press 
on the notice of those who uphold infallible judgements of 
sense and memory. But personally I am hardly concerned 
in this issue, for I reject both the conclusion and the 

1 I am of course referring here to Hegel. This is a matter to which 
I shall return (see Chapters VIII and IX). I am naturally not attempting 
to deal here with the whole subject of Error (see Chap. IX). 



208 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

premisses together. Such infallible and incorrigible judge 
ments are really not required for our knowledge, anc}, since 
they cannot be shown, we must not say that they exist. 

In maintaining that all sense- judgements are liable to 
error it would be better no doubt first to discuss the nature of 
error. But, since this is impossible here, let me state how 
much I take to be admitted or agreed on. I understand 
it to be admitted that some judgements of perception are 
fallible, and that the question is simply whether this descrip 
tion applies to all such judgements without exception. But, 
if some at least of these judgements are to be called fallible, 
what are we to understand by that word ? We each of us 
have a world which we call our * real world in space and 
time. This is an order, how made and based on what, it is 
impossible here to inquire. 1 But facts of sense are called 
imaginary or erroneous, when in their offered character they 
do not belong to this real order in space or time. They 
all belong to it of course as facts in some one s mental 
history, but otherwise they do not qualify the real order 
as they claim to qualify it. We therefore relegate them to 
the sphere of the erroneous or the imaginary, unless we are 
able to modify and correct their claim so that it becomes 
admissible. So much as this I must take here to be admitted 
on both sides, though it is more than possible, I fear, that 
I may have thus unknowingly perverted the issue. Still, 
unless the question by some means is cleared, I see no 
way of proceeding. And the issue, as I understand it, will 
now be as follows. Are there any judgements ot perception 
or memory, purporting to qualify the real world, which 
must necessarily qualify that world as they purport to 
qualify it ? Or on the other hand are all such facts 
capable in principle of being relegated to the world of error, 
unless and until they are corrected ? 

This I take to be the issue, but there is a distinction 

1 See Chapters III and XVI. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 209 

which, before proceeding, the reader must notice, the dis 
tinction between my experience and my world and the world 
in general. It is one thing to say that there are truths 
which in and for my personal experience are fundamental 
and incorrigible, and it is another thing to assert that the 
same truths are infallible absolutely. This distinction will 
become clearer as we advance, for I will begin by confining 
the question to my personal experience. Is there any truth 
of perception which here is fundamental and infallible, and 
incapable of being banished to the world of fancy ? 

I agree that we depend vitally on the sense-world, that 
our material comes from it, and that apart from it know 
ledge could not begin. To this world, I agree, we have for 
ever to return, not only to gain new matter but to confirm 
and maintain the old. I agree that to impose order from 
without on sheer disorder would be wholly impracticable, 
and that, if my sense- world were disorderly beyond a certain 
point, my intelligence would not exist. And further I agree 
that we cannot suppose it possible that all the judgements 
of perception and memory which for me come first, could in 
fact for me be corrected. I cannot, that is, imagine the 
world of my experience to be so modified that in the end 
none of these accepted facts should be left standing. But 
so far, I hasten to add, we have not yet come to the real 
issue. There is still a chasm between such admissions and 
the conclusion that there are judgements of sense which 
possess truth absolute and infallible. 

We meet here a false doctrine largely due to a misleading 
metaphor. My known world is taken to be a construction 
built upon such and such foundations. It is argued, there 
fore, to be in principle a superstructure which rests upon 
these supports. You can go on adding to it no doubt, but 
only so long as the supports remain ; and, unless they re 
main, the whole building comes down. But the doctrine, I 
have to contend, is untenable, and the metaphor ruinously 

1574 P 



210 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

inapplicable. The foundation in truth is provisional merely. 
In order to begin my construction I take the foundation as 
absolute so much certainly is true. But that my construc 
tion continues to rest on the beginnings of my knowledge is 
a conclusion which does not follow. It does not follow that, 
if these are allowed to be fallible, the whole building col 
lapses. For it is in another sense that my world rests upon 
the data of perception. 

My experience is solid, not so far as it is a superstructure 
but so far as in short it is a system. 1 My object is to have 
a world as comprehensive and coherent as possible, and, in 
order to attain this object, I have not only to reflect but 
perpetually to have recourse to the materials of sense. I 
must go to this source both to verify the matter which is old 
and also to increase it by what is new. And in this way I 
must depend upon the judgements of perception. Now it is 
agreed that, if I am to have an orderly world, I cannot 
possibly accept all facts . Some of these must be rele 
gated, as they are, to the world of error, whether we succeed 
or fail in modifying and correcting them. And the view 
which I advocate takes them all as in principle fallible. On 
the other hand, that view denies that there is any necessity 
for absolute facts of sense. Facts for it are true, we may 
say, just so far as they work, just so far as they contribute 
to the order of experience. If by taking certain judgements 
of perception as true, I can get more system into my world, 
then these facts are so far true, and if by taking certain 
facts as errors I can order my experience better, then 
so far these facts are errors. And there is no fact 
which possesses an absolute right. Certainly there are 

1 I would venture here in passing to question in principle the truth of 
a thesis advanced by Prof. Stout (pp. 34-5). Prof. Stout maintains that 
a proposition may be guaranteed by other propositions, and yet itself 
lend these no support. But if any proposition has a consequence which 
Js not discordant with what we already know, this consequence is surely, 
so far as it goes, a support, however small, to the proposition from which it 
follows. I however agree that the amount of such support may be trifling. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 211 

truths with which I begin and which I personally never 
have to discard, and which therefore remain in fact as 
members of my known world. And of some of these cer 
tainly it may be said that without them I should not know 
how to order my knowledge. But it is quite another thing 
to maintain that every single one of these judgements is in 
principle infallible. The absolute indispensable fact is in 
my view the mere creature of false theory. Facts are valid 
so far as, when taken otherwise than as real , they bring 
disorder into my world. And there are to-day for me facts 
such that, if I take them as mistakes, my known world is 
damaged and, it is possible, ruined. But how does it follow 
that I cannot to-morrow on the strength of new facts gain 
a wider order in which these old facts can take a place as 
errors ? The supposition may be improbable, but what 
you have got to show is that it is in principle impossible. 1 
A foundation used at the beginning does not in short mean 
something fundamental at the end, and there is no single 
fact which in the end can be called fundamental absolutely. 
It is all a question of relative contribution to my known 
world-order. 

* Then no judgement of perception will be more than 
probable ? Certainly that is my contention. Facts are 
justified because and as far as, while taking them as real, 
I am better able to deal with the incoming new facts and 
in general to make my world wider and more harmonious. 
The higher and wider my structure, and the more that any 
particular fact or set of facts is implied in that structure, the 
more certain are the structure and the facts. And, if we 
could reach an all-embracing ordered whole, then our cer 
tainty would be absolute. But, since we cannot do this, we 
have to remain content with relative probability. Why is 
this or that fact of observation taken as practically certain ? 

1 A possible attempt to do this will be discussed towards the close of 
the chapter, p. 216. 

P 2 



212 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

It is so taken just so far as it is not taken in its own right, 
(i) Its validity is due to such and such a person perceiving 
it under such and such conditions. This means that a cer 
tain intellectual order in the person is necessary as a basis, 
and again that nothing in the way of sensible or mental 
distortion intervenes between this order and what is given. 
And (ii) the observed fact must agree with our world as 
already arranged, or at least must not upset this. If the 
fact is too much contrary to our arranged world we pro 
visionally reject it. We eventually accept the fact only 
when after confirmation the hypothesis of its error becomes 
still more ruinous. We are forced then more or less to re 
arrange our world, and more or less perhaps to reject some 
previous facts - 1 The question throughout is as to what 
is better or worse for our order as a whole. 

Why again to me is a remembered fact certain, supposing 
that it is so ? Assuredly not because it is infallibly delivered 
by the faculty of Memory, but because I do not see how to 
reconcile the fact of its error with my accepted world. Un 
less I go on the principle of trusting my memory, apart from 
any special reason to the contrary, I cannot order my world 
so well, if indeed I can order it at all. The principle here 
again is system (cf. Chapters XII and XIII). 

The same account holds with regard to the facts of 
history. For instance, the guillotining of Louis XVI is 
practically certain, because, to take this as error, would 
entail too much disturbance of my world. Error is possible 
here of course. Fresh facts conceivably might come before 
me such as would compel me to modify in part my know 
ledge as so far arranged. And in this modified arrangement 
the execution of Louis would find its place as an error. But 
the reason for such a modification would have to be con 
siderable, while, as things are, no reason exists. And take 
again the case of an historical fact which is called more or 

1 Cf. Appearance, p. 543, note. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 213 

less isolated. Mr. Russell 1 has instanced the honourable 
death of a late prelate, and has urged (as I understand) that 
on any view such as mine I have just as much reason 
to believe that this prelate was hanged. The fact is sup 
posed to be isolated, and on mere internal evidence either 
alternative is taken, I presume, as equally probable. Now, 
of course I agree that we have innumerable cases where on 
mere internal evidence we are unable to distinguish between 
fact and fancy, but the difficulty that is supposed to arise 
I am unable to see. For the criterion with me is not mere 
absence, within the limits of this or that idea, of visible dis 
crepancy. The question with me everywhere is as to what is 
the result to my real world. (Appearance, chap, xvi, and 
p. 618.) Now, confining myself to a certain case, the acceptance 
on the one side of the mere fancy or on the other side of the 
attested fact may, so far as I see, be in itself the same thing 
to my world. But imagine my world made on the principle 
of in such a case accepting mere fancy as fact. Would such 
a world be more comprehensive and coherent than the world 
as now arranged ? Would it be coherent at all ? Mr. 
Russell, I understand, answers in the affirmative (p. 33), but 
it seems to me that he has misconceived the position. To 
take memory as in general trustworthy, where I have no 
special reason for doubt, and to take the testimony of those 
persons, whom I suppose to view the world as I view it, 
as being true, apart from special reason on the other side 
these are principles by which I construct my ordered world, 
such as it is. And because by any other method the result 
is worse, therefore for me these principles are true. On the 
other hand to suppose that any * fact of perception or 
memory is so certain that no possible experience could justify 
me in taking it as error, seems to me injurious if not ruinous. 
On such a principle my world of knowledge would be ordered 
worse, if indeed it could be ordered at all. For to accept all 

1 On the Nature of Truth, pp. 33, 35. 



214 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

the facts , as they offer themselves, seems obviously im 
possible ; and, if it is we who have to decide as to which 
facts are infallible, then I ask how we are to decide. The 
ground of validity, I maintain, consists in successful con 
tribution. That is a principle of order, while any other 
principle, so far as I see, leads to chaos. 1 

But, it may still be objected, my fancy is unlimited, 
I can therefore invent an imaginary world even more orderly 
than my known world. And further this fanciful arrangement 
might possibly be made so wide that the world of perception 
would become for me in comparison small and inconsider 
able. Hence, my perceived world, so far as not supporting 
my fancied arrangement, might be included within it as 
error. Such a consequence would or might lead to con 
fusion in theory and to disaster in practice. And yet the 
result follows from your view inevitably, unless after all you 
fall back upon the certainty of perception. 

To this possible objection, I should reply first, that it has 
probably failed to understand rightly the criterion which I 
defend. The aspect of comprehensiveness has not received 
here its due emphasis. The idea of system demands the 
inclusion of all possible material. Not only must you in 
clude everything to be gained from immediate experience 
and perception, but you must also be ready to act on the 
same principle with regard to fancy. But this means that 
you cannot confine yourself within the limits of this or that 
fancied world, as suits your pleasure or private convenience. 
You are bound also, so far as is possible, to recognize and 
to include the opposite fancy. 

This consideration to my mind ruins the above hypothesis 
on which the objection was based. The fancied arrange- 

1 To the question if the above principle is merely practical , I reply, 
Certainly, if you take " practice " so widely as to remove the distinction 
between practice and theory. But, since such a widening of sense seems 
to serve no useful purpose, I cannot regard that course as being itself 
very practical . I answer therefore that the above principle is certainly 
not merely practical. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 215 

ment not only has opposed to it the world of perception. It 
also has against it any opposite arrangement and any con 
trary fact which I can fancy. And, so far as I can judge, 
these contrary fancies will balance the first. Nothing, there 
fore, will be left to outweigh the world as perceived, and the 
imaginary hypothesis will be condemned by our criterion. 

And, with regard to the world as perceived, we must 
remember that my power is very limited. I cannot add to 
this world at discretion and at my pleasure create new and 
opposite material. Hence, to speak broadly, the material 
here is given and compulsory, and the production of what 
is contrary is out of my power. After all due reservations 
have been made, the contrast in this respect between the 
worlds of fact and of fancy will hold good. You cannot, 
as with fancies, make facts one to balance another at your 
pleasure. And (if we are to go still further) the riches of 
imagination even as regards quantity are deceptive. What 
we call our real world is so superior in wealth of detail that 
to include it, as outweighed in quantity, within some arrange 
ment which we merely fancy, is to my mind not feasible. 
The whole hypothesis which we have considered seems to 
have been shown on more than one ground to be untenable. 

But if I am asked, Were it otherwise, what becomes of 
your criterion ? though I think the question unfair, I will 
answer it conditionally. In that supposed case I would 
modify my criterion. I would say, The truth is that which 
enables us to order most coherently and comprehensively 
the data supplied by immediate experience and the intuitive 
judgements of perception . l But this answer, I repeat, is 

1 As I am not committed to this answer, I can hardly be called on to 
explain it further. But I may remind the reader that immediate ex 
perience and perceptional judgement is not all of one kind. Aesthetic 
perceptions, for instance, will not fall under the head of mere fancies. 
Where the fancy represents some human interest, it ceases, in propor 
tion to the importance of the interest, to be mere fancy or, properly, 
fancy at all. Cf. Chap. XII, p. 365. 

Again, to pass from this to another point, I may be asked whether the 



216 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP. 

merely conditional, and I do not believe that the condition 
holds good. For I believe that our criterion, applied with 
out modification, gives its proper place to mere fancy. And 
in any case (need I add ?) it does not follow that particular 
judgements of perception and memory, all or any of them, 
are infallible. 

But there is an objection which perhaps for some time has 
been troubling the reader. After all (he may say) my 
experience has got to be mine. If you went beyond a certain 
point in modifying my known world, it might possibly be 
a superior world but it would be no world for me. And 
from this it follows that something, and something given, 
is in my world fundamental, and that, while my world 
remains mine, this something is indispensable and infallible. 
And the fact, if it is fact, that I cannot produce this element 
fails to show that it is not there. Now it is one thing, 
I reply, to allow the existence of a fundamental element, 
and it is another thing to admit this in the form of an 
infallible judgement. I wish to emphasize this distinction 
and to insist that, if there is to be an infallible judgement, 
that judgement must be produced. On the other hand, I do 
not seek to deny in every sense the fact of the fundamental 
element. We are here in a region which so far is perhaps 
little understood, but for our purpose fortunately the whole 
question is irrelevant. 

We must remind ourselves of the distinction which we 
laid down above. Conceivably a judgement might be funda 
mental and infallible for me, in the sense that to. modify it or 

instance of a man in collision with a new environment to which he can 
not adapt himself presents no difficulty to our general criterion. In our 
case none, I reply, since we hold all such knowledge for relative. A 
difficulty arises only in the case of those who take judgements as absolute. 
We must, however, remember that, in the above instance of collision 
between inner and outer worlds, it would be wrong to assume that the 
man who prefers his inner world goes always against the weight of his 
immediate and intuitive experience. 



vii ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE 217 

doubt it would entail the loss of my personal identity, while 
yet to another mind that modification or that doubt might 
be possible and necessary. Of course I do not mean that 
anything which is something for me, could by a wider ex 
perience be taken as something which in no sense exists. I 
mean that the character in which it offers itself to me in 
judgement might by a wider experience be seen to need 
correction, and might, apart from that correction, be classed 
as error. I am speaking here (the reader will remember) 
about particular facts of feeling, perception or memory. 
And with regard to these I do not see the way by which 
I am to pass from relative to absolute infallibility, and I do 
not know how to argue here from an assumed necessary 
implication in my personal existence to a necessity which 
is more than relative. Am I to urge that a world in which 
my personal identity has been ended or suspended has ceased 
to be a world altogether ? Apart from such an argument 
(which I cannot use) I seem condemned to the result that 
all sense- judgements are fallible. 

The repugnance excited by this conclusion seems due to 
several grounds. Our immediate experience is not fallible, 
and this character (we have seen) is mistakenly transferred 
to those judgements which claim to deliver that experience. 
And further we had the false identification of knowledge 
with a mechanical superstructure supported by an external 
foundation. But behind this we have the demand for abso 
lute reality in the shape of self-existent facts and of indepen 
dent truths. Unless reality takes this form it seems to be 
nowhere, and so we go on to postulate absolute knowledge 
where no more than probability is attainable. Again, if the 
conclusion and the principle advocated here are accepted, 
the whole Universe seems too subject to the individual 
knower. What is given counts for so little and the arrange 
ment counts for so much, while in fact the arranger, if we 



218 ON TRUTH AND COHERENCE CHAP, vn 

are to have real knowledge, seems so dependent on the 
world. But the individual who knows is here wrongly iso 
lated, and then, because of that, is confronted with a mere 
alien Universe. And the individual, as so isolated, I agree, 
could do nothing, for indeed he is nothing. My real per 
sonal self which orders my world is in truth inseparably one 
with the Universe. Behind me the absolute reality works 
through and in union with myself, and the world which 
confronts me is at bottom one thing in substance and in 
power with this reality. There is a world of appearance 
and there is a sensuous curtain, and to seek to deny the 
presence of this or to identify it with reality is mistaken. 
But for the truth I come back always to that doctrine of 
Hegel, that there is nothing behind the curtain other than 
that which is in front of it ^ For what is in front of it is 
the Absolute that is at once one with the knower and behind 
him. 

The conclusion advocated in these pages is, however, but 
limited. With regard to the two aspects of coherence and 
comprehensiveness I have in these pages not asked if they 
are connected in principle. I have merely urged that it is 
necessary to use them in one, and that here and here alone 
we have the criterion of perceived and remembered truth. 
And I have argued that in principle any judgement of per 
ception or memory is liable to error, and I have urged that, 
if this is not so, the right conclusion is to chaos. But to 
some of the points here left unsettled I shall return. 

1 I believe these to be Hegel s words, but I cannot give any reference 
for them. Almost the same words will, however, be found in Phano- 
menologie (second edition), p. 126. This is the last page of the division 
marked A. III. 



CHAPTER VIII 

COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION * 

IN the preceding chapter I pointed out how coherence and 
comprehensiveness are the two aspects of system, and I 
attempted to justify the claim of system as an arbiter of 
fact. In the chapter which follows I am to endeavour to 
show how system stands to contradiction. The question is 
difficult and could in any case here be dealt with but im 
perfectly, and the reader again must excuse me if I approach 
it by a circuitous route. 

What in the end is the criterion ? The criterion of truth, 
I should say, as of everything else, is in the end the satis 
faction of a want of our nature. To get away from this test, 
or to pass beyond it, in the end, I should say, is impossible. 
But, if so (the suggestion is a natural one), why should we 
not set forth, or try to set forth, the satisfaction of our nature 
from all sides, and then accept and affirm this statement as 
truth and reality ? That in practical life we should do this, at 
least in some sense, I am fully agreed. But I cannot on the 
other hand endorse generally such an answer in philosophy, 

1 The present chapter appeared first in Mind for October 1909. I 
would take this opportunity to say that, with regard to the principle of 
non-contradiction as a test of truth, I agree in the main with what Prof. 
Bosanquet has urged in his Individuality and Value, pp. 49 foil, and 
265 foil. One contradicts oneself in principle in asserting that there is 
no beauty or virtue, as much as in asserting that there is no truth. Cer 
tainly, as Prof. Bosanquet points out, if a man chooses to deny the fact 
of beauty or virtue, you cannot, with that denial, formally convict him 
out of his own mouth, as you can if he asserts that there is no truth. 
And in this latter case there is a superiority in what may perhaps be 
called theoretical elegance. Still in philosophy our real object is not the 
dialectical confutation of an opponent. Our real object is the under 
standing of facts which cannot reasonably be denied. 



220 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

for I am unable to see how by such a plan we avoid theo 
retical shipwreck. 

Truth to my mind is a satisfaction of a special kind, and, 
again, it is a satisfaction which, at least at first sight, is 
able to oppose itself to others. But, however that may be, 
truth seems to differentiate itself clearly from other satis 
factions. And philosophy, I at least understand, has to meet 
specially this special need and want of truth. To say that 
philosophy s mission is to find ideas which satisfy all sides 
of my being, and that the truth of these ideas does not other 
wise matter, remains to my mind untenable. Ideas which 
are inconsistent, chaotic and discordant must, I think, by 
philosophy in the end be rejected as false. The doctrine 
that there is no truth in the last resort but the general 
working of ideas, whatever is otherwise the character of 
these ideas, is, or may be, acceptable, I once more agree, 
as a practical creed. But on the other side, with such a 
doctrine, it seems to me, there is an end of philosophy 
(cf. pp. 66, 132). 

To philosophize at once with all sides of my nature is, if 
you will, what I desire. But I at least do not perceive how 
I am to go about to accomplish this feat. If you agree with 
me that truth is special, then I am at a loss to see how to 
aim at it, or to find it, or to verify its presence, by some 
general movement of my being. On the other hand, to 
produce ideas at the dictation of all my particular wants is 
a thing which certainly I understand. But to maintain that, 
whatever the intellect may say or feel about these ideas, 
they are all none the less true, is to me ruinous theoretically. 
It seems the sheer denial, ultimately, of intellectual satis 
faction and truth. There is to be, in other words, no more 
philosophy except in the sense of a collection of useful ideas. 
The value of such a collection I do not seek to disparage, 
though the value disappears, I would insist, so far as the 
collection is one-sided. Still, if philosophy has to end here, 



viii COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 221 

there is, I would repeat, in the proper sense to be no more 
philosophy. 

Hence I have to remain so far in my old position. 1 If there 
is to be philosophy its proper business is to satisfy the 
intellect, and the other sides of our nature have, if so, no 
right to speak directly. They must make their appeal not 
only to, but also through, the intelligence. In life it is other 
wise, but there is a difference between philosophy and life. 
And in philosophy my need for beauty and for practical 
goodness may have a voice, but, for all that, they have not 
a vote. They cannot address the intellect and insist, We 
are not satisfied, and therefore you also shall not be satisfied. 
They must be content to ask and to repeat, Are you in 
fact satisfied with yourself as long as we remain unsatisfied ? 
It is for you to decide, and we can only suggest. Hence, 
I conclude, I can philosophize with my whole nature, but 
I cannot do this directly. On one hand the appeal is to the 
intellect, but on the other hand every aspect of my being 
can and does express itself intellectually. And the question 
is how far, in order to reach its special end which is truth, the 
intelligence has to adopt as true the various suggestions 
which are offered. How far, in order to satisfy itself, must 
its ideas satisfy all our needs ? 

In the above I am of course not assuming that the intellect 
is something apart, working by itself, and, so to speak, shut 
up in a separate room. On the contrary those who teach the 
implication of all sides of our being with and in what we 
call thought, deny no doctrine held by me. All that I main 
tain is that we have a specific function, as such verifiable in 
fact, and claiming to possess special rights of its own. I 
insist that, unless we take that claim seriously, speculation is 
impossible. And, if any one differs from me here, I would go on 
to urge that he is in conflict with fact, and rests on inconsis 
tency. And the result, I think, is confusion or total obscurity. 

1 Appearance, chap. xiv. 



222 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

I retain therefore, on the whole (if I may repeat this), my 
former position. All that I would modify is the importance, 
perhaps one-sided, which was given to pain, and the em 
phasis on the special doubt which arose here from our 
ignorance. 1 I would not withdraw what I said as mistaken, 
but I should certainly prefer now to state the case otherwise. 
The better way, I think, is to point out that all sides of our 
nature press for satisfaction, and, if left unsatisfied, will 
manifest themselves so in idea. We cannot, I think, 
reasonably suppose an aspect of our being left somewhere 
outside and able to say nothing directly or indirectly. That 
this is not possible we could hardly prove, but its probability 
seems really trifling. Every element of my nature then will 
find a voice. Every side of my being will represent itself as 
satisfied in idea and in reality, if not in what we call fact. 
And influenced, as we must be, by these claims within us 
and before us, we undoubtedly in a sense philosophize with 
the whole of our nature. But from this I still see no short 
cut to the conclusion that any need of our nature satisfied in 
idea is truth. The way of logical proof to my mind must on 
the contrary be indirect. Suppose, that is, the intellect 
completely satisfied and truth really attained, can you have 
with this the idea or ideas of other needs unfulfilled ? These 
ideas, if so, will be there, and they will not be true, but, at 
least apparently in conflict with the truth. For to admit 
them as necessary and as good, certainly does not in itself 
seem to make them true. And the real issue is whether, if 
left outside and not included in the truth, these ideas do not 
make truth imperfect in itself. The intellect has to satisfy 
its own requirements, and the question is whether, if the 
above ideas are not included but somehow conflict, those 
requirements are satisfied. And the further question is 
whether the ideas can possibly be included without being 
taken as true. 

1 Appearance, chap, xix, and pp. 609-12. 



vni COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 223 

It is obviously necessary therefore to inquire what does 
or would satisfy the intellect. Such an inquiry I am not 
undertaking in this chapter, but I may state the view which 
has commended itself to my mind. 1 Truth is an ideal 
expression of the Universe, at once coherent and compre 
hensive. It must not conflict with itself, and there must be 
no suggestion which fails to fall inside it. Perfect truth in 
short must realize the idea of a systematic whole. And 
such a whole, we saw (Chap. VII), possessed essentially the 
two characters of coherence and comprehensiveness. I will 
therefore, without pausing here to raise and discuss diffi 
culties, go on at once to ask as to the connexion between 
these two characters. Have we in comprehensiveness and 
coherence two irreducible principles, or have we two aspects 
of one principle ? 

If we can adopt a well-known view the answer is plain. 
The whole reality is so immanent and so active in every 
partial element, that you have only to make an object of 
anything short of the whole, in order to see this object pass 
beyond itself. The object visibly contradicts itself and goes 
on to include its complementary opposite in a wider unity. 
And this process repeats itself as long as and wherever the 
whole fails to express itself entirely in the object. Hence 
the two principles of coherence and comprehensiveness are 
one. And not only are they one but they include also the 
principle of non-contradiction. The order to express your 
self in such a way as to avoid visible contradiction, may be 
said in the end to contain the whole criterion. 

No one who has not seen this view at work, and seen it 
applied to a wide area of fact, can realize its practical 
efficiency. But, for myself, if this solution of our puzzle ever 
satisfied me entirely, there came a time when it ceased to 
satisfy. And when attempting to discuss first principles this 

1 Appearance. Cf. Chap. V and elsewhere. 



224 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

was not the answer which I offered. 1 However immanent 
in each element the whole is really, I cannot persuade 
myself that everywhere in the above way it is imma 
nent visibly. I cannot perceive that everywhere with each 
partial object we can verify the internal contradiction, and 
a passage made thus to a wider unity of complementary 
opposites. And, this being so, the question as to our two 
principles of coherence and comprehensiveness requires, so 
far as I am concerned, a modified answer. 

To a large extent partial objects are seen (I at least can 
not doubt this) to develop themselves beyond themselves in 
definitely by internal discrepancy. Everything, so far as it 
is temporal or spatial, does, I should say, thus visibly tran 
scend itself, though, if there are many orders of time and 
space, the same self-transcendence will not hold between 
them. But I will not seek here to urge a principle as far as 
it will go, when I admit that, so far as I can see, it will not 
go to the end. The visible internal self-transcendence of 
every object is a thing which, as I have said, I cannot 
everywhere verify. 

And the principle which in my book I used and stated was 
the following. Everything which appears must be predicated 
of Reality, but it must not be predicated in such a way as to 
make Reality contradict itself. 2 I adhere to this principle, 
and I will go on briefly to justify it with special reference 
to what we have called comprehensiveness and coherence. 
There are two main questions, I think, to which answers 
here are wanted, (i) If my object is really defective, and if 
it cannot develop itself for me beyond itself by internal 

1 Appearance, 1893. I have perhaps fallen in places into inconsistency, 
but there was, I think, no doubt in my mind as to which of the two answers 
was the right one. There is, however, a natural tendency to pass from 
really to visibly, and this tendency may perhaps at times have asserted 
itself unconsciously. 

3 This is of course not the same thing as taking up a suggestion (what 
ever it may be), and then, if you fail to see that it is visibly inconsistent, 
forthwith calling it real (p. 213). 



vin COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 225 

contradiction, how otherwise can it do this ? (2) How and 
in what sense does an isolated object make Reality contra 
dict itself ? 

(i) The object before me is not the whole of Reality, nor 
is it the whole of what I experience. The Universe (I must 
assume this here) is one with my mind, and not only is this 
so, but the Universe is actually now experienced by me as 
beyond the object. For, beside being an object, the world 
is actually felt, not merely in its general character but more 
or less also in special detail. 1 Hence, as against this fuller 
content present in feeling, the object before me can be ex 
perienced as defective. There is an unspecified sense of 
something beyond, or there may even arise the suggestion in 
idea of the special complement required. We may perhaps 
hesitate to say that the defective object itself suggests its 
own completion, and we may doubt whether the process 
should be called Dialectic. But at any rate a process such 
as the above seems to furnish the solution of our problem. 
Exactly how that idea comes. by which the partial object is 
made good, is, on the view we have just sketched, a matter 
of secondary moment. The important point is that with 
the object there is present something already beyond it, 
something that is capable both of demanding and of furnish 
ing ideal suggestions, and of accepting or rejecting the 
suggestions made. 2 

On a view such as this the essential union of comprehen 
siveness with coherence seems once more tenable. We have 
not only connexions in the object-world, temporal, spatial 

1 The reader is referred here specially to Chap. VI. 

1 See further Principles of Logic, pp. 381-2, as well as the chapter 
just referred to. The reader should bear in mind that we may have (a) 
a detail or (b) a general character which is wanting in the object and 
which is actually felt by me. Beyond this there is the question whether 
content, not actually now felt by me, can be suggested by a reaction of 
the whole reality which is one with me. I am myself ready to accept 
even this further possibility, but I would urge on the reader the impor 
tance here of maintaining in any case the above distinctions. Cf. Chapters 
VI and XI. 

1574 Q 



226 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

and other relations, which extend for us the content of a 
partial object. We have also another world at least to some 
extent actually experienced, a world the content of which is 
continuous with our object. And, where an element present 
in this world is wanting to our object, dissatisfaction may 
arise with an unending incompleteness and an endless effort 
at inclusion. The immanent Reality, both harmonious and 
all-comprehending, demands the union of both its characters 
in the object. The reader will notice that I assume here 
(a) that everything qualifies the one Reality, (b) that, when 
one element of the whole is made an object, this element 
may be supplemented even apart from visible inconsistency, 
and (c) that, to know Reality perfectly, you must know the 
whole of it, and that hence every partial object is imperfect. 
To this last point I shall return, but will proceed first to deal 
with the question asked as to Contradiction. 

(2) For, the reader may object, * Suppose for the sake 
of argument that I admit the above, I still do not see how 
Contradiction comes in. Why am I to add with you that 
the test of truth is its ability to qualify Reality without self- 
contradiction ? In replying to this I will first dispose of a 
point which possibly is obvious. If, in speaking of Reality, 
you say R is mere a , and if then, while you say that, an 
other qualification, b, appears and is accepted, you contradict 
yourself plainly. To this your answer, I presume, will be, 
Yes, but I was careful not to say " mere a ". I merely 
said " a ", and between these two assertions there is a vital 
difference. The question as to this vital difference may 
perhaps be called here the real issue. It is contended 
against me that I may first say Ra and then later Rb 
and then later Re without any contradiction. For a, b 
and c may be separate, or, if related, they may be conjoined 
externally. Hence a with b (it is urged) is quite con 
sistent with a since a remains unaffected. It will 



viii COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 227 

hence be absurd to argue that by merely saying * a the 
presence of b is denied. 

My object here is to explain the sense of the doctrine 
which I advocate far more than to make this doctrine good 
against all possible competitors. And hence, if in what 
follows I seem to the reader to be assuming all that has to 
be proved, I must ask him to bear this warning in mind. 
Certainly I must assume here that the view of judgement 
which I hold is correct, and it is on this view that what 
follows is really founded. I have at least seen no other view 
of judgement which to myself seems tenable, but this is a 
point on which I cannot attempt to enter here. I assume 
then that in judgement ideas qualify Reality, and further 
that in judgement we have passed beyond the stage of mere 
perception or feeling. The form of qualification present in 
these cannot, as such, be utilized in judgement. And the 
question is whether in judgement we have any mode of 
qualification which is in the end consistent and tenable. 
I do not think that we have any. 1 

1 What follows in the text may perhaps be summed up thus. In 
feeling (with which we start) we have an immediate union of one and 
many, where the whole immediately qualifies the parts, and the parts the 
whole and one another. In judgement this immediate unity is broken up, 
and there is a demand for qualification otherwise. This otherwise 
involves distinction and a relational plurality ; and that, because simple 
qualification is now impossible, entails mediation and conditions. And, 
because in judgement we cannot completely state the conditions, we are 
forced into an indefinite process of bringing in new material and new 
conditions. The end sought by judgement is a higher form of immediacy, 
which end however cannot be reached within judgement. 

It may perhaps assist the reader if I put the whole matter as follows. 
Take any object, and you find that, as it is, that object does not satisfy 
your mind. You cannot think it as real while you leave it just as it 
comes. You are forced to go outside and beyond that first character, 
and to ask, What, Why, and How. You must hence take your first object 
as included with something else in some wider reality. There is thus 
a demand so far, we may say, for comprehension. 

On the other hand you want to know the object itself and not some 
thing else. Therefore, while going beyond the object, you must not 
leave it but must still follow it. If you merely conjoin it with something 
outside that is different and not itself, this in principle is contradiction. 

Q2 



228 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

In all predication I assume that the ultimate subject is 
Reality, and that in saying Ra or Rb you qualify R by 
a or b. My contention is that, in saying Ra , you qualify 
R unconditionally by a, and that this amounts to saying 
mere a . For is there, I ask, any difference between R and 
a ? Let us suppose first that there is no difference. If so, 
by saying first Ra and then Rb you contradict yourself 
flatly. For a and b, I presume, really are different, and 
hence, unless R is different from a and b, what you (how 
ever unwillingly) have done is to identify a and b simply. 
But the simple identification of the diverse is precisely that 
which one means by contradiction. 1 If on the other hand, 
when I say Ra, I suppose a difference between R and a, 
then once more I am threatened with contradiction, for I 
seem now to have simply qualified R by a, the two being 
diverse. The reader will recall that we are concerned here 
with judgement and not with mere feeling or perception, 
And the question to be answered is how in judgement we are 
to qualify one thing by another thing, the two things being 
different. 

A natural answer is to deny that the judgements, Ra and 
Rb, are unconditional. That, it will be urged, was never 
meant. But, if it is not meant, I ask, ought it to be said, 
except of course for convenience and by a licence ? Let it 

Hence what you want is connexion and implication, where the object is 
its own self as contributing to a reality beyond itself. That now is co 
herence and comprehensiveness in one. 

Of course the critic who ignores what Prof. Bosanquet and myself have 
urged as to the real meaning of contradiction, must expect to miss the 
sense of the doctrine which we advocate, each in his own way. Take a 
diversity (here is the point), a diversity used simply to qualify the same 
subject, and with that you have contradiction, and that is what contra 
diction means. The And (see p. 231), if you take it simply as mere 
And , is itself contradiction. The reader should consult further the early 
part of Chap. XI. 

1 For a discussion of the nature of contradiction the reader is referred 
to Mind, N.S., No. 20, reprinted (with omissions) in Appearance since 1897, 
and may now be directed especially to Prof. Bosanquet s Individuality 
and Value, pp. 223 foil. 



vin COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 229 

then be understood that the above judgements hold good 
because R is somehow different from a and from b, and that 
the assertion is made under this condition, known or, I 
suppose, here unknown. The assertion then will really be 
R(x)a and R(x)b , the x being of course taken to qualify 
R. But, if so, apparently Ra is true only because of 
something other than a which also is included in R. R is 
a only because R is beyond a, and so on indefinitely. Merely 
to say a is therefore, if our view of judgement is sound, 
equivalent to denying the above and to saying mere a ; and 
that, since R is beyond mere a, seems inconsistent with 
itself. Contradiction therefore so far has appeared as the 
alternative to comprehensiveness, and the criterion so far 
seems to rest on a single principle. 

If, in other words, you admit that the assertion Ra is 
not true unless made under a condition, you admit that no 
knowledge in the form Ra can be perfect. Perfect know 
ledge requires that the condition of the predicate be got 
within the subject ; and, seeking to attain this end (which, 
I assume, can never be completely realized) , we are driven to 
fill in conditions indefinitely. The attempt to deny this, so 
far as we have seen, seems to force you to the conclusion 
that a makes no difference to R and that b makes no differ 
ence to either. And, if so, upon our view of judgement you 
have said nothing, or else have fallen into self-contradiction. 1 

1 I will remind the reader once more that the above argument assumes 
that in judgement what is asserted is taken to qualify Reality, and that 
there is no other way of asserting. To those who believe in another way 
the above argument is not addressed. The same thing may again be put 
thus. The assertion of any object a is Ra. Here, if R is not different 
from a, you have really no assertion. But, if R is different, you either 
deny this difference and so have a false assertion, or else you qualify R (that 
is, a higher R) both by a and this difference. Hence you have now asserted 
a manifold. But, as soon as you assert of R a manifold (however you have 
got it), there arises at once a question as to the how . You cannot fall 
back on mere sense, because in judgement you are already beyond that ; 
and on the other hand again you cannot simply identify. Hence you have 
to seek ideal conditions, and this search has to go on indefinitely. The 
above statement of course does not claim to show how these special 



230 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

The general position here taken must, so far as I see, 
be attacked either by falling back on designation or by the 
acceptance of mere external relations. I will say something 
more on these alternatives lower down, but will for the 
present seek to explain further the view which I hold. 
Judgement on that view is the qualification of one and the 
same Reality by ideal content. And, if we keep to this, we 
must go on to deny independent pieces of knowledge and 
mere external relations. The whole question may, perhaps, 
be said to turn upon the meaning and value of the word 
and . Upon the view which I advocate when you say R 
is a, and R is b, and R is c , the and qualifies a higher 
reality which includes Ra Rb Re together with and . It 
is only within this higher unity that and holds good, and 
the unity is more than mere and . In other words the 
Universe is not a mere together or and , nor can and 
in the end be taken absolutely. Relatively that is, for 
limited purposes we do and we must use mere and and 
mere external relations, 1 but these ideas become untenable 
when you make them absolute. And it would seem use 
less to reply that the ideas are ultimate. For the ideas, 
I presume, have a meaning, and the question is as to what 
becomes of that meaning when you try to make it more 
than relative, and whether in the end an absolute and is 
thinkable. 

That on which my view rests is the immediate unity 

conditions which you want are supplied. The process, that is, so far does 
not point to the particular complement which is required. Again, the 
reader must not understand me to suggest that, given a single feeling or 
sensation, we could by any logical process pass beyond it. I am on the 
contrary assuming that at the stage of judgement we are- beyond any 
single feeling or sensation, if ever we were confined to one. In the foregoing 
the word logical has been used (perhaps improperly) in a narrow sense, 
to mean simply a visible process of intrinsic implication. See above, 
p. 227, note. 

1 How the and is to stand to the external relations seems doubtful. 
If and itself is an external relation, then obviously, to unite it to its 
terms, you seem to want a further and , and so on indefinitely. 



vin COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 231 

which comes in feeling, 1 and in a sense this unity is ultimate. 
You have here a whole which at the same time is each and 
all of its parts, and you have parts each of which makes a 
difference to all the rest and to the whole. This unity is not 
ultimate if that means that we are not forced to transcend 
it. But it is ultimate in the sense that no relational think 
ing can reconstitute it, and again in the sense that in no 
relational thinking can we ever get free from the use of it. 
And an immediate unity of one and many at a higher remove 
is the ultimate goal of our knowledge and of every endea 
vour. The aspects of coherence and comprehensiveness are 
each a way in which this one principle appears and in which 
we seek further to realize it. And the idea of a whole some 
thing of this kind underlies our entire doctrine of judgement. 
You may seek, and I agree that it is natural to seek, for 
another view as to judgement and truth. But, so far as 
I see, that effort has resulted and will result in failure. 

Judgement, on our view, transcends and must transcend 
that immediate unity of feeling upon which it cannot cease 
to depend. Judgement has to qualify the Real ideally. 
And the word idea means that the original unity has so 
far been broken. This is the fundamental inconsistency of 
judgement which remains to the end unremoved, and which 
in principle vitiates more or less all ideas and truth. For 
ideas cannot qualify reality as reality is qualified immediately 
in feeling, and yet judgement seeks in vain to escape from 
this foregone method. And thus, aiming to reconstitute 
with its ideas the concrete whole of one and many, it fails, 

1 Cf. Appearance, p. 569, and Chap. VI of this volume. In my view (I 
am here of course in the main following Hegel) the and is a developed 
and yet degraded form of the immediate unity, and throughout implies 
that. Make the contents of the felt totality both objective and relational, 
and then abstract from any special character of the relations and any 
special character of the totality and you have got what you mean by 
and . But the point to be emphasized here is that, if you abstract 
altogether from the totality, you have destroyed your and . The and 
depends essentially upon the felt totality, and of course cannot generate 
its own foundation. 



232 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

and it sinks through default into the abstract identity of 
predicate with subject. But this is a result at which it did 
not aim and which it cannot accept as true. Judgement in 
the form Ra never meant that between R and a there is no 
difference. What it meant was to predicate its idea of, and 
to reconstitute with its idea, the old immediate reality. But 
since that whole and its way of unity were not properly ideal, 
and since now we are in the world of truth and ideas, the 
judgement has failed to express itself. The reality as con 
ditioned in feeling has been in principle abandoned, while 
other conditions have not been found ; and hence the judge 
ment has actually asserted unconditionally a of R and R of 
a. And such an assertion, it perceives, is false. The way to 
remedy its falsehood is to seek the conditions, the new ideal 
conditions, under which R# is true. To gain truth the 
condition of the predicate must be stated ideally and must be 
included within the subject. This is the goal of ideal truth, 
a goal at which truth never arrives completely ; and hence 
every truth, so long as this end is not attained, remains more 
or less untrue. 

Every partial truth therefore is but partly true, and its 
opposite also has truth. This of course does not mean that 
any given truth is merely false, and, of course also, it does 
not mean that the opposite of any given truth is more true 
than itself. These are obvious, if natural, misunderstandings 
of our view. But surely it should be clear that you can both 
affirm and deny ~R(x)a so long as x remains unspecified. 
And the truth on one of these two sides surely becomes 
greater in comparison, according as on that side, whether of 
affirmation or denial, you are able to make the conditions 
more complete. But, as long as and so far as the conditions 
remain incomplete, the truth is nowhere absolute. It is 
possible to produce sparks by striking flint is, I under 
stand, offered as an instance of unconditional truth. 1 But 

1 Prof. Stout in Mind, N.S., 65, p. 42. 



vin COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 233 

the opposite of this truth surely is also true. The thing 
clearly, I should have said, is possible or not possible ac 
cording to the conditions, and the conditions are not suffi 
ciently expressed in the judgement. You have therefore so 
far a truth which can at once be affirmed and denied, and 
how such a truth can be absolute I fail to perceive. The 
growth of knowledge consists (as we saw) in getting the 
conditions of the predicate into the subject. The more 
conditions you are able to include, the greater is the truth. 
But so long as anything remains outside, the judgement is 
imperfect and its opposite also is true. Certainly the truth 
of the opposite becomes progressively less, and may even be 
negligible, but on the other hand it never disappears into 
sheer and utter falsehood. 1 

I cannot attempt to deal here with the alleged absolute 
judgements to be found, for instance, in arithmetic, 2 but I 
must touch on the claim of designation to offer logical 
truth. 3 I mean by designation the essential qualification of 
our meaning by pointing, or by the equivalent use of such 
terms as this , now , here , or my . That in fact we 

1 For a discussion of the nature of Error see Chap. IX. 

1 The question as to mathematical truth appears to be as follows : 
(i) Are there really independent, self-consistent, self-contained principles 
from which the conclusions are developed, and (ii) can these conclusions 
be developed without inconsistency ? The second of these questions I 
am through ignorance of the subject unable to discuss. With regard to 
the first all I can do here is to remind the reader that there is an emphasis 
on self-contained . Unless the whole process is completely intelligible 
per se, it depends on an unknown condition (however apparently constant) 
in my mind or elsewhere. A is such that b is c may (we have seen) be 
perfectly compatible with the statement that A is such that 6 is not c . 
The question is whether the such is completely specified and got within 
the judgement itself. 

3 What Prof. Stout calls implicit cognition I take to fall under the 
head of designation. Otherwise the instance which he gives (on p. 44) 
is far from helping his case. For if the I give you, &c. is true, surely it 
is obvious that I do not give you also is true, so far at least as our know 
ledge goes. I understand Prof. Stout really here to rely on the this , 
in other words on designation. 



234 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

are forced to use designation and cannot in life possibly 
get on without it, I suppose, is obvious. We may set this 
much down, I presume, as universally accepted. And how 
far in our knowledge, if at all, we are able to get free from it, 
I do not propose here to discuss (see Chapters III and IX). 
We have to deal here with designation merely in regard to 
its ultimate logical value. 

At the entrance of philosophy there appears to be a point 
where the roads divide. By the one way you set out to seek 
truth in ideas, to find such an ideal expression of reality as 
satisfies in itself. And on this road you not only endeavour 
to say what you mean, but you are once for all and for ever 
condemned to mean what you say. Your judgements as to 
reality are here no less or more than what you have expressed 
in them, and no appeal to something else which you fail to 
make explicit is allowed. When, for example, you say 
this , the question is not as to what you are sure is your 
meaning if only you could utter it. The question is as to 
what you have got, or can get, in an ideal form into your 
actual judgement. And, when you revolt against the con 
clusion that this appears to be a mere unspecified univer 
sal, when you insist that you know very well what this 
meant, and protest that your object was something other 
than such illogical trifling and child s play our answer is 
obvious. What are you doing, we ask, with us here on this 
road ? You were told plainly that on this road what is 
sought is ideas, and that nothing else here is current. You 
were warned that, if you enter here, you are committed to 
this principle. If you did not understand, whose is the 
fault ? And as to your protests and refutations , they 
may count elsewhere but they count for nothing with us. 
If you cannot show that on our own principle our conclusion 
is wrong, then for us you have said nothing. Our whole 
way doubtless may be a delusion, but, if you choose to take 
this way, your judgement means what ideally it contains ; 



viii COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 235 

and, contrariwise, what you have not explicitly expressed 
and included in it is not reckoned. And, if so, no possible 
appeal to designation in the end is permitted. This/ my, 
now and the rest will mean once for all exactly what they 
internally include and so express. Your meaning has always 
on demand to be made explicit and stated intelligibly within 
the judgement. 

This I take to be the way of philosophy, of any philosophy 
which seeks to be consistent. It is not the way of life or of 
common knowledge, and to commit oneself to such a prin 
ciple may be said to depend upon choice. The way of life 
starts from, and in the end it rests on, dependence upon feel 
ing, upon that which in the end cannot be stated intelligibly. 
And the way of any understanding of the world short of 
philosophy still rests on this basis. Such understanding 
may despise feeling, and may claim to have risen into a 
higher region, but in the end it will be inconsistent and be 
found to stand on that which, taken as truth, does not 
satisfy. Outside of philosophy there is no consistent course 
but to accept the unintelligible, and to use in its service 
whatever ideas seem, however inconsistently, to work best. 
And against this position, while it is true to itself, I have 
nothing to say ; though I regret that to be true to itself is 
a thing so seldom within its power. For worse or for better 
the man who stands on particular feeling must remain out 
side of philosophy. If you are willing to be inconsistent 
(this is now an old story) you can never be refuted, and that 
is why philosophy can be said to depend upon choice. On 
the other hand the impulse to truth is strong, and the 
abnegation often too difficult, and the reason for this 
abnegation often, if not always, invisible without some 
training in philosophy. And hence the way of life, and of 
ordinary knowledge, obscurely conscious of its own imper 
fection, for ever seeks to complete itself by that which, if it 
aimed to be consistent, would be philosophy. 



236 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

On the other side even within philosophy itself the counter 
tendency is irrepressible. Even if you harden your heart to 
accept the view that philosophy, as against life, is one-sided, 
and has to remain mere understanding, yet, even with this, 
you may revolt against the rule of mere ideas. If we have 
certainty anywhere, this seems obvious, we have certainty in 
feeling. Whatever else may be doubted, at least we know 
what we feel. And that is why to some persons volition 
appears specially to give indubitable fact, for volition ob 
viously is felt. And it seems monstrous, when we seek for 
truth, to leave certainty behind. But what is often forgotten 
here is that the certainty belongs to feeling only as that is 
actually felt. To translate this certainty unmodified into 
ideas seems impossible ; and how you are at once to trans 
pose it into another mode and still use it as a test, I have 
failed to understand. And this is my position here against 
the use of designation as logical truth. I appreciate the 
certainty, the knowledge beyond all words and ideas, that 
may belong to mine and this . I recognize that in 
life and in ordinary knowledge one can never wholly cease 
to rest on this ground. But how to take over into ultimate 
theory and to use there this certainty of feeling, while still 
leaving that untransformed, I myself do not know. I admit 
that philosophy, as I conceive it, is one-sided. I understand 
the dislike of it and the despair of it while this its defect is 
not remedied. But to remedy the defect by importing bodily 
into philosophy the this and mine , as they are felt, to 
my mind brings destruction on the spot. To import them 
half-translated and ambiguously hybrid may give immediate 
relief but no less entails certain ruin. And my conclusion 
therefore is that at all costs consistency is better. If philo 
sophy remains one-sided that is perhaps after all a sign 
that it is following its own business. And, until better 
informed, that is all that I wish to say with regard to 
designation. 



viii COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 237 

Apart from designation what remains as an alternative to 
the view which I advocate ? The alternative, it seems to 
me, is to maintain a plurality of self-contained pieces of ideal 
knowledge. That course, even if we can regard the ultimate 
reality as being somehow a kind of passive but all-contain 
ing reservoir, leads in principle inevitably to Pluralism. And 
Pluralism, to be consistent, must, I presume, accept the 
reality of external relations. Relations external, not rela 
tively and merely in regard to this or that mode of union, 
but external absolutely must be taken as real. To myself 
such relations remain unthinkable, and it would be natural 
for me to end this chapter by enlarging on that head. But 
my chief difficulty here is that, perhaps from defective know 
ledge, I am not acquainted with any sufficient attempt to 
explain and justify the proposed alternative. 1 A scheme of 
external relations in the first place is confronted by the 
apparent fact of feeling with its immediate unity of a non 
relational manifold. To attempt to deny this fact, or again 
to leave it somewhere outside, seems ruinous ; but how on 
the other hand it is to be included in the scheme I do not 
know. And the external relations themselves, if they are 

1 Such a work we may, I hope, expect from Mr. Russell. I do not 
understand that at present he has offered any view which could fairly be 
taken as an account of first principles. In such an account obviously it 
would not be permissible to introduce ideas, ultimate or otherwise, with 
out in each case discussing whether the ideas are consistent with all the 
rest which is accepted. In a subordinate subject one can of course start 
with a save as hereinafter provided , and in this way preclude objections 
as to inconsistency. But in dealing with first principles such a course 
is clearly inadmissible. I am not, however, proposing here to criticize 
a doctrine which, I confess, I do not understand. And I trust I shall not 
be taken as disparaging the remarkable contribution which Mr. Russell, 
I am sure, has made to philosophy. The general tendency which he so 
ably represents has long been as good as unadvocated among us, and 
there has thus been, I agree, a very serious defect in the main body of 
our speculation. Whatever the result, Mr. Russell s inquiries should do 
a service to philosophy which, I imagine, it would not be easy to over 
estimate. On the inconsistency of some of the ideas used by him I hope 
to touch later in this volume (Chapters IX and X). For external 
relations see the references in the Index. And cf. Prof. Bosanquet s 
Logic, vol. ii, chap. ix. 



238 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

to be absolute, must, I suppose, be thinkable apart from any 
terms. Such a position, to my mind impossible in principle, 
seems, when you consider the variety and detail of the rela 
tions required, to be more than staggering. On the other 
side, if the relations apart from terms are not thinkable, 
obviously, I should have said, they have ceased therewith to 
be external absolutely. Your ultimate has now become a 
unity of terms and relations. And in any case, even if the 
relations are really external, there is the problem as to how 
somehow in fact we take them together with their terms. 
Further there is the difficulty caused by the fact of know 
ledge. If the world, as a whole, has the above character 
and also is so known, is the fact of our knowledge of the 
world s general character compatible with the fact of the 
world s being thus ? Or, from the other side, if external 
relations were absolute, could we get to know that they 
were so except by a vicious argument ? These are perhaps 
the main questions which press on any attempt to advocate 
external relations, and I do not know where these questions 
have been answered. External relations, if they are to be 
absolute, I in short cannot understand except as the sup 
posed necessary alternative when internal relations are 
denied. But the whole Either-or , between external and 
internal relations, to me seems unsound 

Philosophy perhaps may be called an attempt, possibly in 
the end an unsuccessful attempt, to escape from the fallacy 
of false alternative. To assume, if external relations are 
unthinkable, the possibility of a scheme of relations founded 
on and based in their terms, or again to pass from the rejec 
tion of internal relations as illusory to the acceptance of sheer 
externality, seem counterpart fallacies. The alternative in 
each case, if it is to stand, must justify itself independently. 
And in neither case to my mind is the justification likely to 
succeed. To myself it seems that ultimate reality is supra- 
relational. We find it first below relations, and again rela- 



vni COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 239 

tions are necessary to its development, and yet the relations 
cannot rightly be predicated of the original unity. They 
remain in a sense contained in it, but none the less again 
they transcend it. And the natural conclusion in my judge 
ment is to a higher unity which is supra-relational. In such 
a unity the imperfect relational scheme and the imperfect 
whole of feeling are both included and absorbed. And I 
have advocated this conclusion, certainly not on the ground 
that it seems to explain everything, but because it appears 
to me to leave nothing really outside, while it loads us with 
nothing in the end worse than the inexplicable. My object, 
though I do not say that I never joined in aiming higher, is 
to be left with something which is positive and all-compre 
hending and not in principle unthinkable. 

Criticism therefore which assumes me committed to the 
ultimate truth of internal relations, all or any of them, is 
based on a mistake. I cannot accept, for instance, the rela 
tion of subject and predicate as an adequate expression of 
reality. It evidently fails to carry over consistently into a 
higher region the felt sensible unity of the one and many. 
And there is no possible relational scheme which in my view 
in the end will be truth. The apprehended fact of terms in 
relation cannot itself, I am sure, be reconstituted ideally. 
In any mere relational synthesis there will be something left 
out, or else imported surreptitiously from elsewhere, and 
there will be ensuing inconsistencies which are rooted in and 
which point to incompleteness. I had long ago made it 
clear (so I thought) that for me no truth in the end was 
quite true, and I had myself (as I fancied) pointed out and 
dealt with the consequent dilemma. But it is in the nature 
of things, I presume, that there should always be some critics 
who know better. 

The ideas which we are compelled to use are all in vary 
ing degrees imperfect, and certainly this is the case with 
internal relations. They seek to hold on to the initial felt 



240 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

fact of identity in difference, and they point to a higher 
consummation beyond themselves and beyond all relations. 
But, at least in the end, they cannot, I should say, be thought 
consistently. On the other side external relations, except 
relatively and within certain limits, cannot in my opinion 
be accepted. They first of all seem to break wholly with 
the sensible fact, with that felt union of the diverse with 
which we begin. External relations not only dissolve its 
immediate totality, but they appear to wish to leave its car 
cass lying, so to speak, somewhere unexplained outside of 
truth and reality. And, having destroyed the starting-place, 
they further cut us off in principle (so far as I see) from any 
advance to a higher unity. The totality they seem to offer 
(though I hardly know what this is, or indeed whether or 
how it is offered) does not satisfy our ultimate desire, and, 
themselves unthinkable, the construction they build seems 
joined by inconsistency. This, at least until better in 
formed, is what I am forced to think of external relations if 
taken as absolute. 

Amongst ideas which, though imperfect, must necessarily 
be used, I may mention here the ideas of identity and differ 
ence. Identity must not on the one side be confused with 
resemblance, nor again on the other side can it be taken as 
abstract. There is, for instance, in the end no such positive 
idea, at least to my mind, as mere numerical sameness or 
diversity. On either of the above alternatives (I do not offer 
to argue the point here) identity is destroyed. On the other 
hand, when you take it otherwise as one aspect of the con 
crete union of sameness and difference, identity, when you 
think it out, becomes inconsistent. It leads at either end to 
an infinite process, and the same again is the case with 
diversity. These ideas therefore cannot be ultimate, and 
we naturally desire to get beyond them to something wholly 
consistent. Yet, if we find we cannot do this, the ideas still 
must be accepted. They will remain the best means we 



vin COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 241 

possess of approximating to the truth, or of removing our 
selves, if you prefer that, from the furthest extreme of error. 
They are not ultimately true, but they are truer far than 
what is offered in their stead. 1 

Coherence and comprehensiveness then we have found to 
be each an integral aspect of system. In practice they may 
diverge, but they remain united in principle. And system 
is connected essentially with contradiction and its absence. 
For what is inconsistent is so far unreal, and a diversity, 
judged unconditionally to be real, we found was inconsistent, 
and such internal discrepancy tends to involve an indefinite 
passage beyond self. Further, apart from this, an object 
which is short of the whole tends naturally, we may say, 
to suggest its complement. And, since that suggested 
complement is absent in fact, reality thus contradicts itself. 
How the suggestion is made we have inquired. The object 
itself may through its own internal content pass for us 
visibly beyond its own limits, or, on the other hand, the 
addition may come to us from that whole which we feel. 

1 The above was written in June 1908, and since then Prof. James s 
Pluralistic Universe has appeared, containing some controversial refer 
ences on the subject of identity. I have, however, left the text as it 
stood, and will merely add that I cannot accept Prof. James s account of 
the difference on this point between himself and me. My difficulty with 
Prof. James has been that from time to time I am led to suppose that he 
is advocating a view opposed radically to mine, and then later discover 
that he holds the very view which I have defended against him. And 
hence I am inclined to suspect that this may be the case elsewhere. Prof. 
James asserts, for instance, external relations as absolute ; but I am 
forced to doubt whether he, any more than myself, believes in such things 
except as relative (see above, p. 151). And, while professing Pluralism, to 
myself Prof. James appears really to be a Monist, or, at most, a Dualist. 
Again, if there is any difference between the pragmatic doctrine of free 
will and that which I, for instance, have advocated since 1876, I cannot 
find in what it consists. And other examples could be given. Hence, 
things being thus between Prof. James and myself (though I admit that 
this may arise from my own failure to understand), it seems to me that 
explanation is wanted far more than controversy. Our differences may 
perhaps on the whole be small when compared with the extent of our 
agreement. But apart from further information it would be hardly in 
my power to form an opinion on this point. 
1574 R 



242 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP. 

And this whole, as felt, may contain, we saw, actually a 
special detail, or again a general character which was want 
ing in the object ; or the whole may be present to us even 
more vaguely as a something beyond, a something which is 
not satisfied with what is before us. But when the sugges 
tion is made, however it is made, we have a fresh predicate 
of Reality. Our object has thus become more comprehen 
sive, and we must endeavour now to include this fresh 
predicate within it consistently. 

With the various questions which arise there is obviously 
here no space to deal. There is however one point on which 
I will venture to add a few words. The reader naturally 
may ask what on the whole the above conclusion is to mean. 
Does it mean that I am forthwith to set down everything 
that I want as real ? The answer is, Not so, if by every 
thing you understand all that you want and exactly as you 
want it . We have been compelled to conclude to the actual 
satisfaction of all sides of our being, and hence doubtless 
everything that we need must be included in reality. But, 
this being agreed on, the question remains as to the sense 
of such inclusion. Now to say that such or such a detail 
cannot be left entirely outside is one thing, and it is another 
thing to insist that, when included, this detail maintains 
untransformed its special character. The burden of proof 
in my opinion lies here with the assertor, and that burden is 
likely too often to strain or to overpass his power. 

It is after all an enormous assumption that what satisfies 
us is real, and that the reality has got to satisfy us. It is 
an assumption tolerable, I think, only when we hold that the 
Universe is substantially one with each of us, and actually, 
as a whole, feels and wills and knows itself within us. For 
thus in our effort and our satisfaction it is the one Reality 
which is asserting itself, is coming to its own rights and 
pronouncing its own dissent or approval. And our confidence 
rests on the hope and the faith, that except as an expression, 



vni COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION 243 

an actualization, of the one Real, our personality has not 
counted, and has not gone here to distort and vitiate the 
conclusion. Hence our confidence is but the other side of 
our willingness, so far as is possible, to suppress irrelevancy 
and to subordinate self-will. And, wherever this is felt, 
there is little desire to insist that what we want must be real 
exactly so as we want it. Whatever detail is necessary to 
the Good we may assume must be included in reality, but 
it may be included there in a way which is beyond our 
knowledge and in a consummation too great for our under 
standing. On the other side ; apart from the belief that the 
ultimate and absolute Real is actually present and working 
within us, what are we to think of the claim that reality is 
in the end that which satisfies one or more of us ? It seems 
a lunatic dream from some cell the walls of which are like 
a bubble against the inroad of fact. The ideas and wishes 
of fellows such as I crawling between heaven and earth , 
how much do they count in the march or the drift of the 
Universe ? 

One or more of us men between these two things, so 
far as I see, there is little difference. We have heard, at least 
in this connexion, surely too much about the social nature 
of mankind and about the accumulated funds of humanity. 
Offered as an explanation of our confidence, wise or stupid, 
as an account, that is, of how it comes to exist, these con 
siderations of course have their value. But offered as a 
justification, how can they be anything but worthless ? We 
know how joint action with its fellows, and even that re 
duplicated sense of self which comes from the perception of 
its kind, gives assurance to the humblest. But we know 
again how this assurance can prove to be illusory. The 
gardener s spade and the unheeding footstep have long ago 
pointed the moral which at least to my mind has not some 
how grown obsolete. Its force to my mind is not lessened 
by that vapouring, new or old, about Humanity, which, if it 

R 2 



244 COHERENCE AND CONTRADICTION CHAP.VIII 

were not ambiguous, would be scarcely sane. We have here 
to choose, I imagine, between two courses. We must either 
hold to a view of the criterion which succeeds in separating 
it from our demand for human satisfaction ; or, if we cannot 
do this (as I cannot), we must once and for all abandon and 
reject any special prerogative for human beings. Where 
humanity stands in the scale of being we do not know, and 
it seems presumptuous to fancy that we ever can learn. And 
such knowledge for us, so far as we can see, would be useless. 
But the meanest creature has its absolute right. 

The spirit of the worm beneath the sod 

In love and worship blends itself with God. 

And not only in love and worship does such union hold, but 
in will also and in the knowledge and enjoyment of beauty 
and truth. And, if we believe this, the result should be at 
once both confidence and humility. Our truth, such as it is, 
has its indispensable part in the one transcendent Experience, 
and is so far secure. But that any particular truths of ours, 
as we conceive them, should be unconditioned and absolute, 
seems hardly probable. 



CHAPTER IX 

ON APPEARANCE, ERROR AND 
CONTRADICTION l 

IN the following pages I am to offer some remarks on the 
subject of Appearance, Contradiction and Error. I have 
probably nothing to say here which I have not said before, 
and there is nothing, I imagine, in what I have said which 
could be called original. I, however, offer these remarks 
because they seem to me to be wanted, because, that is, the 
general view which I have adopted seems still partly mis 
understood. I am not seeking here to argue with any one 
who wishes to criticize rather than to understand. I address 
myself to those whose interest in these topics is impersonal, 
to those who desire to make their own every way, however 
imperfect, in which these matters are apprehended. 

I propose here first to say something as to the general 
foundation on which I stand. I shall next deal briefly with 
the relation of Error to Appearance. From this I shall go 
on to discuss at length what may be called the relative and 
absolute views of Error. I shall then examine a difficulty 
with regard to Contradiction, and shall finally remark on the 
general reality of Appearance and Degree. The reader who 
finds here too much repetition of what to him is familiar, 
will, I hope, accept the explanation which has been offered 
above. 

The way of taking the world which I have found most 

1 First published in Mind for April 1910, and, with the exception of 
some small additions and of the Supplementary Notes, written rather 
more than a year previously. There are some further questions as to 
the nature of Truth which will be dealt with in the chapter which follows. 



246 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

tenable is to regard it as a single Experience, superior to 
relations and containing in the fullest sense everything which 
is. Whether there is any particular matter in this whole 
which falls outside of any finite centre of feeling, I cannot 
certainly decide ; but the contrary seems perhaps more prob 
able. 1 We have then the Absolute Reality appearing in and 
to finite centres and uniting them in one experience. We 
can, I think, understand more or less what, in order for this 
to be done, such an experience must be. But to comprehend 
it otherwise is beyond us and even beyond all intelligence. 
The immanence of the Absolute in finite centres, and of 
finite centres in the Absolute, I have always set down as 
inexplicable. Those for whom philosophy has to explain 
everything need therefore not trouble themselves with my 
views. Whether on the other hand the doctrine which I 
hold is intelligible and thinkable, depends, I should say, on 
the meaning which you like to give to these ambiguous 
terms. To myself this doctririe appears at least to have 
a positive sense and meaning which I am able clearly to 
apprehend. And in the main I inherited this doctrine from 
others, and find myself sharing it with others, to whom it 
seemed and seems intelligible. But in what follows I of 
course am speaking only for myself. 

No one, I think, will understand such a view if he makes 
a mistake as to the given fact from which in a sense it starts. 
There are those for whom the outer world is one given fact, 
and again the world of my self another fact ; and there are 
others for whom only one of these two facts is ultimate. It 
is in philosophy a common doctrine that there is immediate 
certainty only on the side of my self, a basis from which I 
should have thought that Solipsism must demonstrably 
follow. If you start from the absolute reality of your self, 
you need not puzzle yourself as to how you are to leave this 
ground and leap to a transcendent Reality. You may, 

1 But on this difficult point see Chap. XI, pp. 350-1. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 247 

I think, wait till you have shown how knowledge of anything 
at all beyond the limits of your own self is more than an 
illusion. But in truth neither the world nor the self is an 
ultimately given fact. On the contrary each alike is a con 
struction and a more or less one-sided abstraction. There 
is even experience in feeling where self and not-self are not 
yet present and opposed ; x and again every state where 
there is an experience of the relation of not-self to self, is 
above that relation. It is a whole of feeling which contains 
these elements, and this felt containing whole belongs to 
neither by itself. Subject and object , you say perhaps, 
are correlated in experience ; and, I presume, you would 
agree that we have here one experience which includes the 
correlation. But are we to say that this experience itself 
is a mere correlation ? Such a doctrine to myself seems 
untenable and it seems contrary to the given fact. The 
given fact to me is a single whole of feeling, within which 
the above distinction and division holds. This totality is 
the property of neither side, but it contains and is superior 
to each. And to emigrate somewhere beyond such a whole 
as this seems clearly impossible. In short on our view we 
may go on to say that the Absolute Reality is in a sense 
the given fact, and that to leap to it from fact by tran 
scendence is unmeaning. Within the Absolute you transcend 
the lower and partial forms in which it appears, in order to 
reach those which are truer. But as for transcending the 
Absolute to gain my finite centre, or my finite centre to gain 
the Absolute everything of such a kind to me is mere non 
sense. These ideas start by supposing that to be true which 
we think most false, and by assuming that to be given which 
for us is the one-sided product of a vicious abstraction. 

From the first, if we are to speak of transcendence, my 
finite centre is transcended. From the first and throughout 
it is one thing directly with the all-embracing Universe, and 

1 See Chap. VI. 



248 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

through the Universe it is indirectly one thing in varying 
degrees with all other centres. 1 Nothing in the end therefore 
is simply private ; the most intimate feeling and the simplest 
experience of a pleasure or pain is experienced by the whole 
Universe. The idea of some inner recess or sunken depth 
from which the one Reality is or can be shut out, is the mere 
creature of false theory. It is a perversion of the truth, an 
important truth, that each centre has an experience which is 
never directly one with that of other centres. 

Certainly I speak of my finite centre, and with this an 
emphasis may be laid on the my , and, with this, the road 
that leads to Solipsism once more seems opened. But it is 
forgotten here that my self, the self that I take as a thing 
which endures in time and which I go on to oppose to the 
world, is an ideal construction. It is a construction which is 
made on and from the present feeling of a finite centre. The 
work of construction is performed by that centre and by the 
Universe in one, and the result depends for its origin and 
existence wholly on this active unity. From the other side 
we naturally speak of the feeling centre from which my self 
is developed, and with which it remains throughout con 
tinuous, as its . And this expression is true so far as it 
means that this centre is not directly one with others, and 
that the material and the agency out of and by which my self 
is made, is to that extent private. But we turn our truth 
into sheer error when we maintain that my self is an inde 
pendent substantive, to which the rest of the world belongs 
somehow as an adjective, or to which other self-sufficient 
Reals are externally related. Such a position, we have seen, 
cannot be defended. That foundation and agency from and 
by which my self is generated, and through which alone it 
persists, is one thing with the whole Universe. My self may 



1 I cannot accept the view that my self in relation with other selves is 
a fact immediately given. For this point and for what follows see further 
in Chap. XIV. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 249 

rightly be called a necessary and even an indispensable 
element in the world. But its ultimate substantiality and 
closed privacy seem to be no more than false inferences. 

It would not, I think, be well for me to enlarge further on 
points where I could do little but repeat what I have said 
elsewhere. My object here is not so much to argue that the 
above views are correct, as to urge that any criticism of such 
views merely from the outside will touch no one who has 
understood them. I fully agree that difficulties are left 
which, if you like to say so, must be swallowed. The fact 
of an all-embracing, supra-relational, absolute experience 
you may call, if you please, un verifiable . I do not know 
what this word means, and, so long as its meaning is un 
known, I do not care to object to it. 1 But I hold to the 
above fact because to me it is the necessary conclusion from 
what is certainly given. And I hold to it because on this 
ground it seems to me possible, far better than on other 
grounds, to do justice to the various aspects of life. And 
when I hear, for instance, that in the Absolute all personal 
interests are destroyed, I think I understand on the con 
trary how this is the only way and the only power in and by 
which such interests are really safe. For after all, whether 
we wish it or not, we have got somehow to believe in some 
thing, and, at least in philosophy, I suppose we wish to 
believe in something self-consistent. And when, rejecting 
the Absolute, I consider the alternatives that are offered me, 
my mind is affected as follows. I not only find these alter 
natives to be untenable and self -inconsistent, but I at least 

1 I should myself suppose that no philosopher ever did hold a doctrine 
which he did not take to be in some sense verifiable. And no one, I should 
have thought, ever honestly advocated ideas, unless he thought that these 
ideas served some purpose, and so were useful and worked, and naturally 
possessed the character required for such working. I do not know why 
certain critics, in order to grapple more effectively with the Absolute, 
should apparently think it well to begin by divesting themselves of every 
thing like ordinary Common Sense. On the other hand I gratefully 
welcome the existence of various criticisms, which, whether they seem to 
me to be justified or not, are at least thoughtful and sane. 



250 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

cannot understand how any one, who realizes what in the 
end they mean, can suppose them to be compatible with the 
satisfaction of all our highest demands. 1 If to satisfy such 
interests is to work , then these alternatives to my mind 
do not work. But I must end these introductory reflections, 
such as they are, and approach the special subject of our 
chapter. 

I. In dealing with Error we are at once led to ask how 
it stands to Appearance. Is all appearance to be called 
error ? I will venture here to repeat briefly what I have 
stated elsewhere. 2 The term appearance has a twofold 
meaning. If you take it as implying an object and the 
appearance of something to some one, then all appearance 
is at once both truth and error ; for appearance in this sense 
involves a judgement however rudimentary. But the term 
is used also in a much wider sense, and you have appearance 
wherever, and so far as, the content of anything falls outside 
of its existence, its what goes beyond its that . You 
have reality on the other hand so far as these two aspects 
are inseparable, and where one may perhaps be said to 
reconstitute the other. Now in every finite centre (on our 
view) the Whole, immanent there, fails to be included in 

1 One hears, for instance, that our spiritual interests require the abso 
lute reality of time ; and there seems often to be literally no idea that such 
a doctrine is contrary to that which we most care for. 

The Moving Finger writes ; and, having writ, 
Moves on : nor all thy Piety nor Wit 
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
Nor all thy Tears wash out a word of it. 

Surely, as an ultimate truth, this is as abhorrent to our hearts as- it should 
be false in our philosophy. And, if on the other side you emphasize the 
ultimate truth of chance and change, and urge that lapse and instability 
invade even the past, I do not see that you have gained anything. If 
there is to be no supreme spiritual Power which is above chance and 
change, our own spiritual interests surely are not safeguarded. But, with 
any such Power, it seems to me nonsense to talk of the absolute reality 
of time. 

2 Appearance, pp. 163-6, 485-6, and Index. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 251 

that centre. The content of the centre therefore is beyond 
itself, and the thing therefore is appearance and is so far 
what may be termed ideal . It has what later becomes 
for us a meaning, a meaning which is used as an idea, as an 
adjective which qualifies that which is other than its own 
being. And thus by anticipation all appearance may be 
called error, because, when you go on to think of it as being 
true, you are led (at least on my view) to recognize that it is 
false. So far indeed as you confine yourself to what is felt, 
you have no recognized contradiction (I shall return to this) , 
nor anything which for you appears, or can for you be either 
true or false. For these qualities in the proper sense exist 
only in judgement. Since however we can go on to judge 
of everything, all appearance may thus be called already 
true or false. And in the end for myself all appearance is at 
once both truth and error. 

To pass from this point, there is, I have contended, in all 
truth the separation of idea and being, the loosening of that 
which an idea itself is from that which it means and stands 
for. And in my opinion this breach is at once essential and 
fatal to truth. For truth is not perfect until this sundering 
of aspects is somehow made good, until that which in fact is, 
forms a consistent whole with that which it stands for and 
means. In other words truth demands at once the essential 
difference and identity of ideas and reality. It demands (we 
may say) that the idea should in the end be reconstituted by 
the subject of the judgement and should in no sense whatever 
fall outside. But the possibility of such an implication in 
volves, in my view, a passage beyond mere truth to actual 
reality, a passage in which truth would have completed itself 
beyond itself. Truth, in other words, content with nothing 
short of reality, has, in order to remain truth, to come short 
for ever of its own ideal and to remain imperfect. 1 But on 

1 Thus when I think of the Absolute, in which all ideas are in the end 
real, that truth and thought does not, in my judgement and for me, re 
constitute the psychical being of my idea. Everything, that is, implies 



252 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

the other side there is no possible judgement the predicate 
of which can fail somehow to qualify the Real ; and there is 
hence no mere error. 

There are, we may say, two main views of error, the ab 
solute and the relative. According to the former view there 
are perfect truths, and on the other side there are sheer 
errors. Degrees of truth and error may, on this view, in 
a sense be admitted, but in the end you have ideas which 
are quite right, and again other ideas which are quite wrong. 
This absolute view I reject. I agree that in limited spheres 
and for some working purposes its doctrine holds good, but 
I find it untenable ultimately. Ultimately there are, I am 
convinced, no absolute truths, and on the other side there 
are no mere errors. Subject to a further explanation, all 
truth and all error on my view may be called relative, and 
the difference in the end between them is one of degree. 
This doctrine at first sight may perhaps seem paradoxical, 
but, when its real meaning is perceived, I think the paradox 
disappears. And I will venture here to repeat and to 
enlarge on that which I have advocated elsewhere. 

If there is to be sheer truth, the condition of the assertion 
must not fall outside the judgement. The judgement must 
be thoroughly self-contained. If the predicate is true of the 
subject only by virtue of something omitted and unknown, 
such a truth is defective. The condition left out is an x 
which may be filled in diversely. And, according to the way 
in which the unspecified condition is actually filled in, either 
the judgement or its denial is true. The judgement there 
fore, as it stands, is ambiguous, and it is at once true and 
false, since in a word it is conditional. 

The more the conditions of your assertion are included in 
your assertion, so much the truer and less erroneous does 

everything else. But in a judgement you fail to include the condition on 
which your idea is true of the Real. And you also fail to include the 
condition on which your judgement, itself as a fact, exists. And these 
two disabilities in the end are one. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 253 

your judgement become. But can the conditions of the 
judgement ever be made complete and comprised within the 
judgement ? In my opinion this is impossible. And hence 
with every truth there still remains some truth, however 
little, in its opposite. In other words, you never can pass 
wholly beyond degree. 

For (a) the limited self-contained subject to which you 
seek to attach the predicate, is not in the end real as so 
limited. And (b) further, even if it were so, there remains 
a difficulty with regard to predication. The separation of 
the predicate from the subject seems at once to be necessary 
and yet indefensible. These obstacles in the way of perfect 
truth are on my view irremovable. 

(a) All judgement (I have argued elsewhere) predicates its 
idea of the ultimate Reality. 1 Certainly I do not mean by 

1 At the same time the very form of predication prevents any judgement 
from being perfectly true (Appearance, p. 544). Subject to this condition 
the above doctrine to my mind holds good. There is an objection, raised 
by Mr. Russell (Principles of Math., p. 450), that on this view you cannot 
say that Reality is real or that Existence exists . No truth (I have 
just stated) can upon my view be perfectly true, but, apart from that, 
I should find it easier to deal with this objection if I were told the sense 
in which any one ever could want to say that Reality is real. To affirm 
that Reality has the character of reality, I presume, is harmless, while 
to suggest that Reality is a member of a class real , to my mind is 
monstrous. And it would be of course wrong to call it real , in some 
sense which would restrict it. With regard to Existence exists , once 
more, until I know exactly what that means, I can hardly reply. What 
I can say is this, that to place Existence itself within the sphere of 
existence would be clearly indefensible. There are, however, several 
other objections raised by Mr. Russell (ibid., p. 448), which I think I 
understand, and to which I will reply briefly, (i) It is (as we have seen) 
true that predication is in the end self-contradictory, (ii) It is true that 
relations (a) do, and (b) do not, presuppose their terms. Terms (a) must 
be, and (b) cannot be, different through being related. And within any 
related term there is a difference which sets up an endless process, (iii) 
It is true that to predicate of the Absolute involves contradiction, because 
it involves an unjustified difference between subject and predicate. It 
implies that the Absolute as subject is not the Absolute but a distinction 
made within it, and so on indefinitely. While admitting or rather urging 
all this, I do not agree with Mr. Russell that I have failed to see and to 
meet it. 

There is an objection raised by Prof. Taylor, in the Proceedings of the 



254 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

this to deny that there is a limited subject. On the con 
trary in all judgement the subject is in some sense limited. 1 
But, notwithstanding the presence of this narrowed subject, 
I urge that the assertion is made of the Universe. For the 
judgement affirms reality, and on my view to affirm reality 
is to predicate of the one Real. This one Reality I take to 
be a whole immanent in all finite subjects, immanent in such 
a way that nothing finite can be real by itself. Thus, with 
every finite subject, the content of that subject is and passes 
beyond itself. Hence every assertion made of the subject 
implies that which is not contained in it. The judgement in 
other words is made under a condition which is not specified 
and is not known. The judgement, as it stands, can there 
fore (as we saw) be both affirmed and denied. It remains 
conditional and relative only. Our advance in knowledge 

Aristotelian Society, vol. ix, p. 205, to which I have to make much the 
same reply. Certainly I myself am not a class and cannot (to speak 
strictly) be a predicate, but then again, to speak strictly, I cannot be a 
subject either. Our relational logic (no matter of what kind) is in the 
end not adequate to reality. It is adequate neither to my self nor the 
Universe, nor on the other side to any given fact of sensuous perception 
or of feeling. From this I do not see that any conclusion follows which 
is contrary to that which I hold. For such a conclusion would (as I 
understand) be required other premisses which I should reject. 

I should be glad to carry out here a sort of promise, and to discuss the 
arguments advanced by Prof. Dewey, in Mind, No. 63, but I do not find 
that this is possible. Any objection resting on the antithesis of formal 
and material I obviously cannot deal with, unless supplied by Prof. 
Dewey with a clear statement as to the meaning to be given to these 
ambiguous terms. And as the idea of truth s plunging us into contra 
dictions is to Prof. Dewey obviously inconsistent with the idea of its also 
pointing to an end above and beyond them, and also realizing that end 
progressively, though always imperfectly and as on the other hand all 
this to me is consistent, and was offered to and urged on the reader as 
consistent and true there is really nothing to be discussed by me, and 
no more to be said but to leave the issue to the reader. But I am ready 
to admit that, though I seldom read anything written by Prof. Dewey 
without pleasure, when it comes to first principles I seldom succeed in 
understanding him. On some of the points referred to in this foot-note 
I shall once more touch in the Supplementary Notes appended to this 
chapter. And the reader must, on the whole subject, be requested to read 
Prof. Bosanquet s Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, chap. viii. 

1 See Chap. XI, pp. 33 1 foil. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 255 

consists, we may say, in further specifying the conditions ; 
but, though in this way truth is increased, it at no point can 
become absolute. This is the principle and the foundation 
of the relative doctrine of error and truth. 

Now you may object that in the judgement the condition, 
though it may not be stated, is understood. It is left out 
(you may say) merely for the sake of convenience. But, if 
so, the judgement, as it stands, is I presume admitted to be 
imperfect. And when you urge that the conditions are 
understood, I reply that, if so, they can be stated. But (I 
will return to this) I maintain that you are really unable to 
state the conditions. You cannot in the end specify them, 
and you cannot show how far, being completely specified, 
they would modify your subject and your judgement. The 
conditions therefore, which you call understood , remain 
in the most fatal sense unknown. And the only consistent 
course which remains is to deny wholly that these conditions 
exist. Reality consists of (we must not say in) an uncon 
ditioned plurality. Reality is not R but r, r, r. There are 
thus a number of self-contained subjects, and it is of one of 
these that you make your assertion, which is hence absolutely 
true. How can it be conditional in a world where nothing 
like a condition or an implication exists, or indeed could 
have any meaning ? This I take to be the real absolute 
view of truth, and I will return to it lower down. 

(b) I will now go on to notice the difficulty which attaches, 
not merely to the subject of a judgement, but to the predica 
tion itself. If the predicate is different from the subject, 
what is the sense and the justification of their unity ? And, 
if the predicate is not different, is there any sense left at all ? 
If we take the is as mere identity, the assertion disappears. 
It once more vanishes if the is is understood as mere 
difference. And the question is whether we have any other 
way of taking the is which in the end satisfies us and is 
tenable. We do not, in my opinion, possess any other way. 



256 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

We start (if I may once more repeat this) from the 
immediate union of one and many, of sameness and differ 
ence, which we have given to us in feeling and in the in 
herence of qualities in a sensuous whole. This immediate 
union is of necessity dissolved in our judgement, and it 
never in any judgement is completely made good. The 
higher form of union, which satisfies at once our feeling, 
sense, and intelligence, is not found, in my opinion, within 
truth itself. It lies beyond and on the other side of judge 
ment and intelligence. It is a goal to which always we may 
be said to draw nearer, but which never is reached wholly. 
And the reason is that in sense and feeling the unity of 
sameness and difference is not unconditioned. It is con 
ditioned, but it is conditioned for us unintelligibly. The 
how of the union remains unknown. But in intelligence 
and judgement the use of an unknown how does not 
satisfy. An assertion made under an unknown condition, 
we have seen, admits the assertion of the opposite. Hence 
our aim is to replace the sensuous is by a full statement of 
the conditions under which the predicate and subject are 
connected. But, our statement remaining incomplete, the 
connexion remains in part unintelligible. The is of our 
judgement against our will is left in part still untransformed. 
But the consequence is that, since we can no longer use the 
sensuous whole of feeling, and since certainly we do not 
mean to affirm bare difference, all that we have left is mere 
identity which again certainly we do not mean. We wish 
to discover how the subject and predicate are in one. The 
object of intelligence is to find the complete conditions under 
which the predicate is (we may say) equated to the subject. 
And, as long as we stop short of these, our judgement may 
perpetually advance in truth, but in the end any judgement 
remains erroneous and untenable. This difficulty is not 
removed by the acceptance of finite realities independent and 
self-contained. It is a difficulty inherent in predication itself. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 257 

In general, then (to pass from this point), every error upon 
our view contains some truth, since it has a content which 
in some sense belongs to the Universe. And on the other 
side all truths are in varying degrees erroneous. The fault 
of every judgement may be said to consist in the taking its 
subject too narrowly or abstractly. The whole of the con 
ditions are not stated. And hence, according to the way in 
which you choose to fill in the conditions (and no special 
way belongs to the judgement), the assertion and its opposite 
are either of them true. Again, all judgements may be 
condemned on the ground that they take the subject too 
widely. The subject turns out to be the ultimate Reality, 
at which the judgement did not aim specially, and so has 
missed its genuine aim. The subject in other words is not 
confined as we desired to confine it. But these two defects 
obviously are in principle one. Their root is the indissoluble 
connexion of our limited subject with the ultimate Reality, 
the discrepancy between these two subjects, and our in 
ability to close this breach by conditions . Our judgement 
makes its predicate real, but when it is asked how, being 
real, its predicate differs from the Reality, it fails in the end 
to answer intelligibly. The same fault again shows itself 
when we consider the form of predication. That form in 
principle transcends the immediate totality of sense and 
feeling, and is therefore condemned to seek another way in 
which sameness and difference are united. This way (we 
have seen) consists in the discovery and statement of explicit 
and complete conditions. And the search for these con 
ditions, driving (on our view) the judgement beyond any 
finite subject, fails of perfect success. The full implications 
of any judgement in the end fall beyond our understanding. 
This discrepancy of the whole with the finite centre, a dis 
crepancy implicit only in feeling, becomes visible in the form 
of judgement. The discrepancy is not removed within the 
region of truth proper, and that region is hence throughout 

1574 S 



258 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

affected more or less by error. And the difference between 
error and truth will in the end consist in degree. 

In the above statement the words in the end must be 
emphasized. It is an old objection that, if you believe in an 
Absolute, all distinctions are lost, and, since everything 
comes to the same, nothing in particular is left. And I admit 
that the relative view of error and truth may be held and 
taught one-sidedly. But, rightly understood, it compre 
hends, and on a lower plane it justifies, the absolute view. 
In the realm of the special sciences and of practical life, and 
in short everywhere, unless we except philosophy, we are 
compelled to take partial truths as being utterly true. We 
cannot do this consistently, but we are forced to do this, 
and our action within limits is justified. And thus on the 
relative view there is after all no collision with what may be 
called Common Sense. Before explaining this more fully 
I will once more point out the real essence of that absolute 
view which I reject. 

Error, upon this view, will consist in the deviation of the 
idea, whether by excess or defect, from that reality at which 
it aims. It is impossible for me here to be precise, and you 
may understand reality as a fact or as a mere type, or in 
short however you think is best. The point is that by being 
something else, whether by addition or substitution or de 
fault, or through all these in one, 1 the error is not the truth. 
Degrees need not be denied, but all the same it is insisted 
that we have here a matter of Yes or No. And what is here 
assumed is that the reality, or the type, itself is self-con 
tained and fixed. This is an assumption made often by 
that which would wrongly usurp the name of Common 
Sense. But the ultimate root of this assumption is, as we 
saw, a certain doctrine as to the final nature of reality. 

1 Substitution in the end seems otiose, and addition and default seem 
in the end to imply one the other. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 259 

Reality must be such as to comprise self-existent pieces of 
fact and truth. The principle and the conclusion involved 
here is of course Pluralism, which, if it aims to be consistent, 
holds to relations which are barely external and tries to 
take the Universe as a mere And . l The point which 
should be emphasized is that everything ordinarily covered 
by the word implication is here utterly denied. Nothing 
can make in the end any kind of difference to anything else, 
for every kind of difference and relation is external and 
unable to qualify that outside of which it falls. And the 
whole as And , since it is to make no difference to anything, 
seems in fact to be nothing ; or else, if something, it will 
itself require to be comprised in a fresh And , and so on 
indefinitely. This is the underlying principle which seems 
involved in what we have called the absolute view of error. 
I have stated this principle in my own way, a way which 
I certainly attribute to no one else, and I do not propose 
further to criticize it here. 

Among various forms of reply I will notice an answer which 
I have mentioned already. The separate facts and truths , 
it may be said, need not really be separate. They are 
however determined definitely, because fixed by a Universe 
which is conditioned really throughout. Now, even if the 
conditions of our finite truth are known and could be given, 
surely apart from these conditions our truth is so far im 
perfect, and exists only by a kind of convenient sufferance. 
But on the other hand suppose that the conditions are not 
statable because they are not known ; in this case the whole 
conclusion which I advocate appears to follow irremediably. 
You may possibly reply that you do not know the conditions 
in detail, but, none the less on this account, you believe them 
to exist, and you therefore are justified in taking the finite 
fact and the finite truth as being real and perfect. To me, 
however, this position appears to be untenable. 

1 See Chap. VIII, pp. 230-1. 
S 2 



260 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

There are conditions, known or unknown, from which a 
finite fact or truth follows. Certainly I agree to this, and I 
would even add that so much as this is obvious, since other 
wise the fact or truth would not be there for us to discuss. 
But on the other hand I would urge that such a contention 
here is irrelevant. If there are also other conditions from 
which the opposite of the given truth follows, then the truth 
is at once true and false, and, as it stands, clearly is defective. 
And, in order to avoid this, and in order to show that your 
fact or truth, as it is, can be justified, what is incumbent on 
you is to exclude the possibility of these opposite conditions. 
The question may be put thus : when all the conditions are 
considered, does your finite fact or finite truth still persist in 
the character in which you take it ? To reply in the affirma 
tive on the ground that there are at least some unknown 
conditions from which the truth follows, seems hardly de 
fensible. For the position which you have to maintain is 
(as we have seen) not merely positive, but has a negative side 
also. And I do not understand how you are to base this 
negation, and this exclusion of other conditions, upon simple 
ignorance. What is wanted is a positive and an actual in 
clusion within the judgement itself of all the conditions 
required. And the question is whether and how such an 
inclusion is possible. 1 

Passing on from this reply we may consider truth and 
error under the heads (a) of abstract ideas and (b) of matters 
of fact. The former head (a) I shall touch on but briefly. 
The contention that an abstract truth is wholly and utterly 
true, must mean, I take it, that this truth, as it stands, is 
self-contained and self-subsist ent. Either there are nowhere 
any conditions or implications, and nothing anywhere makes 
a difference to anything, or else in this truth you have within 
itself any conditions that are required. The first of these 

1 I shall discuss lower down the attempt to gain this inclusion by 
postulating uniqueness. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 261 

alternatives involves a view of things which to my mind is 
in the last resort unintelligible. And the second alternative 
again I am unable to accept. In no case, it seems to me, 
is it possible to take any abstract truth as being real by 
itself. Every such truth appears to me to be generated, and 
to subsist, subject to implications and conditions not falling 
within itself and in the end nowhere completely known. 
And, if this is the case, the opposite of any abstract truth 
can obviously never be utter and total error. But to justify 
this contention in detail, and to attempt to show how the 
abstraction made everywhere in the special sciences entails 
inconsistency, is, I regret to add, even if space here per 
mitted it, beyond my power. 

I will go on to deal at greater length (b) with matters of 
fact . What is contended here is that a fact, in time or space 
or in both, is, as it stands, real, and that hence such a fact 
can serve as a test of absolute truth and sheer error. The 
ground of this contention, at least in most cases, seems to 
consist in an appeal to designation , a subject on which 
I have already remarked in the preceding chapter. 1 The 
this , now , and here of my feeling may, as they are 
merely in my feeling, be said to be unique and self-contained. 
And, though this statement requires some qualification, that 
qualification may here be ignored. But it is a serious mis 
take, starting from this point, to go on to suppose that the 
characters of my feeling are transferred unabridged to what 
I call a truth about a particular fact in space and time. 
The particular fact is to have a unique place within a single 
unique order, and otherwise its nature becomes general and 
ceases forthwith to be what we mean by particular. But 
on the other hand our truth fails to reach beyond generality, 
and hence the opposite of our truth becomes also tenable. 
Caesar crossed the Rubicon/ we say, or not ; but this 
either-or is only true if you are confined to a single world 
1 Chap. VIII, pp. 233-6. 



262 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

of events. If there are various worlds, it may be also true 
that Caesar never saw the Rubicon nor indeed existed at all. 
And, with this, obviously our truth has ceased to be absolute. 
Nor is it possible for us to remedy a disease which belongs 
to the very essence of our procedure. You cannot at once 
translate feeling into judgement and leave feeling untrans- 
formed ; and what is lost in the translation is the positive 
uniqueness which you demand. The this , as you use it, 
becomes general, and, though it does not become negative 
wholly, it becomes essentially negative. You insist that 
this is not that , though to each you give only a sense 
which is general. But the this which you feel and which 
you mean, does not trouble itself about a that , since it is 
positively itself. And since your truth fails and must fail 
to contain this positive meaning, your truth is defective, 
and is self-condemned. 1 

The matters of fact in which we are to find absolute reality 
and truth, must, in the first place, be self-consistent ; and 
they must, in the second place, go beyond a mere generality 
in which both what we mean and its opposite hold good. 
But our matters of fact belong essentially to an order in 
time, if not also in space. And with regard to the self- 
containedness of any member in these orders there are well- 
known difficulties. In the case of time these difficulties are 
aggravated, and, far from being the technical puzzles of the 
school, they are visible to all who reflect. Are past events, 
we all ask, dead, and is the future really nothing, and, if so, 
what is left, and what do we mean by the present ? And 
again, if future and past are not wholly unreal, can we on 
the other side say that they really exist ? And, if lapse and 
change are not to be inherent in matters of fact, in what 

1 I may perhaps mention that criticisms on Hegel, with regard to his 
teaching as to the meaning of this , usually show to my mind an entire 
failure to perceive what he is driving at. But the reader must not take 
the statement in the text, however much it owes to Hegel, as being an 
exposition of his doctrine. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 263 

other region shall we place them ? But I propose to say 
nothing here on difficulties which to my mind are fatal, and 
which destroy the claim of matters of fact to possess in 
dependence and consistency. I will, passing from this, deal 
briefly with the question of uniqueness. 

If truth as to matter of fact falls short of uniqueness, that 
truth, we have seen, is defective. Without contradicting 
yourself you can at once affirm and deny that Caesar crossed 
the Rubicon. But such uniqueness (as we have already seen 
in part) is unattainable by truth. For it is not sufficient to 
give to your event an exclusive place in its series. The event 
still remains a mere generality, unless the series itself is 
unique. What you seek is something which is positively 
itself, and not a sort of a heading which can be identified at 
once with discrepant qualities. But no truth can reach the 
unique order which is to be the condition of such an absolute 
fact. 

Uniqueness is a well-known topic, which might with profit 
be discussed at very great length. I must confine myself 
here to stating briefly what to myself appears to be the one 
tenable conclusion. Wherever you have a different quality, 
you have so far something unique, and this is the one root of 
uniqueness. Uniqueness in a word means difference, and 
difference in a word means a quality. For a distinction 
without a difference, and again a difference without a diver 
sity in quality, are things which in the end to me are devoid 
of meaning. I do not, I hope, ignore wholly the difficulties 
which have led to the acceptance of such ideas, but, whatever 
are the difficulties, these ideas I am unable to accept. 
Briefly then every quality, so far as it is distinct from other 
qualities, is unique. You cannot conceivably divide it and 
make two specimens within it and of it, unless you in 
troduce further difference and go on to make so far new 
quality. A quality which positively is itself, and therefore 
and so far cannot be something else, this is in the end the 



264 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

one foundation on which to my mind uniqueness is tenable. 
Uniqueness has a negative aspect, but that negative aspect 
must rest on a positive quality. 

The this of feeling (I ignore here the difficulties which 
arise) l everywhere, I agree, is positive and unique. But 
when, passing beyond mere feeling, you have before you 
what you call matter of fact the case forthwith is altered. 
The uniqueness has now to be made objective . It has to 
be contained within the judgement and has to qualify the 
content of your truth. The possibility of another fact in 
another series must be excluded, so that in your fact and 
truth (with all its imperfection) you have nevertheless no 
general sort but a determinate thing. But, since you have 
destroyed the positive quality of the felt, you have now no 
means by which to reach your end. Where is the quality 

1 Of these I will mention two. In the first place every different this 
will require a new quality. In the second place we have the problem of 
the connexion of identity with difference, and of the infinite process 
which arises at either end. Chap. VIII, p. 240. Uniqueness is a subject 
to which I desire to return. 

I fully assent to the remarks on Individuality and Uniqueness made by 
Prof. Bosanquet in his Logic (Ed. II), vol. ii, pp. 260-1. I agree that the 
further an individual is removed from designation, the more unique (the 
less of a mere sort ) it becomes, though it never becomes unique utterly. 
A thing, that is, has uniqueness through being above as well as through 
being below a kind or class. And the former of these senses is perhaps 
the more important of the two. But I do not understand that this con 
sideration conflicts with the statement of the text. 

I will add here that what Mr. Russell (On the relations of Universal 
and Particulars, p. 24) calls the self-evident fact that certain spatial 
relations imply diversity of their terms, together with the self-evident 
fact that it is logically possible for entities having such spatial relations 
to be wholly indistinguishable as to predicates to me remains inad 
missible. On the contrary, that every place must differ from others in 
quality, and again, that in spatial occupation there is not a mere rela 
tion, is to my mind clear fact. Occupation implies, I should say, a union 
of qualities. Hence it is only in one respect, and by virtue of an abstrac 
tion from their difference, that two things in two different places are the 
same. I fully admit that the above is in a sense unintelligible. But I 
do not find that, like Mr. Russell s view of occupation , it violates plain 
fact ; and, again, to me it is not in the same sense unthinkable. For mere 
numerical diversity remains to me unthinkable, unless, while thinking it, 
I allow differences in quality to introduce themselves surreptitiously. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 265 

in your truth about your matter of fact which makes it 
particular, which excludes other series and the possibility 
that in another series the same thing happens differently ? 
Show me this quality, or else confess that your truth is not 
absolute, and that Caesar never crossed the Rubicon is 
not utter error. You can of course assume that any order 
of events is unique. You can of course credit it with an 
unknown quality which makes it itself and which repels all 
other series. And I need not ask here in what sense such 
an assumption .might be true. What I am urging is that 
even on such an assumption there is an unknown quality 
which is not, and cannot be, contained within your judge 
ment. There is that which falls outside, and, falling outside, 
makes the truth conditional. For that Caesar on a certain 
unspecified assumption in fact crossed the Rubicon is surely 
compatible with the assertion that the actual fact is also 
otherwise. Your judgement is but conditional, because (if 
I may repeat this once more) you have failed to get within 
the judgement the condition of the judgement. 1 And the 
accomplishment of this (if it were possible) would involve 
the essential transformation of your judgement. 

The absolute view of perfect truth and of sheer error rests, 
we saw, on the idea that separate facts and truths are self- 
contained and possess independent reality. And such an 
idea (we have argued) must be rejected in the end ; but this 

1 In order to include uniqueness within the judgement Caesar crossed 
the Rubicon you would require (I should say) not less than two false 
assumptions, and with anything less must fail, (i) You want (a) an 
assumption that there is only one possible order in space and time an as 
sumption which in my opinion is not true (Appearance, chap, xviii) ; or 
(b), failing this, you must include a definition of the particular order 
which you mean, (ii) Having got so far, (a) you must make a further 
assumption that within your unique order there is no possible recurrence 
of Caesar and this assumption again to my mind is quite untenable. 
Or you must (as you cannot) define the this of that Caesar which you 
mean. The reader will of course understand that the above unique order, 
with its exclusion of possible recurrence of Caesar , has got to be made 
true unconditionally of the Universe. 



266 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

does not mean that the absolute view is to be rejected alto 
gether. We are told (to repeat this) that to those who 
accept a real Absolute, and with it a relative view of truth, 
everything in particular becomes so much the same that the 
distinctions which give value to life disappear. But such a 
charge, I pointed out, is due mainly to misunderstanding. 
Within limits and in their proper place our relative view in 
sists everywhere on the value and on the necessity of absolute 
judgements, both as to right and wrong and as to error and 
truth. Life in general and knowledge in particular rest on 
distinction and on the division of separate regions. And, 
though these divided regions are not independent and each 
self-contained, yet within each to a very large extent you 
must proceed as if this were so. If you ask me, for instance, 
whether there is truth in the statement that 2 + 2 = 5,! 
answer that (though I am ignorant of mathematics) I believe 
this to be sheer error. The world of mathematics, that is, 
I understand to rest upon certain conditions, and under these 
conditions there is within mathematics pure truth and utter 
error. It is only when you pass (to speak in general) beyond 
a special science, and it is only when you ask whether the 
very conditions of that science are absolutely true and real, 
that you are forced to reject this absolute view. The same 
thing holds once more with regard to matters of fact . 
Obviously the construction in space and time which I call 
my real world must be used ; and obviously, within 
limits, this construction must be taken as the only world 
which exists. 1 And, so far as we assume this, we of course 

1 Cf. Chapters III and XVI. Apart from a certain reservation as to 
dreams and dreamlike states, this real world is the world of practice. 
The difference in practice, between my reaching here and now my end 
and failing to reach it, may be said to be absolute. And this absolute 
difference is thus fully preserved in our relative view. We must remember 
here, on the other side, that the ends to be realized in my practice cannot 
all be said to belong to my real world , and are certainly not all prac 
tical . No doctrine of practice for the sake of practice will stand before 
an inquiry into the meaning of practice . 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 267 

can have at once simple error and mere truth. Thus the 
doctrine which I advocate contains and subordinates what 
we have called the absolute view, and in short justifies it 
relatively. 

On the other side, even within the special sciences and 
within the world of practical life, the absolute view of truth 
has its limits. The ideas which we use within the special 
sciences are hardly self-consistent, and in our practical life 
we experience the collision of discordant principles. And it 
is now an old story that, even if the worlds of our diverse 
interests were each at one with itself, at all events these 
worlds can conflict with one another. Assuredly it is not 
merely within philosophy that the absolute view of error and 
truth is driven to suggest itself as false. But for philosophy, 
as I at least understand it, the reason is plain. All ideas in 
the end, if we except those of metaphysics, lack ultimate 
truth. They may be called working conceptions, good and 
true so far as they work. And, because they work, and 
because nothing else could work so well, there is therefore 
nothing better and nothing truer than such ideas, each in its 
own proper place ; since nothing else could possibly be more 
relative to our needs. But these ideas are not consistent 
either with one another or even with themselves, and they 
come short of that which we demand as truth. How far and 
in what sense even within metaphysics that demand can be 
satisfied, I have discussed elsewhere. 1 

1 Appearance, pp. 544 foil. How far (we may ask here in passing) are 
the ideas used by metaphysics to be called working conceptions ? (i) 
In the first place these ideas are not merely instrumental . They are 
not mere means to some end outside of, or other than, understanding. 
And (ii) they are not means to, or elements in, the understanding merely 
of one limited region. On the contrary, metaphysics aims at under 
standing the world in principle, in general and as one whole. The ideas 
used for this purpose, since they work, may, if we please, be called working 
conceptions. They are again all imperfect, and all differ in the degree 
in which they approach and fall short of perfection. But the main point 
is this, that, in order to work metaphysically, these ideas must themselves 
have the character of the metaphysical end. They do not merely conduce 



268 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

The doctrine that there is no perfect truth or sheer error may 
be said to conflict with Common Sense, if you understand 
by that term the fixed prejudices of one-sided reflection. 1 
This is the Common Sense which we too often find with the 
specialist and in the market-place. But if Common Sense is 
taken more widely, the above conflict disappears. Is it after 
all a paradox that our conceptions tend all more or less to be 
one-sided, and that life as a whole is something higher and 
something truer than those fragmentary ideas by which we 
seek to express and formulate it ? Is it after all the man 
who is most consistent who on the whole attains to greatest 
truth ? To most, if not to all of us, I should have thought 
that there came moments when it seemed clear that the 
Universe is too much everywhere for our understanding. 
Any truth of ours, no matter what, fails to contain the 
entirety of that which it tries to embrace, and hence is falsi 
fied by the reality. There is always another side, which we 
may be right or may be wrong to ignore, but, we being 
limited as we are, there must for us be of necessity another 
side. And indeed the whole conclusion which I advocate 
here on the ground of metaphysics, far from being para 
doxical, comes near, I should say, to platitude. If I were not 
convinced of its truth on the ground of metaphysics, I should 
still believe it upon instinct. And, though I am willing 
to concede that my metaphysics may be wrong, there is, 
I think, nothing which could persuade me that my instinct 
is not right. 

II. I will pass on from this to remark briefly on one of 
the points which remain. Error, appearance and truth, we 
have seen, do not in their proper sense belong to feeling. 

to a foreign purpose, but are themselves the very existence in which their 
end and principle is realized. The phrase working conceptions tends, 
I think, to suggest that this is otherwise, and hence it seems to me safer 
not to apply it to the ideas of metaphysics. 

1 On Common Sense and Consistency cf. Chap. V, pp. 123-4, 132-3; 
and, again, Chap. XV, p. 430. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 269 

And again in their proper sense they on our view are tran 
scended in the Absolute. Taken as such and in their special 
character they belong to what we may call the intellectual 
middle-space, the world of reflection and of sundered ideas 
and of explicit relations. But (and this is the point on which 
I wish to insist) the middle-space is not detached and it does 
not float. Not only do all ideas without exception qualify 
the Real, but ideas everywhere are only so far as they are 
felt. Ideas exist nowhere except so far as they belong 
integrally to the world of some finite centre. 

It may repay us to consider the matter further with 
regard specially to Contradiction. The self-contradictory, I 
suppose most of us would agree, is unreal. And yet, since 
we discuss it, it is clear that the self-contradictory in some 
sense exists. Whether this is a problem which presses more 
on those who agree with me than on those who differ, I will 
not here discuss. The problem was noticed by myself some 
years ago (Mind, No. 20, p. 482), and I have returned to it 
later (Mind, No. 43, p. 308, and No. 60, p. 455) ; 1 and I will 
once more here offer the solution which seems satisfactory. 

The reader will recall that on our view there is in feeling 
no contradiction as such. We feel uneasiness and change, 
and we have in feeling contents which do not agree. 2 An 
experience of this kind may be intense, but it gives no 
awareness of contradiction, and that it should give this 
seems impossible. For, however great our uneasiness, how 
ever discordant and unstable our condition, whatever comes 
in feeling must come together and must come somehow in 
one. So far as feeling goes, we may say that an unknown 
condition of union is implied and is operative. And this 
state of things is again present in those perceived contents 

1 See Chap. Ill, p. 41, note, and Chap. X, p. 302. 

2 Cf. Chap. VI, pp. 1 68 foil., 174. I may perhaps be permitted to 
mention here, in passing, that I do not venture to derive change from 
inconsistency. I think it better to take change as belonging to the incon 
sistent finite, but exactly how we do not know. 



270 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

which no analysis breaks up, and in various forms it under 
lies the mere conjunctions of our confused thinking. Con 
tradiction in the proper sense is made only by reflection. 1 
It is when diversities are referred to and located in the same 
point that they clash. When we analyse (and to think we 
must analyse), the immediate bond of union, with its un 
known condition, is perforce more or less discarded. The 
diversities can hence no longer come to us as somehow 
conjoined. And, attempting to connect them simply, 
thought forces them into an open conflict, where our felt 
uneasiness is developed before us into explicit contradic 
tion. Within was a felt conjunction which failed to satisfy 
and caused disquiet and unrest. And it is the break 
ing up of this congeries, and it is the attempt to identify 
differences apart from any condition of union, which 
turns our inward unrest into the collision of a perceived 
discrepancy. 

But (and this is once more the point which we should 
emphasize) there is no such thing as a mere contradiction, 
just as there cannot be any such thing in the world as a bare 
negation. Every negation (I have dealt with this elsewhere) 
must have a positive ground. And every contradiction 
implies in some sense the actual conjunction of that which 
clashes. Within feeling, as we saw, and in many cases even 
within sensuous perception, the discrepant elements were, 
by virtue of an unknown condition, together in one whole. 
And when these elements pass into judgement and are seen 

1 See Appearance, Appendix, Note A. The reader will remember that 
we have diversities which can sensuously be in one and coinhere , and 
other diversities where we find that this is not possible. An inconsistency 
like change, for instance, can be felt and perceived (so far as appears) 
immediately and simply. An inconsistency, again, such as a round 
square, cannot be perceived or felt apart from some further complication. 
This distinction possesses on certain views, which I think erroneous, a 
fundamental importance. But a thing to me is not self-consistent or real 
because it is present in feeling or to perception. Beside the pages of 
Appearance just referred to, the reader will find some further discussion 
in Mind, No. 20, pp. 475-81. 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 271 

to collide, they nevertheless, in order to collide, must in some 
way be perceived to coexist. 

When I think of contraries I first take them as being 
somehow separated and yet conjoined. The special nature 
of this somehow , this known or unknown condition, will 
vary in different cases, but it here is irrelevant. 1 Then in 
thought I remove this imaginary condition of both apartness 
and union, with the result that the diverse elements tend to 
be forced together in one point. On this ensues a clash and 
a divergence, with a recognized failure. And, generalizing 
this experience, we now set down the elements as contraries. 
We say that they are such as not to be predicable of one and 
the same subject, the truth being that we have abstracted 
from them and from the subject every condition of union. 
But the above experience is possible only because the con 
trary elements are not simple contraries. In order to per 
ceive them or to think of them, even as repellent, they must 
be still before us in a medium in which so far somehow they 
do not collide. And obviously they and our whole know 
ledge of their collision must be felt. It must depend on 
a positive and an immediate awareness within my finite 
centre. 

Contradiction in the proper sense thus belongs to the 
middle space of our reflective world, and it may be said to 
inhabit that region, or rather part of that region, which lies 
between feeling and perfect experience. But contradiction 
is perceived nowhere except on the ground of a neutral con 
junction, present to sense or imagination, and it is possible 

1 When I, for instance, think of a round square, I may for the moment 
drop out of view the special meaning of these words, and couple them as 
if they were some other adjectives, like cold and green , which can 
together qualify a perceived thing. Or, if I realize the meaning of round 
and square , I may drop out of view the identity of the space which 
these adjectives are to qualify. I take the round space and the square 
space as being somehow diverse ; or again I may deliberately represent 
them as two surfaces, one lying over the other, and so compatible. The 
moment, however, that I suppress the diversities and make these spaces 
really one, a collision takes place and the round square is destroyed. 



272 ON APPEARANCE, ERROR CHAP. 

only because in the end it rests and is based on felt positive 
experience. And contradiction, we may add, is erroneous 
only because it is deficient, because the condition on which 
the contraries were conjoined is in part suppressed, and 
because the condition of their higher unity has not been 
supplied. We should, however, remind ourselves that this 
problem, like other problems, is but soluble in part. The 
immediate immanence of the one Reality in finite centres 
has always to be presupposed ; and this fact, we have seen 
from the first, remains inexplicable. 

III. I will end by touching on a difficulty which was 
noticed some years ago by Prof. Stout. 1 The Absolute must 
really have appearances or it could not appear, and hence the 
appearances (it is objected) cannot really be mere appear 
ance. Before discussing this, I would first mention that on 
my view there is not and cannot be any such thing as a mere 
appearance. 2 The reader next should recall the twofold 
meaning of the word appearance . That sense of the 
term in which something appears to some one, we have 
seen, is secondary. What is fundamental is (as we have 
seen) the presence in everything finite of that which takes 
it beyond itself. 

Having removed from our minds these possible miscon 
ceptions, we may address ourselves to the above dilemma. 
Are we to maintain that the Absolute does really appear ? 
If we answer No, then it seems to follow that nothing 
appears. But if on the other hand we say Yes, then finite 
centres seem at once to have become absolutely real. Our 
true reply, as I understand the matter, is to say Yes, but 
also and in the end No . The Absolute really appears, but 
the conditions of its appearance are not known. 3 Our 

1 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Mr. Bradley s Theory of 
Judgement, pp. 27-8. 2 Appearance, pp. 557-8. 

3 This again is in principle the answer to the objection urged by Prof. 
Royce (The World and the Individual, Series i, pp. 550 foil.). The ob 
jection, as I understand it, rests on the assumption that the transcendence 



ix AND CONTRADICTION 273 

former statement therefore is defective, and comes short of 
truth in the highest sense of that word. It needs correction 
somehow, but how to correct it we are unable to discover. 
Nor can we even take our statement to be in the end cor 
rigible by any mere intelligence. Hence on the one side, 
because nothing intelligible can be set against it, its truth 
is ultimate and final ; while on the other side that truth 
remains defective and must in a sense be called untrue. 
The real appearance of the Absolute in finite centres is a 
thing which therefore in the above sense can rationally be 
at once affirmed and denied. The same reply holds once 
more with regard to the ultimate reality of degrees. There 
is a point where the how of things passes beyond the 
nature of our vision, and where our knowledge, because 
defective, is condemned in a sense to remain erroneous. 
On the other hand, since there is nothing which can be 
opposed to our main conclusion, that conclusion is certain, 
and we may rest on it as finally true. All understanding 
and truth, upon my view, to reach its end passes beyond 
itself. It is perfect only when beyond itself in a fuller 
reality. But short of such a completion, and while truth 
remains mere truth, there are assertions which are so far 
ultimate and utterly true. This general explanation of the 
proposed difficulty was offered in my volume (Appearance, 
pp. 544-5). I should hardly exaggerate if I added that the 
view of truth and reality which, I think, solves the above 
dilemma, is really the beginning and the end of that volume. 
It is at any rate a conclusion offered as something which can 
stand between us and a logical issue in theoretical scepticism. 
It is a doctrine which to my mind is less one-sided than 
others, and, so far as I can judge, the criticisms directed 
against it have left it unshaken. This is, however, a point 
on which the decision must rest with the reader. 

of the relational form, which is experienced in the Absolute, must itself 
be in the relational form, or else be nothing. But it is precisely the oppo 
site of any such alternative which, at least 1 have contended, is true. 
1574 T 



CHAPTER IX 
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE I 

SINCE the publication of the foregoing paper there have 
appeared (in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1910-11) 
two essays dealing with the subject of Error. The first of these, 
by Dr. Schiller, makes, so far as I see, no contribution to the 
discussion of the subject, but the second, by Prof. Stout, has, as 
was natural, a different character. Without any claim that he 
some years back inaugurated the modern theory of Error J 
(whatever that may be), Prof. Stout addresses himself directly 
to deal with the well-known difficulties of the problem. 

His essay, interesting as it is, I have found extremely hard 
to understand. If Prof. Stout s main doctrine is that Error 
consists in treating what is only possible as if it were actual, his 
main conclusion would seem to differ hardly, if at all, from that 
which I have advocated. It would apparently be another way 
of saying that Error takes the conditional as being categorical 
and absolute. And, again, Prof. Stout s solution of the question 
as to how we can think of the contradictory, seems to me (perhaps 
wrongly) to be the same in principle as that which I have offered 
myself. 2 But, apart from Prof. Stout s criticism of myself, to 
which I will return, there are other things which point to a diver 
gence of our views. 

Prof. Stout s account of error implies to my mind (perhaps 
mistakenly) the metaphysical doctrine that all possibilities are, 
as such, ultimately real. If this is his position, he seems to me 
not to appreciate the difficulties by which it is beset. But, if 
this is not his position, I have failed to understand how exactly 
it differs here from my own. Certainly Prof. Stout s apparent 
acceptance of the doctrine 3 that the difference between an actual 

1 This claim (I do not suggest that Prof. Stout approves) is made on his 
behalf by Dr. Schiller, p. 156. 

* See Chap. Ill, p. 41, and Chap. IX, pp. 269-71. 

3 I have discussed this matter in Chap. III. The conclusion there 
advocated has (so far as I know not been met otherwise than by being 
simply ignored. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE I 275 

and possible object does not lie in the object s content, tends to 
make a chasm in principle between our ways of approaching the 
matter. But until Prof. Stout deals with the whole subject of 
Error and of Reality more fully, I can hardly hope myself to 
estimate the amount and the nature of our disagreement. 

How great, in one sense at least, that disagreement is, may be 
seen from the criticism offered by Prof. Stout on myself. He 
says, on p. 199, My position [is ?], that whatever is thought, 
in so far as it is thought, is therefore real. His [Mr. Bradley s] 
position is, that whatever is thought, in so far as it is thought, 
is therefore unreal. I should have said that no one, except 
Prof. Bosanquet, has emphasized more strongly than myself the 
impossibility of thinking anything which is unreal. And the 
exact sense in which for instance the possible, as such, is real 
for Prof. Stout and is not real for me, is precisely the point which, 
so far as I see, he does not explain. Again it is said that 
according to me the whole development of thinking conscious 
ness resolves itself into an endeavour to reconstitute the unity 
which it has destroyed . But this, I have tried to point out, is 
not my view. The unity at which thought aims lies beyond 
that from which it starts. Otherwise the consequence would 
follow that, the more you think, the more you remove yourself 
from reality, nor could such a consequence well escape the 
notice of any one who has learned from Hegel. In short, for 
a satisfactory discussion between Prof. Stout and myself, each 
of us should take account of the sense or senses in which the 
other of us understands reality. And since I do not know of any 
sufficient explanation as to the sense in which the possible 
according to Prof. Stout is real, I cannot in the end judge as to 
the meaning of his account of Error. It would be a satisfaction 
to me to find that really in the main we are agreed. But in any 
case I should hope to profit, if Prof. Stout would return to 
a problem at once so interesting and so difficult. 

Since writing the above I have read the remarks in Prof. 
Bosanquet s Logic (Ed. II), vol. i, pp. 383-4. I am glad to find 
that he considers that Prof. Stout and himself come to much the 
same conclusion, for certainly I accept the view of Error taken 
by Prof. Bosanquet. 

With regard to the latter s two cases of error I should under 
stand them as follows. 

T 2 



276 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE I CHAP. 

(i) Wherever S-P is asserted, it is asserted as real, and therefore 
as fully mediated. Hence, so far as the condition of the judge 
ment falls outside the judgement, we have error. We have that 
which can be at pleasure affirmed or denied. And, even where 
S-P is asserted of a sphere limited by designation, we still have 
error in the above sense, since we fail to get into the judgement 
the full conditions under which, in this sphere, S and P hold to 
gether. Error is so far, we may say, the assertion of the un- 
mediated as mediated. 

(ii) Where S-P is affirmed of a certain designated world, S-P 
also may contain and depend on a condition x l , which condition 
is incompatible with a condition x 2 taken to be present in the 
designated world. S-P therefore is valid elsewhere but not in 
this world. Whether the condition x 2 is viewed as positive or 
as privative makes no difference. Error here consists in dis 
crepancy with something limited which is taken as absolutely 
real. This, I understand, is the kind of error of which I have 
spoken in Chap. IX, p. 266. 

Error is always difference between an idea and reality. And 
hence in the end all truth is in varying degrees error, and, on the 
other side, no error is absolute. For every idea, to be an idea, 
must be real. But, where the reality has been for any purpose 
limited, and is viewed in this character as absolute so far we 
can have unconditional truth and utter error. This is the 
doctrine which I understand to be advocated by Prof. Bosanquet 
and myself. If I could think that Prof. Stout also had now 
been led to a conclusion much the same, that result would be 
welcome. In any case I am sure that the subject would gain 
if he would discuss it further. 



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 1 

IN this Supplementary Note I propose to deal briefly with 
two subjects. (I.) I wish to examine the doctrine as to Number 
advocated by Prof. Royce in The World and the Individual, 
First Series. And (II.) I must attempt to show that some of 
the main ideas on which Mr. Russell s views seem to rest, are 
inconsistent and ultimately untenable. It is with great reluctance 

1 This Note is from the article in Mind for April 1910. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 277 

that I enter upon either undertaking. I am ignorant of mathe 
matics, not willingly but through radical incapacity ; and again 
(it is perhaps the same defect) I cannot follow any train of 
reasoning which is highly abstract. If under these circumstances 
what I am about to write proves worthless, no apology, it is clear, 
can help me. The reader in that case must judge of me as seems 
to him best. 



I. I understand Prof. Royce to contend that number and 
truths about number can be constructed a priori, and that 
these truths are completely unconditional and self -consistent. 
The origin in time of our perception of number and quantity 
he, I understand, does not discuss, and we are concerned simply 
with what may be called an act of logical creation. I will ask 
first as to the nature of the process, and next as to the character 
of the result. 

The process of creation appears to consist in reflection, a 
process more or less familiar to students of philosophy. We 
are to think of some object (no matter what), and then we are 
to think of our thought of this object, and so on indefinitely. 
In this way we gain (it is contended) an ordinal series where the 
process contains no unknown condition, and where the result is 
consistent. Now I agree that in the above way we produce some 
how a series which is ordinal, in the sense that each fresh product 
somehow contains and preserves what has gone before. I do 
not mean that, after reflecting in such a manner for a certain 
time, I know in fact where I am, and could say how many steps 
are included in my present result. To gain that knowledge I 
should say that a further operation is required. Still I admit 
(what is, I presume, the main point) that through the process of 
reflection an ordinal series is somehow generated. What I have 
to deny is first (a) that the generation consists in pure thought, and 
next (b) I have to deny that the product is consistent with itself. 

(a) You have an object (O) before your self (S). You then 
go on to reflect that this is so ; and in consequence you now 
have a new object (S O) before you. A further reflection of 

the same kind gives an object (S i ), and thus you make an 

o 

ordinal series which has in principle no end. Now what is the 



278 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

nature of this process ? Prof. Royce contends that all that you 
start with is not a one in many, nor even a mere many, but 
simply an object. This is all that there is, and then pure thought 
(I understand) supervenes and produces the result. Here I join 
issue. I can no more accept Prof. Royce s doctrine than I can 
accept what is often understood as the process of Hegel s dialectic. 
I do not believe in any operation which falls out of the blue upon 
a mere object. On the contrary I maintain that with an object 
you have, and you must have, a felt self. And I urge that this 
felt self is a one in many and many in one, which for the intellect 
remains incomprehensible, and which therefore for the intellect 
depends on an unknown condition. Hence you really start 
with a felt subject (S) which is complex, and which contains in 
itself the object (O), which is both felt in it and opposed to it. 
Whether we ever in fact have an O which is single, I need not 
stop to discuss. In any case your experience at the start is 
complex, and you have a demand on the part of this experience 
to make the object adequate to the whole subject, and to carry 
out the subject into the object. This is the basis and this is the 
impulse which (I contend) sets up the process of reflection. And 
the process cannot end, because to make O=S would destroy 
in principle the whole experience. To come to an end the process 
must simply cease, or else lapse back, or else be taken up into 
something higher. 

Thus the series of reflection is generated by and through the 
unity of immediate experience. And this unity is a one in 
many and a many in one which for thought is not intelligible or 
unconditional. It is this totality which for ever demands an 
expression which is unattainable within our relational experience, 
or within any experience for which the object is against the 
subject in some way which we are unable to understand. The 
principle of the process therefore does not reside in pure thought, 
but on the contrary must be said to imply a mere conjunction. 
And any process other than the above to my mind is even impos 
sible. There is for me no such thing as a mere object or mere 
objects, nor any process of reflection which falls down from 
nowhere. 

(b) Prof. Royce insists that both process and product are 
self-consistent and free from all contradiction. If what I have 
already urged is correct, no such claim can be admitted. An 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 279 

immediate totality, unless you allow and include an unknown 
condition, cannot without inconsistency be formulated in 
thought. If the one is not one of the many, it seems to be 
nothing, and if it is one of the many, there is no one left in which 
the many can be. There is therefore either an unknown con 
dition or else a self-contradiction. So again with the whole and 
its parts. So again with the class and its members, a matter to 
which later in this Note I shall return. We have a difference which 
cannot be, and yet must be, and we have to choose between 
a self-contradiction and the admission of an unintelligible con 
dition. So again with subject and object. These have got to 
be different, or what are they ? On the other side the difference 
of the object excludes perfect satisfaction. The end is not 
reached except for a passing moment. The object therefore both 
must remain, and yet cannot remain, over against the subject. 
There is a beyond , to be for ever asserted and denied. The 
formula is Realize the subject as object beyond any object , and 
surely such a formula is not self-consistent. For myself I urge 
that there is here an unknown condition and that so the contra 
diction is avoided. But how Prof. Royce can avoid it I am 
unable to say. 

Hence the principle which generates the series carries within 
itself a difference and a negation, which it at once asserts and 
denies. To Prof. Royce, on the other hand, the principle is 
wholly positive (p. 510) ; but how that can be I fail to perceive. 
The illustration, again, advanced by Prof. Royce (pp. 503 foil.) 
appears to myself to contain an obvious and glaring fallacy 
(cf. Prof. Taylor s Elements of Metaphysics, p. 150). The idea of 
a copy which has not an existence different from, and so far 
negative of, its original, remains to me meaningless. If you 
take away the idea of another existence, another and a different 
medium and fact, you for my mind abolish the essential element 
of copying and representation. And yet, according to Prof. 
Royce, the coming into existence of the copy is not to alter the 
fact. And, while I hesitate to attribute to Prof. Royce such an 
open inconsistency, I have been unable in any other way to inter 
pret his teaching. I must end therefore by submitting that 
both principle and product are self-contradictory in essence. 
And I have already urged that the process is not unconditional 
and pure . 



280 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

Finally there is a question on which I would invite the reader 
to reflect. The empirical origin of our sense of more and less, 
of quantity and of number I am willing to treat here as being 
irrelevant. But another question remains which can hardly 
be dismissed. How far does our arithmetic depend upon spatial 
schemata ? l How far can we rid ourselves of the datum of space 
as perceived, and how far is this datum ultimately consistent 
and intelligible ? I raise no separate doubt as to time, since our 
developed perception of time itself appears largely to be spatial. 
How far, even to think of (I do not say to experience) the relation 
of object to subject, are we forced to make this a spatial relation 
to something which certainly is not in space ? And the endless 
process of reflection on reflection, how far without a spatial 
scheme can any such process exist ? And what in the end holds 
our ordinal series both apart and together ? These questions 
to my mind are very relevant, but I can do no more than suggest 
them to the reader. Apart from any answer to them, I have 
however endeavoured to show that Prof. Royce s generation of 
number is, in the form in which he advocates it, not proof against 
criticism. I cannot however end without thanking him for the 
service which he has done in calling attention to issues, the 
importance of which, I am sure, he in no way exaggerates. 

II. I have now to remark on some of the fundamental ideas 
used by Mr. Russell, and must endeavour to show that these 
ideas contain inconsistency. It is a task to which in one sense 
I am quite unequal. I am incompetent utterly to sit in judge 
ment on Mr. Russell s great work (Principles of Mathematics). 
But, if the mathematical part is as good as the part which is 
philosophical, I am sure that he has produced a book of singular 
merit. To confine myself here to a one-sided criticism of ideas 
which I can only partially comprehend, is ungrateful to me, and 
I could not do it if I did not feel myself in a sense compelled to 
say something. 

I understand Mr. Russell to hold that mathematical truth is 
true perfectly and in the end, since the principles as well as the 
inferences are wholly valid. The fundamental ideas, I under- 

1 I of course do not mean visual schemata. Obviously that could not be 
true of every mind. But of how many minds it would be true is, again, 
another question. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 281 

stand, are throughout self -consistent. If there were an exception 
the extent of its influence would raise a question at once of the 
most formidable kind, and the main doctrine obviously would be 
imperilled. But this is a point on which, through my own 
incapacity, I have been unable to appreciate Mr. Russell s 
decision. I must therefore, passing this by, go on to inquire as 
to the consistency of some leading ideas. 

I encounter at the outset a great difficulty. Mr. Russell s 
main position has remained to myself incomprehensible. On 
the one side I am led to think that he defends a strict pluralism, 
for which nothing is admissible beyond simple terms and external 
relations. On the other side Mr. Russell seems to assert empha 
tically, and to use throughout, ideas which such a pluralism 
surely must repudiate. He throughout stands upon unities 
which are complex and which cannot be analysed into terms and 
relations. These two positions to my mind are irreconcilable, 
since the second, as I understand it, contradicts the first flatly. 
If there are such unities, and, still more, if such unities are funda 
mental, then pluralism surely is in principle abandoned as false. 
Mr. Russell, I cannot doubt, is prepared here with an answer, 
but I have been unable to discover in what this answer consists. 
To urge that these unities are indefinable would to myself be 
merely irrelevant. If they had no meaning they could serve no 
purpose, and the question is with regard to their meaning. If 
that is not consistent with itself or with Mr. Russell s main doc 
trine, then that meaning is not admissible as true, unless it is 
taken subject to an unknown condition. But, if so taken, that 
meaning, I would urge, is not ultimate truth. For a certain 
purpose, obviously, one can swallow whole what one is unable to 
analyse ; but I cannot see how, with this, we have rid ourselves 
of the question as to ultimate truth. 

On my own position here I need not dwell. For me immediate 
experience gives us a unity and unities of one and many, which 
unities are not completely analysable or intelligible, and which 
unities are self -contradictory unless you take them as subject to 
an unknown condition. Such a form of unity seems to me to be 
in principle the refutation of pluralism, and on the other side it 
more or less vitiates the absolute claim of all truths (I cannot 
stop here to make the required qualification) including those of 
mathematics. Now what is Mr. Russell s attitude towards 



282 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

a position of this kind ? On the one hand I understand him to 
reject it most decidedly. On the other hand, wherever anything 
like implication or unity is involved (and how much have 
we left where these are excluded ?), Mr. Russell seems to myself 
to embrace a conclusion which in principle I find it hard to 
distinguish from my own. And, it being clear to me that there 
is something here which I have failed to comprehend, I must 
leave this fundamental issue and go on to consider some difficulties 
more in detail. 

The notion of implication V I understand Mr. Russell to say, 
is necessary for mathematics ; and let us consider very briefly 
what this notion involves. It seems to mean (if it means any 
thing) that something is both itself and more than itself. There 
is a difference here which is both affirmed and denied ; for of 
course that anything should imply merely itself is meaningless. 
But how can anything be at once itself and in any sense not-itself ? 
Mr. Russell leaves us here, so far as I have seen, without any 
assistance. But with this we are face to face with the familiar 
problem of the one and many, the universal and particular. We 
are driven back to the immediate experience where the whole is in 
the parts and where, through the whole, the parts are in one 
another. But such an immediate experience seems in the first 
place (I would repeat) to contradict pluralism, and in the second 
place it offers by itself no theoretical solution. The same 
difficulty appears in such that . If this phrase does not mean 
that a particular is also a universal, and with a certain conse 
quence, it surely has no meaning at all. But how to justify this 
necessary inconsistency Mr. Russell does not tell us. Among 
other fundamental troubles of the same kind I would mention 
the ideas of occupation and of magnitude of . Certainly 
Mr. Russell asserts here the existence of a relation, but this 
assertion to my mind seems obviously opposed to fact, and once 
more I find an unjustified recourse to the inconsistency of imme 
diate experience. 

I will enter now on some instances of a somewhat different 
kind, where however the difficulty remains at bottom the same. 
I will not repeat what in a former chapter I have urged with regard 

1 In connexion with implication the axioms given by Mr. Russell 
(p. 16) demand the attention of logicians. But want of space makes it 
impossible for me to offer here any criticism. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 283 

to the word And (Chap. VIII, p. 231). Its relevancy and its 
importance in this connexion however are obvious. But, leaving 
this, I will touch briefly on the subject of relation and identity. 
Mr. Russell, I understand, defends and builds on such an idea 
as the relation of a term to itself. This idea to my mind is 
unmeaning or else self-contradictory. To my mind a relation 
must imply terms, and terms which are distinct and therefore 
different from one another ; and our only ground for thinking 
otherwise in any case is our failure to apprehend the diversity 
which has really been introduced. Mr. Russell in particular 
uses and justifies the abstract identity of a term with itself. 
He does not, I think, say the same thing here with regard to 
difference. But, if difference is a relation (and, if it is not a 
relation, its nature seems puzzling), and, if again all relations 
are external, then the difference of a term from itself seems as 
justifiable as its identity with itself. For, ex hyp., it is all one 
to the term what its relations are. But, however that may be, 
Mr. Russell defends identity between a term and itself. And 
this idea surely contradicts itself, since (to repeat this) diversity 
is required for relation, and Mr. Russell would not admit that 
the idea can be at once the same with itself and different from 
itself. He attempts to justify his doctrine here by producing 
a number of examples (p. 96). But I can see no meaning in any 
of these unless diversity is introduced, and I will lower down 
say something more with regard to one instance. 

I will proceed now to remark more in detail on the incon 
sistency of such an idea as class . We have here no fresh 
difficulty in principle, any more than if we examined, for example, 
such a word as instance . It is still the old problem of the 
universal, and of the one in the many, and the dilemmas which 
everywhere arise change their particular shape but not their 
radical essence. Mr. Russell however has attached great impor 
tance to the problem raised specially by the word class . 
I regret that my incapacity for following abstract arguments has 
prevented me in great part from understanding the position 
which he has here taken up. But I will venture briefly to 
exhibit some of the puzzles and inconsistencies from which 
I cannot find that he delivers us. 

I will first remark that no class can be related merely to itself. 
We have seen above that everywhere relation without diversity 



284 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

is meaningless. In the next place no class can consist only of 
one member. Such an idea is a fiction which contradicts itself. 
It ceases to do this only when you introduce plurality in the 
form of possible members. Where these are excluded, as in the 
idea of the Universe, you can no longer speak of a class. The 
Universe obviously is no class nor any member of a class of 
Universes. And in any case, with the introduction of possibility 
into the idea of class, difficulties would arise, which, as I under 
stand it, on Mr. Russell s view would be fatal. The idea of 
possibility, I may perhaps add, seems to call for an attention on 
his part which it appears hardly to have received. The account on 
page 476 seems scarcely adequate, and the idea, I submit, must be 
dealt with in any satisfactory account of Continuity and Infinity. 

After this necessary preface I will set out briefly the inherent 
inconsistency of class . (a) The class is many. It is its 
members. There is no entity external to and other than the 
members. The class is a collection. And it is not a mere possible 
collection, nor is it a collection of mere possibles. Either of these 
alternatives would ruin the idea of class, as could be shown, if 
required. The class is an actual collection of actuals. But it is 
a collection which is not collected by itself (that idea would seem 
meaningless), nor is it again collected by anything from the 
outside for, if so, it would have to contain this other agency. 
It is a collection, since it is taken together ; but it is a collection 
collected by nothing an idea which seems either senseless or 
self-contradictory. 

(b) The class is One, but the One is not something else outside 
the members. The members even seem to be members because 
of what each is internally. And this apparent quality in each 
cannot be a relation to something outside the class. The One 
clearly is something within the members. If there are two 
qualities they must be taken in one, or else we Lave forthwith 
two classes. And (to return to the idea of a collection) two 
collections, differing only as collections and not differing at all 
in their contents, seem certainly not the idea which we seek in a 
class. On the other hand a quality merely internal to each 
member seems to leave the class without any unity at all. The 
unity therefore, not being external, must be taken itself as a 
member of the class. And, since this once more seems senseless, 
the class appears to be dissolved. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 285 

To save ourselves from ruin we may construct a new class 
which is wider, and which includes within itself, as members, 
both the members of the old class and their unity. But since 
the principle of inconsistency is left, any such expedient is useless. 
We are forced once more to dissolve our class and to seek refuge 
in a still wider class. And, when we have reached our widest 
class of all, our bankruptcy is visibly exposed. We are then 
compelled openly to make the class as one a single member of 
itself as many. And with this we end in what is meaningless or 
else plainly is in contradiction with itself. 

The discussion of these inconsistencies (the reader is perhaps 
aware) might be pursued almost ad libitum. Since the class 
cannot fall outside the several members, each member by itself 
will be the class, and will even be the whole class. And from 
this will follow results which are obviously ruinous. For instance, 
the member itself will become many, and will be internally 
dissipated. But the reader, if so inclined, can develop these 
consequences for himself, as well as the puzzles which arise in 
connexion with the ideas of a collection and of what is actual 
and possible . I have, I hope, said enough to show that the 
idea of class is inconsistent ultimately, and that every region 
where it is employed must be more or less infected with self- 
contradiction. 

How Mr. Russell would avoid this conclusion I regret to say 
I have been unable to understand. He apparently defends the 
idea of a class being a member of itself an idea which to myself 
contains a glaring self-contradiction. And, as we have seen, he 
advocates the doctrine that a term can be related to itself 
a view which for the same reason I am forced to reject. In every 
instance adduced, such, for example, as Predicability is pre- 
dicable , I find (I would repeat) a distinction and difference, or 
else I find nothing. The reader will permit me perhaps to illus 
trate and explain this statement by the instance of being . 
I do not reject as meaningless such a judgement as being is 
or is is . I only insist that, in order to have a meaning, I must 
introduce distinction and diversity. I might, for instance, mean 
by such an assertion that only or merely being is and that any 
thing else must be denied. I might wish to convey that after all, 
or whatever else it is, being still is. I might in the end mean 
that in being itself there is the distinction and diversity of 



286 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

what and that , and might imply that either of these thus 
is , and yet that each of them is so different from being 
that our assertion is is may be significant. And then I might 
go on to urge, of what and that , that each is included in 
the class of the other, and that each is a part of the other and 
so perhaps even of itself. And in short I might develop all 
those monstrous results which follow when an inconsistent idea 
like class is taken as true, not for a limited purpose, but 
absolutely. 

I will end by some remarks on the subject of negation. 1 It 
seems to me that negation is a topic which, on a general view like 
Mr. Russell s, causes difficulty, and calls for more notice than (so 
far as I can find) it has received. Mr. Russell s doctrine of zero 
to myself appears to be philosophically untenable ; and in various 
other ideas negation is present in a way which seems to me to 
require explanation. I will take the last point first in connexion 
with such ideas as a and any . (i) A man appears to 
assert one instance of man and to deny more than one man. (ii) 
Any man seems to affirm that there is a man, and to assert 
also the existence of other men actual or possible. 2 It denies, 
with regard to these others, any difference in a certain respect. 
Any therefore contains negation in its essence in the form 
of it does not matter who or what . (iii) Every man and 
all men (I will not here discuss the difference between these) 
contain the denial of man outside of certain limits ; while (iv) 
some man or men means a man or several men, together with 
a negation as to my further knowledge. It conveys that I know, 
or need know, no more about it than that . Now I do not suggest 
that the negation in these terms is a matter with which Mr. Russell 
is not perfectly familiar. I am urging merely that I do not 
understand the place which in his general system of ideas negation 
is to occupy. 

To come now to the account of zero, this idea, unless I have 
failed to understand it, seems to contain an open self-contradic 
tion. It would seem that " no pleasure " has the same relation 
to pleasure as the various magnitudes of pleasure have, though it 
has also, of course, the special relation of negation (p. 186). The 

1 Cf. Chap. X, pp. 295 foil. 

1 Any tends to drift away from this assertion, but so tends to drift 
away from itself. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II 287 

also here to my mind involves a self-contradiction. To my 
mind no pleasure excludes pleasure, and by consequence the 
required relation ; and how this consequence is avoided by 
Mr. Russell I have been unable to see. On the alleged positive 
relation I have already remarked, and the difficulties attaching 
themselves to Mr. Russell s idea of a kind of magnitude to myself 
seem insuperable. Every magnitude has a certain specific 
relation to the something of whicn it is the magnitude. This 
relation is very peculiar, and appears to be incapable of further 
definition . I must repeat with regard to this relation that to 
my mind it is a sheer fiction, as is also the relation alleged to 
exist in occupation . The fact is a complex not consisting of 
or reducible to terms in relation. But, however that may be, 
the proposal to unite this relation by an also to the relation of 
negation I can only understand as a demand to bring together 
simply two elements which exclude each other. And with regard 
to indefinable , what troubles me is not that I insist on defining 
everything. What troubles me is that, if an indefinable is 
meaningless, to me it is nothing, and that here the meaning which 
I must give to zero (if I am not to leave it meaningless) seems 
inconsistent with itself. 

It is intolerable to my mind to speak of no pleasure as being 
a decreased lot of pleasure, or, when pleasure is once more 
added, to speak of pleasure as being increased. On the other 
hand, since to me there is no such thing as bare nothing, and 
since all negation rests on a positive basis, you can rightly speak 
of diminution when you descend from pleasure to no pleasure, 
and, when you pass the other way, you can rightly speak of 
increase. But what is this positive something which has here 
become less or more, and has become less or more by pleasure ? 
To call this something pleasure , even where pleasure is speci 
fically excluded, surely involves self-contradiction. And the 
same remark applies to any attempt to begin with less than 
something, and to increase this until it becomes something, or 
to descend by degrees of diminution from something to nothing. 
If such ideas are useful, then of course they must be used, but 
in the end they do not hold together. But I hasten to add that 
I think it probable that on the subject of zero I have wholly 
failed to understand Mr. Russell. 

These pages have been written, I would repeat, with great 



288 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE II CHAP. 

reluctance and with a sense of compulsion. I have felt myself 
coming forward, or rather driven, to speak on matters where 
on one side I am quite ignorant, and where this ignorance is 
only too likely to have led me into fatal error. And I have 
criticized a writer whose work as a whole I am unable to appre 
ciate, and in connexion with whom I can say nothing on some of 
those merits which I am sure are very great, but which are really 
beyond me. And, even where mere metaphysics or mere logic is 
concerned, I have had to confine myself here to dissent. I regret 
this, for I do not think, amongst those present writers on philo 
sophy whom I know, there is any one who, as compared with 
Mr. Russell, calls for more or even for as much attention. For 
any student of first principles that attention seems to me to be 
not merely advisable but imperative. The problem of the 
general nature of order and series has been too much neglected, 
and yet surely it is a problem which seems infinitely promising. 
Not only has this inquiry been brought to the front by Mr. 
Russell, but he has, at the lowest estimate, supplied matter for 
its solution which no one can neglect. And to have done this by 
itself, even if he had done nothing beyond, is to have helped our 
philosophy in a way which, I hope and believe, will become more 
and more manifest. 



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III * 

THE explanations offered by Mr. Russell in the July number of 
Mind (1910) have been read, I am sure, with interest by many 
readers. I unfortunately did not see the number at the proper 
time, but still I hope it is not too late to ask Mr. Russell to explain 
somewhat further ; for in the main I am left still unable to under 
stand. If, however, Mr. Russell should feel that within con 
venient limits there is no more to be done, such a position, so 
far as I am concerned, would call for no justification. 

i. In the first place, my difficulty as to unities remains. 2 
Is there anything, I ask, in a unity beside its constituents , i.e. 

1 From Mind for January 1911. 

* On this and some other points cf. Chap. X. 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III 289 

the terms and the relation, and, if there is anything more, in what 
does this more consist ? Mr. Russell tells us that we have not 
got merely an enumeration or merely an aggregate. Even with 
merely so much I should still have to ask how even so much is 
possible. But, since we seem to have something beyond either, 
the puzzle grows worse. If I remember right, Prof. Stout some 
years ago stated the problem as attaching essentially to the fact 
of relatedness . What is the difference between a relation 
which relates in fact and one which does not so relate ? And if 
we accept a strict pluralism, where, I urge, have we any room for 
this difference ? 

2. In the next place, as to implication my troubles continue. 
If we have nothing but facts, I see no room for implication, and 
if we have anything more or less than facts, I cannot understand 
what this is. By all means banish possibility as real, but where 
among facts does implication fall ? Is a disjunction with its 
Either-or an actual fact ? Are conditions facts ? Is de 
ducibility a fact ? With regard to facts I thought our attitude 
was one of It is or (perhaps also) It is not . I do not in the 
least understand the position of either-or or of can be or 
may be . 

3. I urged against the possibility of a term being related to 
itself the fact that relation implies diversity, and I should like to 
explain my reason for holding to this fact. I do not proceed here 
by arguing downwards from some assumption or axiom. 1 I pro 
ceed on the contrary by way of actual experiment. With any 
relation remove diversity (this is my experience), and the relation 
is destroyed. You have (I find) no relation left unless you also 
leave that diversity which you may have failed to notice. What 
I of course am forced to assume here is that I have correctly 
performed my experiment. If Mr. Russell on the other side says 
that he can perceive a relation where there is absolutely no 
diversity about the terms, I do not see how we are to argue 
about our difference. 

4. With regard to diversity, externality and mere fact, the 
assumptions (I do not call them such) which I make are as 
follows. I assume first that, where I get the unmeaning or the 
self-destructive, I have not got even the possible. And I assume 
that what is is, in the sense that, so far as I have truth and 

1 Cf. here Chap. XI, pp. 311 foil. 

1574 U 



2QO SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III CHAP. 

reality, I have not got something which is true and real merely 
because of something else. This second assumption, if it is to 
be called one, bears on the question of externality and mere fact 
in a way which I will explain. 

(a) But, first, with regard to diversity Mr. Russell maintains, 
as I understand, that our only reason for denying the relation of 
diversity between a term and its own self is that this relation is 
not a fact. Whether Mr. Russell means more than that the 
relation has not yet been found, I am unable to judge. To 
myself on the other hand the above relation is not possible. 
To myself it either is meaningless or self-destructive. In making 
an ideal experiment I either have no diversity, or else the terms 
are different ; and, when I suppress the difference, the relation 
is destroyed. I therefore deny this possibility, and I go on further 
to argue that any premisses from which such a possibility follows 
are false. 

(b) With regard to externality and mere fact I should first 
explain that, in my opinion, these are things which are not and 
which cannot be observed. To have bare A in bare external 
relation to B is not possible in any observation or experiment. 
The supposed fact is really an inference reached by vicious 
abstraction. We saw above how unities and implications , 
without which Mr. Russell apparently cannot move a step, involve 
always a something more which on his view seems inexplicable. 
And the same thing holds good with regard to any alleged 
perception of mere conjunction. 

To myself the mere fact in which something seems to qualify 
A from the outside, is never really the whole fact. There is 
always here a condition left outside of what you take as the fact. 
Your statement is therefore true not of A itself but of A qualified 
by x. And hence the opposite of your statement is also true. 
On the other hand to say something about A which in no sense 
qualifies A, remains to my mind meaningless. In other words, 
no and which is purely external is thinkable. This is once 
more the point to which Mr. Russell is invited to address himself. 
The above is the ground of objection to externality and to mere 
fact. You want, that is, to say something about something, 
and not about something else, particularly when the something 
else is unknown. The demand for intrinsic relations I take 
to be an expression of this want, but I agree that here once more 



ix SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III 291 

complete satisfaction is impossible. There is of course with me 
no question of any axiom . 

Naturally I realize that in this way doubt may be thrown upon 
every possible conclusion, however certainly it seems to follow 
in ideal experiment. How are we anywhere to save ourselves 
from doubt arising from the presence of the possibility of an 
unknown condition ? Have we not with every result a counter- 
possibility ? This question in its turn leads to the inquiry whether 
the alleged counter-possibility is everywhere really possible. 
But I must not here digress into a defence of what I have argued 
elsewhere. 

5. I have stated the main principle on which objection is taken 
to absolute externality and bare conjunction. I would go on to 
add that I am still in doubt as to the sense in which according 
to Mr. Russell relations are external. The terms are to contribute 
nothing, and so much I understand. But I still do not know 
whether Mr. Russell takes the relations apart from any terms to 
be thinkable. To be consistent he should, in my opinion, hold 
this view, but I cannot say that he does so. If all that is meant 
is that this or that term contributes no more than any other term, 
clearly, from so much, absolute externality and pluralism do not 
follow. On the other hand, a relation apart from terms is to me 
unmeaning or self -destructive, and is an idea produced by an 
indefensible abstraction (cf. pp. 295 foil.). 

6. I will end by noticing briefly Mr. Russell s contention that 
on his view we are less in conflict with science and with common 
sense. This is an argument which I am very far from under 
valuing. In fact the doctrine which I hold I hold largely because 
it seems to me to remain, more than others, in harmony with life 
as a whole. I am speaking of course only of views which aim at 
theoretical consistency, and not of those where inconsistency and 
self-contradiction are of minor importance. But I could not on 
this ground compare the conclusions advocated by myself with 
those taught by Mr. Russell, because on the most important point 
I do not know what his conclusion is. To myself the things which 
matter most in life are not to be resolved into terms with relations 
between them. And I am ignorant as to what on this point 
Mr. Russell may really hold. The question is in a word as to 
experiences which, to a greater or less extent, are non-relational. 
Obviously, when I do not know whether and how far Mr. Russell 

IT 2 



292 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE III CHAP, ix 

denies the existence of such facts, or in what sense he admits them, 
it is not in my power to judge as to how far his views are in 
harmony with science and common sense, if I use these terms, 
that is, in anything like a wide meaning. This is a point on which 
some explanation by Mr. Russell would be welcome, I am sure, 
to others as well as to myself. We return here to the doubt as 
to unity with which we began. We have again on our hands 
the whole question as to sensible fact and as to all that is covered 
by the word feeling . I should perhaps add that, so far as I can 
judge, Mr. Russell s view as to the inviolability of facts would 
make indefensible the constructions in and by which the entire 
body of history and of natural science consists. 



CHAPTER X 

A DISCUSSION OF SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION 
WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 

SINCE the preceding chapter appeared in Mind, Mr. 
Russell has brought out several important articles in the 
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1910-12), and, 
beside his Essays, has published an interesting little volume 
on the Problems of Philosophy. While grateful for all these 
I do not find that my main difficulties have been removed. 
And I cannot perhaps do better than touch and even 
enlarge on certain points which seem vital. 

I. The first of these will be Mr. Russell s theory of judge 
ment and truth. I will not attempt to state this, since 
I doubt my having succeeded in grasping it. But I cannot 
accept the view that a unity can here, or anywhere, consist 
in a multiple relation, and to this difference in principle 
I will return lower down. And, even apart from this, 
Mr. Russell s doctrine to my mind has remained untenable, 
and I have found my difficulties confirmed, it seems to me 
convincingly, by Prof. Stout. 1 The view that for me, as 
I judge, there is no unity anywhere in what I take as true 
except the unity made by my judgement, seems indefensible. 
It involves apparently in principle the complete previous 
dissolution for me of the whole content, followed by its 
re-integration in detail by means of one new multiple rela 
tion. Only (so it seems) because of this supervening relation 
is for me the horse before the cart, and everything through- 

1 In the A ristotelian Proceedings for 1910-1 1 . Prof. Stout, however, seems 
willing, as I am not, to accept in principle the multiple relation . 



294 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

out not turned just the other way. I amreminded here of 
the position taken by some over-zealous disciples of Kant, 
where every particular relation found in the object appears 
to have been thrown out by an impartial, not to say casual, 
eruption from the synthetic Ego. But I can scarcely sup 
pose that such an interpretation of Mr. Russell s view can be 
really much more than a misapprehension. 

Suppose that, as sometimes happens, a husband A is 
jealous of a man C who does not exist in fact but is imaginary. 
On the above doctrine this complex unity C would, appar 
ently, be made ad hoc by A s present judgement. But C 
has really been the result of a gradual morbid growth. 
And, in order for the new unity of the judgement to super 
vene, this result apparently must be ad hoc disintegrated. 
Again, to pass from this, there is a difficulty, the importance 
of which it would, I think, be hard to exaggerate. I under 
stand that the world made for me by a new multiple relation 
may or may not answer to things as they are outside that 
relation. But what I cannot understand is why one of 
these two worlds should be more real than the other. Why 
is not the content affirmed in my judgement in any case 
absolutely real ? Suppose that, more or less, it does not 
correspond with some other arrangement, why and on what 
principle do we set one arrangement above the other ? 
Why is a multiple relation, where a subject comes in, not 
just as real as anything else ? And can its detail be false, 
just because that detail is different from something other 
than itself ? I have so far been unable on all these points 
to understand Mr. Russell s teaching. Are we, I repeat, 
to call unreal anything which is what it is only in and 
through relation to a subject, and, if so, why ? And, if we 
are not to say that this is unreal, are we ever to call it false, 
and if so, on what principle ? And are we, I add, still to 
use the word * false even where we have a whole psychical 
state which does not so much as pretend to be true ? 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 295 

II. Leaving this point, where I cannot pretend to have 
understood Mr. Russell, I will touch on another difficulty. 
Is it possible to think of a relation as being real apart from 
all terms ? l I now understand that Mr. Russell affirms 
this possibility, and further adduces arguments in favour of 
its existence in fact. 2 Of course I agree that, since one 
speaks of a relation without terms, in a sense one must 
think of it, but for myself I am sure that I cannot think of 
it as real. 

Difference and identity, where nothing is the same or 
different, after and before and the difference between after 
and before, where nothing is before or after anything, right 
and left and their difference, and greater and less on some 
scale, where there are no terms and, perhaps, no different 
places all of this to my mind in the end is unmeaning. 
When I remove the terms wholly, my idea is forthwith 
destroyed, or, again, it becomes inconsistent with itself when 
the removal is ambiguous. And there is no question here 
of arguing downwards from some axiom which I assume. 
I am appealing direct to an ideal experiment, and the result, 
at least to my mind, is certain. Whether Mr. Russell goes 
so far as to ask me to conceive of a series or scale where 
there are absolutely no terms, where there is nothing at all 
but bare relations, and perhaps in the end nothing but one 
multiple relation I am unable to say. But I cannot find 
that any relation survives in my mind the total removal of 
its terms. The terms may be to the last degree vague and 
schematic, but, once attempt to abstract them, and you 
find that they were there. 

But relations without terms, Mr. Russell argues, must be 
thinkable, and I go on to deal with what I understand to 
be the reasons adduced. Where a relation is universal and 
holds of anything , you could not take it so, Mr. Russell 

1 Chap. VIII, p. 238, and IX, p. 291. 

8 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1910-11, pp. in, 112. 



296 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

urges, unless you took it quite apart from everything. And, 
again, since it is admitted that you can analyse a whole 
into terms and relations, you could not do that unless the 
relations were really separate. Whether Mr. Russell main 
tains that every possible distinction has separate reality, 
I do not know. But that this is the conclusion which must 
follow, appears to me to be obvious. 

(a) I will consider first the argument with regard to 
universals. Whether, given a bare universal, Mr. Russell 
can supply a satisfactory account of its relation to any 
thing , I will not inquire. What I wish to show here is 
that the facts can be dealt with quite otherwise. The 
subject is a large one, and it raises psychological problems 
on which I cannot touch, but I will endeavour to state 
briefly the conclusion which to myself seems tenable. There 
is no such thing as a bare universal, nor for my consciousness 
of universality is such a thing wanted, nor could it serve. 
In fact there is always an aspect of particularity, though 
this aspect may of course be hard to observe, and though 
the whole content may be highly schematic in character. 
But, though in our perception of a universal the particu 
larity always is there, it is treated as more or less irrelevant. 
We ignore it, or, while recognizing it, we exclude it from 
our view entirely or partially. It is in a word negation 
which is implied in our awareness of universals and which 
makes that awareness possible. 1 Representation at least, 
the reader perhaps may agree, without exclusion would be 
a word deprived of its meaning. 

When I have the universal idea, say, of a triangle, that 
idea is an event in my mind, and it is particular in a certain 
aspect. In what this aspect of particularity in various cases 
consists, I do not propose here to discuss. But every 
psychical event, I assume, has particular existence. 2 Now 

1 Cf. pp. 286-7. 

* Cf. pp. 153 foil., and Prof. Bosanquet s Logic, vol. ii, chap. x. 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 297 

my awareness of a triangle as universal negates the above 
aspect, and it does so by ignoring the aspect or by excluding 
it as irrelevant. Whether tacitly or consciously, the thisness 
is in various senses discarded. I can use the instance 
while I ignore even the fact that it is an instance, or, while 
recognizing that fact, I can treat it as irrelevant. I can 
again be conscious that my instance is one among others, 
while at the same time I take that diversity as immaterial 
since it here makes no difference. Again I may recognize 
that the many instances, actual or possible, form a class. 
Their plurality is to me now the positive existence of the 
universal, while at the same time I exclude their differences, 
at least as mattering or counting. Thus, when I speak of 
any case of a triangle , I am aware, though perhaps 
vaguely, that a number of cases actual or possible is there, 
but, so far as these cases differ, I imply (however incon 
sistently) that their difference can be ignored or excluded. 1 
I am speaking here throughout (the reader will remember) 
of the abstract and not of the concrete universal. This 
latter (we may here remind ourselves) is perhaps really, 
though not avowedly, admitted by Mr. Russell under the 
name of unity . 

But your account of the matter , the reader may urge, 
takes no heed of an obvious objection. According to you 
I have not before me the bare universal idea, and yet what 
I have to use, in the negation which you describe, is appar 
ently nothing else. How can negation help me to arrive at 
that from which it proceeds, and which it presupposes as 
already there ? This objection, I reply, forgets that nega 
tion is of more than one kind. Denial always rests on a 

1 It is important to keep in mind that we use universals from the very 
beginning of our mental development. With regard to these we of course 
do not know that they are universals, or are representative, or form a 
class. Whether and in what sense there is negation here, is of course 
a further question. The action from the very first of universals is a 
matter discussed by me elsewhere. See my Principles of Logic. 



298 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

basis, but that basis is not always, like that which it denies, 
an object before the mind. When you exclude you exclude 
on the strength of something positive, but this positive 
something, which serves, may not be explicit. In the above 
distinction is found, I think, the solution of our problem. 
The universal idea cannot come before us as bare, but this 
universal on the other hand is used as the positive ground 
of a negation, and, as that, it can on reflection be affirmed. 

Our idea of a triangle has, we saw, a particular side which 
we ignore or take as irrelevant. Our attitude here is so far 
negative, and, as negative, it involves a positive basis. 
This basis is that central area in our triangle which is 
identified in feeling with a familiar name and with a use 
beyond itself. 1 The central area is by itself no object. 
It is something in the object, not separated from the 
object, which repels whatever else in the object interferes 
with a certain reference elsewhere. It is the qualification 
which, we feel, answers to a recognized employment and 
name. And later, though our meaning never becomes bare, 
we can be aware of it in its proper character, and can go 
on to relate it positively to that diversity which in a sense 
it excludes. 

Suppose that on an object of a certain kind you are 
accustomed to act, practically or theoretically, in a special 
manner. So far you may know nothing about any universal, 
though obviously there is here a universal, which you use, 
or which uses you, in a certain fashion. Then let us suppose 
that there comes a striking difference in the instance. Upon 
this you hesitate perhaps, and then proceed to act in your 
usual way. Still this noticed difference may have its effect, 
and may lead to a consciousness of and yet and of after 
all . You are now aware of a sameness, and, with it, 
a difference which is there and does not count. But this 

1 Even in the case of a sensation, such as our awareness of red, the 
universal aspect depends, I should say, in the end on a certain use, but, 
in some cases, on a mere theoretical use. 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 299 

sameness is a basis which, as such, is not before you. It is 
felt, and felt as that which is in one with the habitual use 
which later is named. And, however much you reflect, 
and, however clearly the identical and universal are expli 
cated, they can never become naked. Your awareness of 
triangularity still must leave the particular standing as a 
fact, while you disregard it, or while, recognizing it in various 
senses, you deny its relevance. Your exclusion in the end 
rests on that which by itself is not an object. Its positive 
basis is an area of content emphasized in feeling, and identi 
fied later in feeling with a recognized function and name. 
This emphasized nucleus, with its exclusion of any accom 
paniment which threatens to invade it, is the root of our 
knowledge of the universal as object (cf. p. 309, note). 

If this brief account is not mistaken, it would follow that 
for our consciousness of a universal the idea of a class or 
collection is not required. The diversity, ignored in use or 
recognized as excluded, may (to repeat this) be the particular 
nature of our idea as a mental fact. There is here no refer 
ence to other cases whether actual or possible. When these 
cases and their diversity are recognized, we are aware of an 
instance . And, when again further the other instances 
are taken collectively, we have the idea of a class. But 
knowledge of an instance or a class is not essential to our 
use of a universal, nor, even when we have before us an 
abstract idea, need this aspect be present to our minds. 
On the difficulties involved in the idea of a class I have 
remarked already (pp. 283 foil.). 

(b) I will pass from this to touch briefly on the nature of 
analysis. Mr. Russell urges, as I understand, that the fact 
of analysis proves the existence of bare relations. For, if 
you were not acquainted with these relations by themselves, 
the result of the analysis would to you be meaningless. The 
principle here involved leads to results which, so far as I see, 



300 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

are wholly ruinous. It will follow that without any excep 
tion every distinction which I can make anywhere, exists 
bare and real by itself. This plain consequence does not, 
however, appear to be drawn and accepted by Mr. Russell. 
And I therefore conclude that I have failed to apprehend 
the argument which he seeks to found on the nature of 
analysis. 1 

Without any further reference then to Mr. Russell I will 
venture to add a word on this difficult problem. Analysis 
and synthesis I take in the end to be two aspects of one 
principle, just as are again (to give a general illustration) 
rights and duties. Every analysis proceeds from and on 
the basis of a unity. The And , we have already seen, is 
nothing but a form of oneness. Analysis and abstraction, 
far from suppressing union and totality, are the substitution, 
the superposition for a certain end and purpose, of another 
kind of synthesis. 2 But on this general aspect of the pro 
blem I do not wish to remark here. The point before us is 
the question as to how, without separation in existence, we 
can discriminate ideally in analysis ; and this question has, 
I think, in principle been answered already. The individual 
unity, as we saw, can be left standing in fact, while one of 
its aspects is emphasized, and while from that basis other 
aspects are negated. The result of the process is, in the 
present case, the ideal discrimination of one or more features 
left none the less united. The moving principle is the 
identification of some character of a complex whole with 
that which goes beyond this whole and is incompatible with 
its residual content. Hence you have incompatibility in 
idea, conjoined with coexistence in fact. If, for instance, 
you take a confused plurality, a b c, and if you emphasize b, 
as used in a function b-d, and then attend to what happens, 
the result is as follows. You have the feature b given at 

1 Loc. cit., p. 112. 

J Principles of Logic, pp. 430-54. And, for the nature of And , see 
above, p. 231, note. 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 301 

once in perceived unity with a and c, and yet as passing 
away from them and distinct from them. The function b-d, 
I need hardly add, may be at bottom theoretical or practical. 1 
In any case the felt oneness of b with a use excluding its 
implicit unity with a and c, is that which brings out at once 
the two sides involved in discrimination and analysis. 

The whole of this question, both as to universals and as 
to analysis, turns on the meaning given to ideality, for all 
discrimination is ideal. Here the two paths diverge. If an 
idea is something separate, there will be in the end no 
difference between facts and ideas, and in the end, I should 
say, you will be left without either. 2 But on the other path 
there is nowhere an absolute division in reality. Ideality is 
the loosening of some feature of content from its own exist 
ence, a loosening which comes from the attachment also of 
that feature to something beyond. 3 Ideality rests on the 
identity at once with a standing here and a transcendent 
elsewhere . And we have an idea where we attribute 
some feature of given content to a reality which falls outside 
of that content s private existence. This existence, we have 
seen, is in various senses negated, but, if it were removed, 
the idea would be lost. Ideality, we may say, is what moves 
the world, and it is the inseparable union at once positive 
and negative of fact and transcendence. 

Leaving the subject of analysis I will notice a dilemma, 

1 There is a further point of importance to be noticed here. After we 
have learnt to discriminate, we have gained a new form of awareness of 
many in one. And hence, when later we go about to discriminate, we 
can make use of this form. We can apply it as an ideal schema to some 
unanalysed complex, and then the features of this complex may become 
distinct through fusion and identification with the differences in our 
schema. This is of course one form of what is called apperception , 
but it is obviously not so ultimate as the process explained in the text. 
It should be clearly understood that in that process fusion is not in 
volved, and that, to bring it in, would be in my opinion a serious error. 

2 So far as I can judge that is really the case with Mr. Russell. Unless, 
that is, he is prepared to place unities first, and to subordinate to that 
principle all the rest of his doctrine, I fail to see what place is left in his 
world for either a fact or an idea. 3 Cf. Chap. Ill, pp. 28-9. 



302 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

not, I believe, offered by Mr. Russell. It is admitted (this 
may be urged) that one can think of bare triangularity, and 
can think of a relation naked and devoid of all terms. But, 
if these things were not real, how, it may be asked, could 
they really be objects ? This same argument, it will be 
noticed, applies without exception to every idea, no matter 
how self-contradictory ; and its consequence, if it held good, 
would be theoretical ruin. With this dilemma I have dealt 
already, 1 but it may be well perhaps once more here to 
state its solution. 

Any idea, of course not meaningless, let it be ever so 
monstrous, is thinkable, so long, that is, as you do not think 
it out. For you may couple it with some tacit condition, 
taken with which its elements are somehow kept apart and 
so combined. In this manner you can hold it before you 
as an object. But go on to realize your somehow and to 
make that explicit, and the object either becomes another, 
or, by the withdrawal of the condition, is disintegrated. 
Thus a relation without terms is a thinkable idea. Rela 
tion and exclusion of terms and coupling are all 
thinkable, and their union without doubt is an object 
somehow ; but then the question is how. The relation by 
itself is thought of really perhaps as a relation taken with 
other terms, and on the strength of these other terms, which 
are ignored, I exclude the terms which are explicit. Or I 
couple relation and absence of terms , because coupling 
is intelligible, and it is easy to forget the special nature of 
the coupled. Or (it is all the same thing) exclusion clearly 
is a relation, and there can be a relation, we know, between 
a relation and its terms. But realize what you are doing, 
cease to ignore and to forget, and once begin to make 
explicit every somehow , and your relation without terms 
is either transformed or goes to pieces before your eyes. 

1 Chap. Ill, p. 41, note, and Chap. IX, pp. 269-72. Cf. Prof. Stout, 
A fist. Pror. for 1911-12, p. 194. 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 303 

Everywhere what may be called the individual is the real, 
and yet the individual is in various ways never self-con 
tained. And in use we may disregard this or that residual 
aspect of its content. We may emphasize and may attend 
merely to the opposite of what we disregard. And we may 
go on to set down what we thus transcend as excluded for 
a purpose or even utterly. But this idea of exclusion, when 
you make it absolute, becomes self-discrepant and inco 
herent ; and the more you seek to grasp it, as it is, the more 
certainly does it fly apart in your hands. This is, however, 
not so much a matter for argument and discussion as for 
actual experiment. 1 

III. I will pass now to the subject of what Mr. Russell 
calls multiple relations . If there were such things, I 
cannot think that they would serve their alleged purpose, 
and in the second place I fail to see that such things exist 
at all. 

(a) We are brought back once more here to the funda 
mental question of unities . Is there, in the end and 
really, for Mr. Russell such a thing as a whole which is non 
relational or again super-relational ? Unless we know the 
answer to this question, the entire position seems doubtful 
throughout. Now on the one hand Mr. Russell appears to 
be fully committed to such unities, but, if so, how this 
doctrine stands to his other views, I am unable to conceive. 
On the other hand, in his interesting little book on the 
Problems of Philosophy, the idea seems to have disappeared. 
There is even a tendency to imply that a complex unity 
consists in a relation (p. 202). But this problem surely 
(if in philosophy there are problems) is second to none in 
importance. 

Let us consider (it is one of Mr. Russell s instances) the 
case of jealousy. We have here an emotional state, and in 

1 Cf. p. 289, and Chap. XI, at the beginning. 



304 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

this state let us agree that we have relations, and for the 
sake of argument (if you will) one principal relation. And 
on the other side let us agree that our state is a unity. 
Now the question is whether this unity consists in a relation 
or relations. Given the terms and the relations (whatever 
these are), as terms and relations, and given nothing else, 
have you got, or can you reconstitute, the emotional fact ? 
The fact, I presume, is the jealousy that I feel. And is this 
a relation, or is it, on the contrary, a unity of another sort ? 
To myself, as I understand the question, the answer is 
obvious. It seems to me monstrous to describe a felt whole 
as a relation. A relation (to repeat this) is one thing, while 
a relational whole is another thing. And, not only with an 
emotion but everywhere, to myself the fact of a relational 
complex is a unity which cannot possibly consist in a set of 
relations or again in a relation. Nor could any multiple 
relation , if such existed, make the unity of a fact. But 
how in the end Mr. Russell understands this matter, I am 
quite unable to say. 

I can imagine a view which I certainly do not attribute 
to Mr. Russell, a view which for a moment (if the reader is 
so inclined) it may be well to take seriously. Reality here, 
or at least the main reality, will consist in relations, bare 
relations without terms. And these relations are able to 
generate a kind of world. They are of many kinds, and 
at least some of them are such as to have what Mr. Russell 
calls sense , and to be capable thus of forming series, 
unities which express and consist in one constitutive relation. 
There are (to use another terminology) various functions of 
analysis and synthesis in one. And these, being applied 
one to the other and so dealing only with themselves, produce 
thus an indefinite number of more complex wholes in endless 
generation. Thus a spatial relation may seem to be single, 
but a relation of time, applied to it, forms a principle of 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 305 

fission and a sphere of diversity in which the space-relation 
becomes plural and so reciprocally. And consider what 
happens when on both of these a relation of degree becomes 
active, and again itself by both is multiplied and pluralized. 
Further, if these functions, have sense , each, even by 
itself and acting on itself, can perhaps serve as its own 
principle of endless fission and unbroken unity. 1 And the 
world, perhaps in the end, is one world through such a mere 
bare self-dividing synthesis. 

There remains, however, a doubt and a question as to the 
terms. It is hazardous perhaps after all to generate terms 
by one naked relation which turns another relation, or even 
itself, into its object and the field of its own activity. On 
the other hand, if we cannot venture as far as this, we at 
least do not require a plurality of actual reals to serve as 
matter . Nor need we fall back on the mythology of 
a Chaos at once nothing and ready for everything. All that 
we require in the end is one single term. And this one term, 
together with our world of ideal functions, will make the 
concrete universe. For one and the same term can be 
related to itself, and so becomes double and different. And 
entering into the multiplicity of the various series, it becomes 
through them an infinity of diverse matters. Its singleness 
is thus sundered into endless plurality, and is at the same 
time connected in the end perhaps into one great world of 
organic unity. 

I need not, I presume, state once more that I do not for 
one moment attribute anything like the above to Mr. Russell. 

1 Take a relation, such as up and down , and to this, as a term, apply 
the same relation. The result apparently would be up and down in 
another dimension. And this same procedure could be continued so as to 
reach an indefinite number of dimensions. And, if you believe that the 
self -same term can stand on both sides of a relation, I do not see how you 
can object that this process of a priori construction is from the first ille 
gitimate. Then, not content with this result, repeat the same procedure 
even where the first relation has no terms at all. The same result (it 
seems to me) will still follow, if once you can accept, as real or possible, 
a relation without terms and yet not meaningless. 

1574 X 



306 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

And yet, when I ask myself what in the above is on Mr. 
Russell s principles untenable, and exactly why, and how 
far, it is so, I find myself at a loss. And the source of my 
darkness is, I think, first the question as to the terms of 
relations, and secondly this vital problem as to the existence 
and nature of 4 unities . 

(b) Even if there were multiple relations, such relations 
could not constitute unities, since no whole, however rela 
tional, is made by and consists in a relation. This is the 
first point. And now further I wish to question the exist 
ence anywhere of a multiple relation . This, so far as 
I can judge, is merely something which has to be postulated 
because the theory requires it. And in this it seems to me 
to be like, for instance, the relation alleged by Mr. Russell 
to exist in occupation .* Not only then does the multiple 
relation in any case fail to be all that we want, but I cannot 
believe that it is even really there. 

Let us take Mr. Russell s instance of between . 2 Be 
tween requires a multiplicity of terms, 3 and between , 
it is said, is a relation, and so much may seem obvious. 
But, I reply, to my mind it is not true that between is 
a relation, and the opposite of this I even venture to regard 
as evident. Between is certainly a feature which appears 
in a relational arrangement. But the arrangement is not 
itself a relation, and still less could it be the relation of 
4 between . What is between is one piece of the related 
whole, and it never could be that whole itself. So far as 
the unity of the complex is relational, it is a relation between 
relations and not between terms. And, secondly, the 

1 See Chap. IX, pp. 264, 287. 

* Problems, p. 195. The meaning of between is discussed elaborately 
by Mr. Russell in his Principles of Mathematics, chap. xxv. 

* If, however, a term could be related to itself, all that we should want 
would be, I presume, one term, and the multiplicity would come from the 
multiple relation . 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 307 

complex never consists in a relation, and it never so much 
as implies a relation which is multiple. 1 

Certainly in a series you can find between the terms one 
relation, one, that is to say, in character. So far as a series 
is one series, its several connexions, I understand, must 
have one character throughout, and one or more of its terms 
must be between others. And, given this formula, I agree 
that you can construct a series. But, even if the formula 
were the series, which surely it is not, yet the formula itself 
is not between, and what really is between is not the formula. 

And, where I probably have not succeeded in under 
standing, it would hardly serve to elaborate further. I agree 
of course that there is a looser usage of speech which may 
be adduced in support of multiple relations. We can 
doubtless speak, for instance, of jealousy as being a relation 
between persons, but we do not here, I am convinced, mean 
to assert a single relation which is multiple. We are saying 
perhaps that jealousy is an arrangement involving such and 
such relations. But more probably we mean that, where 
persons are related in a certain manner, with that you have 
jealousy. And so we go on, expressing ourselves carelessly, 
to call this manner a relation. But, when we try to speak 
accurately, our position, I think, is otherwise. The doctrine 
that an emotion is a relation, we should reject, nor should 
we agree that it even implies one relation of many terms. 
We should be again perhaps quite as clear, if we were asked 
to take the instance of some product of fine art. And with 
this, regretting once more my failure to comprehend, I am 
forced to leave the subject of multiple relations. 

1 On the other hand I am still unable to accept what has been called 
the Law of Duality (Mind, O.S., No. 47, p. 382). In the apprehension, 
say, of a hexagon or a triangle, I am compelled to follow no such principle. 
I can have a relational arrangement, perceived as a unity, where there is 
no such dual subordination of the relations involved. This is possible 
because their unity is more than relational. Such, again, is the case, 
I would add, with every possible spatial figure. No points and lines in 
the end can make that what it is. 

X 2 



308 SOME PROBLEMS IN CONNEXION CHAP. 

I will, however, end by laying stress on a point which 
seems fundamental. Given a plurality of terms, and given 
one relation of a certain sort, to be taken in as many instances 
as you please and I agree that with this you can make 
a series. But I deny emphatically that the series is really 
made out of nothing more. Obviously, if no further con 
dition is added, the result is not one series, and so far I 
understand that Mr. Russell would agree. 1 From the terms 
and the relations, as materials, the series cannot be made 
anyhow, and the question as to the how to myself seems 
vital. And, in order to make your series, what in my 
opinion you really do, is to superimpose, openly or covertly, 
upon the data a form of serial arrangement. The series in 
short is presupposed and is implied in those conditions from 
which it is supposed to be made. 

Hence, finally, we are led to ask as to what is involved in 
that which Mr. Russell calls sense , and which in English 
is perhaps better expressed as * direction . Can any mere 
relation by itself have a sense ? Has a series, and have 
the links of a series, if taken apart from a serial whole, any 
meaning left ? Does not the sense of each relation take 
its very character from the serial whole, and, viewed by 
itself, is not a relation with sense a vicious abstraction ? 
I need not state how in my opinion such a question should 
be answered. 

I should thus agree that a series is in the end teleological, 
but such a conclusion, we must remember, may help us but 
little. If the end or object is taken as outside the passage 
and its steps, we are as far as ever from having reached the 
essential nature of a series. We do not have a series unless 
the end is immanent in the passage itself, and is reached not 
merely by that passage, but in it, at once gradually and as 
a whole. In a series there must throughout be something 
identical, of which each link gives you more, and apart from 

1 Principle* of Mathematics, chap. xxiv. 



x WITH MR. RUSSELL S DOCTRINE 309 

which there is no meaning in sense or direction. But I fully 
admit that we have here a difficult problem which calls for 
investigation in detail. 1 

Throughout the foregoing remarks I have doubtless failed 
to comprehend, and I fear that I must have perverted Mr. 
Russell s doctrines. But I publish what I have written, 
partly to express my own views, but mainly perhaps as 
a help towards a better understanding. There is no living 
writer, with whom I am acquainted, whose work in philo 
sophy seems to me more original and valuable than that of 
Mr. Russell. It will, I hope, not be long before he is able on 
some fundamental points to explain himself more fully. 

Note to p. 299. The reader will, I hope, not misunderstand 
what I have written with regard to universals on p. 299. The 
universal, and even our awareness of it, come in my view 
(p. 297, note) long before language is developed. As soon as 
one has with anything the sense of sameness or familiarity, 
with and over against the sense of difference or novelty, one is, 
I should say, aware of a universal. On the other hand, I agree 
that it is only through language that the universal becomes 
known as such. 

1 In connexion with the above would have to be discussed the question 
as to whether, and how far, passage, and I mean by that in the end tem 
poral passage, is implied in a relation of any kind whatever. Obviously 
at first sight from some relations anything like passage is excluded. But 
still, if you remove passage wholly, the relation, as such, seems to dis 
appear, since in its essence it seems to be discursive. The solution lies, 
I presume, in our taking the passage as at once implied and ignored, 
since its direction in the supposed cases is immaterial. There are of 
course those who with regard to spatial and other relations would dispute 
this, but hardly, I think, rightly. And, if in the result the whole idea 
of a relation becomes inconsistent, that is a conclusion which may perhaps 
already have been forced upon our minds. Everywhere in the end a 
relation appears as a necessary but a self-contradictory translation of 
a non-relational or super-relational unity. 



CHAPTER XI 
ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 1 

I MUST begin this chapter by once more asking for the 
indulgence of the reader. Once again I am writing on 
a theme where I doubt if I have anything really new to offer. 
My excuse is that there are some questions on which, even 
at the cost of repetition, I desire to be explicit. And these 
questions are so difficult and so important, that the reader, 
if led to dwell on them, may, I hope, be too much occupied 
to ask for novelty. * When I think truly, can I think that 
which has never been so thought before ? and * Can I in 
any sense make truth ? these were the two problems 
which I wished specially to notice. And I have thought it 
better to take these problems more or less in connexion with 
some other inquiries. 

In any discussion about truth I am met by what to myself 
is a great difficulty. It is impossible, in my opinion, to deal 
with truth apart from an examination of the nature of reality. 
Not merely has every one (though perhaps only at the back 
of his mind) a view as to reality which is sure to affect his 
result. The very questions as to truth with which a man 
begins, involve in the end an answer to certain questions 
about the nature of things. And to deal with these final 
inquiries here is obviously not possible. Hence I am forced 
to refer the reader to that which I have published elsewhere. 
In what follows I am in the main confined to showing how 
various problems are dealt with, supposing that you adopt 
a certain view as to the Universe. If the reader insists on 

1 This chapter appeared first in Mind, July 1911. 



xi ON SOME ASPFCTS OF TRUTH 311 

asking throughout for more, I can only reply that here I am 
writing for others. 

I will however begin by noticing some misunderstandings 
as to the method employed in ultimate inquiry by writers 
like myself. There is an idea that we start, consciously or 
unconsciously, with certain axioms, and from these reason 
downwards. This idea to my mind is baseless. The method 
actually followed may be called in the main the procedure 
used by Hegel, that of a direct ideal experiment made on 
reality. What is assumed is that I have to satisfy my 
theoretical want, or, in other words, that I resolve to think. 
And it is assumed that, if my thought is satisfied with itself, 
I have, with this, truth and reality. But as to what will 
satisfy I have of course no knowledge in advance. My 
object is to get before me what will content a certain felt 
need, but the way and the means are to be discovered only by 
trial and rejection. The method clearly is experimental. 

Speaking from this point forwards simply for myself, I 
find an object which is plural. I do not of course mean that 
it is only plural, but I mean that it has maniness. Now how 
am I to take this object ideally so as to satisfy my mind ? 
If I try to take the object as merely many, it is forthwith 
dissipated and is lost. Therefore the object is not a mere 
many. Let me now, starting from this result, try to take 
the object as a mere conjunction of terms and external rela 
tions. The aspect here, other than the mere many, will be 
a bare together or and . But I want to see what this 
aspect is. I take it first as adding to the many only another 
one, a something more of them. And, as soon as I do this, 
the object once more is dissipated, and the whole conjunction 
disappears. Therefore the together or and does not 
consist in terms and external relations. It is something 
else. It may perhaps be called a form of unity and totality. 1 

1 On the nature of and see Chap. VIII, p. 231, and for external 
relations cf. the Index. 



312 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

I take the plural object as many in one, and with that so far 
I am satisfied. But on this naturally succeeds further in 
quiry and further trial, not going backwards but endeavour 
ing to advance and to specify the How. And where the 
alleged downward deduction from axioms comes in here, 
I am myself unable to discover. 

As to what has been called the axiom of internal relations, 
I can only repeat that internal relations, though truer 
by far than external , are, in my opinion, not true in the 
end. You have no alternatives here, by denying- one of 
which you can*, go on to assert the other ; for truth in the 
end is not merely relational. And the alleged axiom is 
a comparative truth which is not a premiss but a result. 
The same remark applies to any axiom of ground . Where 
A is not real by itself but implies and belongs to an ideal 
whole, you want a reason for A, for you want to know the 
How of this unity. Mediation is called for, and, if external 
merely, is none. But the axiom , once more here, is a 
result and not a premiss. 

I will venture to enlarge on this second supposed axiom. 
Is it true that everything must have a reason, a how and 
a why ? In the end this assertion is not true, we see at 
once, of the Universe. The axiom holds only so far as a 
thing is not complete in itself, and is therefore, on our view, 
ideally beyond itself. The demand for the making good of 
such imperfection, not as real but as ideal, the completion of 
the thing in idea so as to satisfy us theoretically, is what we 
mean by the search for a why and how . Wherever, 
in other words, you have an implication , you want a 
reason, because you desire to see the whole nature of your 
implication. 

Where you have a felt whole, as felt, or where you have 
a non-relational unity, as in a work of art, there, so far, you 
need not ask why . The tendency of the content to pass 
beyond the limits of the thing is not always forced on your 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 313 

notice. The case is different where, by analysis or otherwise, 
the self-contained unity has been lost. Wherever the oneness 
of c what and that has perished before us, or has been 
destroyed by reflection and analysis, and wherever we seek 
to reunite these aspects not really but ideally, we have 
a demand for a reason 

Every felt whole changes in time, and the felt present 
has narrow limits. We are left, when we notice this, with 
two things, a felt present and a recalled past ; and these two 
things come to us somehow together. But are the two felt 
or perceived as one in the sense that their contents are 
throughout in immediate unity ? Clearly not so, and hence 
the somehow , as it is, does not satisfy us. It is the name 
of something which, for us, is not all there, and is not 
actually contained in our fact. And we want the whole of 
the * somehow actually and in detail. Such a complete 
totality we cannot directly experience, so as to have once 
more something which is or seems to be self-sufficient. We 
therefore attempt to supply this defect by ideas. We seek 
to understand, to make good ideally our lost unity. 

Passing by the question raised by space, let us go on also to 
ignore change in time. Let us take some sensible whole, or 
other non-relational unity ; let us suppose that this does not 
change in time, and let us, for the sake of argument, assume 
also that within this, as it comes to you, there is no tendency 
of the content to pass beyond the limits of the thing. Here 
so far, it will be said, there is no * why or how . I agree, 
but I ask whether you intend to remain here. And that, as 
I observe, is precisely what you do not intend to do. You 
go on to think, you analyse, you introduce terms and re 
lations, whereas in your immediate whole there were no 
relations or terms ; or, at least and in any case, the whole 
itself was non-relational. And, so far as you have terms 
and relations, the unity is destroyed. It now, as the fact of 
* relatedness , falls outside of the relational scheme, and this 



314 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

fact you have not specified. The attempt to specify this 
fact, to re-include it not really but ideally, and so to make 
good the broken unity, is the demand and the search for 
the how and the ; why . We wish in other words to 
perceive the full nature of the and or the implication . 
We desire in short to understand. 

To ask us here why we cannot remain content with the 
brute fact , seems even ridiculous. What is the brute fact ? 
Is it the fact as merely felt ? Is it an immediate unity 
taken non-relationally and so not understood ? On the con 
trary your brute fact is that ideal scheme of terms and 
relations which comes into being only through the destruc 
tion of the felt whole. Such a fact is not brute, but is ideal. 
It is a thing which, as itself, is only for thought. And it 
itself is not a fact. It has no unity except that which is 
added from outside itself and is supplied irrationally from 
elsewhere. Your ultimate brute fact is in brief your own 
half-thought-out theory. 

We have now seen the nature of the demand for a reason, 
a * how and a why . We have here no axiom, standing on 
which we proceed to argue downwards. So far as this truth is 
true, it is a result and a character of our procedure itself. 

Passing now from this misunderstanding about axioms, 
I will venture (if the reader will pardon the repetition) to try 
to throw some further light on the general method which 
I have used. In theorizing we put questions directly to 
Reality. In other words we experiment ideally on the nature 
of things. We find that, given a, we have b, and that this is 
how the world behaves. 1 The objection that in this way we 
learn nothing about Reality itself, is ill founded. It depends 
on a false separation between Reality and ourselves, and it 
may therefore be dismissed. Reality is such that a is b. All 
our truths are true of Reality, but all are subject to a con- 

1 Cf. Principles of Logic, p. 87. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 315 

dition. We can say indifferently a (x) b is real , or Reality 
isa(x)b\ Such is the doctrine of judgement which I have 
found to be the one doctrine which holds. 

But obviously with an unknown condition we are but 
partly satisfied. To pass from one term to another term, we 
do not know how, is not enough. We have to seek know 
ledge where the mode of transition, the mediation itself, also 
is known. And, even if we had various pieces of knowledge 
which held good, each in itself, that would still fail to satisfy 
us, as long as we remained in ignorance as to the connexion 
of these pieces. For some connexion there is. If we had 
no and or together , we should not even have pieces, 
and * together or and , as we have seen, is an expression 
of unity and totality. It asserts a whole, but it couples 
this assertion with blank ignorance as to how . And such 
ignorance does not content us. We are led, therefore, to 
search for the reason why we pass from one term to another 
term. We seek in other words a mediated intelligible whole. 
That whole, if we could reach it, would fulfil our theoretical 
want. That would be true and real ; and reality and truth, 
we have to assume, is that. But whether we can say 
merely that , is of course a further question. 

The reader may object that, even if the above, so far as it 
goes, is admitted, if still is useless. It tells us nothing as to 
the world, since all it tells us is formal. The word formal 
I put on one side as a probable source of misapprehension. 
But I fully agree that all the knowledge we have reached so 
far about reality is too general and empty. To the question 
What do I know ? the above is an answer which by 
itself does not satisfy. And not only do I hold this, but 
I have urged also that by itself no such knowledge could 
even exist. For the whole of our knowledge may be said to 
depend upon immediate experience. At bottom the Real is 
what we feel, and there is no reality outside of feeling. And in 
the end the Reality (whatever else we say of it) is experience. 



3i6 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

Our fundamental fact is immediate experience or feeling. 1 
We have here a many in one where, so far, there is no dis 
tinction between truth and fact. And feeling again is mine, 
though of course it is not merely my feeling. It is reality 
and myself in unbroken unity. We in a sense transcend 
this unity ; that is clear, for we could not otherwise speak of 
it. But that we should ever in any way reach a reality out 
side of it, seems impossible. And if this is so, as I have con 
tended more fully elsewhere, then experience is reality. For 
in attempting to deny this thesis, or to assert something 
else, we find on experiment that we have asserted this thesis 
or nothing. 2 

If then Reality is an intelligible whole and Reality also is 
experience, can we assume that, above relations and inclusive 
of them, there is an Experience which reasserts our original 
unity ? If this is possible, our theoretical want would be 
satisfied. Such a whole would be Reality, and nothing else 
could in the end be called even possible. There is of course 
no question here of explaining everything. Such an idea, at 
least to my mind, is ridiculous, not to say insane. The real 
question everywhere as to the inexplicable is whether it falls 
within the general view, or whether, falling outside that, it 
becomes a negative instance. In the latter case, and in 
the latter case only, the general view is refuted. But into 
the discussion of such alleged instances there is no space to 
enter here. 3 

1 See especially Chap. VI, and cf. the Index. 

2 We have here a matter for observation and experiment and not for 
long trains of reasoning. In Mind, No. 75, p. 335, I notice, for instance, 
that Prof. Perry, while uprooting Idealism, demolishes in passing myself. 
He takes me to argue to a conclusion which I do not hold, from a basis 
which I have rejected as an error, and then wonders at the unnameable 
vice of the process. But, if Prof. Perry wishes to get an idea as to the 
view which he is anxious to refute, why should he not suppose (for a 
moment) that on my side there is no argument at all, and that on his side 
there is an inference by way of vicious abstraction ? 

3 Any critic who desires to be fair, should, I think, make up his mind 
on these two questions : (a) Has or has not a philosophy got to explain 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 317 

My object in the above has not been to indulge in idle 
repetition, nor again to argue that the conclusions which 
I hold are not refutable. What I have been aiming at is to 
help the reader to understand how it is that such conclusions 
as mine are reached ; in what way, that is, and by what 
method, starting from what is given, we arrive at our goal. 
I wish finally to point to a merit possessed, I think, by no 
view which is not akin to my own. In philosophy it is not 
enough merely to state the connexion between truth and 
reality. One is bound to show in addition how, this con 
nexion being so, we can know that it is so, how in short our 
knowledge is such that it can comprehend itself and reality. 
I will not repeat here how, on the view which I hold, this 
vital question is answered. What I wish to urge is this, 
that on no opposite view (so far as I see) can the question 
be answered at all. The problem of the ultimate Criterion 
must be faced, and on any other basis it cannot, I think, be 
fairly encountered and solved. I will now point out this 
failure in the case of two widely held doctrines. 

The theoretical criterion, for myself, is in theory supreme. 
The truth for any man is that which at the time satisfies his 
theoretical want, and 4 more or less true means more or 
less of such satisfaction. The want is a special one. We 
do not of course know beforehand what it is and what can 
satisfy it. We only at first feel that there is something 
special that we miss or gain, and we go on to discover the 
nature of the want and its object by trial, failure and 
success. Let me now proceed to ask what will happen if 
we take the Criterion to lie in satisfaction not specific but 
general. The necessary result to my mind is failure and 
bankruptcy. 1 

everything ? (b) What is it (if anything) that a philosophy may leave 
unexplained ? Without some consideration of these points I do not 
myself see how rational discussion is possible. 

1 What follows may be taken as a commentary on Appearance, 
PP- 373-4- 



318 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

We must not confuse the position in question with that 
taken in ordinary Hedonism. The Hedonist, as such, has 
no doctrine of his own about truth. The means to the 
one Desirable are sought by the intellect, but, as to the 
nature of the intellect and of truth and fact, almost any 
view can be joined with Hedonism. But in the position 
to be now examined the ground is changed. Satisfaction 
has itself become the criterion of truth. And this satis 
faction we are not to understand in any narrowed sense. It 
is not to be merely hedonic, nor is it to be merely practical 
as belonging to what we do, as against what we feel and 
are. Satisfaction in general is to be our criterion of truth 
and error. 

There is a mental attitude from which the above must 
again be distinguished. We may, despairing, for ourselves 
or in general, of ultimate truth, or finding the quest of it too 
costly, resolve to abandon it. The satisfaction of our human 
interests, truth included, is our end ; and we decide for 
ourselves to limit truth to those ideas which subserve our 
interests so far as they subserve them. Truths are to be 
working ideas. And if we really understand our present 
position (as we seldom do), any ideas, no matter how in 
consistent, are to be counted true, if and so far as they are 
required in our spiritual interest. What we feel to be the 
general health and harmony of our being is the end, and 
truth is to be subject absolutely to dictation from that. But 
within these limits we, like the common Hedonist, use the 
everyday notion of truth, and confine it to the search for 
that which, in the above sense, works. I myself have much 
sympathy with this attitude which of course, in theory, is 
not mine. 1 But we must remember that such an attitude 
is not a doctrine about truth and the criterion, and, if it 
understands itself, makes no pretence to the name of philo 
sophy. And, keeping this in mind, we may pass onwards. 

1 Cf. Chap. V, pp. 132-3. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 319 

The position which we are to examine claims to be a 
philosophy and to offer an account of truth which is valid. 
Its criterion, we have seen, is satisfaction not one-sided but 
general. As to how on this view we are to know what is 
one-sided or general, a doubt might be raised. But, leaving 
this, we are face to face with a serious difficulty. Is the 
general satisfaction to be that of my own self or of others, or 
again of both at once ? And who are others ? Let us decide 
to mean by others the present and future inhabitants of this 
our planet, so far as they are known, and, if you please, let 
us consider only those inhabitants which are human. But 
in any case my satisfaction and that of others seem able to 
collide. Are we to assume that really this is not so, or are 
we on the other hand to subordinate my satisfaction to that 
of others, or that of others to my own ? Whatever attitude 
we adopt, our procedure seems irrational and arbitrary, and 
we shall hardly save ourselves by trying to take all three 
positions at once, or as each serves the turn. But our theory, 
if so, has been shaken by the first simple question. 

It is better however to examine it further. The general 
satisfaction includes the future and is not merely present. 
Let us call it satisfaction in the long run for myself or for 
humanity. And in the long run does not mean what 
will be in an ordinary realistic sense. For that sense is 
excluded by our doctrine of truth. What will be is that 
which satisfies now as tending to satisfy in the long run. 
Whatever idea of means to our end satisfies most now, is 
the truth. 

And satisfies does not point solely or specially to theo 
retical satisfaction. That would be a return to the view of 
truth which has been abandoned definitely. Then satisfies 
(we must at once proceed to ask) whom and how ? It cannot 
be my future self, or humanity in the future, which has to be 
satisfied, for these surely are inaccessible. The satisfaction 
\clearly must be present. And the present satisfaction, of 



320 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

humanity once more cannot be reached. For this is known, 
I presume, only by an inference, and an inference on our 
present view of truth must rest on actual satisfaction. Thus 
actual satisfaction in the end must be now and be mine. 

Truth is the idea which satisfies me now. Then in what 
way"? Not theoretically, for to say that would be to relapse 
into a discarded attitude. You may say, It satisfies me 
most now to adopt and act on a certain view as to the 
probable future. This view rests on my present satis 
faction, and hence all is consistent/ But no such defence 
is really valid. For it is an obvious fact that (not to speak 
of other persons) to adopt and to act on other views some 
times satisfies me as much or more. If we admit this fact, 
then all these opposite views will be equally true. And we 
can only deny the fact by a collision with everything like 
common experience and common sense. To identify my 
satisfaction now with a certain view and a certain object 
which I take as real, with an ideal construction capable of 
appearance at other moments and in other persons, would 
be to make the criterion theoretical. And on our present 
theory there is no essential connexion between the satis 
faction and any special quality in the object. The idea 
therefore, whatever it is, which satisfies me most now, is 
true. The truth is whatever idea at this moment is felt 
to satisfy me most, and, beside this, there is no other 
truth. 

Theoretical satisfaction may be rejected (and this is the 
better course) as not existing or as subordinate. Or it may 
be admitted as one element in the satisfaction which is 
general. This admission leads inevitably to a collision 
between the truth which is theoretical and the truth which 
is true. And there would be no principle on which to decide 
between these conflicting claims. The only criterion left in 
any case is the feeling which at the moment prevails. Truth 
is nothing but whatever idea I feel at a given moment to 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 321 

give most satisfaction. And with this I submit that we 
have ended in bankruptcy. 

I will pass on now to say something on the doctrine called 
Darwinism, so far as it bears on the question of the criterion. 
We have here at first sight the antipodes of our former view. 
That stood on satisfaction, while for Darwinism there is 
nothing in the world like value or good or evil. Anything 
implying evolution, in the ordinary sense of development 
or progress, is wholly rejected. But the two views meet 
positively so far as there is coincidence between that which 
prevails and that which satisfies. And negatively they meet 
in their exclusion from the criterion of anything like a special 
quality, type or character, as essential to the object. 1 What 
ever idea satisfies or prevails (no matter what else it is) 
is true. 

Darwinism often recommends itself because confused with 
a doctrine of evolution which is different radically. Human 
ity is taken in that doctrine as a real being, or even as the 
one real being, and Humanity advances continuously. Its 
history is development and progress to a goal, because the 
type and character in which its reality consists is gradually 
brought more and more into fact. That which is strongest 
on the whole must therefore be good, and the ideas which 
come to prevail must therefore be true. This doctrine, which 
possesses my sympathy, though I certainly cannot accept it, 
has, I suppose, now for a century taken its place in the 
thought of Europe. For good or for evil it more or less 
dominates or sways our minds to an extent of which most 
of us, perhaps, are dangerously unaware. 

Any such view of course conflicts radically with Darwin 
ism, and let us now ask how the latter can deal with our 
inquiry as to truth. The ideas (it may explain) by which 
our world, and our human world, have got on so far, are 

1 Cf. Chap. IV, pp. 85, 103. 

1574 Y 



322 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

called true. There is some probability, though we cannot 
estimate the balance, that by using the same ideas we shall 
continue to get on in the same direction. Therefore (a) truth 
is merely the ideas by which we get on, or (b) at any rate 
these are the ideas to which we should confine our attention. 

(a) The first conclusion is suicidal, since it contradicts its 
basis. 1 Its basis obviously is positive doctrine, right or wrong, 
which assumes and rests on the validity of theoretical truth 
in the sense which Darwinism denies, (b) The second con 
clusion, if, that is, it admits truth in the ordinary sense with 
regard to human history, is so far consistent. But, so far as 
Darwinism has anything to say, this conclusion seems ar 
bitrary or worse. For the word should falls outside of 
Darwinism, just as to get on means nothing if it means 
more than to go back . And the historical assertion that 
only ideas of getting on have so far worked, is clearly 
untenable. 

For Darwinism the true idea is the idea which prevails, 
and we may perhaps identify satisfaction with inward 
prevalence. Then the question which at once arises is, 
prevails where and when ? As to the how we need not 
ask, because we know that how means anyhow . If the 
where and when are taken as in our world in general, then 
(as we saw before) such knowledge on our part must rest on 
the very theoretical truth which we deny. But, if the 
prevalence is in myself, and in myself here and now, then 
any idea, no matter what, if it prevails, is true, and all such 
ideas are true alike. There is no criterion, and from this 
result we cannot escape by refinements. The argument that 
Darwinism s idea of prevalence prevails in me here and now, 
and so proves itself by a circular reinforcement, will not 
stand scrutiny. For all that we have here is the moment s 
coincidence, unessential and external, and any of the other 
ideas which elsewhere or at another time prevail, are as 

1 Cf. Appearance, p. 137. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 323 

unquestionably true. A contention like the above is good 
only if the other, the incompatible, doctrine of development 
is accepted. And it rests probably, wherever it is used, on 
some reminiscence or result of this other doctrine. The one 
criterion for Darwinism is the abstract success or prevalence 
of whatever happens to prevail, without any regard for its 
character. And this must surely leave us in the end with 
no criterion at all. 

It may however repay us, before we go further, rapidly 
to view this matter from the other side. To maintain that 
Reality or Truth is what prevails, or is that which satisfies 
us, is not wrong. And similarly it is not wrong to affirm 
that Reality is this , now or mine . The mistake here, 
so far as there is a mistake, lies in our simple identification 
of both terms, and in our addition of the word only . 
Any positive attribution, in other words, to Reality must 
be right, so long as it abstains from the denial, implicit or 
explicit, of something more . To say only is to lay 
emphasis on the negative side of the positive identity. 
Only or merely excludes any other , or again it may 
warn us against making an abortive attempt to find an 
other where any other is meaningless. Hence such an 
assertion as that Reality is merely prevalence, is, on our 
view, inconsistent with itself. Since an other than mere 
prevalence has, on that view, a meaning, we have set up 
within Reality the distinction of R (a) and R (b). This 
distinction however must imply a higher and more inclusive 
R within which it falls, and the exclusive identification 
asserted by our merely is thus in contradiction with itself. 

Even the judgements that Reality is one in many and is 
experience, would be untenable, if we meant by these judge 
ments to deny that Reality is in any sense more. But no 
such denial should be the intention of our judgement. 
What we really exclude here as senseless is the idea of any 

Y 2 



324 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

other falling outside of our predicate, and able to be set 
over against it in idea as being itself also an attribute of the 
Real. And we deny no qualification of our predicate which, 
remaining still under it, fills out its character merely from 
the inside. But how a truth, claiming to reach reality, 
should at once be absolute and yet for ever consciously in 
complete, I have elsewhere discussed. 1 

I will now proceed to deal with a number of special ques 
tions as to truth. Any knowledge which on my view can in 
a proper sense be called truth, is the qualification of Reality 
by ideal content. The Real must here have the form of an 
object, and the idea must in some sense have an existence 
other than that of the object. With these points I have 
dealt fully elsewhere, and I propose to go on here to ask first 
as to the meaning of qualification. That meaning is derived 
from immediate experience and sensible perception. If you 
take, for instance, an object such as an apple, this is qualified 
by its adjectives. It is each and all of them, and yet it is 
something more, though you are unable to say what. It is 
different from its qualities, and it is also the same and one 
with them. This is the idea of qualification which we apply 
to judgement. It is an imperfect idea obviously, and it is 
not thinkable or intelligible if that means that you can 
analyse it without destruction into terms and relations. But 
it has a positive sense which, however inconsistently, you 
use. And, because this sense is not intelligible , there is a 
constant tendency to deny or to destroy it. You may seek 
for the essence of qualification in an arrangement of relations 
and terms, or in a simple identity ; and in either case what 
you will find is anatomized death or vacuity. Or again, 
shrinking from these, you may still deny that anything other 
than these is there. But the positive meaning exists, and, 
with all its imperfection, it is applied in truth. On the 

1 See Appearance, chap, xxvii. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 325 

nature and the result of this imperfection I have written 
elsewhere. 1 

From this I go on to approach another question at once 
important and full of difficulty. Does truth always refer to 
something other than itself ? And, if this is always the case, 
in what sense are we able to affirm it ? As to what is the 
obvious view, there is no doubt. Truth, to be true, must be 
true of something, and this something itself is not truth. 
This obvious view I endorse, but to ascertain its proper 
meaning is not easy. And it commonly is misinterpreted so 
as not to be tenable. I will begin the discussion by the 
statement of what is called an antinomy. 

(i) No judgement is self-contained. For (a) on my side 
there is always something which does not qualify the object, 
and which therefore falls outside. There is always my psy 
chical state of the moment, a context in which the assertion 
happens and which it has to transcend. So far, for example, 
as my judgement pleases and satisfies, that feeling, where we 
are confined to truth, does not qualify the object. And, 
again, I may be aware of an act which proceeds in and from 
me with more or less of difficulty or ease, and either faster or 
more slowly. But this difference is irrelevant to the judge 
ment. And (b), on the side of the object, Reality is never 
confined in and limited to my special object, but is always 
also beyond it. 2 

(ii) No judgement is self-transcendent. For (a) it refers 
to and qualifies something real. But how it could qualify 
something which is not there for me and present, or how 
this something could be present and yet not within the 
judgement, seems not intelligible. Or rather we see that, 
when we attempt such assertions, we have really implied 
the opposite. And (b) that activity which seemed to lie 

1 See Appearance, Index, s.v. Truth, and, again, the Index to this volume. 

2 Even where Reality or the Universe is the subject, this still will hold 
good. See Chap. Ill, p. 41. 



326 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

merely in myself, is not external to the object. To take the 
felt activity as falling wholly in or on something outside the 
judgement, is not a tenable view. We cannot regard the act 
as expended merely by myself on myself, nor does it move 
or hang somewhere between myself and the object. And, 
asking in general for the sense of this between , we find 
that we have nothing beyond a self-inconsistent metaphor. 
Judgement cannot consist in the external relation of two 
independent things, nor is it the presence (one-sided or 
otherwise) of one merely to the other. 1 If you imagine two 
foreign bodies, one impressing or soliciting the other, and 
the second body attempting to grasp the first which has 
impressed or excited it you have passed away from an 
actual judgement. For somehow undeniably there is an 
awareness of that whole judgement as one, and we belie that 
fact when we take its felt activity and its entire psychical 
existence as falling somewhere apart from it. The act of 
judgement itself must belong also to the object, and itself 
make an element in the judgement. 

A dilemma such as the above is insoluble so long as we 
remain on the ground which supports it. The notion of 
myself as a thing standing over against the world, exter 
nally related to it in knowledge, and dividing with it some 
how unintelligibly the joint situation or result, must once 
for all be abandoned. This point of view rests on the ideal 
construction which we call the soul or the mind, and it 
assumes this construction to be an absolute fact. But, as 
I have argued elsewhere, 2 such a position is untenable. To 
take my self or soul as a separate thing, and to regard every 
thing that happens to it as its psychical states, is, in its own 
place, proper and necessary. For certain purposes we are 
right, and we are even compelled, to adopt such an attitude. 
And not to realize this necessity is to fall into dangerous 

1 What some one should explain is how the merely external relation of 
two terms is able to be aware of itself. 

1 Appearance, chap, xxiii ; Mind, No. 33. Cf. Chap. XIV of this volume. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 327 

error. On the other side to rest in this position as ultimate, 
is fatal. It is to turn a relative truth into ruinous falsehood. 
And, if we are to understand knowledge and judgement, we 
must discard the doctrine of a self which by itself is or 
could be real. 1 

Here, as everywhere, so far as I can discover, there is no 
way except one which holds good in the end. We must 
view the Reality in its unbroken connexion with finite cen 
tres. We must take it as, within and with these centres, 
making itself an object to itself and carrying out them and 
itself at once ideally and practically. The activity of the 
process is throughout the undivided activity of the Reality 
and of the centre in one. There is in the end no between , 
nor any external relation. The striving of one side or the 
other merely for itself is impossible, and to seek to verify 
such a striving, for instance, in selfishness or its opposite, is 
futile. And in knowledge the impression by the object, and 
the will to experiment in fact with the object or to grasp it 
ideally, all belongs to the single activity 2 at once of myself 

1 In his interesting book, Pragmatism and its Critics (p. 31), which 
I read while revising the above in 1911, Prof. Moore states that the 
doctrine that the individual consciousness is a function of the com 
munity life , has appeared only within our own generation. Such a 
statement surprises me. Is Prof. Moore really prepared to deny that 
the doctrine was taught by Hegel, and that I, for instance (if I may men 
tion myself), following Hegel, fought for it in 1876 ? What Prof. Moore, 
I think, has failed to realize is the necessity for denning the community 
life , and for deciding whether this is merely social, and, if so, precisely 
in what sense. We seem to have here once more the well-known old 
ambiguity which obscures, and which assists, that which calls itself 
Humanism. But is Prof. Moore ready to identify reality with the com 
munity life , and, if so, in what sense of this term ? The question left 
unanswered surely threatens to destroy his doctrine as to the perception 
of material objects. But I am glad to find that on the whole the differ 
ences between Prof. Moore and myself are small in comparison with the 
amount of our agreement. 

1 The same thing of course holds with regard to passivity. My present 
actual contents are, for instance, disturbed by the felt inroad of an un 
expected perception or of a sudden and surprising thought. And on the 
other side the object is passive where in reflection I attack and analyse it. 
But such passivity is on neither side the change made in a thing acted 



328 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

and the whole Universe. For certain purposes (if I may 
repeat this) the division of subject from object, and the 
relation taken as existing between them, are ideas which 
are requisite. But beyond these purposes such ideas are 
fatally false. They are directly opposed to our immediate 
consciousness of the whole relation in one, 1 and, if you start 
from them as premisses, you are inevitably entangled in a 
network of dilemmas. 

You cannot however, it will be urged, deny that with 
every judgement there goes an element which is only per 
sonal and merely subjective . There is surely something, 
when I judge, which you cannot take as belonging to the 
object. Certainly to this I agree, and to myself it seems 
even incontestable. But what, I ask, do we mean by the 
subjective ? For myself it is merely the irrelevant. It 
is that which does not count, it is that which falls outside of 
the matter here in hand, and does not now serve our pur 
pose. Our purpose, when we seek truth, is the ideal qnali- 
jfication of the object. In our search for goodness or for 
beauty again we pursue in each case a different end, and the 
subjective is whatever in each case is irrelevant to our end. 
The irrelevant may be called the mere this , because it is 
left behind in the general immediacy of the moment. And 
it may be called the mere mine , because my self is a con 
struction based upon the feeling of one finite centre. But 
there is no mere this or mine which is such absolutely. 
These things are everywhere illusions, unless we take them 
as relative. 2 

The merely personal is the irrelevant ; but this brings us 
to a serious difficulty. How can anything in the end be 
irrelevant ? If all in the end hangs together, then, whether 
in the world inside us or outside, there seems no place for 

on merely from without. Truth does not break into my premises like 
a burglar, nor again like a corpse does it suffer my anatomy. 

1 Cf. Chap. VI. 

* See Appearance, chap, xix, and Chap. V, p. 119, of this volume. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 329 

irrelevancy. Nothing can really be quite loose from any 
thing else in the Universe. On this conclusion I have to 
insist, and I accept the consequence that all irrelevancy, 
when you go further back, becomes a matter of degree. The 
alleged bare conjunction of mere facts is itself a lower kind 
of connectedness. It lies at the bottom of the scale of truth 
and reality, but not somewhere outside it. And even degree 
itself, I have to add, in the end is transcended. Our distinc 
tions all hold good, but not precisely in those forms which 
for us are necessary. 1 

All judgement and truth depend on distinction, upon 
abstraction and selection. That which falls outside a par 
ticular judgement is hence taken as not counting for the 
purpose, and this not merely in degree but utterly. And, 
if truth is to exist, such an attitude is necessary. You 
cannot (to put the same thing otherwise) condition your 
judgement from the outside. After it is made, you can of 
course go on to reflect on it and to correct it, but for you, 
while you make it, its truth must be absolute. 2 Apart from 
a selection to which you commit yourself unreservedly and 
unconditionally, no truth is possible. 

The selection is not arbitrary, for its object is truth. Our 
goal is in the end to gain Reality in an ideal form, to possess 
ourselves of a self-contained individual whole. The criterion 
here, as everywhere, which we use is the Absolute. And the 

1 Cf. here Chap. IX, p. 273. 

* Cf. Chap. XIII. It is impossible in the end by any judgement to 
qualify Reality as conditioned. R, taken with the condition, implies a 
higher R within which it falls and of which it is asserted. This general 
principle has of course many applications. Thus (as we have seen) you 
may attempt to make the qualification of the object in a judgement 
include also the personal satisfaction of the judger. But this inclusion 
forthwith makes a new object, and so on indefinitely. Hence the satis 
faction of the judger, as and while he judges, is necessarily excluded from 
the judgement. From the other side, the satisfaction, or the psychical 
prevalence, which is asserted, cannot be the satisfaction or prevalence 
belonging to the act of such assertion. It may or may not be consistent 
with this, but to judge concerning such a point belongs to and involves 
a further reflection. 



330 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

justification of our procedure is through its result. We seek, 
that is, to include the conditions of the assertion within the 
assertion itself. And those conditions which we take any 
where as falling outside of our assertion and as irrelevant, 
are so actually for our purpose. 1 They are disconnected from 
that purpose to such a degree that we can treat them as 
matter of fact , which is only coincident and which there 
fore is negligible. And our object can be gained, so far as 
we gain it, by no other method. 2 

Every judgement therefore transcends immediacy. It in 
volves a distinction and selection, and it may be said to pass 
beyond whatever for its purpose it leaves outside of its object. 
But the notion of a psychical subject, standing opposed to 
the object and then transcended somehow in knowledge, 
must be rejected as illusory. It holds good elsewhere, but 
only so far as it is an idea which works usefully. 

And even the account of truth which we have just given 
cannot satisfy in the end. It implies that dualism which, 
involved in truth s essence, for ever stands between it and 
its goal. Truth is not perfect so long as it fails anywhere 
to include its reality, and its reality is not whole so long as 
any of its conditions are left out. Truth, compelled to 
select, is therefore forced to remain for ever defective. Its 
purpose, though realized increasingly, is not utterly fulfilled, 
and to fulfil that purpose would be to pass beyond the 
proper sphere and limits of truth. The problem cannot be 
solved by any alleged creation, in and by one act, of truth 
and reality in one. And it cannot be solved by that reunion 
at a higher level of fact and idea, which we can produce 
(I will not ask how far) in our intuitive knowledge or again 
in aesthetic perception. For everywhere there is an object 
which remains incomplete in itself, and which in any case 

1 Cf. Chap. IX, p. 266. 

a The same thing holds again of course mutatis mutandis in Ethics and 
in Aesthetics, in short wherever you have an object. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 331 

could not be an object if nothing else remained outside. 
Truth in short is about the real, while that which is only 
about has stopped short of the truth. The complete 
attainment of truth s end is reached only in that Reality 
which includes and transcends intelligence. 

The question, how far a judgement refers to something 
beyond itself, can now be answered as follows. If you take 
a judgement as my psychical state, then certainly it refers to 
that which is beyond itself. But to take a judgement thus 
is to destroy its essence and to be lost in dilemmas. From 
a better point of view our answer to the question is twofold, 
(i) No judgement can refer to anything beyond itself, since 
in every judgement the ultimate Reality is actually present. 
In any judgement on the other hand this Reality is incom 
plete, and there will therefore be a difference between the 
Reality present and the truth actually reached in the judge 
ment. But this difference remains within the object, and 
for truth to pass or to refer beyond that is impossible, 
(ii) In the second place every judgement is conjoined with 
irrelevant existence and must transcend this. For a judge 
ment to exist, you must have that which, as you judge, you 
do not in any sense include within the object. This attitude, 
untenable in the end, is essential to truth. But if, going 
further, you desire to know how in the end irrelevancy is 
explained, the answer is that it cannot be explained. Irrele 
vancy belongs to the fact of finite centres and the process 
in time, and this aspect of the Whole I at least have set 
down as inexplicable. 1 

I will dwell further on one of the points which has just 
been noticed. Judgement refers always an ideal content to 
reality. Now in every judgement this reality is at once the 
whole Universe and something less than the Universe, (a) 
Although judgement is mine, and again involves a selection, 

1 Those who have done me the honour to read my book will know this. 
Other critics may be referred to the Index (in any edition of my work, 
under the heading Inexplicable. 



332 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

still what it qualifies is the one all-containing Reality, present 
alike to you and to me and to every one else. Let us sup 
pose this to be otherwise, and knowledge is destroyed. For 
knowledge apart from the real is nothing, and the real again, 
on our view, is nothing if apart from the Universe. And we 
may once more remind ourselves that to leave truth for 
something outside which it does not include, is illusory and 
senseless. On the other hand, suppose, for instance, that 
the lapse of time were ultimately real in our experience, then 
what on such a view would have become of our past ? To 
us it could be nothing, unless indeed we possessed a mira 
culous Faculty of Memory . If there is not, present in 
this passing now , a Reality which contains all nows 
future and past, the whole of our truth and knowledge 
must be limited to the now that we perceive. For to 
reach a larger Universe by transcendence would really be 
nonsense. 

On the other side (b) what I have in judgement is not 
the whole Universe at once. This seems obvious, and, for 
example, it is clear that I must leave the present to gain, so 
far as I am able to gain, the past and future. For I do not 
possess these as present. I have everywhere indeed present 
to me the whole Universe, but I have not all of its detail 
or even its actual complete form. In knowledge what is felt 
and perceived at any moment is but little, and what again 
is true is but ideal. That which we call our real world, the 
past and future of ourselves and of others, and the whole 
body of things common to us all this in the main is ideal 
construction made by selection and synthesis. It is the 
Universe realizing itself as truth within finite centres. And 
the immediate experience on which this common world, so 
far indeed as it is common, is based, is at any time and 
in any centre obviously incomplete. The entire undivided 
Universe in short is everywhere present, but it is present as 
appearance and but partially. And, though it again in and 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 333 

for us transcends this partial character, it never does so 
completely. 1 

We have to guard ourselves here against a double mistake. 
Truth, we have seen, qualifies the Reality by an ideal con 
tent. And we may be led to take on one side this ideal 
content as detached wholly from the Real, to which then we 
apply it. And the Reality on its side may perhaps be re 
garded as an undetermined object, such as mere Being or 
again the Universe at large. But, in the first place, there 
is no such thing as an ideal content which absolutely fails to 
qualify the Real. Except in a relative sense, there are no 
ideas which float or are suspended, or are assumed or pre 
sumed or in any way entertained, except as adjectives of the 
Real. This is a common mistake which leads everywhere 
to dangerous confusion and error. 2 And in the next place 
the Reality (as we have seen), while it is the Universe, is 
never the mere Universe. It is always also a selected reality. 
The selection may be made only by a designation that does 
not seek to specify, but the selection always is there. My 
idea is not attached to a blank object, but is launched into 
a context which more or less is distinguished and ordered. 
And thus judgement in principle, we can say, involves 
mediation and is in a sense inferential. It asserts some 
thing of and in a whole, and the place of this something in 
the whole and the relation which it bears to other elements, 
are problems implied in the assertion. Reality is such 
that S is P, may be taken, we saw, as a formula which 
expresses the nature of truth. S is P (to put it otherwise) 
because Reality is such. The such is that order which we 

1 The reader must not take me to have forgotten the worlds of art and 
of social reality. I am confining myself here to the problem of knowledge 
and of truth in the narrower sense. 

2 See Chap. III. Into this error, with really no decent excuse, I fell 
myself for a time (Principles of Logic, chap. i). The second mistake 
I certainly never made, though I failed to be clear on the matter. But 
see pp. 109, 438 (ibid.). 



334 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

realize progressively in an ideal system. The because 
is the conditions more or less specified, the intermediaries 
which ideally connect S and P. 1 This mediation must 
remain, while truth is truth, a work for ever unfinished, but 
the search for its completion is implied in the very essence 
of judgement. 

I will pass on now to consider two questions which the 
reader perhaps may find more interesting, (a) Has every 
truth which I think been thought before ? Did it, as truth, 
always exist before ? And, together with this, I will ask, 
Can truth or knowledge alter reality ? (b) Further again, in 
what sense, if in any sense, can I be said to make truth ? 

(a) Neither this problem nor any other problem can be 
solved by bringing in the potential or virtual. 2 This is a 
device specially favoured by empiricists , and is perhaps 
the screen that serves most to veil their bankruptcy. Prof. 
James, we have seen (p. 147), can furnish us with a signal 
illustration of this misuse. But I cannot pause here to dwell 
on a" matter which I must venture to regard as settled. The 
recourse to the potential is everywhere a worthless self- 
deception, and, so far as I am aware, no serious attempt has 
been made to justify it against criticism. 

To pass from this point, there is a sense in which we may 
maintain that every truth, however old, is new at any time 
when it is affirmed. 3 And, for myself, I agree that in this 
sense no judgement ever is repeated. The occasions are 
different and so are diverse, and, for myself, I am bound to 
hold that the diversity of each appearance in some way in 
the end qualifies the identical content. But this qualification, 
we have seen, must here be disregarded as irrelevant. 

1 To take the intermediaries as mere events in time is a ruinous error 
(see pp. 146-7). 

* Other terms of the same kind are nascent , or some word ending 
in ible , or, possibly again, v\rj. 

3 Cf. Prof. Bosanquet s Logic, vol. ii, p. 310. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 335 

What then am I to answer to the inquiry whether a truth, 
which I think, is possibly now thought for the first time ? 
To go beyond possibility seems to me here out of the ques 
tion. For the full extent of finite mind, and of the events 
which happen there, is to me clearly unknown. To this 
you may reply that, for anything we can tell, the world of 
finite minds, with the exception of a small province, is out 
of temporal relation with ourselves, and that therefore any 
general assertion of priority in time could have no meaning. 
With this naturally I agree, but our doubt cannot in this 
way be removed. Let us confine ourselves to those finite 
minds among which our before and after hold good, and yet 
how much even of this region do we certainly know ? Even 
here to assert positively that my truth has never been for 
another mind before me, seems not in my power. On the 
other hand the possibility of such a first appearance must in 
many cases be admitted. The description of truth as that 
which is essentially common to more minds than one must 
(we may remark in passing) be rejected as false. Within 
our series the individual conditions may, for anything we 
know, neither be shared nor recur, and the truth may appear 
never but to one person, and only once. 

I shall be told perhaps that there is a higher Mind and 
Intelligence by which all truths are thought. Even if we 
admit this, there, however, remains, in connexion with this, 
a question as to the validity of before and after. I will not, 
however, discuss that question, since I do not accept the 
Intelligence referred to. I am not asking here how God 
is to be conceived by the religious consciousness. 1 For me 
(readers of my book will know) the Absolute is not God, and 
we here are dealing theoretically with first principles. Cer 
tainly I admit that the Absolute Experience may perhaps 
contain some matter which is not included within the experi 
ence of finite minds. I incline to the opposite view, but I 
1 See Chap. XV. 



336 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

still think that the doubt must be admitted. 1 Here, however, 
the question is confined to judgement and truth, and I see 
no reason to suppose that, outside of some finite mind, truth 
and judgement are possible. And hence on the main issue 
without hesitation I can reply thus. It is possible for 
a finite mind to have a truth which, as truth and judgement, 
is for no other mind whatever, and has never in time existed 
before. 

But I must hasten to add tha-t any such answer is one 
sided. It pays its regard solely to that which is but one 
aspect of the whole matter. Wherever you have truth you 
must have one or more series of appearances in time, of 
events which occur one before or after another. On the 
other hand, with no more than this, truth would have no 
existence. Events happen because of that which is beyond 
all happening and at once contains and subordinates its 
temporal form. The Reality, above mere time and mere 
relations, possesses now and always all truths, whether actual 
or possible. And hence the whole view for which a truth 
first was not and then is, must be set down as in the end 
inadmissible and false. You may therefore insist that my 
present truth was waiting there and has been found. Such 
a statement once more must in the end be called untenable, 
because it again is but partially true. But it is truer far 
than the assertion that a truth can originate as this or that 
person first conceives it. 

Starting from such a basis we can now dispose rapidly of 
a further question, Is it possible that any knowledge should 
alter its object ? It is easy here to answer in the negative, 
and even to insist that the opposite is really self-evident. 
But the assertion, however self-evident, that reality or fact 
is not altered by knowledge, is still but a partial truth, which, 
taken as more, becomes false. For if truth and knowledge, 
when they come to exist, make no alteration in reality, to 

1 Appearance, pp. 273-4, 527-8. And see pp. 350-1 of the present chapter. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 337 

what other region, we have to ask, does their appearance 
belong ? To deny that knowledge happens, or to assert that, 
happening, it makes no difference to reality, seems a mon 
strous paradox. And you cannot dispose of such an objection 
by insisting blindly on your opposite thesis. Both thesis and 
antithesis are but aspects of a truth which at once overrules 
and embraces them. The Reality was known always, and 
now its knowledge occurs. My contribution leaves it unin- 
creased, and yet is indispensably requisite. The fact of my 
knowledge makes an evident change in reality, and yet the 
idea that the Universe is changed by me must be rejected 
as folly. We are moving here in a region of partial truths 
broken away from that which includes all aspects in a higher 
experience. 1 

We cannot always be labouring to express at once the 
complementary aspects of the whole. We are forced, to suit 
our varying purpose, from time to time to make statements 
which, as they are made, contradict one the other. Unless 
the Reality itself enters into the process of events, unless it 
itself is what it becomes there, unless it itself discovers itself 
to itself and us, and takes on a change from that discovery 
the Reality remains outside of knowledge, and itself is un 
real. On the other hand if that which is discovered is not 
found, if that which appears is not revealed, if in short the 
thing, which we get to see, was really not there then reality 
and knowledge once more are illusory. But we are unable 
to combine these partial truths so as to understand in detail 
how both of them go to make the Universe. 



1 The attempt to escape by urging that a difference is made but made 
only to me, cannot succeed. The difficulties which arise here should be 
well known, and can never, I think, be met. To fall back on an external 
relation, which, though external, is lopsided and so makes a difference to 
one term, seems even ridiculous. The conclusion which will follow really 
is that neither knowledge, nor anything else, can make any difference to 
anything, and that anything like alteration is an illusion which itself could 
not exist. 

1574 Z 



338 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

(6) The position, just reached, anticipates our answer to the 
question which follows. Prof. James and Prof. Dewey have 
each advocated the view that truth is made. I cannot, how 
ever, find that either of them has made an attempt to consider 
seriously the whole subject. 1 If I can make truth, I can 
make also, I presume, error and falsehood, and goodness and 
beauty, and whatever is opposite to these. Everything, in 
brief, that is covered by the terms value and worth , is in 
the end merely made. It will repay us at some length to 
examine this statement. The conclusion which I have to 
advocate is briefly as follows. The doctrine that this or that 
man, or set of men, can make truth, is in the end false and 
even monstrous. From one point of view I can be truly said 
to bring truth into being, either for the first time or once 
more. But there is no tenable point of view from which 
I can be properly said to make truth. 

Any such expression is condemned, we may notice first, 
by the usage of language. I may make a true assertion or a 
mistake, or again an experiment, but, unless I violate lan 
guage, I cannot make either a truth or an error or a lie. 2 Now 
I am not suggesting that such usage is everywhere infallible, 
but I am sure that it deserves everywhere our careful atten 
tion. And in this case it is based, I submit, upon a distinction 
and a principle which is valid. 

What is to make ? It is to produce in time, and 
usually also in space, a certain existence. What so exists 
may, or may not, be what we call a thing which goes on to 
endure for a period. Neither endurance, nor again the 
character of being a thing, is here really essential. I can, 
for instance, make a noise or an experiment. What is 
essential here and essential absolutely is the aspect of event 

1 Cf. Chap. V, p. 141. Prof. Dewey has republished the article there 
noticed, but has not tried, I think, to go any further into the matter. 
(The above was written before Prof. James s lamented death.) 

1 I can make a lie only when the lie is regarded as a thing which exists, 
and the phrase, even then, is clearly irregular. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 339 

and of temporal existence. It is this aspect of happening in 
time on which the word make lays its stress. And hence 
to make anything, so far as anything goes beyond existence 
in time, is not possible. I can make a box but not the nature 
of the materials, nor again the properties of the box itself 
when once made. I can make, as we saw, a noise, but to 
make an explosion begins at once to strain language. The 
explosion refers to that which is beyond the mere course of 
events. In this respect it is like an act, and I cannot be said 
to make an act. And on the same principle truth and error, 
or beauty or goodness or badness, are none of them things 
which are made. The life of none of them is confined 
within that element to which making points, and to which 
it gives emphasis. They appear in time certainly, and as 
certainly they can be made to happen, but they cannot 
be identified wholly, or even mainly, with their aspect of 
existence and fact. 1 

Truth, beauty and goodness must appear as temporal 
facts, but their essence does not consist in that appearance. 
It transcends the lapse of time and the flux of change, and it 
everywhere in this sense is eternal. Wherever you have an 
object taken as good or beautiful or true, or as the opposite 
of one of these, 2 you have at once something which reaches 
and holds beyond time and event. And, if it were otherwise, 
a truth, true at one moment, might at another moment have 
become a falsehood ; and, if so, obviously the whole notion of 

1 Illustrations, I know, are dangerous, but perhaps to some persons the 
above may be clearer if I state it as follows. Suppose that there is a 
necessary way of doing something, say of making a box, can you be said 
to make this way ? No, it may perhaps be answered, but all the same 
I make the box, and, if so, why not truth ? The reason why you cannot 
may be put thus. The box can be regarded, and is regarded, as separable 
from the way in which it has to be made. But, with truth, an abstraction 
of this kind is not possible. There is no truth left if you abstract from 
the way in which truth is made, a way which itself is not made. What is 
made is therefore something which, taken by itself, is not truth. 

* You can, we saw, make a mistake, but this is because, and so far as. 
you can regard a mistake merely as an event. 

Z 2 



340 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

truth is destroyed. * Oh no, I may perhaps hear, a truth 
at any moment may become false, and I can make it false 
and can make something else true. Such a reply to my 
mind is based on sheer confusion and want of thought. We 
can say of course first, * Now it is light, and then, Now it 
is dark, but obviously, with this, the first truth is not falsi 
fied. That truth was stated ambiguously and imperfectly, 
and involved a condition not made explicit. 1 But assuredly, 
so far as it was true, its truth is eternal. And of course 
again you can alter the fact. You can make it so that now 
not the former truth but another truth holds good. You 
have brought this other truth into existence, and you have 
made it appear. But on this ground to assert that you have 
made it, shows, to my mind, mere confusion. 

And even if Humanity is brought in, the same answer 
applies. This seems to be obvious if by Humanity you mean 
merely the set of beings on our planet. Or if, attempting to 
profit by a wretched ambiguity long since exposed, you seek 
tacitly to identify Humanity with all finite mind, or perhaps 
the entire Universe, still your conclusion is false. Even from 
such an extreme paradox it does not follow that truth can be 
made. The issue still turns upon the way in which Human 
ity or the Universe is taken, and on the position given there 
to the aspect of temporal event. But it is difficult to discuss 
a doctrine which its supporters seem afraid even to try to 
state clearly. 2 

Every truth is eternal, even, for instance, such a truth as 
* I now have a toothache . Truth qualifies that which is 
beyond mere succession, and it takes whatever it contains 
beyond the flux of mere event. To be, it must appear there, 
but, to be truth, it must also transcend that appearance. 
The same thing holds again without exception of all beauty 

1 See Chap. IX, pp. 261 foil. 

2 I have repeatedly called attention to what I must now regard as mere 
bankruptcy veiled by ambiguity. See the Index, s.v. Humanity. 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 341 

and goodness, and of everything in short, however mean, 
which is apprehended as an object. 1 You may be said to 
make me happy, but to make it beautiful or right or good or 
true that I am happy, violates both language and reason. 
Such characters do not happen, and still less are they made. 
In a sense you make them to be, but for any man to make 
their being is inconceivable. Though revealed in time and 
in our mortal world , they are not subject to its chance 
and change, and, though in this world, they remain some 
thing which never is of it. 

The conclusion is suggested that, if that which calls itself 
empiricism takes reality to have its life in the mortal 
world of events, and holds time and change to be ultimately 
real, no empiricism can give an account of truth or beauty, 
or, generally, of goodness or worth. It will be compelled to 
break openly with the plainest of facts, or to obscure its bank 
ruptcy in a mist of phrases such as potential and * virtual . 

I will ask finally, at the cost of repetition, how far it can 
be said that Truth does not depend on me . There are 
misunderstandings here against which it is vital to guard 
our minds. Obviously, first, in the case where the truth is 
about me, the assertion that it in no way depends on me is 
false. On the other hand, if the c me stands for that which 
is irrelevant in and to the judgement, the above assertion (we 
have seen) will hold. Its more probable meaning, however, 
is that truth does not depend on my act. 2 And here, as we 
have argued, a distinction must be made. My act certainly 
can be said to bring a truth into existence, but there is that 
in the truth which essentially is beyond any act in time. 
The truth can also (we have seen) be said to be prior to my 
act and to be found. 

1 Not only is all beauty an object, but it is even taken as that which is 
self-existent. Cf. Appearance, chap. xxvi. 

* If the my is here taken in opposition to the object, and it is assumed 
that my act is not also the act of the Reality, that would be of course 
once more an error, which has been dealt with sufficiently (p. 327). 



342 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

My act never is creative. It presupposes always what we 
have called the dualism between fact and idea, and to create 
both at once is beyond us. And thus the truth about a fact 
must be for ever beyond it. It would be otherwise if truth 
were the immediate experience which to some extent my will 
can produce. It would be otherwise, again, if the ultimate 
real union of both aspects could be brought into being by me. 
But, since creation is impossible for my will, that must still 
be limited to and by fact. Any act of mine is therefore com 
pelled to be one-sided. It brings into temporal existence 
something which, except for its aspect of existence, cannot 
be properly said to depend on the act. 

You may reply that the whole thing is a matter of em 
phasis. You may object that in acting, and even in making, 
if you insist on emphasizing too strongly the aspect of mere 
event, you in the end would have no act, and nothing in the 
end could be said even to be made. In the end both aspects 
are inseparable. I do not seek to dispute this, for in what 
has gone before I have been endeavouring throughout to urge 
(if you please) that falsehood lies in a one-sided emphasis. 1 
And to say that truth depends on me, and still more to assert 
that it is made by my act, is therefore certainly false. For 
by its emphasis on the aspect of event such an assertion 
really means that in this aspect consists truth s essence. 
And it really denies that other aspect of eternity apart 
from which truth has utterly perished. Whatever else you 
can assert about truth, you must still be able to add that 
it was, and is waiting there to be found, and that it is made 
by no man. 2 

I will now proceed to touch in passing on two further 

Everything (to repeat this) in the end depends on everything else, and 
connexion is in the end a matter of degree. It is our selective emphasis 
for a certain purpose which makes the relative absolute. And the point 
here is this, that, in asserting the dependence of truth on my act, the 
emphasis and the selection is not warranted by the degree of connexion. 
1 On the whole matter the reader is referred to Prof. Bosanquet s Logic, 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 343 

questions, (a) What is the relation between reality and 
truth ? and (b) Does truth copy reality ? I have dealt 
already with these subjects, 1 but, in view of persistent 
misunderstanding, I will venture on a brief repetition. 

(a) You cannot ask how in any proper sense truth is 
related to the real. For such a relation to be possible, you 
would require reality on one side and truth on the other. 
And, since without truth reality would not be real, and truth 
apart from reality would not be true, the question asked is 
ridiculous. There cannot in the end be a relation! between 
two inseparable aspects of one whole. On the other hand 
you can inquire as to how truth stands to reality, in this 
sense that you can ask in what way truth is different from 
and falls short of the Whole. What is it lacking to truth, on 
the addition of which truth itself would be reality ? This 
is a question which to some extent can be discussed and 
answered. 

Reality for me (if I may be pardoned such repetition) is 
one individual Experience. It is a higher unity above our 
immediate experience, and above all ideality and relations. 
It is above thought and will and aesthetic perception. But, 
though transcending these modes of experience, it includes 
them all fully. Such a whole is Reality, and, as against this 
whole, truth is merely ideal. It is indeed never a mere idea, 
for certainly there are no mere ideas. It is Reality appear 
ing and expressing itself in that one-sided way which we call 
ideal. Hence truth is identical with Reality in the sense 



vol. ii, chap. x. Practice, he points out (p. 321), finds as well as makes, 
and knowledge alters as well as finds. The reader perhaps will recognize 
that, if we have a complete whole completing itself in the temporal develop 
ment of finite selves, these apparent inconsistencies must be. The universe 
in knowledge makes itself in and by me into something nearer to its 
full actual nature. The result therefore is found. Again in practice the 
idea which I carry out into existence so altering existence was actually 
there for me as an ideal, and I then find it in what I make to exist. 

1 I may refer in particular to Chap. V. Cf. Prof. Bosanquet s Logic, 
chapters ix and x. 



344 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

that, in order to perfect itself, it would have to become 
Reality. On the other side truth, while it is truth, differs 
from Reality, and, if it ceased to be different, would cease 
to be true. But how in detail all this is possible, cannot be 
understood. 

Further, the ultimate Reality is not a development, and it 
is absurd even to ask if it progresses. On the other hand 
it essentially contains a process, or rather processes, in time. 
And, looking at it from this partial aspect, we may say that 
the Reality uses ideas in order to realize itself. Immediate 
experience, itself showing ideality in lapse and change, in its 
endeavour to complete itself develops truth. It produces 
ideas progressively freed more and more from union with 
particular objects of sense. It uses these ideas to procure 
for itself a fuller experience, both practically and in higher 
perceptions and in intuitive understandings and in apprehen 
sions of beauty. It is the nature of ideas, we may say, to 
pass over into a completer whole which both subordinates 
and includes them. Even for us in our experience this end 
partially is attained. And in the absolute Reality it is 
reached entirely and throughout, though obviously for us 
not visibly. 

On the one side, therefore, our experience remains in part 
merely ideal, and thus, within certain limits, an activity 
which is but theoretical is called for and is justified. With 
every side of our life all the other sides are inseparably im 
plied, but it is impossible that everywhere in detail these 
other sides should be verifiable. So far as the detail goes, 
we everywhere, and not merely in theory alone, may be said 
to rest upon faith. But on the other hand the character 
of the absolute Reality is everywhere manifest, and we can 
possess no other possible criterion of truth. 

(b) For a discussion of the question as to how far truth 
is a copy of Reality, I must once more refer the reader to 
Chap. V, but I will repeat briefly what seems called for 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 345 

here. On any view like mine to speak of truth as in the 
end copying Reality, would be senseless. To copy is to 
reproduce in some other existence more or less of the char 
acter of an object which is before your mind. Now, apart 
from knowledge and truth, there can be no original object 
before you to copy. And hence to make truth consist in 
copying is obviously absurd. This question I take to have 
been settled, once and for all time, by the post-Kantian 
criticism of the doctrine of the Thing-in-itself. That criti 
cism I take to have proved that, outside of truth itself, there 
can be no criterion of truth. 

The working to carry out a certain general character, to 
construct an ideal world according to a certain prescription, 
would surely not be copying in detail. And, when the 
general character and prescription is itself again not copied, 
the idea of copying is nowhere applicable. 

Copying, as an ultimate account of truth, is therefore out 
of the question, and to ask what would be gained by it, if it 
were possible, is an idle inquiry. I have spoken of course, 
so far, of that copying which is absolute, that which has to 
reproduce in truth an object which does not already itself 
more or less consist in truth. On the other hand with copy 
ing in a relative sense we are all familiar, though the extent 
even of this we are prone to exaggerate. Past and future 
facts, for example, can scarcely be copied, unless we are 
assisted by some miraculous Faculty . We come nearest 
to copying intellectually when we attempt to describe a per 
ceived fact. But, even here, the fact itself depends more or 
less upon idealization, and the reproduction of it involves a 
further process of the same kind. And, where this can per 
haps be doubted as to the fact itself, as, e. g., in sensations of 
pleasure and pain, the conclusion as to our truth about this 
fact will still hold. Truth must select and abstract, and, if it 
failed to do this, and if it repeated feeling, it would be itself 
mere feeling and no longer truth. But I will not venture 



346 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

here further to abuse the reader s patience, 1 but will pass on 
to deal with another well-known topic. 

What is the good of truth ? To ask a question is here, 
as everywhere, to imply an assertion. And the assertion in 
volved in the above inquiry is often as follows. The inquirer 
may affirm (a) that truth itself is not good, and he may (b) 
imply also that some other aspect of life, taken by itself, is 
good. This is the position of the ordinary Hedonist, and 
he at least knows, or may be supposed to know, what he 
means. But it is the position of others also, who possibly 
may know what they mean, but whose mental state, tor any 
thing that appears, is certainly otherwise. Any one, however, 
who in philosophy asks such a question as What is the 
good of , 2 is obviously bound, when challenged, to state his 
answer to the inquiry, What is good . 

On any view such as mine no one aspect of life is good 
ultimately by itself. To set up any one aspect of life as the 
absolute Good or Evil, and to reduce the rest of life to mere 
means, is a most serious error. Relatively of course with 
every aspect of life this point of view is tenable. Morality 
and religion can be regarded as means to worldly success or 
to bodily health. We can say the same thing of pleasure, or 
again pleasure may be taken not as a means but as the end 
which all else should subserve. The pursuit of beauty in art 
may be spoken of as a more or less useful amusement, or as 
a way perhaps of keeping out of vice. And truth again also 
undeniably is useful, and is a means and instrument valued 
for the sake of other purposes. All this is justifiable, but 
justifiable only when we remember that it is but relative. 

1 It may of course be said that with truth we have the same idea in two 
different contexts. We have it before us as an adjective of the real, and 
at the same time it has its place in the series of psychical events. This, 
I should agree, is indubitable, but, once more here, there is obviously 
nothing like copying from an original. 

8 The same remark mutatis mutandis applies to the covert assertion 
contained in such phrases as instrument and use (pp. 134-5)- 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 347 

To turn any one aspect of life by itself into the end is false 
ultimately. What is ultimately good is life itself or experi 
ence as a whole. 1 

The question, What is the good of truth ? can (as we have 
seen above) be asked properly, if it means, How does truth 
stand to, and how does it conduce to experience or life as 
a whole ? And, except as so conducing, you can certainly 
affirm that truth is not good, and that it possesses no value 
whatever. I emphasize this assertion, and I once more re 
peat that truth s natural destiny is to return once more into 
unbroken union with Reality, and to restore at a higher level 
that totality out of which it has emerged. But that this 
destiny is accomplished, verifiably and in detail, within and 
throughout our experience seems demonstrably false. And 
(as we have seen) within our experience truth remains and 
must for ever remain relatively free. 2 

The attempt to deny or to condemn the relative freedom 
of truth and of art, involves to my mind, in general, mere 
prejudice and error. And it is difficult to argue where, as 
opposed to you, you for the most part can perceive little else 
but confusion. But it may perhaps tend to make this whole 
matter clearer, if we consider it from another side. Let us 
take the instance of a high and heroical will for good at any 
cost to oneself, an effort which, so far as we can see, has 

1 It is possible to identify Reality with the Good, but I prefer not to do 
this. It is unnecessary to enter on the question here. See pp. 89, 179. 

* While denying this freedom, Prof. Moore, speaking for the prag- 
matist (Pragmatism, p. 168), allows, as I understand, to thought a value 
of its own, though not in independence . It is, I think, important to 
have got even as far as this. But what surely follows is that to speak of 
thought, e.g., as instrumental, is not permissible. The rest of the whole 
process is surely also instrumental, as thought is, and may itself, by the 
same right, be taken as instrumental to thought. But Prof. Moore does 
not say this, and once more as to the position of beauty, so far as I have 
seen, he says nothing at all. But to deal with these matters is surely 
imperative. However, between such a pragmatist as Prof. Moore 
and myself, the points of difference (as I said before), in comparison with 
the amount of agreement, seem really small. And again with regard to 
Prof. Dewey the same remark, I think, would hold good. 



348 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

failed to carry itself out. This effort, for anything that we 
can discover, has failed, even when you look at its indirect 
result in human history, and it has failed even when you 
regard merely the inner life of the man who has made it. It 
may have left that life more frustrated and more discordant, 
and in a sense really lower, than if the man had never risen 
to the struggle. Now, is an effort of this kind to be set down 
as sheer waste and loss ? I abstract here from any belief as 
to a difference made to a state of existence after death. For 
such a belief may be true or false, but to call it verifiable 
seems nonsense, if we mean by that to imply that we can 
find that and how it holds in every detail. Apart then from 
any belief as to a future state, what are we to say of those 
moral efforts which, with all their intensity, appear to have 
failed ? Are we to call them mere waste, or perhaps some 
thing even worse than waste ? While on some other views 
this seems inevitable, I can give an opposite reply. For me 
the Absolute is there to see that nothing in the world is lost. 
That effort which for our vision is wasted, passes over be 
yond our vision into reality and is crowned with success. 
Of all the foolish criticisms (and they are many) which have 
been directed against the Absolute, the most foolish of all 
perhaps is that it is useless. And this does not mean that, 
whatever I do, it is all one to the Absolute. The Absolute 
is there to secure that everywhere the highest counts most 
and the lowest counts least. For it is at once the active 
criterion and the supreme power. 

Truth and beauty then on the one hand within limits are 
free. On the other hand truth and beauty, all without 
exception, conduce to a higher Reality. But in detail this 
consummation must remain for us invisible. The idea, how 
ever, that any one truth is just as good as another is sense 
less. A truth is true so far as it works, in the first place 
theoretically, and truths, so far as they are empty and are 
idle, fail to work. They fail proportionately to make a 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 349 

contribution to the Absolute. But there are criticisms to 
which I feel that it is useless to reply. It is not given to any 
man to argue against self-satisfied ignorance. 1 

In conclusion I will ask how far the view which I hold is 
open to the charge of subjectivism and relativism . 
What I mean by relativism here is the consequence that, 
beyond this or that man or set of men, there is no truth or 
reality. In neither of these senses (between which of course 
there is in principle no difference) can my view be said to 
end in relativism. With regard to Solipsism there is, I think, 
no occasion for me to notice any criticism which ignores or 
is ignorant of what I have said on this subject. 2 And it is 
equally obvious, I presume, that, for me, reality and truth 
are not confined within the limits of any one set of finite 
beings, such, for example, as the human race. 

Certainly for me beyond and outside of all finite minds 
there is no truth. From the doctrine which I inherited all 
such transcendence has in principle been banished. And 
certainly for that doctrine, once more, the desire and the 
striving of finite minds is essential to Reality. The im 
manent will of the Universe, for knowledge and truth within 
those minds, is impossible unless it is in one with their per 
sonal endeavour. If to hold this is to embrace subjectivism, 

1 Cf. Chapters IV and V. 

2 Appearance, chap. xxi. It may be useful perhaps to recall that 
Mr. E. D. Fawcett (Mind, No. 78, p. 200) understood me to start from a 
provisional Solipsism . Mr. Fawcett attended here, I think, merely to one 
side of my view. On that view the whole Universe is directly aware of 
itself in each finite centre, but so as not there to be aware of the contents 
of any other finite centre as they are experienced immediately by itself within 
that other centre. The highest all-embracing experience is never reached 
in any finite mind. How this is possible, I repeat, is inexplicable. I fully 
understand that the logical result of applying here an Either-or , is 
either a denial of any self or else an assertion of Solipsism, whichever of 
these alternatives you please. But I do not see how it can be right to 
suppose that I accept either of these alternatives. I may add that, 
if I accepted either of them provisionally, I should have to accept it as 
final. But whether there is any real disagreement here between Mr. Fawcett 
and myself, I cannot say. 



350 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP. 

then assuredly to subjectivism I have always been wedded. 
But, upon a view such as mine, that which is * objective 
can be distinguished from that which is merely personal, 
and I have shown the principle upon which this vital 
distinction is made. And any view, I would add, in 
which such a distinction does not hold good, is ruined irre 
trievably. 1 

1 A point on which difficulty, I believe, has been felt, is the account to 
be given of Nature and of its position in the Universe. Nature has seemed 
on my view to possess no external reality. But this apparent failure is 
mainly perhaps due to a defect in my exposition. I have emphasized 
perhaps too one-sidedly our inability to arrive here at an ultimate explana 
tion. I never sought to deny that in our own wills we have the experience 
of what we may call a power of real externalization. Certainly the idea 
that any such externalization can break somehow quite out of the absolute 
Experience, to my mind remains untenable. But to a conclusion which 
stops short of that I am far from being in principle opposed. 

I will venture, in republishing this footnote, to add some further re 
marks on the subject of Nature. The fact of finite centres, with change 
in time and apparent externality, must remain, I would once more repeat, 
in my view inexplicable. Certainly in volition we experience the carrying 
out of what is ideal into the world over against us. And, though no 
ultimate explanation can in my judgement be found in Will (cf. Chap. IV), 
it may be well to consider the fact of Nature from this side. 

The absolute Reality of course is will, since it includes will in something 
higher. On their side the wills of finite centres, though real, are never 
the mere wills of these several centres. Experienced volition is always 
the will of the Whole in one with my own. What therefore is carried out 
into existence in and by my will is always more than any content which 
merely is mine. The content carried out belongs also and, in one sense, 
just as much to the Whole. And not only is this so, but some content 
is realized in and by my will, though this content goes beyond that of 
which in willing I was aware. To some extent this realization beyond 
what I have consciously willed, seems evident in fact, and how far it 
conceivably might go, we seem unable to say. My will thus carries out 
into existence, and into the external world, more than in one sense was 
actually contained in my will. 

It is thus important to ask about the source of such additional matter. 
Is there any margin of content over and above that which is experienced 
in all finite centres ? The totality of experiences must (this is obvious) 
have some content beyond that which falls in the experiences as several. 
For otherwise the totality (this seems clear) would be nothing. But is 
there (here is the point) in the absolute Experience any margin of content 
beyond what falls in the finite centres as unified ? In my book (Appear 
ance, pp. 273-4, and pp. 527-8) I raised a doubt on this point, a doubt 
which later I have tended perhaps too much to ignore. The question is 
difficult, and since we do not know how the finite centres are One, the 



xi ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH 351 

For me truth gives the absolute Reality, the whole Uni 
verse as in its general character it really is. It gives its 
result imperfectly, as I have explained. But, so far as this 
truth goes, it is impossible to think that for any other mind 
it is otherwise. And, in attempting to entertain such an 
idea, you succeed merely yourself in thinking inconsistently. 
On the other hand, outside of this general character, in a 
sense relativism holds good. That which in particular, for 
one mind or one set of minds, is true or real or good, may 
be the opposite for another individual or set of individuals. 
And how far in detail this diversity may extend we have no 
means of knowing. In such a sense our knowledge must 
always be relative. But this detail remains subordinate to 
our general principle. It is not mere matter conjoined 
externally to an indifferent form . Any such indifference 
(some critics tend to forget) is a positive doctrine which it is 
incumbent on them to prove, and which for me is untenable. 
The detail, upon our view, can vary only so far as the 
general character is preserved. Hence our faith in the world, 
in truth and in beauty and goodness, is unshaken by doubt. 
And, if so, to hold that belief in an Absolute can make no 
difference to any one or to anything, seems ridiculous, while 

question possibly may be unmeaning. On the other hand I cannot maintain 
that it is so, and hence I am forced to admit as possible this margin of 
content not included in finite centres. Such a margin, if so, might go to 
make up that sphere which appears to each of us as the world of external 
existence. It would contribute to, or at least affect, that order of dis 
orderly perception in which other centres appear to mine. But, beyond 
this, it would never enter into my consciousness or will. And, though 
made one in the whole with all finite centres, it could never be properly 
called the content of any. 

I do not think that, in order to account for Nature, such a supposition 
is necessary. But to my mind it is tenable, and any one, to whom it 
seems to remove difficulty, is, I think, right if he adopts it. On the other 
hand beyond this point I am unable to move. I could not admit that 
any externality is more in the end than appearance. A real split or 
sundering in the Universe I am forced to reject, and anything of the kind 
leads, so far as I see, to difficulties far worse than those which it may 
appear to banish or lessen. But this is a point on which naturally I am 
willing to hear reason. 



352 ON SOME ASPECTS OF TRUTH CHAP, xi 

to intimate that this is even my own opinion is worse than 
ridiculous. The Absolute is that by which all reality, and 
all truth and goodness and beauty, in their various degrees 
are, and without which they are nothing. And, if there is 
any one in whose eyes this makes no difference, I address 
myself to others. 

The above are those aspects of truth on which I wished to 
remark. I cannot hope that I have succeeded in not tasking 
the patience of the reader. My remarks have at the best 
been disjointed, and I have repeated (it is the vice of ad 
vancing years) what I have said, and have said perhaps too 
often before. But I will end by insisting once more on that 
with which I began. Except in connexion with a view or 
views as to the nature of Reality, any controversy as to the 
nature of knowledge and truth in the end is futile. Such a 
discussion may be more or less instructive, and it may be 
stimulating more or less, but it never can deal with the real- 
question at issue, or arrive at any final result whether 
positive or negative. 



CHAPTER XII 

SOME REMARKS ON MEMORY AND 
INFERENCE l 

MY object in this paper is to discuss certain questions 
about the nature of memory in connexion with inference on 
one side and mere imagination on the other. I have been 
led to write it partly from a desire to explain and justify the 
position which I took elsewhere. 2 But the reader need not 
concern himself with the matter from this point of view, 
and I shall endeavour to treat the subject independently. 
On the other hand, even if I were able anywhere to deal 
satisfactorily with all the problems involved, the present 
limits are much too narrow. I can offer no more than a 
discussion imperfect at the best, and in which the reader 
must not expect to find anything really new. 

We may notice first the well-known ambiguity of the word 
memory . I have used, and shall use, the term in what 
seems its proper sense, the consciousness of past events as 
having been in fact experienced in my past. But memory 
is often employed otherwise. It may be taken to embrace 
all recognition and sense of familiarity, to cover persisting 
after-sensation and resurgent images, sporadic and undated. 
It may be a general head which includes all retentiveness 
and reproduction, and may be enlarged to cover every habit, 
even where habit rightly or wrongly is applied to a case of 
mere physical mechanism. And hence nothing is easier 
than to defend memory as basal, if not as quite ultimate, 
and to refute the true view that it is a complex and late 

1 This chapter appeared first in Mind for April 1899. 

2 In my Principles of Logic. 

1574 A a 



354 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

phenomenon. If, however, we keep in mind its various 
senses, less labour may be wasted. 

Memory in its proper sense seems certainly complex, and 
involves a high degree and development of thinking, and 
memory for any sound psychology must be derivative and 
secondary. We may find it for the moment more convenient 
to postulate a faculty inexplicable and ultimate, by which I 
know my past events isolated or even in their synthesis with 
my present, an organ which gives us really the really exist 
ing past, or somehow immediately reports to us that which 
perhaps really does not exist an oracle, which, although 
inexplicable or even perhaps because inexplicable, is to be 
accounted veracious. But the path which seems easy may 
be long in the end when it involves us in confusion, and a 
miracle, however cheap, in the end is dear when it entails 
the subversion of principle. And if against fact we are led 
to postulate the veracity of memory, that postulate, as 
I shall show, leads to ruinous scepticism. 

Memory is an ideal construction of the past by which the 
present reality is qualified, or we know the past as an enlarge 
ment by ideal content of reality beyond the present. In 
this respect memory does not differ, it will be urged at once, 
from at least some inference and even from fancy. But, 
without at present touching on these differences, it will be 
better to ask in general how we are able at all to think of the 
past. There is, of course, the further question as to what in 
the end is the real nature of the past, but that question 
does not in this chapter concern us. We are to ask about 
the past simply so far as it is for us. 

Now there are doctrines which I must take for granted 
without explanation or discussion, and all that I can here do 
is to try to state them so as to avoid unnecessary objections. 
If the reader finds that he dissents, I would ask him to 
consider this chapter as written for others. We must first 
of all presuppose retentiveness and the growth of associa- 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 355 

tions, the formation in other words of special dispositions to 
restore elements previously conjoined ; and it is better to 
abstain here from the least attempt further to explain or 
formulate these doctrines, since that would involve us in 
controversy and in the discussion of some obstinate diffi 
culties. Here I would add merely that I have presupposed 
nothing except that which I take to be present in principle 
at the very lowest level of mind. 

Now, so much being assumed, it is no great step to advance 
from it to serial connexions. Wherever A tends to call up B, 
and B to bring in C, A being present will tend to produce the 
series A-B-C. The means and the condition of this mediate 
connexion is the identity of B. There is here a common 
link which is one and the same, or which at least somehow 
behaves as if it were so, and which also again on examination 
seems so. Without this identical link there is certainly no 
series at all, but how far its identity must be perfect is a 
further question to be considered later. And at that point 
there will arise the difficult and most important problem 
about the unity of the whole series, a problem at which 
I shall be able to do no more than glance. 

But when once we have such series joined by common 
links, it seems easy from this point to proceed to the future 
and past and to transcend the present. For given the dis 
position to an ideal series such as c-d-e, and given on the 
other side a present qualified as A(b-c), there is, through the 
identity of c, a transition from A to e through b-c-d. And 
with this transition memory, it might be said, is at once 
explained. Now in principle I think memory is so explained, 
and the explanation is correct, but it on the other hand is 
insufficient, and takes no account of serious differences. For 
in the first place memory has perforce to go backwards if it 
is to reach the past, while our series, it seems, run all the 
other way, and we can only think forwards. And in the 
second place memory is certainly not the mere extension of 

A a 2 



356 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

the present. It gives us rather something which is not the 
present, something which is known as different and incom 
patible. I will proceed briefly to discuss these two diffi 
culties, beginning with the second. 

To know the past or future as such is a hard and late 
achievement of the mind, for it implies an enormous degrada 
tion of the present. We do not properly represent the past 
or future until we have gained an order of things in which 
the present has become but one thing among others. These 
other things, not the present, are not presented, and, if by a 
miracle they were so while the present itself still remained 
untransformed, the result would be chaos. But past and 
future do not and cannot exist for us until reality appears as 
a series in which the present has sunk and has become but 
one member among others. Such an order is an array into 
the ranks of which the present is cashiered ; it is an order 
which is ideal and yet real, which is often not practical 
except remotely and indirectly, and which can conflict sharply 
with our presented perception and our presented need. The 
passage to this new world is the barrier, if there is one, 
between the animal and the human mind. 1 The animal 
mind (I am here compelled to be dogmatic) has neither past 
nor future. It has no world but the reality felt present and 
given, a present qualified ideally and qualified incompatibly 
with itself, but never transcended and itself degraded to be 
but another qualification. It has ideas assuredly and from 
the first, and, if it had not ideas, it could most assuredly 
have no conation or desire. But the ideas of the animal 
mind are but adjectives of the given, ideas that enlarge the 
given and may indefinitely distract it, but never can set them 
selves up beside it as other and equal realities. Hence the 
animal could never say, Yesterday I was sad but I shall be 
happy to-morrow. Its present is clouded and is brightened 
by the movement of its ideas, but remains always its present ; 

1 I do not mean to say that there is no animal but man which ever in 
fact makes this transition. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 357 

its revenges are never retribution for the past, and even its 
plans, where it has plans, are no forecast of the future. It 
has, in brief, no world sundered from the world of its imme 
diate practical interest, and to take an immediate practical 
interest in the past as past is surely not possible. 

I regret to be unable to explain and defend this brief state 
ment. It may serve, perhaps, to point out the interval which 
in my judgement separates memory from the lower level of 
mind. How in detail that interval is filled up and crossed 
I cannot here discuss. I agree that it is the use of language 
for social needs which is the principal agent. It is in this 
manner, I agree, that in fact we gain a world of ideas beyond, 
and in part incompatible with, our personal world, an ideal 
order which seems fixed and independent and which sub 
ordinates the present. On the other hand, I must demur to 
the conclusion that without society no such ideal world is 
in principle possible or could slowly be fixed by the mind. 
But, however it may have arisen, it is this ideal order which 
makes memory possible, and apart from this development to 
postulate memory is to invoke a senseless miracle. 

I will pass next to the difficulty which arises from the 
direction of our thoughts. The past lies behind us while, it 
seems, we can only think forwards. Given the disposition 
to an ideal series b-c-d, then, if Xb is presented, the identity 
of b can develop X ideally as Xb-c-d. But if, on the other 
hand, Xd is presented, how are we able to arrive at b-c ? 
Our sensations, we may say, come wave on wave out of the 
future and disappear backwards into the past, while the 
direction of our ideas is naturally opposite, and our asso 
ciated series, usually if not always, run from the present to 
the future. 1 We, to maintain our being, must face and must 
meet with our ideas the incoming waves, and it is this 
practical attitude against the course of mere events which 
gives the direction to all our series. I do not, indeed, admit 

1 Cf. Appearance, p. 214. 



358 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

that all our associations are practical, and that is a question 
I pass by. But the rule that usually they are directed 
forwards we must admit as true, whatever we may think as 
to possible exceptions. The current of our lives and thoughts 
in short runs opposite to the stream of mere event. 

How then, given the disposition to an ideal series a-b-c-d-e, 
and given our actual presence at d, can we arrive at the past? 
The result is gained in this way. Our present has a char 
acter associated with a, the beginning of the series, and so, by 
means of a, we identify ourselves with and pass through the 
series a-b-c-d-e. But this so far is not enough. This series 
so far, it will be rightly said, can at best give us a future, and 
it will not supply us with a past which lies behind us. Our 
explanation, however, so far was incomplete, and our fuller 
reply is as follows : (a) In order to perceive the past we 
must not merely identify ourselves with the beginning of a 
series, but that beginning must, also and as well, be incom 
patible with our present. That beginning must, beside its 
identity with our present state, have also a further character 
which prevents identification. If our present is Xd, then, 
since % is associated with a, we through % ideally reconsti 
tute Xa, but the two, Xd and Xa, are or may be incompatible. 
(b) And secondly, starting from this incompatible beginning 
Xa, the series leads up to our actual present Xd, and can be 
prolonged into the future. And this in principle is the expla 
nation required for our recovery and perception of the past. 

I will illustrate this first by a simple example which in 
part is defective. I have seen a stone thrown and now 
perceive it at my feet. It is the ideal identity of the stone 
which reinstates its existence at the point of departure, an 
existence incompatible with the present. And then that 
incompatible sameness produces itself in series ideally till 
it is one with the actual present perception. The illustra 
tion is, however, imperfect because it presupposes and makes 
use of a fixed spatial order, and, whatever may be true of our 



XTI MEMORY AND INFERENCE 359 

actual development, I cannot think that in principle such a 
spatial series is involved. Let us then take another illustra 
tion. Let us suppose that in the same locality I am first wet 
and cold and then dry and warm. Now my personal presence 
in this place can by association restore in idea my wet and 
cold presence in the same place, the two being both the same 
and yet also incompatible and then an intermediate series, 
say of lighting the fire, or of the sun s coming out, may unite 
by an ideal prolongation the first with the second. It is by a 
leap through ideal identity that we make ourselves one with 
what is incompatible with our present, and, this difference 
being then connected by a series with our present, we have 
our past, which is thus given both as sundered and as con 
nected. Such at least is the main principle involved, though 
I cannot attempt to work it out in its complex detail. The 
most instructive illustration is probably furnished by the 
fact of double memory. That past from time to time is 
remembered or forgotten which has or has not the special 
quality which from time to time distinguishes the present. 
In this way at least the facts can in principle be explained, 
and in some cases the actual quality appears to have been 
discovered. 1 

The above may be made clearer, perhaps, by a reply to a 
possible objection. You cannot in every case, it may be said, 
show that what we remember is thus reproduced from the 
present, and memory therefore, it may be urged, is im 
mediate and inexplicable except of course, like everything 
else, by physiology. Now I should myself admit that the 
reason why I remember this thing and not that often cannot 
be found in my present psychical state. One might indeed 

1 By Janet. See his Automatism. The principle was long ago laid 
down by Lotze, Med. Psych., 487, Mik., i, 371. I w.ould remark in this 
connexion that any one who fails to see that the present character of 
my feeling is a basis of reproduction, and who argues as if that basis 
must either be something before the mind, or else not psychical at all, 
does not in my opinion really understand the doctrine of Association. 



360 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

urge that the reason is in all cases there and has been 
simply overlooked, but I am not myself prepared to 
endorse this contention. I would rather take no account 
here of unconscious states of mind, and the contention 
seems at least not warranted by those facts which we are 
able actually to observe. Certainly to argue, on the other 
hand, that dispositions work without any kind of support 
from my present psychical state would be quite mistaken. 
The support is there always, though not always, I admit, 
the special support to this one disposition against any 
other. And hence the special activity, I am quite ready 
to add, is in some cases to be taken as initiated merely cere- 
brally. But then I object that simply so far and with no 
more than this we have no memory at all. We have no 
memory until that which is reproduced is ideally separated 
from and is ideally connected with my present; and this 
ideal separation and connexion is and must be performed 
always in the way which I have described. 1 In short, 
memory as immediate is to my mind a sheer miracle, and 
I cannot accept a miracle even where I am assured that it 
is due merely to the brain. 

The past, we have so far seen, is perceived by means of 
serial association, and, before I proceed, it is necessary to 
warn the reader here against a dangerous misconception. 
We have in the series a-b-c the association of b with a and of 
c with b ; but we have not merely these separate associa- 

1 If we wish to avoid mistake here, we must beware of confusion. We 
must distinguish the exciting cause of a reproduction from the ground of 
a memory. The ground of a particular memory is that which places it 
in connexion with a certain member of my past series. But it may be 
partially excited by that which cannot complete and so date it. A scent 
may, for instance, remind me of a certain flower, which then by associa 
tion calls up its adjuncts involving a dated event in my life. The dating 
associations here are not those which excite, and the latter may be very 
frail and slight indeed. The reproduced when excited then dates itself 
by association with what is constructed from my present. If on the 
contrary I go backwards or forwards retracing my life, the exciting cause 
of a memory and its ground may be the same. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 361 

tions, and, if we had no more than this, we should have no 
series at all. For every series which we know is known by 
us as one, and, if it had no real unity, the appearance of its 
oneness would be inexplicable. 1 But this unity involves, so 
far as I can see, and consists in an ideal identity of character. 
There is some one content that is present through and is de 
veloped by the series, and is qualified by, and itself essentially 
qualifies, this series. But, if so, the members of the series 
will be joined not merely by association with one another, 
for each one must be associated also with one and the same 
quality. There will hence in fact be no merely successive 
association any more than there is any merely successive 
perception. The division of association into that which is 
simultaneous and that which is merely successive is in 
principle vicious, and any inquiry based on it is foredoomed 
to failure. The succession should be represented not as Xa-b 

X 

but rather as /\ . And so we perceive how the whole 
a b 

series may thus be thought of as one, and how the idea of 
the whole is united with and so may reproduce any of the 
members, singly or at irregular intervals, and again in either 
direction. For beside the mere association of member with 
member we have as its complement in every series the con 
nexion of each member with the idea of the whole. 2 And 

1 Cf. Chap. X, pp. 307-9. 

2 This consideration, I need hardly add, should never be lost sight of, as 
at times it has been, in investigating the subject of successive , re 
gressive , and again indirect association. Another aspect of the same 
problem is the existence of general forms or schemata of series. It seems 
clear, from abstract considerations as well as from particular facts, that 
these must exist and be used in the retaining of concrete series. Our 
awareness of gaps and our transition over them, and our power of repre 
senting series in an abbreviated form, point in this direction. But these 
schemata, being themselves presumably psychical and associative, tend to 
confirm the doctrine of our text. There are some results bearing on this 
point in the investigations of Schomann and Miiller. The subject is both 
very obscure and very difficult, and it deserves more attention than it 
appears to have received, a remark which applies emphatically to the 
perception of a series in general. 



362 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

with this brief warning on a matter of the greatest impor 
tance I must pass on to pursue further the subject of this 
chapter. 

We are aware of and think of the past as past always by 
an ideal construction from the present, and the immediate 
presentation of the past as such would be a gratuitous 
miracle. But the past comes to us not by memory alone 
but also in mere fancy and again by pure inference, and it 
is clear that we are here concerned with serious differences. 
I may for instance remember that yesterday I sent a letter 
to the post ; or I may imagine how I might have done this, 
though in fact I know that I did not ; or again, while I 
cannot remember my act, I can perhaps prove that it 
happened. I will now briefly discuss the nature of these 
differences, beginning with mere fancy in its contrast with 
thought, and taking thought here in the sense of proof or 
inference. 

How does mere imagination differ from inference ? The 
question, difficult in itself, has been obscured by a funda 
mental error, a superstition about the abstract nature gf 
thought proper. Deferring the consideration of this, I will 
state briefly the true ground of distinction. In inference 
there is, or at least there is supposed to be, a continuous 
necessity, and there is necessity because in a word there is 
identity. The self-same subject develops itself ideally in 
the process, and is qualified in the conclusion. And it 
qualifies itself throughout by itself, without the intrusion at 
any point of an extraneous connexion. We say that b is c 
and c is d and d is e, and each of these is not because of any 
thing outside, but simply. Hence Ab must be Ae because 
in the end it is so. And whatever difficulties may be raised 
as to the possibility of using in our actual practice this type, 
this type at least represents what we aim at and seek to find 
in inference. It may help us to perceive this if we suppose 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 363 

that the type is modified. Let us assume no longer that 
b is c simply, but admit that b is c only by the help of x. 
The premiss must now be written b(x) is c, and the old 
conclusion will not stand. We cannot any longer assert 
that Ab must be Ae. It only may be so, and, so far as it 
is so, it is so because of x. The Ab that is e is now not the 
Ab with which we started. We can no longer assert that 
the subject has been qualified throughout further without 
becoming something else. The subject of the conclusion is 
Ab together with a foreign condition x, and the conclusion 
is therefore conditioned, and, if you assert it of mere Ab, it 
is conditional or faulty. 

It is a defect of this kind which vitiates the result of mere 
imagination. That result, we should agree, has no necessity. 
In my mind s wandering the subject Ab may have actually 
now become A-e, but we cannot add that the thing is so really 
and of itself, for Ab, also and just as actually, may become 
something incompatible and may appear as Ab-not-e. In 
mere imagination, because the thing may be otherwise, it is 
not really what it is. Necessity is not present, and necessity 
is absent because there is a breach of identity. The subject 
Ab becomes Ae, but you cannot add of itself . Something 
extraneous has at some point entered in and has vitiated the 
process, and you have passed from b to c not because b is c, 
but only because the passage has happened. An element has 
intervened not belonging directly to the pure essence of b, 
but attached to b merely as b is now present in psychical 
fact ; and it is this unknown addition, this x, which by a 
chance association has carried Ab to e. Such is the defect 
in identity which distinguishes mere imagination from in 
ference, 1 and where this defect is remedied imagination 
becomes at once the strictest thinking. 

It may be instructive to notice here the superstition to 
which I referred. The distinction of mere imagination from 

1 Compare my Principles of Logic, p. 410. 



364 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

thought consists in the absence or presence of logical control, 
and that control lies, as we have seen, in the preservation of 
ideal identity. But where this principle has not been grasped 
most incredible doctrines have found favour. Thought is 
abstract, we may be assured, while imagination is concrete. 1 
Now I might ask if mere fancy may not be itself highly 
abstract, but, passing this by, I will go on to a plainer 
objection. To maintain all thought to be abstract is to 
be brought into collision with evident facts. For the lower 
animals surely can reason, while they hardly are able to 
think abstractly, except in certain theories And in our 
own lives the field covered by what is called intuitive under 
standing is certainly not all abstract, or again on the other 
side devoid of judgement and inference. An obvious in 
stance is the thinking and judging about spatial arrange 
ments in an individual case. And the writer who will assert 
that such conclusions as He is the guilty man, or That is 
the right way, are either all abstract or are else not acts 
of thought, is to my mind past argument. 2 Inference of 
course is always abstract if that means that it implies 

1 See for example Prof. Sully, Human Mind, i, p. 384. He finds 
himself later in conflict with fact, and admits (p. 395, note) that the de 
marcation is not to be taken absolutely . But the real question surely 
is whether the very principle of distinction is not false and contrary to fact, 
and, if so, how we can be justified in using it. If Prof. Sully s view is 
that between thought and mere imagination there is in principle really 
no difference at all, that the distinction drawn between them is merely an 
affair of language and convenience, and depends, perhaps usually though 
certainly not always, on degree of concreteness, that is a doctrine which, 
however unsatisfactory, would be intelligible. But such a doctrine hardly 
entitles any one who holds it to speak of these processes as if they really 
were two, to lay down a ground and principle of distinction, and to go on 
to speak of a connexion between the two (p. 381). Such a position 
seems quite inconsistent and indefensible, though I fear it is not un 
common. 

2 I am tempted to say this again of any one who can maintain that 
thought must depend upon language. There arises here, of course, the 
further question, how far thinking which is not throughout dependent 
on language, and which is in this sense intuitional, can be genuinely 
abstract. This is an interesting and important question, but we are not 
concerned with it here. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 365 

analysis and selection, and involves always a principle of 
necessity which can, or could conceivably, be abstracted. 
But in any other sense judgement and inference need cer 
tainly not be abstract, but may be concrete to an indefinite 
extent. In short, to set up imagination and thought as two 
separate faculties, and to speak of one using the other or 
again being applied to its service, is from first to last errone 
ous and indefensible. Imagination, if of a certain kind, 
is not something employed by thought, but is itself thinking 
proper. If, on the other hand, by mere imagination we 
mean our mental flow so far as that is subjected to no control 
whatever, and is so not used at all, this certainly is not 
imagination in the higher sense of the word. Mere imagina 
tion, where regulated logically, itself is inference. And 
again, so far as serving other ends and subjected to other 
kinds of control, it becomes and itself is contrivance, fancy 
and creation in various forms, intellectual, practical and 
aesthetic. It is the special nature of the end and the special 
nature of the control which makes the difference in principle, 
and in the case of inference we have seen in what that 
difference consists. 1 

From this our inquiry may return to the subject of 
memory. The mere imagination of the past, we have seen, 
is, like inference, an ideal construction from the present, and 
yet it fails to be inference. Memory is also an ideal con 
struction from the present, and thus we are led to ask in 
what way memory differs from inference and from fancy ; 

1 I do not know whether Wundt (Grundzuge, ii, p. 490) really means 
to say that all imagination involves a plan and an idea which it develops. 
Such a statement seems to be in collision with the obvious fact of mental 
wandering. The nature of the different kinds of control over mere wan 
dering is, so far as I see, the only ground from which this whole question 
could be satisfactorily treated. I certainly could not myself attempt that 
treatment, and I do not myself know where to send the reader for satis 
faction. Wundt s exposition seems not only confused in detail but based 
on no clear principle whatever. Such principles of division as passive 
and active are, for instance, much worse than merely useless. 



366 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

for that there is some difference seems plain. I may, to 
repeat our instance, infer that on last Monday I must have 
posted a letter, or I may remember the fact, or again I may 
merely imagine it, and these three attitudes are not the same. 
Now, as against fancy, it is clear that memory has necessity. 
It does not qualify its subject by a predicate the opposite of 
which can also be remembered, and which for this reason 
does not qualify the subject itself. Memory, in other words, 
is a judgement and an assertion about its subject. Hence 
it is often again said to involve belief, a point which I shall 
consider lower down. 1 Thus memory, being a judgement, 
is so far the same as inference, and we must go on to ask if 
they are the same altogether. 

If inference is understood in the sense in which we have 
taken it above, inference and memory certainly differ. For 
in memory there is a sequence and a continuity which is 
necessary, but on the other hand the necessity is not wholly 
intrinsic, or, if wholly intrinsic, is not so visibly. We do not, 
as in inference, go from Ab to Abe, because b is c. The 
sequence in memory cannot be so stated. The premisses are 
not Ab, be, but must be written as Ab, EC. Now certainly 
b is contained in and is an element in B, but, with only so 
much, the sequence fails to be logical. For you cannot logi 
cally proceed from Ab, EC, to A-c, unless you assume that EC 
is equivalent, say, to b-E-c, and not merely to b(x)-c. The 
essential question is as to how the difference, which turns 
b into B and which so brings in c, is related to b ; whether, in 
short, and how far this difference is really accidental. Let 
us take once more the example which we used above. When 
I remember that on Tuesday last I sent my letter, the send 
ing does not follow of itself from the mere idea of myself on 
last Tuesday. Thus I cannot prove that I sent the letter, 
and I can even imagine that in fact I did not send it. The 
connexion, therefore, between the day and the act is not 

1 pp- 376-7- 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 367 

visibly logical, and it may be urged further that the con 
nexion is not logical at all. The predicate, it may be said, 
does not in memory truly and really belong to the subject 
of the process. The predicate, on the contrary, is added 
brutally from without, and is attached by something quite 
external; and in memory, therefore, as was the case with 
mere chance imagination, ideal continuity is broken. 

Now a breach of visible continuity I have agreed must be 
admitted, and memory therefore will fall short of inference. 
There is no proper inference where you predicate the con 
clusion of the subject because the subject is conditioned by 
something not intrinsically developed from its own nature. 
But in memory on the other hand the constraint is not 
wholly external. For the necessity is taken to he within 
the content of the ideal process which develops the subject. 
From the idea of myself on Tuesday I pass to the sending of 
my letter because of something which belongs to the nature 
of things which is taken as present at that date. The com 
pulsion in other words is assumed to come, not from mere 
matter of fact, but from the special character of a certain 
concrete fact. 1 We wrote the premisses of inference as Ab, 
be, and of mere imagination as Ab, Be, where B was equi 
valent to b(x), and where about the x we could say nothing 
whatever. But in memory that addition to and condition 
of 6, which constitutes B, is taken not to be a mere x. The 
bond of union on the contrary is supposed to fall within the 
area of a specified content. The result is therefore logical 
so far and not merely psychical. It is logical so far as 
the x has been partly determined, and so far as the condition 
of the result has thus been brought within the process, and 
no longer, as in mere imagination, falls outside in the un 
known. On the other hand, because the x cannot further 

1 I shall add at the end of this chapter some further remarks on the 
logical difference between memory and imagination, and on the ambiguity 
of the term matter of fact . Mere imagination gives matter of fact , 
in one sense, more than memory does. 



368 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

be specified, the result, though taken as necessary, still 
falls short of a logical conclusion. For the condition which 
carries A6 to c may qualify A6 beyond its own nature, and 
the conclusion therefore may not be true if you predicate 
it of A6. And so far as in the proper sense we remember, 
this ignorance and this inability is still implied. 1 In memory 
the predicate somehow belongs to the subject by the necessity 
of the content. The necessity is therefore intrinsic so far, 
since it falls within the process. On the other hand, because 
it is not known to belong intrinsically to the subject itself, 
we have no inference proper. 

But though memory is not inference, in all memory an 
inference is involved. To connect my letter with the idea 
of last Tuesday I must first of all possess myself of that idea. 
But this possession involves, as we saw, a process from the 
present to something different, a process made through and 
resting on a point of ideal identity ; and a passage of this 
sort seems certainly to be an inference. From the present 
Ac I go to the past C because of the c within C, and to go 
otherwise is not possible. You may object that the initial 
difference here between c and C is really external to c, just 
as again the further connexions given by memory were 
admitted not to be internal. This objection goes deep and 
would raise questions which I cannot discuss in this chapter, 
but for our present purpose it may be dismissed. It would, 
if admitted, show that we have a defective inference here, as 
perhaps almost everywhere, 2 and it would not show that we 

1 Hence to draw an inference from a recollection as such is not possible. 
For the mere recollection implies that we have not got the premiss which 
we desire to employ. To draw an inference from one individual fact as 
such to another fact is as impossible actually as it would be senseless in 
principle. So far as you remember, we may say, so far you are debarred 
from reasoning. But on this subject I am confident that better ideas 
are beginning to prevail both in psychology and in logic. 

* In now republishing the above I would call the attention of the reader 
to the fact that, in my Principles of Logic, pp. 5 l8 ~9 (published 1883), it 
is clearly stated that, even if the form of the inference is impeccable, 
every inference is subjected to the risk of error on account of the doubt 
as to the identity of the middle term. Cf. Chap. XIII, pp. 392 foil., 407. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 369 

use no inference at all. And the premiss which is and must 
be employed is this connexion of c with its difference, not 
taken as subject to the condition of an individual case but 
as unconditioned and simple. The connexion is of course 
not really simple in an absolute sense, but it is simple in the 
sense of being taken as unconditioned by the present fact 
as such. And if you do not use it so, you clearly cannot 
transcend the present at all. In other words this con 
nexion is not itself an affair of memory or of matter of fact , 
since it underlies these as their condition. The connexion 
is direct, and the process where it is used, even if it is used 
unjustifiably, I must therefore call an inference. 1 

In the proper sense of inference then memory involves an 
inference but itself really is not one. 2 If, however, the term 

1 We see here that inference both logically and in time precedes memory. 
I am convinced that, while in fact many or most of the lower animals 
certainly reason, perhaps none of them is able to remember in the proper 
sense of memory. 

2 The above and what follows may, I hope, justify the doctrine I have 
stated elsewhere, that memory in its essence involves an inference and 
so is inferential. I have never said or meant that memory consists in 
mere inference, and that you could make the goodness of the inference a 
test of memory. The question as to how memory, involving an inference, 
differs from inference proper, was not discussed or raised by me at all. 
The statement in my Principles of Logic, p. 75, as to the want of a point 
of identity in mere imagination, is certainly, as it stands, obscure and 
perhaps misleading. Whether my mind was clear when I wrote it I 
cannot now tell. What I should have said is that wherever we take 
ourselves merely to imagine, there not only is no intrinsical necessity 
attaching the result to the starting-place, but we also recognize that the 
identity of the subject is lost and that there is a breach in continuity. 
In memory, on the other hand, though the result is not taken as the 
necessary ideal development of the subject itself, yet we ignore the doubt 
as to a solution of continuity. We connect the end of the process with 
and attribute it to the beginning, because the process comes to us from 
one end to the other without an apparent break or loss of the subject, and 
without the suggestion of an alien intrusion, or again of a sufficient com 
peting alternative. In imagination the connexion between subject and 
predicate is that of casual occupancy, but in memory we have possession 
which to such an extent is de facto that the question of title is not raised, 
or, if raised, is .assumed to be somehow satisfactorily settled. With 
regard to the distinction between inference and mere imagination, that 
is given correctly in my Principles, p. 410. 

1574 B b 



370 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

were used in a looser way, the answer might be different, 
and the whole sequence might perhaps be called an inference. 
It would be here as in a case which involves observation. I 
may see a man and recognize him as a certain person by a 
genuine inference, and I then may perceive him to act in 
a certain manner. I may, on this, attribute the perceived 
act to the inferred person, and this whole process might be 
termed an inference. And in the same way memory also 
might be called an inference, for the reason beside that it 
does not involve perception. I do not think, however, that 
we need here consider this looser use. Nor will I stop 
here to discuss a possible attempt to confound inference 
with memory on the ground that all inference in the end 
is irrational habit. For the secondary distinction between 
inference and memory proper would still remain, even if 
both were in the end mere results of memory in the sense 
of habit. I could not in this chapter attempt to deal with 
such a fundamental question, 1 and must pass on to another 
branch of our inquiry. 

A memory, we have seen, is a state of mind which differs 
from a mere imagination of the past, and in passing from 
one to the other we are aware that we take a new attitude. 
But how in the end can we tell that in memory our attitude 
is justified, and that our remembrance really is any better 
than mere fancy ? So far, indeed, as we can apply inference 
and can rationally construct the past order, we seem to stand 
on safe ground. But when we are left at last with an idea 
of the past which shows no visible inconsistency, but about 
which we are able to find no further evidence, what test can 
we apply ? The answer must be that we do not possess any 
valid criterion. There are marks which give us a certain 

1 A sceptical objection of this kind, if based on a psychological ground, 
seems (Appearance, p. 137) inconsistent with itself. The proper way to 
urge the objection is to compare the actual inferences which we must use 
with that ideal of inference which alone we can take as satisfactory. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 371 

degree of probability, and there are characters which more 
or less strongly impel us to take the idea as real, but there 
is in the end no criterion which is not fallible. I will briefly 
mention the characters which usually distinguish what we 
call a memory from a mere imagination. The interest of the 
subject is in the main confined to psychology ; we should find 
some difficulties there into which I shall not enter, and the 
order of my statement does not pretend to be systematic. 

We may place first the characters of clearness and strength, 
and in the next place fullness of detail, a detail which is not 
visibly rational. Next may come the sense of familiarity, 
and after that fixity of connexion ; and I will then go on to 
add a few remarks, (i) I will not venture to ask here what 
clearness and strength are to mean, but, whatever they mean, 
a mere imagination may have as much of them as a memory 
(or even more), and this seems even plain, (ii) The same 
may be said with regard to mere fullness of detail, for a 
simple imagination may be very full in comparison with 
a memory. The character of the details is, however, a sign to 
be noticed. If the particulars are many and yet appear as 
an accidental conjunction, not depending upon any general 
idea but seemingly irrelevant, that, so far as it goes, is 
a mark of genuine memory. But this mark of irrational 
detail is, however, no test, (iii) The sense of familiarity is 
again deceptive. Its nature has been much discussed, 1 but 
I think we may represent it as follows. There is in memory 
an absence of strangeness. The detail comes without shock 
to a mind which does not expect it and yet is already 
adjusted to receive it. And this adjustment points to an 
associative disposition set up by past experience, but it 
points ambiguously. For your present accidental mood 
may favour and support strongly some idea about the past, 
and this idea may in consequence strike you as natural 

1 The word assimilation tends to introduce us here, in the pages of 
Wundt and others, into a world of what I will venture to call the merest 
mythology. 

B b 2 



372 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

and true. And again a mere imagination, if you repeat it, 
becomes in this way familiar, and itself thus creates the 
inner association which then offers itself as a witness to 
independent fact. And there is, once more here, no sure way 
of distinction between the false and the true, (iv) Fixity of 
connexion is again not a trustworthy test. Where an idea 
is connected with a certain date strongly and fixedly in such 
a way that the opposite is maintained with difficulty, and 
where in addition this connexion is constantly recurrent, we 
tend to take it as memory. And where, besides this, the 
detail appears as a mere conjunction of coinciding particu 
lars, we feel ourselves confirmed. But mere imagination 
is unfortunately well known to present all these features, 
and it is impossible to find an infallible criterion or remedy. 
There are certain characters which usually are the result of 
that past fact to which the present idea refers. Foremost 
among these is that fixity and necessity of non-rational but 
integral detail which belongs to and points to an individual 
experience ; and, when to this is added the sense of fami 
liarity, then memory seldom fails to appear and is commonly 
justified. But the above characters can each, and all 
together, be present in a false imagination. 

The veracity of memory is not absolute, and memory itself 
is subject to the control of a higher criterion. Our justifica 
tion for regarding memory as in general accurate is briefly 
this, that by taking such a course we are best able to order 
and harmonize our world. There is in the end no other 
actual or possible criterion of fact and truth than this, and 
the search for a final fact and for an absolute datum is 
everywhere the pursuit of a mere ignis fatuus. You may 
look for it in outward perception, or you may seek it in 
inward experience and intuition, but in each case you are 
misled by one and the same error in a different dress. This 
is a subject too large to be dealt with here as a whole, but 
I will notice before proceeding a recent instructive attempt 
to prove that memory is not fallible, 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 373 

The position taken by Prof. Ladd on this point seems far 
from clear. 1 I understand that for him it is a vital matter 
to show that memory is at least in part infallible, but for 
the rest his procedure seems obscure and even inconsistent 
with itself. He admits the extreme fallibility of memory in 
detail, but contends that at least it cannot be wrong in its 
assertion of my past existence. But how far, and in what 
sense, when bared of or transformed in detail, my past 
existence remains mine, is a matter not discussed, nor, 
apart from this, is there any evidence produced for the 
truth of the contention. If wherever else a witness can be 
tested he is shown to be fallible, you can hardly assume 
him to be infallible in or beyond a certain point, simply be 
cause in or beyond that point you have in fact always found 
him to be right. And with regard to memory of my past 
existence the case stands as follows. All the memories that 
we can examine belong to minds which have had some 
previous existence, and it is very probable that memory can 
exist only as the result of some foregoing psychical develop 
ment, however short. And, if this is so, then memory will 
be for this extraneous reason, and will be so far, infallible. 
It will be infallible, we may say, accidentally and in fact, 
but not in principle. Its evidence will depend on and be 
restricted to that which is otherwise known. And such an 
infallibility is, 1 presume, for Prof. Ladd s purpose useless. 
And even so much as this can, perhaps, not be demonstrated. 
For that memory should supervene suddenly at a certain 
point of physiological development in such a way that its 
report of a past psychical self would be wholly mistaken, 
seems not clearly and in principle to be impossible. If so, even 
the limited infallibility of memory seems not proved ; but in 
any case, even if proved, I have shown its dependent nature. 2 

1 Philosophy of Mind, pp. 133 foil. I have at present no acquaintance 
with Prof. Ladd s other works. 

2 If a man mistakenly remembers events ten years before he was born, 
is it satisfactory to add : There you see at once that his memory is really 
infallible, for he had, as a fact, some actual past (as you saw) before he 



374 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

From this obscure and unsafe position Prof. Ladd passes 
to a second, which, itself untenable, seems not even consistent 
with the first. All reasoning, he argues, goes from premisses 
to a conclusion, and our knowledge of the conclusion depends 
upon our memory of the premisses. Hence, if that is fallible, 
every possible act of reasoning is discredited. Far then from 
being able to show that memory is fallible, we have even to 
assume the opposite if we intend to have any conclusion 
whatever. And with this we have a sure and certain remedy, 
Prof. Ladd argues, against the disease of scepticism. But 
the ground of the argument seems to me incorrect, and the 
conclusion drawn quite mistaken. The argument should 
prove, it seems to me, that memory is not fallible at all. 
Hence, when a particular memory is shown by reasoning to 
be false, we are left, it would appear, in hopeless confusion. 
For we must either accept both contradictories at once, or, 
if we select, we select on no principle, and surely this must 
be admitted to amount to scepticism. What we are to do 
when memory is thus divided against itself, and how mere 
memory is to sit in judgement on itself, are matters not 
explained. In short, that argument for the supremacy of 
reason which holds good against scepticism, becomes, if you 
transfer it to memory, wholly and entirely sceptical. 1 

made that mistake about his past ? And even this amount of de facto 
infallibility rests on the assumption I have noticed in the text. It is 
therefore so far precarious, as well as in any case derivative. 

1 How is mere memory to be a ruler and judge of itself ? I cannot see 
how this is to be possible. If, on the other hand, memory is to subject 
itself to the judgement of reason, I cannot see how anywhere it is to claim 
independent authority, and to be treated as infallible or as more than 
de facto not mistaken. These are points on which I seek enlightenment 
so far in vain. If, for instance, it is urged that, in order to make the 
world intelligible, I must postulate that memory is right, unless so far as 
I have some special reason to think it anywhere wrong, I entirely agree. 
Certainly, I reply, and without doubt, we must make this assumption. 
But if, on this, I am told that, if so, we have an independent and ultimate 
postulate, I am forced to demur. Most evidently not so, I answer, if the 
assumption is made in order to make the world intelligible. If you leave 
out that, then, I agree, the postulate becomes ultimate, but it becomes 
at the same time arbitrary and, so far as I see, quite indefensible. If 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 375 

Prof. Ladd s conclusion then is really sceptical, but the 
foundation of his argument, to return to that, consists in 
a mistake. It is not the case that reasoning depends on 
memory, and such an idea implies a wrong view about 
inference. In the first place in inference there need be no 
premisses drawn out and put before the mind, and a very 
large tract of our reasoning must in this sense be called 
intuitive. Prof. Ladd has seen this, but without more ado 
he drives the evidence bodily out of court. Everything of 
this kind is a merely mechanical movement of the ideas , 
a conclusion which I venture to regard as quite monstrous 
and a sufficient disproof of its foundation. That foundation 
is, however, in itself untenable. To assume that in an 
inference, where I go from premisses to a conclusion, I depend 
upon memory, is to maintain that in inference I am neces 
sitated en route not to know what I am about, and arrived 
at the end must have forgotten, and so be forced to remem 
ber, the starting-point and the way and this surely is 
erroneous. The normal type of inference is surely the 
unbroken development of an identical subject, 1 which does 
not leave the mind by the way and which, therefore, can 
hardly be remembered. This is the normal type, and I 
will add that, so far as this fails to be present, the operation 
is really not an inference. 2 With this I must pass from the 
subject of memory s fallibility. 

I will add some words on the question which has been 
raised about Belief. Memory, we saw, takes its ideas of the 

we are to think at all, we must postulate that reason is in principle in 
fallible, and is the ultimate judge of its own errors. But to postulate 
that memory is in principle infallible seems to me to be, on the one hand, 
wholly unnecessary and, for any legitimate purpose, quite useless ; and, on 
the other hand, it appears to me to be in the end almost devoid of meaning. 

1 There are some further remarks on this head in the following chapter. 

2 Even in an indirect argument, where I divide A into Ab and Ac, and 
then by disproving Ac prove A&, I do not in the operation depend upon 
memory. Certainly at the end of my disproof of Ac I may have forgotten 
A6, but I then return to the beginning with the knowledge that A is not 
c, and now with that in my mind reach the conclusion A6 from A. The 
knowledge that A is not c does not here depend on memory. It might 



3 ;6 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

past as real, while in mere imagination there is no such 
claim. It is the addition of belief, then, we hear it said, 
which turns imagination into memory, and our main task 
is to find in what this addition consists, or at least to set it 
down as a final inexplicability . But the whole question 
is in this way misunderstood and the issue radically per 
verted. To take for granted the existence of mere ideas as 
self-evident and as a matter of course, and to treat belief in 
these as something supervening, or even adventitious, which 
we have then got to explain, is fundamentally erroneous. 
It is to make an assumption quite false in its principle and 
in its consequences most misleading. The presence of and 
the possibility of these mere ideas is, on the contrary, the 
very thing which calls most for explanation. No such ideas, 
we may say with confidence, can possibly exist in an early 
mind. To entertain an idea in which you do not believe, 
a suspended idea held in separation from the presented 
reality, is a late and, when we reflect, an enormous mental 
achievement. It implies a disruption of that immediate 
unity of theory and practice which is at first throughout 
prevalent and is also necessary. At an early stage of mind, 
every suggestion which does not conflict with the felt present 
is appropriated by that present and is necessarily believed 
in, so far as we are able as yet to speak of belief. The sug 
gestion, on the other hand, which is not believed in, cannot 
possibly be retained theoretically, but, apart from appetite 
or fear, is banished forthwith. It is not my business here 
to attempt to show how mere ideas become possible, and 

so depend if, e.g., I had merely found in my notes that I had one day 
proved Ac to be false, and if I used that bare result. But so far that 
result obviously does not pretend to be itself made in my inference at all. 
And with direct reasoning it seems clear that, so far as the subject has 
lapsed from the mind by the way, there is properly no inference. The 
operation, to become an inference, must in some form be repeated without 
that lapse. The retention of an identical content before the mind, and 
the assumption that where I have seen no difference by the way there is 
no difference, can neither of them be called memory except by an abuse 
of language. The points raised by Prof. Ladd are certainly well worth 
raising and discussing, but his treatment of them seems not satisfactory . 



xn MEMORY AND INFERENCE 377 

again how far, and in what sense, the simple entertainment 
of them still involves judgement and their reference to a 
modified Reality. It is sufficient to have noticed in passing 
a common mistake and to have pointed out its nature. 
The main question, we may say, is not about the plus of 
belief, but about the minus of mere thinking. The main 
question in other words is, How is it possible not to believe ? 
Then, when that point is clear, we may approach with con 
fidence a different and subsequent problem, What is the 
difference between primitive belief and the belief or judge 
ment which comes after doubt, and which really does super 
vene upon our mere ideas ? And when we have seen 
that mere ideas consist in the disruption of a unity, we shall 
not find it hard to perceive the nature of that which super 
venes. It is the restoration of those ideas to the unity from 
which they were separated, and to which they are now once 
more joined in a higher sense. It is in this restoration that we 
must seek and find the real nature of that addition which we 
observe in belief. But the question of the separation is funda 
mental, and, if it is ignored, the whole inquiry is wrecked. 1 

I should like to append to this chapter some remarks on a 
point to which I have adverted (p. 367), the question, that 
is, about what is to be called Matter of fact . So large a 

1 In this matter Prof. Bain s doctrine of Primitive Credulity has been 
of great service to psychology. I must, however, in passing remark that 
I am forced largely to dissent from his view as to belief. I dissent further 
from the mere identification of judgement with belief, but I cannot enter 
here into the difference between them. I would further direct the reader s 
attention to the fact that I may disbelieve in that which I certainly 
remember. The memory is here a judgement necessary in and on its own 
ground, but that region has here been disconnected from the world which 
I call my real world. This attitude is, of course, my common attitude 
towards the imaginary . The judgement will be here a kind of condi 
tional judgement. The difference I have noted between either the theo 
retical or practical acceptance of an idea after it has been held as a mere 
idea and its acceptance previously, has great importance. There is a re 
union of the element, which was held aloof, once more with the felt reality. 
And it is this re-union which gives that feeling of consent which has 
been found so inexplicable. On the question of mere ideas and the 
imaginary see Chap. III. 



378 SOME REMARKS ON CHAP. 

subject, it is obvious, cannot properly be discussed in passing, 
and what follows, though not new, is offered mainly as an 
invitation to further inquiry (see Index, s.v. Fact). 

Matter of fact seems a highly ambiguous phrase, and 
for our present purpose we may distinguish three different 
senses, or three aspects of one sense, (i) The word may 
stand for that which is merely felt or is simply experienced, 
something which therefore excludes, so far, anything like 
judgement, truth, or falsehood. In this meaning of the 
word, imagination, memory and observation all alike are 
above, or if you please are below, matter of fact ; for their 
connexions are all more or less analytic and abstract. (2) On 
the other side, these connexions will be matter of fact in 
varying degrees in proportion as they are external and 
apparently devoid of any intrinsic reason. (3) And again, 
they may be matter of fact as belonging to and as dependent 
on a certain point in our real series. It is on these two 
later shades of meaning that I am about to make some very 
brief remarks. 1 

The merely imaginary marks the furthest extreme of 
matter of fact in the second of our meanings. It is not an 
affair of mere sense, since it qualifies a subject by an ideal 
predicate ; but its bond of connexion, on the other side, is 
bare matter of fact. This connexion or conjunction on the 
one hand is actually there, but on the other hand it seems 
entirely irrational, since there is no more reason for it than 
for its diametrical opposite. The connexion therefore is, but 
it is true and real only by virtue of unknown conditions, and 
therefore in an unknown form. You pass from subject to 
predicate not on any ground which appears as intrinsic, not 
because of anything which seems comprised in your content, 

1 A man is, I presume, called for good or evil a matter of fact person, 
according as he confines himself to the actual events of what we call our 
real world , in opposition either to the imaginary or again to wide 
general principles of truth and conduct. For the limited reality of our 
real world the reader is referred to Chapters III and XVI. 



xii MEMORY AND INFERENCE 379 

but on the strength of what falls outside. This unknown 
bond is for you no more than the nature of the universe at 
large, and you may call it matter of fact in general. In this 
sense of matter of fact memory and observation possess less 
of it than does mere imagination. 

But if we pass from the second to the third meaning of our 
term, and understand matter of fact not as general but as 
special and individual, the case is altered, and observation 
and memory must now be admitted to stand above mere 
imagination. For in them the predicate is not attached to 
the subject by a merely unknown cause, but is taken as con 
nected with it by the nature of what appears at a certain 
point of our real series. Their truth therefore belongs to, 
and is conditioned by, what is known at least in part. The 
connexion on the one side remains outward and an unin 
telligible conjunction, so far as its bond, though localized, is 
not made explicit. The condition cannot be specified and so 
brought within the subject, and the judgement to this extent 
remains irrational and mere matter of fact. But on the 
other side, so far as the connexion falls within, and is con 
ditioned by, a limited area of content, so far as it belongs, in 
other words, to a special matter of fact, it has so far already 
ceased to be a mere conjunction, and has become intrinsic 
and rational. 1 

It is impossible within these limits to attempt to show how 
the process once begun is carried further. The growth of 
our knowledge consists, we may say, in the sustained 
endeavour to get rid of mere matter of fact, to make the 
bond of connexion explicit, and to bring the condition of 
the predicate within the content of the subject. A genuine 

J A mere imagination, if you take it as an occurrence in my history, 
belongs to matter of fact in the above sense of limited and individual 
fact. But this is because you have taken it not logically but psycho 
logically. If you confine yourself to its logical aspect and consider it with 
reference merely to what it asserts, it is of course so far not an event in 
my life and a thing which can be observed. It so far is not matter of fact, 
but possesses matter of fact in the sense of matter of fact in general. 



380 ON MEMORY AND INFERENCE CHAP, xn 

and complete truth cannot be confined within one part of 
our real series, but, to be complete and genuine, must take 
in the rest. And observation, if repeated, 1 and in a higher 
degree artificial experiment, transcend the individual case 
and pass into general truth, truth not conditioned by the 
fact of any date. But whether in the end, and, if so, how 
far and in what sense, the externality of the predicate can 
wholly disappear, is a question which here cannot be dis 
cussed (see Chapters VIII and IX). 



1 In this respect memory remains inferior. To speak broadly and 
apart from a certain qualification, we have in memory a mere result 
which cannot be developed, and we cannot, as in continued and repeated 
observation, inquire further into the conditions of the result. For in 
memory (in the main) we are not in direct contact with these special 
conditions. 



CHAPTER XIII 
ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 

My object in this chapter is to throw light on the ultimate 
value of memory as a test of truth. 1 Memory, I shall con 
tend, must have a subordinate position and validity, and 
otherwise we are reduced inevitably to total scepticism. 
Philosophy, if it is to be more than an exercise more or less 
desirable, must have an answer, I presume, to sceptical ob 
jections. On the other hand, I shall contend that there is no 
answer which does not involve the denial of memory s inde 
pendence. Philosophy cannot exist apart from absolute 
sovereignty, and we have to choose between monarchy and 
chaos. But this means that in the end we can recognize 
nothing in the shape of a self-sufficient element or autono 
mous detail. 

As soon as doubt is raised as to what we are finally justi 
fied in believing, that doubt, it is clear, drives us back on 
reflection. And truth, if we go on to find it, will be a judge 
ment which, when we reflect, satisfies us. Now, as to the 
nature of this special satisfaction there is of course much to 
be discussed, and there are points on which here I am un 
able to enter. 2 But what I have to insist on here js a point 
which seems to be vital. Our last judgement, and that is our 
present judgement, must be taken or rather must be treated 
as infallible. This does not mean that a further reflection 
may not cause us to reject it. It means that, until that 

1 Ihis chapter appeared first in Mind for April 1908. It was written 
some four or five years before that time, and hence,, for better or worse, 
contains no reference to any controversy of later date. 

a Most of these are dealt with in other parts of the present volume. 



382 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

reflection comes, we must hold the judgement as true, and 
that we cannot, while making a judgement, entertain the pos 
sibility of its error. Psychologically I should agree that there 
are various intensities of belief, and that, when I judge, my 
degree of confidence and my whole emotional tone may on 
each occasion be different. But the actual presence of an 
idea which is directly contrary to what I judge, would, 
taken psychically, be an effective hindrance to the presence 
of the judgement. It would prevent the making of the 
judgement or would destroy it if made. And again, when 
we view the matter logically, there seems left no room for 
doubt. As soon as a judgement is made you can of course 
then proceed to reflect on it. In this way what was your 
judgement can be turned into the object of a later thought. 
And taken thus you can approve of it and find it true, or 
you can reject it, in part or altogether, as a more or less 
complete mistake. Or again, unable to decide, you may 
regard it as doubtful. But in any case your reaffirmation, 
denial or doubt, goes beyond and supersedes the original 
judgement. They each add an element which in no case 
leaves that judgement as it was, but everywhere destroys in 
some sense its first character and force. As the object of 
later reflection, this, that was my present judgement, has 
been transformed, and now, whether it is doubted, denied 
or reaffirmed, it has been made subordinate to a later 
moment. It has been included and embraced in a new 
logical present, and its life, so far as it now lives, must be 
drawn from that inclusion. A mere past judgement, when 
I reflect on it, loses at once by my reflection its own inde 
pendent value. I am logically beyond it, while I obviously 
cannot go beyond my present judgement while that remains 
present. My present judgement therefore, while it exists, 
cannot possibly be doubted, and, however strange this may 
sound, that judgement cannot be allowed or even suspected 
to be fallible. 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 383 

Such a doctrine tends naturally to be misunderstood, and 
it suggests obvious objections, some of which I will proceed 
to notice in passing. If every judgement can be superseded, 
how, I shall be asked, can any judgement be final ? But, 
even if all past judgements hitherto had been corrected as 
wrong, I do not see how you could doubt the judgement 
which at present you make. For, even if you make your 
judgement subject to a doubt, and if you so condition it, at 
least this conditional judgement of yours is made uncon 
ditionally. And, further, the supersession of a judgement 
need not mean its correction. If a judgement is reaffirmed, 
it has been set on one side in its old character of this 
judgement , but that which it affirmed has been made 
dependent on my judgement which now is. The truth of 
my judgement has therefore become independent of its past 
assertion, but it certainly need not have been corrected or 
vitally transformed And it is not difficult again to reply 
to a further objection. If every judgement is found, as 
being something human, to have the character of fallibility, 
how, we may be asked, can any judgement escape from this 
sentence ? But a judgement, I reply, may be fallible only 
in its general character as being one judgement among others. 
Hence if you take it differently, as it certainly is taken in 
my actual present judgement, any such partial aspect may, 
without misgiving, be set on one side. The probability of 
error in other words was antecedent and abstract, and it 
cannot be applied to this case as this case actually exists. 
And if you insist that experience proves that every possible 
judgement is fallible in essence, you have involved yourself 
now in contradiction with yourself. For if this doctrine of 
yours is not certain, the conclusion which you draw from it 
vanishes, while, if it is certain, it for that very reason must 
itself become doubtful. 

The objections we have noticed, it is clear, possess no 
force. We must continue so far to maintain that our last 



384 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

judgement in reflection is supreme. And memory, if so, 
cannot have independent worth, nor is it possible that my 
judgement can in the end depend on memory. But, before 
proceeding to defend and to explain this view, I will briefly 
point out what follows if the opposite is maintained. 

The independent value of memory is often asserted. It 
suggests itself at times as an obvious fact, while at other 
times it comes in to stop a hole in some theory, and it may 
even be offered as a sure remedy for scepticism. But to me 
it seems that no long consideration is required in order to 
perceive that such a doctrine is ruinously sceptical. Memory 
is used in a number of different senses. 1 It may stand for 
my present judgement as to some past event of mine, or its 
meaning may be stretched so as to include everything which 
falls under retentiveness. So far therefore as in a judgement 
we have a succession of perceptions or ideas, we must (it will 
be said) postulate memory in some sense in order to prevent 
a solution of continuity. For otherwise, with a broken 
succession of different subjects, we infallibly must lose all 
we gain by the way, and at the end of the process can have 
nothing to show. And again, since our present meaning 
must depend on our past experience, we cannot now, it is 
further urged, even begin to think at all, except so far as we 
take our stand on the faculty of memory. 2 

Now no one can deny that in a sense we depend on past 
experience. For, apart from any other consideration, it is 
from past experience that in the main our minds are filled. 
And generally to suppose that without the past we should 
have an intelligible present seems obviously absurd. We 
bring, to the present from the past, materials, furniture and 
implements, and no one, so far as I am aware, could even 

1 See p. 353. 

2 See Dr. Venn, Empirical Logic, pp. 116-18. Dr. Venn appears to 
accept here some traditional psychology which at best is doubtful. I do 
not know how he would propose to meet the sceptical result from his view 
of memory. This last remark applies again to other writers. 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 385 

seek to deny this. But this, on the other hand, is not really 
the point which is at issue. The result of the past, I main 
tain, is to be used as material with regard to which the 
decision of the present is supreme. This result has not got 
to be accepted, as it comes, and in the form which it bears ; 
and taken in its own character it has no ultimate and in 
dependent worth. To contend on the other hand for our 
ultimate dependence on memory, is to claim in effect for 
this mere result from the past a position and value which is 
independent and absolute. And, held in any form, such a 
doctrine, I urge, must lead us to ruin. 

In the first place it gains little if any support from Common 
Sense. Common Sense goes no further than to take some 
memory as practically certain, while it allows that memory 
in general may be mistaken and is corrigible. But, on the 
other hand, anything which stands independently seems not 
capable of correction. If however, passing from Common 
Sense, we consider the facts, we seem forced to admit that 
memory is fallible to an indefinite extreme. If you add to 
ordinary mistakes those cases of error which are called 
pathological, and include in these the results of hypnotic 
experiment, there seems no limit to the possibility of 
memory s failure. 1 And the position is no better where the 
meaning of memory is improperly widened, and covers in 
general our present use of past perception or judgement. 
For past experience may be incorrectly retained or con 
nected wrongly with a present instance, and at what point 
here a line can be drawn I am unable to perceive. In short 
to hold that memory is not fallible seems to entail the denial 

1 I have above, pp. 373-5, criticized Prof. Ladd s position with regard 
to this point, Philosophy of Mind, p. 133. To hold that memory cannot 
be wrong as to the fact of my past existence is, even if tenable in the 
abstract, quite futile, because it is tenable only in the abstract. If my 
memory may be wrong so far as it says anything about my past exist 
ence and this apparently Prof. Ladd does not deny how much is left 
for it to assert infallibly I hardly comprehend. But see the pages 
referred to. 

1574 C C 



386 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

of plain fact. But if on the other hand my present judge 
ment is to depend on something falling outside of itself, 
then unless that something (whatever it is) can be taken as 
infallible, my judgement must be taken as liable to error. 
In other words, if memory is to have an independent stand 
ing and value, we are condemned, so far as I see, to unlimited 
scepticism. 

Still, it will be objected, if the alternative you offer is to 
throw away all past results, your alternative itself in the end 
is ruinous. But it is your mistake, I reply, which brings in 
such a vicious alternative. To say that no past result has 
independent and absolute value is not to deny that past 
results are in another way indispensable. Past results are 
in short to be used as material out of which my present 
judgement has to make a construction ; but there is no 
standing conjunction in this material which is in principle 
sacred. 1 Any past judgement is taken as fallible in prin 
ciple, and as capable of being overruled by a present judge 
ment which rearranges its material. On the other hand 
there is no question as to the throwing away of all or of any 
material. The question is whether the material, when used 
in my present judgement, has any connexions which, taken 
as they stand, retain absolute validity, or whether on the 
contrary the validity of all now depends on my present 
judgement and is subject to that. I have shown that the 
independent worth of past connexions means present ruin. 
On the other side the superiority of present to past judge- 

1 I regret that I cannot, while correcting this paper for the press, remark 
on the position lately taken by Mr. Russell and again by Prof. Stout. 
But in passing I would emphasize the following point. Our object is to 
make the widest and most harmonious construction. In order to carry 
out this object we accept, and we must accept, remembered past facts. 
But we accept them only provisionally, and subject in any particular case 
to correction in the light of further knowledge. The reason why we do 
not in the same way accept what is offered by mere fancy, is that on such 
a principle of action we could not make the intellectual construction 
which we seek. [This foot-note belongs to the year 1908, and I now refer 
the reader to Chap. VII of this volume] 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 387 

ment entails, apart from misunderstanding, no mischievous 
consequence. It is compatible with the doctrine that any 
judgement once made must stand until over-ridden, a 
doctrine the truth of which will be discussed lower down. 
The fact in short that all judgements are, as judgements, 
corrigible, does not imply that every judgement is in fact 
to be corrected. And again the general rule on which we 
act with regard to memory, our presumption, that is, that 
memory is correct except so far as we have a special reason 
to doubt it, in no way conflicts with the superiority of 
present judgement. It would conflict with this only if 
our last judgement were to pronounce the above rule to be 
invalid. And if it is urged that memory, though corrected, 
is corrected only by further memory, such an objection, it 
seems to me, can be easily disposed of. What it states is 
not true except in part, and is not true in the end. For 
memory at times seems to be corrected not by memory but 
by inference. And, apart from this and in general, I am 
unable to understand how an infallible memory can possibly 
correct itself. It is to me on the other hand intelligible that 
diverse memories can and do radically conflict, and that such 
a collision, if we have no higher criterion, leads inevitably 
to scepticism. In fact and in truth memory, wherever 
corrected, is corrected by a judgement. This judgement in 
different cases may differ widely. It may make use of a 
greater or less amount of materials, and it may or may not 
be itself a memory- judgement. Certainly, where our last 
judgement is a memory- judgement, it remains none the less 
infallible, but this, it is plain, does not show memory to be 
infallible in general. We have a special memory- judgement 
which we cannot doubt so long as it remains our last judge 
ment. This judgement, however, is infallible not because it 
is memory but because it is our last judgement. Memory in 
short becomes for you infallible only where you judge that 
all memory is infallible. But such a judgement, we have 

c c 2 



388 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

seen, is dispelled by reflection, and must give way to another 
which pronounces it false. 

I have so far urged that a present judgement cannot be 
treated as fallible, and that as against this nothing outside 
can possess any force. And I have argued that to assign an 
independent and ultimate value to memory leads necessarily 
to scepticism. On the other hand the doctrine which I 
advocate requires explanation, for it seems itself to invite 
and to justify sceptical doubt. If to rest on memory , it 
will be objected, is to build upon sand, it is after all upon 
sand that your doctrine is based. For you cannot deny 
that your judgement requires time and is successive, and you 
cannot deny that the result of past experience now qualifies 
your judgement. Even if in some instance you contend that 
this is not visibly the case, yet in no instance can you exclude 
the doubt or even the presumption that really it is so. And 
hence, if you will not invoke a " faculty of Memory ", and if 
you will not go on to assume that this " faculty " is infallible, 
your own conclusion will in any case fall into ruin. For 
your judgement in the end will stand on something external 
and foreign, something the truth of which will remain at best 
precarious. And your judgement itself, when arrived at its 
end, will fail to connect its end with that beginning of itself 
which now has perished. It is only through memory that 
a judgement is one, and any judgement that is not one, is no 
judgement at all. This objection seems serious, and we 
must endeavour to meet it. 

We are led at once to recall a principle, well known but 
often neglected, the distinction between a judgement viewed 
in its logical and, on the other side, in its psychical aspect. 1 
Every judgement on the one hand asserts an ideal content. 
It asserts this of something which is other than that con 
tent and other than the judgement itself. Again, on the 

1 I may remind the reader that I am not here replying to scepticism in 
general, but only to one kind of sceptical objection. 



xin ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 389 

other hand, every judgement is a state of myself. Now a 
state of myself has lapse and has duration indefinitely 
divisible, and it is a product which results from external 
conditions. But you cannot take these characters, which 
belong to my state when I assert, and use them to qualify 
that which I assert. On the contrary my assertion in this 
latter sense must, except for certain purposes, be taken as 
independent of my state as asserting. And for our present 
purpose certainly we must so take it as independent. The 
thing affirmed is different from what goes on in my mind as 
I affirm it, and you cannot take the nature and the origin 
of this last and apply them to qualify the matter which 
I affirm. My judgement that ginger is hot in the mouth 
contains no reference to any origin in past instances of 
ginger. And again this judgement does not involve an 
internal sequence and lapse, and warrant an ensuing doubt 
as to the identity of ginger when mouth is reached. 
Everything of this kind is at once extraneous and so far 
unknown. And when by reflection it is reached, you have 
ipso facto left your original assertion and have passed on to 
others. These other judgements, with regard to your state 
when asserting, cannot except through a mistake be made 
to conflict with your original judgement. And they them 
selves, when made, are valid merely so far as they are 
assertions. And in this character they themselves exclude 
any reference to your psychical state as at present you 
make them. 

Every judgement may be taken to involve a psychical 
lapse and succession, but this aspect of its existence falls 
outside of the judgement as logical. If, for instance, the 
judgement asserts a succession, this is not the succession 
which belongs to its existence as a psychical- fact. And 
again the judgement need not assert any succession at all. 
In this case within the judgement there is no succession ; 
and whether we begin (as we say) with the subject or begin 



390 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

with the predicate, and whether again the process endures 
for the fraction of a second or for an hour or for a century 
this is all in itself indifferent to the content asserted. And 
no lapse or change outside this content can affect the unity 
of our judgement. Nothing in short can affect our judge 
ment except from the inside. And hence anything external, 
whether it is psychical lapse or again the previous existence 
or worth of some element in the judgement, must remain 
irrelevant. If it is to enter the judgement it must put off 
its external character. And thus within the judgement no 
complexity of detail or structure prevents the judgement 
being one, so long as no element is allowed to retain an 
independent force. You may urge that my judgement 
stands or falls with the truth of some element contained 
within it, and you may insist that this truth comes from 
nowhere but previous experience. But all this to my judge 
ment is either unknown and so nothing, or else, if known and 
admitted, is the destruction of my judgement, as such. 
These considerations, true or false, have in any case gone 
beyond my present judgement, and they have taken me, if 
anywhere, on to a new judgement. But this new judgement, 
like the former one, itself guarantees its own contents, and 
to me, while it lasts, cannot seem to be fallible. 

Such a doctrine, I know, must appear to be ridiculous. It 
is absurd, I shall be told, to suggest that there is no reason 
for my judgement being true except the fact that it is there, 
and it is perverse to recommend me to hold my judgement 
standing in order to keep it infallible. But I have made, 
I reply, no suggestion of this kind. I agree on the contrary 
that it is our duty to ask and to reflect, and to supersede one 
judgement by another. Thus He is the person who did that 
last week , may be superseded by The truth of that depends 
merely on my recollection , and this by After all one must 
trust one s memory , and this again by In the present case 
the main point is uncertain . But it does not follow that 



xin ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 391 

before a judgement is superseded I am to take it as fallible. 
And I agree once more that there is a reason why judgements 
are true or else false. There is a character which, when I 
reflect, leads me to prefer one judgement to another, and 
leads me even to reject both of them if neither will satisfy. 
But this character, I would urge, is not external to my 
judgements, and to make the truth of a judgement depend 
on something which falls outside itself, must lead in the end, 
if you follow it to the end, into scepticism or nonsense. 
But at present I am not inquiring into the nature of this 
character. The point on which I am insisting here is one 
sided, if you please, but none the less I must insist on it as 
evident and necessary. I cannot, while I make a judgement, 
at the same time also doubt it. I cannot doubt or deny 
a judgement without going beyond this judgement and 
without making it a part in some wider ideal whole. 1 And 
at least I cannot deny it except by another judgement which 
I cannot at once make and regard as fallible. And, while 
I make a judgement, that which falls outside it is so far 
nothing to me. The psychical existence with its lapse and 
its duration is nothing. The priority or independence of 
any portion of its content is nothing. These things cannot 
be anything for our judgement till they are brought into 
that judgement ; until, that is, one judgement is superseded 
by another, itself now infallible. We may end with the 
decision that there are conflicting ideas between which we 
are unable to decide, or we may conclude that, in the end 
and in its full exactitude, no conclusion is tenable. But 
even here our decision and our conclusion, if we make it, 



1 By doubt here I do not mean the mere psychical oscillation in which, 
after failure or rejection, the judgement merely comes back again as it 
was. I mean by doubt the state where the judgement is made an object, 
and where another idea is held as opposed to it. Again in denial the 
reader must remember that a judgement may be denied from a basis which 
is not made explicit. The denial here merely takes the form of, This 
judgement does not satisfy me. 



392 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

is indubitable, until at least it has been banished or super 
seded by something beyond itself. And, while I agree that 
this contention may perhaps be called obvious and trivial, 
I must insist that it is not on that account to be treated 
as false. 1 

We have so far seen that my present judgement cannot be 
taken as fallible, and further that in a sense it must be self- 
contained. Whatever independent reason there may be for 
or against its assertion, that reason, while independent, is 
nothing to my judgement. And if it becomes something for 
me, then forthwith I have gone beyond my original judge 
ment, which thus has ceased to exist. This conclusion, if 
trivial, seems certain, but it leads at once to a further ques 
tion : What am I to mean by one judgement, and how am I 
to know that one judgement is over and has been succeeded 
by another ? For, if on this point I remain in doubt, our 
doctrine, however true, will remain inapplicable. When I 
say to-day that Caesar is sick , and to-morrow that he is 
well , we naturally should take this as a succession of judge 
ments. But if I tell you that he has crossed the street and 
has now entered that shop , you probably take these succes 
sive events to be expressed in one judgement. Indeed 
otherwise we should be led to doubt if in the end any judge 
ment is one. And hence it is necessary to seek a principle 
by which to decide whether in any given case we have 
several judgements or one judgement. 

The singleness of a judgement lies in the identity of its 
subject. 2 Its unity in other words admits no solution of 
logical continuity. The subject throughout must be one, 
and it must remain one for me, and otherwise we have 

1 In what sense a judgement is self-contained, and how we are able to 
correct one judgement by another, are of course further questions. They 
involve difficulties which are discussed elsewhere. 

1 On this whole matter the reader is referred to Prof. Bosanquet s 
logical works. 



xin ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 393 

either two judgements or none. I take this answer to be 
correct, but it needs further explanation, and I will begin by 
excluding a view which for our present purpose is too wide. 
The whole of experience, it can be said, forms a single con 
tinuous judgement, for, so far as it is intellectual, it is the 
qualification of one real subject. And all our diversity be 
longs to and is predicated of this unbroken reality. Such a 
doctrine states what I accept in principle as a fundamental 
truth, but for our present purpose this truth is stated too 
widely. The judgement we are seeking here is that judge 
ment which I myself make as one, and in which the unity 
of the subject is unbroken for me. And, unless the whole of 
experience is now the object of my reflection, the unity of the 
subject must fall within narrower limits. There are past 
judgements that have been made and that now are forgotten, 
while there are others which, forgotten or not, have at some 
time been overridden and corrected. And, since these 
judgements clearly are not now present to my mind when 
I judge, they cannot for my mind be included in my present 
judgement. The one subject, though so determined, is not 
determined so for me, and this last qualification seems here 
to be essential. 

What I mean by one judgement is an ideal determination 
of reality in which for my mind the subject remains one and 
unbroken. It is not enough that at the end I merely have 
still the same subject, for I may have the same subject in 
a succession of different judgements. A judgement is one 
when its subject keeps hold throughout of the diversity, and 
carries with it to the end everything which it has gained in 
its process. 1 The dropping on the road of that character 
which has been taken up by the way is the fault which makes 
a solution of logical continuity and draws a line across the 
process. I have a single judgement where for me the one 
subject qualifies itself continuously and qualifies itself 

1 Everything, that is, which is essential. See below, pp. 396 foil. 



394 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

cumulatively. Our most natural expression here is in short 
the much abused term development or evolution . 1 

Before illustrating the above by some ordinary examples, 
I must first call attention to a point of importance. By the 
subject of a judgement I do not mean the mere grammatical 
subject, or that again which at first sight may seem to be 
the real subject. The real subject is that, whatever it is, 
which does in fact qualify itself continuously in the way 
I have mentioned. In any given judgement to discover 
what this individual subject is, you must inquire into the 
meaning of the special judgement before you. And the 
answer cannot be reached by the application of any general 
rule. 2 

I will now give some instances of the principle which we 
laid down above. If I first say that A has travelled from 
Paris to London, and then later add that A has travelled 
from London to Liverpool, we have probably two judge 
ments. If I say on the contrary that, having travelled from 
Paris to London, he thence went to Liverpool, there is pre 
sumably but one judgement. The first half of the journey 
has in this latter case not dropped off from the subject, and 
hence we have here no solution of continuity. To assert 
John is in London and then William is in London , may 
or may not be one judgement, but John and William are 
in London is certainly one assertion. For here, when we 
arrive at William, we have not let fall John. The most 

1 I seem to observe now that scarcely any one who sets a value on 
himself intellectually, ventures to use the former of these words when he 
can bring in the latter. It is perhaps difficult for any of us wholly to 
avoid cant. 

1 The doctrine of the universe of discourse (the phrase is far from 
being elegant) has been useful, but it fails here to give us much help. It 
rightly calls attention to the truth (the discussion of which will be found in 
Chapters VIII and IX) that judgements are made subject to an unexpressed 
qualification. Thus when we say that a chimaera does not or again does 
exist, the term existence in each case has a different meaning. But if 
we ask whether existence here is or is not the real subject of the judge 
ment, the doctrine of the universe of discourse seems to fail us. 



xin ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 395 

natural example is the seeking of means for an end ; and let 
us take the attempt to trace mentally a path up a cliff or 
across a morass or torrent. We are forced perhaps to make 
in idea a variety of partial passages before we find a way 
which will lead from the beginning to the end. Now this 
way, when we find it, is a continuous ideal sequence, and it 
is assuredly one judgement. Its stages on the other hand, 
while you trace them piecemeal, are many judgements in 
succession, and so are the fragmentary mental passages 
which have refused to come together. It is one judgement 
where the subject, on arriving at the second step, takes that 
step in the character of a subject which has been qualified 
by the first step, a subject which carries the beginning and 
every stage of its process continuously with it to the end. 1 
And we fail to have a single judgement so far as the subject, 
when arrived at the end, has dropped by the way any part 
of its career. But the whole mental collection once again 
and in a different way may become one judgement. For I 
may take it not now as a connected ideal means to my end, 
but as one continuous sequence of psychical events and as 
one passage in my history. In brief, though it is not true 
that all judgements express succession, the example of a 
series best illustrates the unity of judgement. Anything so 
far as I take it as a series is assuredly one judgement, for, as 
so taken, it consists in a single subject which develops itself 
without break or loss. 2 The nature of this subject, I should 
agree, is not easy to fix, but without it I am forced to con 
clude that a series is unmeaning. If like a child or an idiot 
I thoughtlessly repeat ab, ab, that obviously for myself is 
no series at all. It is a series for me so far as I take the 
sequence abab as one process. And I do not take it as one 
process unless the second ab is qualified by the first, unless, 
that is, the subject of the series carries the first ab with it to 

1 This statement is once more made subject to explanation given below. 

2 Cf. Chap. X, pp. 307-9. 



396 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

the second and so on continuously. Every process of 
reasoning will on the same principle be contained in one 
judgement, so long, that is, as the subject is unbrokenly 
determined. Suppose, for instance, that I have proved that 
there was no possible person, outside A and B, at a certain 
place. If I then, without that result leaving my mind, 
show that A was elsewhere, and that hence B was present, 
this whole process, it seems to me, must be called one judge 
ment. And it will be one judgement again even if the first 
result has left my mind, and if then, learning that A was 
elsewhere, I resume this knowledge which has lapsed and so 
draw the conclusion. But it will be only so far as resumed 
that my first result enters into my final judgement. My 
first result, if you take it apart from the further judgement 
that A was elsewhere, is merely one judgement which then 
is succeeded in time by another. And these two successive 
pieces of knowledge, as separate, are simply two judgements. 
But so far as one subject carries with it the whole content 
unbroken from the beginning to the end, we have one process 
of inference and with this a single judgement. 1 And it is 
one inference and one judgement just because, and just so 
far as, it does not admit the existence of anything discon 
nected and independent. It is one judgement, we may say, 
so far as it excludes anything like memory. 

I will pass now from the general question to consider some 
special difficulties. Has the subject in a judgement, we may 
be asked, really to carry on everything ? Is not on the 
contrary some acquired detail often dropped by the way ? 
Certainly I should agree that not every detail need be carried 
on to the end. And I should agree that such a retention is 
often both useless and impossible. If for example I judge 
that a vehicle has passed from A to D, my final judgement 
may or may not contain its passage through B and C. But 

1 Cf. here Chap. XII, pp. 362 foil. 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 397 

as to the observed incidents, however trifling, which have 
qualified the whole movement, it is absurd to suppose that 
their presence in the judgement is essential. These things 
are not essential because they fall outside the judgement s 
purpose and interest, and because everything which is 
external to this is irrelevant. I cannot ask here in what 
the interest of a judgement consists, but every judgement, 
I must insist, is made in some special interest. It is this 
interest which defines and limits the amount of identity 
required in the subject, and determines what details may be 
called accidental. Such details may never have been taken 
up by the subject, or again, if taken up, they need not be 
carried on, or, even if carried on, they may at the end be 
neglected. Such a process, it is clear, must imply some 
abstraction, and therefore, we may add, must run the risk 
to which in the end all judgement is liable. But certainly 
the subject in a judgement need retain no qualification which 
is not essential. And hence with every judgement, such as 
the carriage has passed from A to D , we may have other 
judgements as to the details which happened to the carriage 
in its passage. And these judgements may be called accom 
paniments of the main judgement, and are not now contained 
in it. Nothing in short need be contained in the judgement 
except what is relevant to its purpose. And our present 
conclusion may be summed up thus, that we have one 
judgement so far as one ideal content develops itself for me 
continuously without loss from beginning to end. We may 
go on from this point to consider a further difficulty. 

The subject of the judgement, we have seen, must remain 
continuously before my mind, but there is a question as to 
the sense in which it has so to maintain itself. When I 
trace a genealogy it is clear that I end with a judgement, 
but as to the subject which maintains itself, and as to how 
much that subject carries on, we are left after all in some 
perplexity. And there are cases where our perplexity is 



398 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

heightened. If I have seen a man enter a certain house, and 
if I watch to observe who comes out, certainly here once 
again the result is a judgement. That same subject which 
appeared at the beginning is further determined at the end 
of the process. On the other hand we can hardly say that 
everywhere this subject has, perhaps through some hours, 
been maintained before my mind. 

The difficulty which we find in such cases is due, I think, 
to several causes, (a) The subject in the first place, if present 
throughout, may be present in more than one shape. The 
subject may have a character which is more or less fully 
individualized, or again it may be abbreviated and made 
schematic to a greater or less degree, (b) In the second 
place the real and the apparent subject may differ widely, 
and the former may remain though the latter has lapsed. 
(c) In the third place, though the subject and with it the 
judgement has lapsed, yet the process at its end may result 
in a judgement. And, since in this ensuing judgement the 
original subject may once more appear, it may hence natur 
ally seem to have been present throughout. 

(a) Every judgement, we may remind ourselves, is made 
in a certain interest ; and hence, to discover the shape in 
which the subject is present, we should begin by asking 
for the sense in which that subject is wanted. When, for 
instance, I trace a pedigree from A to Z, I may for the 
moment perhaps desire only to know that the connexion is 
direct and unbroken. Thus I begin with A, and I end with 
the judgement A is the direct ancestor of Z . And A in 
this case may throughout the process have remained before 
my mind, and may never for one moment have lapsed by 
the way. But how much has qualified A on its road, and 
in what precise sense A at the end has been modified, is 
a question which may admit of various answers. Where 
the series is very short all its steps may possibly remain 
before my mind, and each severally may in some shape 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 399 

appear in the final judgement. But such a complete reten 
tion is in most cases neither possible nor wanted. If what 
I require is to join Z to A by a certain kind of connexion, 
then the length of the line and its other characters may be 
called immaterial. The genealogy with its several steps 
may be present only in a form which is highly abbreviated 
and schematic. And in fact all that in the end connects 
A with Z may be the idea of progression through a series, 
which in respect of its length and its constituent members is 
left more or less general and undefined. But, so long as A 
has maintained itself throughout in an unbroken progress, 
there has been in any case a single judgement throughout. 
For the several stages of A s journey on its way to Z, if you 
take them in their particular character, are here mere 
external and irrelevant incidents. 

(b) There is one judgement (we know) so long as one 
subject develops itself continuously. But, even where the 
subject may appear to have lapsed, this lapse, we must add, 
need not affect the real subject of the judgement. For the 
real subject (this distinction is of supreme importance) may 
be different from that which at first sight offers itself to us 
as such. When I trace a genealogy from A to Z, there may 
come a point at which A is no longer before my mind, but 
then on the other hand A may not have been the real subject 
of the process. The actual object of my inquiry may be in 
fact the whole series. Hence it is the whole series which 
determines itself continuously before me, and is here the 
genuine subject of my judgement. I may seek, for example, 
to discover the length of this series, or again the presence 
of some quality in its several members or in their modes of 
sequence. And so far as, however vaguely and schematic 
ally, the series as a whole maintains itself before me and 
develops itself ideally, the result so far is a single judgement. 
It is accompanied probably by other judgements which 
I make on the way. But these, so far as they are let fall 



400 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

and not carried on to the end, will fail to appear in my final 
judgement. They will be mere incidents which once be 
longed to past stages of its course. 

In the same way, when watching a house, I may perceive 
the exit of A or of B, and may end with the judgement that it 
was A or B who there entered and remained. A man known 
to be inside may be no doubt here the genuine subject, and 
throughout he may have been waiting before my mind to be 
determined further. But on the other hand the subject 
may have been not the man but the house, or again more 
generally the whole scene or situation concerned. But so 
long as while watching I have kept before me something, 
however vague, to be determined further, and so long as my 
judgement at the end does determine this subject, there has 
been an unbroken judgement throughout. And through the 
whole process of watching this final judgement, we must say, 
has been continuously in making. 

(c) On the other hand the state of watching, if prolonged, 
tends naturally to degenerate. There may be no constant 
subject there which develops itself without lapse before my 
mind. And in this case the process may result in a judge 
ment, but you cannot say that this judgement has been 
present throughout. When I set myself to watch a house, 
I may allow the subject more or less to lapse from my mind. 
I place myself usually, as we say, so as to keep the door in 
sight or so as perhaps to hear it if opened. I keep myself, 
that is, so that any change of a certain kind at once attracts 
my attention. But here my not forgetting, as we say, to be 
attentive does not imply the continuous presence of an idea 
before my mind. It does not in short mean that all the time 
I am attending actually. The house may be associated 
with the general scene and with my felt uneasiness, so that 
its absence from my view tends to recall me with a kind of 
shock. On the other hand the renewed sight of the house 
renews my uneasiness, and any observed change in it along 



xin ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 401 

the line of my more special association at once arrests and 
occupies me. Then comes a judgement, and this judgement 
qualifies, we may agree, the original and the main object of 
my watching. But since the subject has not developed 
itself unbrokenly before me, there has not been here, I must 
insist, a single judgement. Certainly I may have had before 
me through all the time a more ultimate subject that has not 
lapsed. Reality as the general scene in which I am included 
has perhaps maintained itself as my object. And this 
general object will from time to time have qualified itself 
by a changing succession of miscellaneous judgements. But 
on the other side these judgements have, at least for my 
mind, not been the development of my subject. A judge 
ment has been made and then dropped, and has given way 
to another judgement which in its turn has passed away. 
And hence, when at the end my final judgement is reached, 
these foregoing judgements have not led up to that result 
and they are not contained in it. And I may even, let us 
suppose, for a time have been asleep, and am roused, let us 
say, by the unbarring of the door. The judgement, which 
follows here, will qualify the subject which I have set my 
self to watch, but you could not add that this subject has 
been continuously before me. The subject of my judgement 
has been recalled at the end, and it is at the end that this 
final judgement begins. 

The matter is so important that I may be permitted 
perhaps to repeat and to insist on these distinctions. A feeling 
which is in my mind and qualifies my felt self is one thing, 
and an object qualified ideally before my mind is another 
thing. And what we call a condition of watchfulness or 
of attention or of standing will, may amount to little or 
no more than an emotional state. 1 It need not involve 
the development of a single ideal content throughout the 

1 And it hardly, taken at some moments, need even amount actually to 
that. Cf. Mind, N.S., No. 41, p. 26. 
1574 D d 



402 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP 

process, and the process is therefore not one judgement or 
volition. Even a melody, as I hear it, is not in itself a single 
judgement or idea. Certainly it is a whole, and it may be 
attended by and it may result in one or more judgements, 
but in itself it is not the progressive qualification of a subject 
which develops itself ideally before the mind. 1 And again 
we must hold fast the distinction between a judgement 
passed at the end of a sequence, and a judgement which 
throughout the sequence has made itself continuously. 
When I observe A, which after an interval is to be followed 
by B, A, as perceived, may produce in me a certain felt 
state. Then, when B supervenes, its perception may cause 
an alteration in that feeling, an alteration which I recognize 
as having the familiar quality, say, of stronger or weaker. 
And on this I judge that B is stronger or weaker than A. 
But it does not follow that throughout the interval A has 
remained before my mind. For, when B produces a felt 
change with a recognized quality, the whole situation may 
by association reproduce A, which has lapsed, and A, being 
reproduced, is thus qualified by the judgement. Hence you 
cannot infer in this case the continuous presence of A, and 
you cannot on the other hand contend that A is absent from 
the final judgement. For to judge about anything in its 
absence seems really meaningless. 2 And, on the other side, 
the presence of A at the end is consistent with the fact that 
it has lapsed on the way. 

The unity of a judgement, we have now seen, lies in the 
continuous development of one ideal content. This unity is 

1 I cannot wholly follow Prof. Royce here ; but a melody, perceived as 
a continuous object, I agree, so far implies judgement. 

1 This, however, appears to be the conclusion which was adopted by Prof. 
Schumann, Zeitschrift fiir Psych., Bd. xvii, an article noticed in Mind, 
N.S., No. 33, by the Editor. To myself not only this conclusion but Prof. 
Schumann s general view of judgement, as there developed, is quite unin 
telligible. What precisely his observers took to be and not to be before 
their minds, when after an interval they made their judgement, is a point 
to which insufficient attention seems to have been directed. I would 



xni ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 403 

logical, and to base the essence of it on a psychical state 
seems at best superfluous. You may argue that it is one 
judgement where we have a single act of attention, and this 
answer at first sight may appear satisfactory. But when on 
the other side we inquire as to the singleness of the act, we 
must fall back, it seems to me, upon the oneness of the idea. 1 
Again the unity of a judgement can be sought in its interest, 
and from this we may go on to argue that it consists in the 
singleness of a purpose or conation. But if you ask where 
the unity of this conation resides, then once more I should 
say we come back to an idea, and to that unbroken con 
tinuity which we have urged as essential. At all events an 
inquiry into this logical essence is needed, and it cannot be 
avoided by any reference, however correct, to any psychical 
state. 2 

Thus an answer to the question of the unity in a judge 
ment does not in principle call for an appeal to psychology. 
On the other hand there are points where such an appeal, 
although not necessary, seems desirable, and I refer specially 
to the duration which we allow to a judgement. Certainly 
the content of the judgement is one thing and its psychical 
duration is another thing, and in principle we have seen that 
the duration is irrelevant. On the other side every judge 
ment is a psychical event and has therefore duration. 
Wholly to deny the existence of this aspect seems a funda 
mental error, 3 and even to ignore it in practice may lead to 

venture to suggest that here (as too often happens), from want of theo 
retical inquiry beforehand, the experiments were largely based on a vicious 
alternative. 

1 Cf. Mind, N.S., No. 41. 

8 I am not asking above how the unity of the idea is in fact maintained. 
That is a further question which here I think it is not needful to discuss. 
All that I am urging is this, that the unity of the ideal content is essential, 
and that, unless you both recognize this unity and also treat it as a feature 
belonging to or resulting from a certain psychological state, the appeal 
to psychology has added nothing. And in any case the addition seems 
here quite unnecessary. 

3 This fatally unsound position seems to me to be taken by Prof. Mun- 
sterberg in his Grundzuge d. Psychologic. 

D d 2 



404 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

inconvenience. Thus to regard all experience, or even all 
my experience, as one judgement may fairly, as we saw, be 
called inconvenient. And wherever for me there is a break 
in the progressive development of the subject, we agreed to 
deny the unity of the judgement. Taking this as our 
principle we may perhaps with advantage apply it still 
further. Let us take an instance where the subject, say 
a house to be watched, remains continuously before my 
mind. Here I notice first that a person A has left the house, 
and then after an interval I notice the exit of B, and I judge, 
on this, that the house contained both A and B. Now if 
for one moment of this process A has lapsed entirely from my 
mind, we cannot say that one judgement has been present 
throughout. 1 But suppose that the subject, as qualified by 
A, has maintained itself till B has been added, can we then 
say that the development has been continuous throughout ? 
Logically we can affirm this, but psychically the ideal move 
ment, while I waited for B, made no advance. And it is 
better perhaps to allow that the process has not been 
continuous, and to make the final judgement begin on the 
perception of B. And even in tracing a genealogy, where 
the ideal advance of the subject does not pause, but where 
this unbroken process may last through a considerable time, 
it is wiser, I think, in practice not to insist on so much 
duration for the judgement. I should prefer to hold that 
the subject is qualified through a succession of judgements, 
and that the final judgement as to the whole applies this 
result, but is not itself actually there till we come to the end. 
But, if on this point the reader prefers to take a different 
view, I could not insist that he is in error. 

Logically the duration of a judgement, if viewed merely as 
psychical, is irrelevant. But taken otherwise that duration 

1 The qualification of the house by A is not present, we may presume, 
actually on the exit of B, but is then recalled. The judgement therefore 
begins at this point. 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 405 

may give cause for misgiving. The longer a subject has 
remained before my mind, the less chance, you may urge, 
has that subject of preserving its identity. 1 And this is 
not because change, while only psychical, can qualify our 
subject, but because we fear that some change may in fact 
not have remained psychical merely, but on the contrary 
may have been taken up into the subject s content. And 
again we may doubt whether a subject can really be war 
ranted to be the same, because I during its career have not 
noticed a difference. But, so far as the purpose of this 
chapter is concerned, we already have discussed the force of 
these suspicions. As long as our judgement is present, then 
to whatever length it has been extended, that judgement 
for us is infallible. And we can apply the above objections 
to our judgement only by subordinating it to a further 
judgement which itself is infallible. Nor is it necessary, 
I think, here to enlarge further on this head. We cannot 
allow that in principle the duration of a judgement can be 
an argument against its unity. On the other hand in 
practice it is better to meet and, if we can, to obviate 
objections. If at the end of a series my judgement extends 
the real identity of the subject, so as logically to include the 
whole series, and so that now throughout the whole series 
we have one development of ideal content, that, I imagine, 
is all which can be called essential. And so long as this is 
effected, it does not matter how schematically it is done, or 
at what point of the psychical process my judgement begins, 
whether at the first stage, or in the middle, or at the close 
of the process. Hence if to postulate an act of judgement 
enduring beyond a certain duration is inconvenient, such 
a postulate to me seems uncalled for and undesirable. The 
duration of a judgement should therefore perhaps be re 
stricted to whatever can be fairly taken as one psychical 
now . 

1 Cf. here Chap. XII, p. 368. 



406 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP. 

And for this restriction there is a ground which is deeper 
than mere convenience. A judgement in the last resort 
must in a sense depend on my feeling. It is true or false 
in the end because it is felt to satisfy me in a certain manner, 
or felt again in a certain way to be offensive. 1 This aspect 
of the case has necessarily its psychical side. If in the end 
my judgement is coincident with a certain feeling, the dura 
tion of that feeling cannot well be disregarded. And with 
respect to this duration also it is better to avoid any strain 
on the facts. In any case we have seen that by extending 
the actual duration of our judgement we should have gained 
nothing worth fighting for. 

I will pass from this to deal, rapidly and in conclusion, with 
several questions. Every judgement, while I make it, must 
be taken by me as infallible, but, when once it has been 
made, the situation seems altered. A judgement, we say, 
may be corrected by a later judgement. It may be subordi 
nated to this later judgement, and over-ridden by it in away 
which here I am unable to discuss. But can we say that 
every judgement remains standing until in this way it has 
been rectified explicitly ? Such an assertion would assume 
that judgements once made remain always before me, and 
maintain themselves in living connexion with every later 
judgement. And this assumption would obviously be con 
trary to fact. In fact our past judgements may be wholly 
forgotten, and, where not forgotten, they may often be said 
to be unconsciously modified and altered, unknown to us, 
in order to suit our altered present. Subject to this limita 
tion a judgement, once made, may perhaps be said to stand 
till corrected. But on the other hand we can maintain this 
only if we assume that a certain condition is satisfied. 
A past judgement holds not because once it was made, nor 

1 This is not the place to discuss this whole question, together with the 
special nature of theoretical satisfaction (see the Index). 



xiii ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT 407 

merely because it is not in actual conflict with our present. 
It holds because, and so far as, we assume identity between 
our present and our past, and because, and so far as, our 
past judgement was made from the basis and on the prin 
ciple which stands at present. An assumption of the same 
kind, I may add, is all that justifies our belief in testimony, 
and, so far as you cannot infer in the witness a mental state 
essentially one with your own, his evidence for you has no 
logical worth. Another aspect of the principle which we 
have just been applying, is the doctrine that what has been 
once true is true always. Differences of time and of place 
do not count except so far as they themselves enter into 
the truth; or, again, the truth in its essence is unchanged 
however much places and times alter. This doctrine may 
wear even a more formidable shape, for it may insist that, 
whatever else in the world is or is not, any truth remains 
true. We have here to face the conclusion that all truth 
must be abstract, and to meet the doubt whether, if that is 
so, any genuine truth is possible. But once more this is no 
place for the discussion of such problems. 1 

We may finally deal with the postulate as to memory s 
general correctness. This remains standing and valid 
although the infallibility of memory has been rejected as 
illusory. We are accustomed in practice to assume that 
memory is correct so far as we have no special reason for 
doubting it. And this assumption is rational, but it is not 
ultimate. Its warrant is that it enables us best to introduce 
order into our world, and to make our experience as a whole 
more concordant and inclusive. And, if so, our assumption s 
force is obviously derivative. 2 We may put this otherwise 
by saying that our assumption as to memory s general truth 
is based solely on experience. This assumption again can 
be confirmed from the psychical side. As far as we have 

1 The reader is now referred to Chap. IX. 
Cf. Chap. XII, p. 374. 



408 ON MEMORY AND JUDGEMENT CHAP, xm 

reason to believe that the psychological conditions of correct 
memory were present, we have a reason for accepting its 
evidence as true. And such a belief for the most part and 
in general can be justified. But it is clear on all sides that 
we are not in possession here of any ultimate postulate. 

I may now briefly resume the main results of this chapter. 
My present judgement must be taken by me as infallible, and 
on the other hand memory cannot claim any independent 
or ultimate force. Any such claim, we saw, led inevitably 
to ruinous scepticism. The main difficulty in the case, we 
found, arises from a confusion between what I assert and 
my state as asserting it. My psychical state may be com 
plex, and full of lapse and of dependency on something 
foreign. But none of these characters can be transferred to 
the judgement itself, and its independence and its unity 
remain unaffected. This suggested the doubt as to what in 
the end is the unity of a judgement, and we found an answer 
in the continuous and progressive development of the subject 
for me. Nothing can be dropped by the subject except what 
falls outside of and is incidental to the judgement s end. 
And we then went on to ask for the sense in which the 
subject must throughout be present to my mind, and were 
led here to offer some important distinctions. With regard 
to the duration of a judgement we allowed in principle no 
appeal to psychology, but we found it better for several 
reasons to limit that duration. We finally touched on the 
question how far a judgement once made remains standing, 
and stated the rational ground for our assumption that 
memory is in general correct. 



CHAPTER XIV 
WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 

IT may throw some light on the general position defended 
by myself, if I briefly state the answer which in my opinion 
should be given to this question. I will begin by emphasiz 
ing what to myself is the main and vital issue. Mr. Russell 
in a recent essay 1 ventures on the following assertion : 
4 Returning now to Julius Caesar, I assume that it will be 
admitted that he himself is not a constituent of any judge 
ment which I can make. To my mind the opposite of this 
admission appears to be evident. It seems to me certain, 
if such an admission is right, that about Julius Caesar I can 
have literally no knowledge at all, and that for me to 
attempt to speak about him is senseless. If on the other 
hand I am to know anything whatever about Caesar, then 
the real Caesar beyond doubt must himself enter into my 
judgements and be a constituent of my knowledge. And 
I do not understand how Mr. Russell can suppose that on 
any view like mine a different answer should be given. 

The problem of the ultimate reality of Julius Caesar is 
obviously one which in a limited space cannot be thoroughly 
discussed. I can here deal with it but partially, and only 
on the assumption that the general conclusion which I have 
advocated is sound. To me the Universe is one Reality 
wfrch appears in finite centres, and it hence is natural to 
ask at once if Julius Caesar is to be identified with a finite 
centre. The reply is obviously in the negative. A finite 
centre is not a soul, or a self, or an individual person. 

1 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. xi, pp. 118-19. 



410 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

Hence in the following pages we have throughout to bear 
these distinctions in mind. And these distinctions are so 
important, and they seem to be so difficult to apprehend, 
that I must begin by attempting, even at considerable length, 
to make them clear to the reader. 

There is, however, one point to which I must first call 
attention. The Universe to me is one Experience which 
appears in finite centres. I take this to be true, but on the 
other hand it is not the whole truth. It is the truth to my 
mind solar as truth is attainable by me, but it nevertheless 
remains imperfect, and in the end it is not intelligible. Our 
ultimate conceptions, that is, are necessary, and in a sense 
they are really ultimate. But there are features in them 
which without any satisfactory insight we have to accept, 
since we are able to do no better. The complete experience 
which would supplement our ideas and make them perfect, 
is in detail beyond our understanding. And the reader, 
throughout what follows, will, I hope, not ignore this 
general warning. 1 

To proceed then, a finite centre, when we speak strictly, 
is not itself in time. It is an immediate experience of itself 
and of the Universe in one. It comes to itself as all the 
world and not as one world among others. And it has 
properly no duration through which it lasts. It can contain 
a lapse and a before and after, but these are subordinate. 
They are partial aspects that fall within the whole, and that, 
taken otherwise, do not qualify the whole itself. A finite 
centre itself may indeed be called duration in the sense of 
presence. But such a present is not any time which is 
opposed to a past and future. It is temporal in the sense 
of being itself the positive and concrete negation of time. 2 

1 See my Appearance (the last chapter) for a discussion of this matter. 

1 I will allow myself to add two passages from an early work of my 
own. The present is the filling of that duration in which the reality 
appears to me directly ; and there can be no part of the succession of 
events so small or so great, that conceivably it might not appear as 
present. . . . Presence is really the negation of time, and never can properly 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 411 

The distinctions of a past and future beyond the present 
time, and of one centre of experience as separate from 
others, are essentially the products of ideal construction. 1 
And the same remark holds with regard to the duration in 
time of any finite centre. Hence these ideas properly are 
true only of the world of objects, and in the end a finite 
centre (if we are to express ourselves strictly) is not an 
object. It is a basis on and from which the world of objects 
is made. We may speak, as I have spoken myself (Appear 
ance, p. 529), of a finite centre s duration. But we can do 
this only on sufferance, and so far as by reflection we have 
transformed into an object the nature of that which lies 
behind objects. 2 

And thus in the end a finite centre has no identity with 
any past or future of itself. It has, or it contains, a char 
acter, and on that character its past and future depend. And 
the special quality which makes my self one self as against 
others, remains (I will return to this point) in unbroken 
unity with that character. But the identity of a centre or 
a self with itself in time is essentially ideal. Its being 
depends on construction and holds good only through a 
breach in the immediate given unity of what and that. 
And so, to speak strictly, there is in my life neither continu 
ance nor repetition of a finite centre. For a centre is 
timeless, and for itself it is not even finite as being itself one 
thing among others. To speak of its continuance and its 
sameness is to apply to it expressions which we are forced 

be given in the series. It is not the time that can ever be present, but 
only the content. Principles of Logic (pub. 1883), pp. 52-3. The reader 
will of course not understand me here to claim originality for a doctrine 
which I inherited. 

1 Cf. here Chap. XII. 

1 From such a position as mine it is obvious that the question whether 
change is in the end real, admits of but one answer. The Universe con 
tains change, but the Universe itself cannot change. I would gladly 
deal here or elsewhere with any arguments in favour of an opposite con 
clusion. But, to speak frankly, those arguments, so far as I know them, 
have failed to understand the position which they seek to attack. 



412 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

to use, but which in the end and in their proper sense cannot 
be justified. 

The duration of a finite centre in time, and a plurality of 
centres which do not share their immediate experiences as 
immediate, are (I would repeat) necessary ideas. They are 
conceptions without which we could not express ourselves, 
and through which alone we can formulate that higher truth 
which at once contains and transcends them. Such ideal 
constructions, on the one hand, beyond question are real, 
and their reality is aifirmed both in thought and volition. 
But they are neither immediately given nor in the end are 
they wholly intelligible. They are special appearances the 
full and ultimate reality of which cannot in detail be known. 

It is interesting to inquire into the stages of that process 
by which we enter into possession of our everyday world, 
and it is important to trace in outline that development by 
which we come to distinguish outward things from our 
selves, and our own self from others. But in principle we 
are concerned here not with the origin but with the nature 
of our knowledge. We have seen that a finite centre, so 
far as it exists as an object, so far as it endures in time, 
and is one of a number, is made and subsists by ideal con 
struction. There really is within the Absolute a diversity 
of finite centres. There really is within finite centres a 
world of objects. And the continuance and identity of 
a finite centre, together with the separation of itself from 
all others, can become an object to that centre. These 
things are realities, and yet, because imperfect, they are 
but appearances which differ in degree. That they are 
supplemented and without loss are all made good absolutely 
in the Whole, we are led to conclude. But how in detail 
this is accomplished, and exactly what the diversity of finite 
centres means in the end, is beyond our knowledge. 

To repeat myself thus may perhaps be useless, and is 
certainly not pleasant to myself. And yet I will pause to 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 413 

dwell on a point which seems still to trouble some critics. 
How I am to transcend my finite centre and to climb 
the walls of my pit, is, they urge, inconceivable. But 
that they themselves argue here from premisses which I 
reject they seem not to realize. I will venture, therefore, 
once more to set down what I have perhaps already said 
too often. 

From the side of the Universe, so to express ourselves, 
the one Reality is present in a plurality of finite centres, 
but so that these do not directly share their experiences as 
immediate. None the less the one Universe is there, and 
it is real throughout, and it is also a higher experience in 
which every unshared diversity is unified and harmonized. 
How this also is possible, and how there can be such 
a thing as appearance, we on the one hand do not under 
stand. But, on the other hand, that the thisness of each 
finite centre must prevent the one Absolute from knowing 
itself and from realizing itself in and through finite centres, 
otherwise than in their several immediacies of this again 
I assuredly am ignorant. My critics may perceive and 
may even comprehend this alleged incompatibility, but to 
my mind the incompatibility does not exist. For rejecting 
a higher experience, in which appearances are transformed, 
I can find no reason, while on the contrary I have more than 
sufficient reason to accept it. 

Again, to view the same thing from the side of my finite 
centre, all my experience and knowledge is that of the 
Universe and this centre in one, and therefore clearly 
without exception all my knowledge is transcendent . 
The entirety of the object- world, the prolongation in time 
of my finite centre, its conscious limitation as one among 
others and as mine and not yours, the whole of this dis 
tinguished region comes from and lives through transcend 
ence. To ask as to the possibility of my passing beyond 
my finite centre seems therefore senseless. My being is 
there only because and in so far as my being is also and 



414 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

already beyond, and is one with the life of the all-pervading 
Universe. You may insist that the felt immediacy on 
which my self is based makes an impassable obstacle. It 
is something (you are sure) connexion with which prevents 
the Universe from knowing itself as possessed also of other 
such connexions. But the whole of your contention rests 
to my mind on misconception and prejudice, while its 
assumption of knowledge as to what is possible seems to me 
even ridiculous. 

What I mean by truth and reality is that world which 
satisfies the claim of the Universe present in and to what 
I call my self. Here is the one criterion, and to me no 
other criterion is possible. This satisfaction, I am sure, 
implies that the Universe immanent in my self is present 
also otherwise and elsewhere. The Reality therefore I take 
to have this character, and, though I cannot understand 
how it is so, I find no reason in my own want of compre 
hension. Thus by the radical incompatibility, of which 
my critics speak, I am not moved. For they have them 
selves made their own difficulty, because they have begun 
by falsifying the nature of things. It is they who have 
dismembered the living whole, and have sunk it in the pits 
which they have dug, and out of which they challenge it 
to rise. But this illusory construction of their own is 
possible only because in the end it is not true. Their 
divided world is made thinkable only by that totality which 
itself throughout upholds and is beyond it. 

After this digression, which I hope the reader will excuse, 
I will return to our main inquiry. I will proceed to ask as 
to the meaning of a soul and again of a self. Neither of 
these ideas must be confused with what we call a finite centre, 
and with each there is a demand for careful distinction. 

What is a soul ? A soul is a finite centre viewed as an 
object existing in time with a before and after of itself. 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 415 

And further the soul is a thing distinct from the experiences 
which it has, which experiences we take not as itself but 
as its states. The finite centre was an experience which is 
in one with its own reality. It comes to itself (we saw) 
immediately as a content which is the Universe. And thus, 
when by a construction you prolong the finite centre in 
time, you have still not arrived at the idea of a soul. In 
order to reach this, you must go on to distinguish the con 
tent as experienced from that which experiences the content. 
The latter, you must say, has these experiences, and yet 
has them not as other things but as states of itself. And 
to whatever other reality these experiences may be due, 
to whatever other world they may belong, and to whatever 
things, other than the soul, they may stand in relation, 
all this in one sense is indifferent. If you confine your 
attention to the soul as a soul, then every possible experience 
is no more than that which happens in and to this soul. 
You have to do with psychical events which qualify the 
soul, and in the end these events, so far as you are true to 
your idea, are merely states of the soul. Such a conception 
is for certain purposes legitimate and necessary, and to 
condemn it, while used within proper limits, is to my mind 
mistaken. But, outside these limits, what we call the soul 
is, I agree, indefensible. It is vitiated by inconsistencies 
and by hopeless contradictions into which there is here no 
need to enter further. 1 

Whether the soul is essentially one among other souls need 
not be discussed. I cannot myself see that an affirmative 
answer is necessary, but the question here seems not 
relevant. We may say the same of the doubt whether 

1 See Appearance, and Mind, No. 33. The reader will bear in mind 
that, though feeling is in itself not an object, on the other hand, when 
you go on to view it as an event, you have so far made it objective. For 
psychology everything psychical which happens is in one sense an object, 
though most certainly not everything is an object for the individual soul 
in question. 



416 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

without a body a soul is possible. And with regard to 
a soul s identity I will merely state that, so far as I see, 
this point, if it is to be settled, must be settled more or less 
arbitrarily. But such inquiries have little or no bearing 
on our purpose. 1 We are concerned here simply with the 
distinction between a soul and a finite centre, and I will 
pass from this to consider a similar point with reference to 
the self . How does a self stand towards a finite centre 
and again towards a soul ? We have to do here, I agree, 
with an intricate and difficult problem. And I regret that 
in what follows I can do no more than set down that result 
which to myself seems tenable. 

The self in the first place is not the same as the finite 
centre. We may even have a finite centre without any self, 
where that centre contains no opposition of self to not-self. 
On the other hand we have a self wherever within a finite 
centre there is an object. An object involves opposition, 
theoretical and practical, and this opposition is to a self, 
and it must so be felt. As to the duration of a self, that in 
principle need be no more than momentary. If we keep 
to ordinary usage a different reply would have perhaps to 
be given, but the usage, so far as I can judge, does not rest 
on any principle. And, again, for myself I cannot see that 
to be a self implies what is called memory. Wherever you 
take a finite centre as containing the opposition of not- 
self to self, and as having, of course, some duration through 
which this opposition remains or recurs, you have reached 
that which we term a self. It is usual, of course, for the 
object to consist at least partly of other selves, but to my 
mind this feature is certainly not essential. 

We have, then, first (i) an immediate felt whole without 
any self or object. 2 Next (ii), where we find an object 

1 On these matters see my Appearance. 

* On this and the following points cf. Chap. VI. 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 417 

against a self, this opposition is still a content within a 
totality of feeling. And the relation (so to speak of it) is 
not yet itself an object. There is not as yet in the proper 
sense any relation, because the self, so far, itself is no 
object. And, even when the correlation of self and not-self 
has been objectified, this complex object comes against 
the self still in that way which (to be strict) is no relation. 
The manner in which, in order to be an object, the object 
is felt, must be expressed by a preposition. The preposition 
implies the presence of two things before us. And thus, 
if we are not to be silent, we have no choice but to use 
a form of statement, while we deny an implication involved 
in that form. Further (iii) the self, although not yet an object, 
is experienced content, and it is itself a limited content and is 
so felt. Any view for which the self is not thus experienced 
as limited content, leaves us in my judgement without any 
self that is experienced at all. But from such a result it 
would follow that the self must either remain completely 
unknown, or at least must be known as something which 
is no self. And again I do not understand how in any felt 
whole there is to be an opposition, unless, as against the 
object, the all-containing whole also itself becomes something 
limited. While remaining, that is, still the unbroken whole, 
it is felt also specially in one with a restricted content. 
This limited self (I would once more add) may in self- 
consciousness itself become, more or less, an object ; but, 
notwithstanding this, it always must continue to be felt, 
and otherwise, as a self, it would bodily disappear, (iv) On 
the nature of that limited content felt as self I can here 
say nothing in detail. Far from remaining always the 
same, it varies greatly. There is much of it which from time 
to time has come before us as objective, and on the other 
hand there are elements which remain throughout in the 
background. And all this will be true even of that central 
group on which our personality seems to rest. But on these 
1574 E e 



418 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

aspects of our problem I can here do. no more than touch 
in passing. 1 (v) I will go on to emphasize the point which 
it is essential for us to keep in view. All that is experienced 
comes, we saw, within a finite centre, and is contained 
within that whole which is felt immediately. Now on the 
one side the self must be less than this felt totality, but 
on the other side the self must remain implicit in the un 
broken unity of feeling. The self (to repeat this) may become 
an object, and yet the self still must also be felt immediately, 
or it is nothing. As so felt it still belongs to that world 
where content and being remain, at least formally, un- 
separated. The self s unity with that finite centre within 
which and before which the whole Universe comes, remains 
a unity which is implicit and non-relational. For, though 
it may come before the background as an object, the self 
(to repeat this) is a self only so far as it remains felt as in 
one with that whole background. I am fully aware that 
this statement is in one sense not intelligible. On the other 
hand to myself it serves to convey, if not to express, an 
indubitable and fundamental fact, a basis without which 
the world is ruined. And with this I must leave the 
matter to the reader s judgement. 

(vi) The question why one finite centre, rather than any 
other, should be mine, can now be readily answered. My 
self, we have seen, depends on that which cannot become 
merely an object, and hence it remains intimately one thing 
with that finite centre within which my Universe appears. 
Other selves on the contrary are for me ideal objects, the 
being of which is made by opposition and construction. 2 

1 See Appearance, chap. ix. 

1 That any mind should have an immediate and direct experience of 
another mind seems, to me at least, out of the question. So far as I know, 
the only ground for such a doctrine is to be found in a false alternative. 
There is an apparent failure to perceive the extent to which my knowledge 
even of my own self is itself ideal and not immediate. My self and other 
selves are, each alike, constructions made in my experience. But my 
self is connected there with the basis of feeling, as other selves, in my 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 419 

They have, as such, no content which, except as within an 
ideal construction, can be felt in immediate union with the 
given foundation of my world. 

It is true that other selves and God are far more than 
mere ideal objects. On the contrary, the wills of others 
can, as we say, be taken up into mine or mine resolved into 
theirs. And, however we phrase it, this real unity of 
emotion and action is most certain ; and I know that God s 
will or that of others is carried out in my volition into actual 
fact. Nay, in comparison with the reality of this higher 
common will, anything that is merely my own can be 
experienced as unreal and worthless. And yet, so far as 
within my centre the overruling end is realized, the volition 
is mine in a sense in which it belongs to no other being. 
It realizes and it expresses that which is felt as itself in 
unbroken unity with what is given, while it is only with 
a different centre that another s will can be felt as thus 
intimately one. I can be aware of a common will which is 
realized in and by myself. I can be sure that, present also 
in another person, this same common will is also felt directly 
as his own. But, though each of us knows certainly of the 
other s feeling, neither of us can experience it as it comes 
in direct unity with immediate experience. 

It is only because it is an object that the other, for me, 
is another at all. Our joint experience, which I feel, I can 
feel as yours only on the strength of an ideal construction, 
which does not cease to be such because it is also a familiar 
fact. Our common feeling may in you, as in me, be referred 
ideally to both me and yourself. But that which in your 
experience makes in the end your feeling to be yours is no 
construction, while in my experience it depends on and 

experience, most certainly are not connected. If, however, we are to 
believe in memory in the sense of a direct knowledge of the past, and 
are to believe, again, in a direct experience of others states, I do not see 
why, in principle, we should not claim to experience Caesar, even to-day, 
directly from the inside. 

E 6 2 



420 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

consists in nothing else. Here is the solution of the puzzle 
well known to those who reflect on life, and who are driven 
for ever alternately to affirm and to deny that thoughts 
and emotions are shared. 

It does not follow from the above that I myself am my 
world, or that I possess any superior importance or reality. 
As against the Universe, against the community or God, 
I may find myself, as we saw, to be trifling and contemptible. 
The nothingness of the self, in fear and in the condemnation 
of the higher Will, is familiar to us all. I have indeed 
a special and a singular reality possessed by naught else. 
This reality of mine is even indispensable to the Universe. 
But the same thing holds again of the meanest rudiment 
of fact or least vestige of appearance. That which is in 
dispensable has its place ; but what kind of place and what 
amount of value belongs to it we have still to ask. The 
World and God without myself are in the end inconceivable 
so much is certain. But this tells us nothing as to the degree 
and as to the manner in which I serve to conduce to their 
reality. In short I cannot suppose that those critics who 
charge me with Solipsism can have much of an idea as to 
the position in which I stand. My self is not my finite centre, 
and my finite centre is but one amongst many, and it is 
not the Universe. It is the whole Universe entire and 
undivided, but it is that Universe only so far as it appears 
in one with a single centre. Feeling is the beginning, and 
it is the source of all material, and it forms the enfolding 
element and abiding ground of our world. But feeling is 
not that world, and it is not the criterion of Reality. The 
criterion for each of us is that system of developed content 
which we call true and good and beautiful. But for further 
explanation the reader must be referred to other chapters. 

(vii) The intimate connexion of the finite centre and the 
self leads us continually into error. We identify the two, and 
then, failing perhaps to distinguish the finite centre from the 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 421 

Universe, we are landed in Solipsism. Or in any case the 
self, once confused with the prolonged finite centre, drifts 
into the position of a soul. And, since everything experi 
enced within a soul must be taken as its adjective and state, 
we fall at once into dilemmas from which no exit is possible. 

The true relation of the self to the soul may be now 
stated briefly. The soul is a self so far as within that soul 
we have the felt opposition of not-self to self. Whether 
within a soul there can at any time be more than one self, 
is a question which here we need not answer. For myself any 
decision on this point would have to remain more or less arbi 
trary. The same reply must be given if we are asked whether 
personal identity and the identity of the soul are indistinguish 
able or at least must coincide. But it is not necessary for 
us here to embarrass ourselves with these problems. 1 

Passing them by, we may observe how a want of clearness 
as to the relative positions of soul and self leads us fatally 
to confusion or ruin. On the one hand the self is a content 
which falls within the soul, and must, I suppose, in a sense 
be regarded as its state . Hence, if we forget to distinguish 
the self from the finite centre, which finite centre, as pro 
longed, we have turned into the soul-thing, the result is 
certain disaster. Every psychical content will belong to, and 
will be an adjective of, the self, while again the self will be 
an adjective and a state, in the end, of itself. On the other 
hand, if the soul be taken as an aggregation or collective 
unity, the self tends to become a mere ingredient which 
with others is found in this vessel. The self has here been 
turned into a mere object and its essence has vanished. For 
that essence, as we saw, lived in feeling and was inseparable 
from immediate experience as a whole. 

The foregoing discussion has, I fear, been wearisome, 

1 Cf. Appearance, chapters ix and x. 



422 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

though the importance and the difficulty of its subject is 
obvious. I will now pass from it to deal with the question 
of the individual s reality. What is it that we are to call 
the real Caesar ? Let us begin at once by asking as to the 
limits of his being, and, again, let us start by assuming 
the following conclusions. A soul exists, as such, only for 
a certain period of some history, and the states of no soul 
can be observed directly by others. These two theses, let 
us add, will hold good of a self. What a man feels as himself 
is not accessible directly to others, and any such feeling 
is an event which falls within a single part of the time- 
series. The reader who is unable to endorse these statements, 
will perhaps, for the sake of argument, accept them provision 
ally. And is the real Caesar, let us now ask, confined within 
the boundary of such a limited soul or self ? 

(a) Even these limits, it may be argued, are already far 
too wide. The real Caesar is the man who is actually 
perceived, and, further, the man is not a body but is mental, 
and no one, we have agreed, but the man himself can perceive 
his own mind. The reality of Caesar must be therefore 
confined to his own self-knowledge. But from the above 
it follows that no one else, not even Caesar s own mother, 
ever knew the real Caesar, and that we ourselves now are 
even more ignorant, if greater ignorance can exist. And yet, 
even with this, the being of Caesar has not been narrowed 
to its strict reality. For how much of Caesar was ever given 
even to himself in direct knowledge ? That knowledge, 
whenever actual, was certainly confined to one present time. 
The past of Caesar and his future never came within his 
own experience. It was the being of a fleeting moment of 
which alone he was aware, and aware even of that, we may 
add, but imperfectly ; and it is in this fragment or succession 
of fragments that at last we have reached the actual hero. 
In other words the real man has, if not essentially, at least 
mainly become a thing unknowable even by himself. And, 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 423 

again, for us on our side, he has become simply nothing at 
all, and what we are to mean when we speak of him I cannot 
imagine. But this whole restriction of the individual s 
reality was founded on prejudice, and it leads inevitably, 
as we have seen, to theoretical ruin. 

(b) If, however, leaving this error, we go on to fix other 
limits, and now confine the reality of Caesar within the 
period of his own lifetime, is our position more secure ? 
On the contrary we seem left at once without any principle 
at all unless the identification of Caesar with his perishing 
body is perhaps to serve as a principle. And in short our 
narrowing of his true being to the mere period in which he 
lived, seems once more to rest on prejudice. Based on no 
principle, it is in collision both with common sense and 
consistent theory, and may be finally dismissed. 

How far then, we ask, is the reality of the individual to 
extend ? It extends, I reply, in a word just so far as it 
works. As far as any man has knowledge, so far, I insist, 
the man himself really is there in what is known. And 
it seems even obvious that his reality goes out as far as 
what we call his influence extends. The real individual is 
in short that sphere which his activity doth fill . The 
question within what limits a man feels and is aware of 
himself, does not, we saw, when it is answered, give you the 
bounds of his reality. And, if it is objected that the limits 
have now become too indefinite to be fixed, I reply that 
I both recognize and accept this consequence. It is a conse 
quence which conflicts, so far as I see, with nothing better 
than prejudice. 

Why should I be forced to believe that the great minds 
of the past, where they influence me, are unreal, and are 
themselves simply dead ? Surely I am right to ask here 
for a reason, and for a reason that will bear scrutiny. Then 
you imagine also , I perhaps may hear, that a man s will 
really can survive his death. Long ago, I reply, I have 



424 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

urged that this imagination is the fact and the literal truth. 1 
A man s will is there where that will is carried out into 
existence. This of course does not imply that the man now 
feels and is directly aware of his will. It really denies 
that the man s will is confined within the sphere of his 
direct awareness. And, if this denial is not right, I am 
still waiting to learn upon what ground it is wrong. For 
I am acquainted with no ground which I at least could call 
rational. 

We must accept a like consequence with regard to dead 
Caesar s knowledge. A man actually must be there, wherever 
his knowledge extends, even if that knowledge is of the 
unseen present or of the past or future. So far as Caesar 
in his own day foresaw ours, his proper reality was not 
limited to his own world or time. He was and he is present 
there, wherever anything that the Universe contains was 
present to his mind. Caesar of course was not, and he is 
not, in our own time as we ourselves now are there. The 
distinction is obvious and to ignore it would be even absurd. 
On the other hand this separation only holds within limits, 
and it is perfectly compatible with the real presence of 
Caesar in his known object. The further result that Caesar s 
knowledge will affect the being of, and will make a difference 
to, his object, must again be affirmed. But as to the amount 
of such a difference of course nothing is implied. Differences 
may be there, and yet may fairly be called inappreciable. 
For certain of our purposes, that is, they may be taken 
as negligible. 2 

It is then not evident, it is far from being evident, that 
the real Caesar is unable to come within my knowledge. 
He enters into my judgement on the contrary just as I, if 
he had foreseen me, might have been an actual constituent 
of his known world. Such a view, I fully admit, brings with 

1 Mind, N.S., No. 44, p. n. Cf. Mind, O.S., No. 49, p. 21, for the 
question as to the object of desire. * Cf. Chap. XI, pp. 336-7. 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 425 

it its difficulties, but the denial of it, so far as I see, entails 
absolute disaster. There surely can be no knowledge of 
anything except what is real, nor about anything which 
itself falls outside our knowledge. 

We are here confronted by that error which consists 
in the sundering of ideal from real experience. If we know 
only by ideas, we never (it is an old argument) are able 
to reach reality, that reality, at least, which we find in direct 
awareness. But the whole division, when you take it thus 
as absolute separation, is false. We never anywhere know 
merely by ideas, and in the end a mere idea is but a ruinous 
abstraction, just as, on the other hand, wherever we have 
an object, our knowledge cannot fail to be ideal. That 
ideal construction in which for us the entire past consists, 
is based on and is inseparable from present feeling and 
perception. If these do not support and do not enter into 
that extension of themselves which is the past, that past 
has disappeared. You may insist that Caesar, at least as 
he knew himself, falls outside of our construction, but even 
this contention, understood as you understand it, is false. 
My idea of Caesar is not in the full sense an immediate 
experience of Caesar s mind, and as to this there is no question. 
But I have none the less an idea of Caesar s immediate 
experience, and my idea is true, and, so far as it goes, it is 
real, and actually, so far, it is Caesar s own direct awareness 
of himself. The difference here is not a wall which divides 
and isolates two worlds. The immediate experience and the 
idea of it, are, on the contrary, one in substance and in 
reality. Why they should not be so, I fail to perceive, and 
I am convinced, that if they are not so, our knowledge is 
illusion. 1 There is immediate experience assuredly which 

1 When (to use the instance given by Mr. Russell in his essay referred 
to already) we assert that Scott was the author of Waverley, what we 
presuppose as true and real is the idea of a unique individual man at 
such and such a determinate place in our unique real order of space 
and time. This idea, Mr. Russell contends, is not a constituent of any 



426 WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? CHAP. 

for itself is not an object, nor has any idea of its own being. 
But in the Universe as a whole any such falling apart of its 
complementary aspects is made good. And ex hyp. we 
are concerned here with a case where the immediate ex 
perience of the individual is known even to others. 

The past and future (once more to repeat this) are ideal 
constructions which extend the given present. And our 
present world itself is a construction based on feeling and 
perception, construction here meaning for us (the reader 
will note) a living outgrowth of the continuous reality. The 
past and future vary, and they have to vary, with the changes 
of the present, and, to any man whose eyes are open, such 
variation is no mere theory but is plain fact. But, though 
ideal, the past and future are also real, and, if they were 
otherwise, they could be nothing for judgement or knowledge. 
They are actual, but they must remain incomplete essen 
tially. Caesar s direct feeling and self-awareness are known 
by us really. Our knowledge does not go far, but, so far 
as it goes, our idea is the veritable reality. And, if it were 
anything else, then once more surely we could have no idea 
of Caesar. The immediate experience which Caesar had of 
himself, if you take that, not in its general character, but 
in its unbroken felt totality of particular detail, remains 

judgement. It is on the contrary, he says, something indeterminate which 
falls outside our proposition. 

Any such doctrine to my mind is both false and utterly ruinous. I urge 
that in connexion with present perception, and by an ideal extension 
of that, we get the idea of a unique series and order, with a unique man 
at a certain part of that series and order. Such an idea is incomplete, 
but it is positive and determinate, and most assuredly it does enter into 
our judgement. And, if this is not so, then what Mr. Russell has to show 
is how our judgement can possibly be anything but senseless, and again 
how in fact our judgement even is possible. 

With regard to Mr. Russell s contention that there are propositions 
without any denotation (p. 122), I of course reject this. The sense in 
which ail propositions have denotation, and all are existential, has been 
long ago discussed by me (I admit imperfectly) in my Principles of Logic. 
Cf. Chap. Ill of this volume. The general view advocated by Prof. 
Bosanquet and myself seems (I would venture to add) to be ignored by 
Meinong and again by Mr. Russell. 



xiv WHAT IS THE REAL JULIUS CAESAR ? 427 

inaccessible. It is a feeling which comes within our know 
ledge, but which we do not ourselves actually feel. Caesar s 
experience however, as thus inaccessible, does not fall within 
history. It is at once below, and (as some would add) above 
the temporal order of events. Our knowledge of the past and 
future is, in short, an actual and yet an imperfect knowledge 
of reality. In this we have seen that it is like the knowledge 
we possess of those persons who are nearest. And the same 
conclusion holds even as to that which we can know of our 
own selves. Any self-knowledge which contains a past or 
future of our selves, is ideal. Any distinction of our own 
self from that of others, and even any appearance of our 
self as an object to our own selves, will bear the same 
character. And, when you have narrowed your awareness 
to that which both in substance and in form is direct, have 
you anything left which you can fairly take as being by 
itself the genuine knowledge of your own self ? But into 
the discussion of this last point I will forbear to enter here. 1 
The real individual then (we find) does not fall merely 
within a moment, nor is he bounded by his birth and death, 
nor is he in principle confined to any limited period. He lives 
there wherever the past or future of our real order is 
present to his mind, and where in any other way whatever 
he influences or acts on it. If you complain that these 
limits are too indefinite, I will not ask you to reflect also 
whether the individual s reality does not pass even beyond 
the temporal order. I will content myself here with urging 
that at least any limit in time can in the end be seen to 
be arbitrary. We must treat the individual as real so far 
as anywhere for any purpose his being is appreciable. If 
this is to be inconsistent, it is still perhaps our least incon 
sistent course, and it is our way, our only way, of satisfactory 
knowledge. 

1 Cf. Appearance, and Chap. VII, p. 205. The reader will, I hope, 
bear in mind the difference between the felt basis on which the knowledge 
of self depends, and, on the other side, that knowledge itself. 



CHAPTER XV 
ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 

THE following pages will contain little beyond that which 
I have published already, 1 and I admit that on this subject 
I never had much to say. But, in view of misconceptions, 
I am led to venture here even on mere repetition. And there 
are points again where I desire to lay a different emphasis 
upon some aspects of the question. But I cannot hope that 
the positive result will seem satisfactory to most readers. 

I have not, I know, to repeat to those who are acquainted 
with my book that for me the Absolute is not God. God 
for me has no meaning outside of the religious consciousness, 
and that essentially is practical. The Absolute for me cannot 
be God, because in the end the Absolute is related to nothing, 
and there cannot be a practical relation between it and the 
finite will. When you begin to worship the Absolute or 
the Universe, and make it the object of religion, you in that 
moment have transformed it. It has become something 
forthwith which is less than the Universe. This is at least 
what I have advocated, and, if I have been misunderstood, 
I cannot admit that the fault is wholly mine. 

But from the above it follows that there is a fundamental 
inconsistency in religion. For, in any but an imperfect 
religion, God must be perfect. God must be at once the 
complete satisfaction of all finite aspiration, and yet on the 
other side must stand in relation with my will. Religion 
(at least in my view) is practical, and on the other hand in 
the highest religion its object is supreme goodness and power. 

1 Appearance, chapters xxv and xxvi. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 429 

We have a perfect real will, and we have my will, and the 
practical relation of these wills is what we mean by religion. 
And yet, if perfection is actually realized, what becomes of 
my will which is over against the complete Good Will ? 
While, on the other hand, if there is no such Will, what 
becomes of God ? The inconsistency seems irremovable and 
at first sight may threaten us with ruin. 

An obvious method of escape is to reject the perfection 
of God. God will still remain good, but in a limited sense. 
He will be reduced to a person who does the best that is 
in him with limited knowledge and power. Sufficiently 
superior to ourselves to be worshipped, God will nevertheless 
be imperfect, and, with this admitted imperfection, it will 
be said, our religion is saved. For the practical opposition 
and struggle between our will and God s, the hindrance or 
furtherance (as the case may be) of either will by the other, 
will be utter reality. It will be fact and truth not conditioned 
by anything standing higher than, or going beyond, itself. 

Now certainly on such terms religion still can persist, 
for there is practical devotion to an object which is taken, 
with all its defects, to be at a level far above our own. 
Such a religion even in one sense, with the lowering of the 
Deity, may be said to have been heightened. To help 
a God in his struggle, more or less doubtful and blind, 
with resisting Evil, is no inferior task. And if the issue 
were taken as uncertain, or if even further the end were 
known to be God s indubitable defeat and our inevitable 
disaster, our religion would have risen thereby and would 
have attained to the extreme of heroism. But on the other 
hand, if religion is considered as a whole and not simply 
from one side, it is not true that with the lowering of God 
religion tends to grow higher. A principal part of religion 
is the assured satisfaction of our good will, the joy and peace 
in that assurance, and the added strength which in the 
majority of men can come perhaps from no other source. 



430 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

To sacrifice altogether or in part this aspect means on the 
whole to set religion down to a lower level. And it is an 
illusion to suppose that imperfection, once admitted into 
the Deity, can be stopped precisely at that convenient limit 
which happens to suit our ideas. The assertor of an im 
perfect God is, whether he knows it or not, face to face with 
a desperate task or a forlorn alternative. He must try to 
show (how I cannot tell) that the entire rest of the Universe, 
outside his limited God, is known to be still weaker and more 
limited. Or he must appeal to us to follow our Leader 
blindly and, for all we know, to a common and overwhelming 
defeat. In either case the prospect offered entails, I should 
say, to the religious mind an unquestionable loss to religion. 

And yet it will be urged that we have ourselves agreed 
that all other ways of escape are closed. For, if God is 
perfect, we saw that religion must contain inconsistency, 
and it was by seeking consistency that we were driven to 
a limited God. But our assumption here, I reply, is precisely 
that which we should have questioned from the first. Is there 
any need for our attempt to avoid self-contradiction ? Has 
religion really got to be consistent theoretically ? Is ultimate 
theoretical consistency a thing which is attainable anywhere ? 
And, at all events, is it a thing attainable in life and in 
practice ? This is the fundamental question upon which the 
whole issue depends. And I need not pause here to ask 
whether it is quite certain that, when God is limited, the 
Universe becomes theoretically consistent ? 

I have elsewhere discussed the question of theoretical 
consistency. 1 With a certain exception (and how far this 
is an exception I have explained) I have argued that all 
truth must be imperfect. Truth cannot in the end become 
consistent and ultimately true, but, for all that, it is satis 
factory in varying degrees. The idea that in the special 
sciences, and again in practical life, we have absolute truths, 

1 Chap. IX. See also the Index of this volume. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 431 

must be rejected as illusory. We are everywhere dependent 
on what may be called useful mythology, and nothing other 
than these inconsistent ideas could serve our various pur 
poses. These ideas are false in the sense that they are not 
ultimately true. But they are true in the sense that all that 
is lacking to them is a greater or less extent of completion, 
which, the more true they are, would the less transform 
their present character. And, in proportion as the need 
to which they answer is wider and deeper, these ideas already 
have attained actual truth. 

Viewed thus the question as to what may be called religious 
ideas is seriously changed. To insist on ultimate theoretical 
consistency, which in no case can we reach, becomes once 
for all ridiculous. The main question is as to the real nature 
and end of religion, and as to the respective importance of 
those aspects which belong to it. The ideas which best 
express our highest religious needs and their satisfaction, 
must certainly be true. Ultimate truth they do not possess, 
and exactly what in the end it would take to make them 
perfect we cannot know. But in this respect they are like 
the whole body of special truths attainable by us, or indeed 
by any other possible finite beings, whether in this life 
and world or in any other. What we have to consider is 
the relative importance of that purpose which the ideas 
serve, and how well, viewed from all sides, they aid and 
express its satisfaction. 

If the object of religion is to realize in the fullest sense 
in my will the supremacy of goodness, then the ideas and 
the practices called for by this object are true and right. 
The test in every case is to ask whether our ideas and prac 
tices really answer to our need, while to judge them from the 
outside by applying some other criterion is mistaken and 
dangerous. This I take to be the principle, but I cannot 
here discuss doubts as to the genuine essence of religion, 
and still less can I offer to decide on those particular ideas 



432 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

and practices which religion warrants or would forbid. How 
far these issues can be settled otherwise than by practical 
development I indeed do not know, and in any case I recog 
nize in myself no special competence to deal with them. 
What I would emphasize is the principle which has been 
laid down above. If religion is practical, then it is certain 
that my will must count. On the other side, if goodness is 
to be realized, except imperfectly, goodness must be master 
of the world. The ideas that are to express this implicated 
whole must be more or less inconsistent and, in a word, 
mythological. But the demand for a theoretical consistency 
which mutilates the substance of religion, starts from error 
in principle and leads in the result to practical discord or 
sterility. 

I will touch briefly on two points which I have elsewhere 
discussed, laying at that time perhaps an undue emphasis 
on one aspect of the matter. I refer to the personality 
of God and the immortality of the soul. I shall assume 
here, rightly or wrongly, that a personal God is not the 
ultimate truth about the Universe, and in that ultimate 
truth would be included and superseded by something higher 
than personality. A God that can say to himself I as 
against you and me, is not in my judgement defensible 
as the last and complete truth for metaphysics. But, that 
being admitted, the question remains as to what God is 
for religion. The religious consciousness must represent to 
itself the Good Will in its relation with mine. It must 
express both our difference and our unity. And must not, 
it will be asked, that representation take the form of a 
personal God ? I answer that to insist here on must 
to myself seems untenable, 1 but on the other hand I am fully 
prepared to accept may . But there is one condition on 

1 The doctrine that there cannot be religion without a personal God is 
to my mind certainly false. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 433 

which I have to lay stress. The real presence of God s will 
in mine, our actual and literal satisfaction in common, must 
not in any case be denied or impaired. This is a religious 
truth far more essential than God s personality , and 
hence that personality must be formulated, no matter how 
inconsistently, so as to agree with this truth and to support 
it. But, apart from this condition, how far and in what 
sense we are justified in ascribing personality to God I have 
no wish to discuss. Whatever ideas really are required in 
practice by the highest religion are true. In my judgement 
their truth is not contradicted by metaphysics, so long only 
as they will not offer themselves as satisfying our last 
intellectual demands. And exactly how religious truths 
are to be in the end supplemented and corrected, I would 
repeat that, as I understand the matter, metaphysics 
cannot say. Within the outline which it takes as real 
there is room for all truth, and all truth assuredly is com 
pleted. But the answer in concrete detail is beyond the 
finite intellect, and is even beyond any mere under 
standing. 

Before proceeding I may warn the reader against a dan 
gerous mistake. It may be said that, if anywhere, we find 
personality in religion. Personal striving and discord, 
satisfaction and peace, are essential to that experience. 
And hence, if there is a difficulty as to the personality of 
God, why not avoid this by confining all that is personal 
to the side of man ? Why not insist, it will be urged, not 
merely that God is self-conscious only in me, but also that 
this self-consciousness in the end is merely mine ? Any 
such contention must however be rejected for a double 
reason. Religion, in the first place, is throughout a two- 
sided affair. Hence to place on one side (whichever that 
side is) the felt struggle and harmony, and the consciousness 
of unity and discord, is to remove the essence of religion. 
How far we may go in representing mythologically each 

1574 F f 



434 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

self, man and God, as one over against the other, as I have 
said, I do not discuss. That certain special feelings must 
be located each in one side only, seems obvious. But on 
the other hand the religious consciousness is a whole which 
includes and is superior to the opposition of its subordinate 
elements. The terror of sin, for instance, and the wrath 
of God belong inseparably to one substantial unity, and 
this unity further can be experienced, can be known and 
felt in some measure as overriding each aspect. This self- 
conscious totality can neither be divided, nor yet attributed 
merely to one side or the other. Further, and in the second 
place, to assume certainty and reality in the case at any 
rate of my personality seems quite untenable. To identify 
myself with my feeling centre would be, for example, to 
fall into ruinous error. For within that centre is experi 
enced the real presence of the whole Universe, including 
God and my self ; and, further, that self is but a limited con 
struction, more or less ill-defined and precarious, built one- 
sidedly out of materials which fall within my centre. This 
is the conclusion at least for which I have contended else 
where, 1 and which I have been forced to regard as certain. 
We encounter here the main hindrance to the adoption 
of a view of religion such as that which I have accepted. 
On the assumption that individual men, yourself and my 
self, are real each in his own right, to speak of God as 
having reality in the religious consciousness, I agree, is 
nonsense. God must be another independent individual, 
and, if not that, is not real at all. On the other hand, 
unless this whole assumption is rejected or ignored, the 
essential content of the religious consciousness must, I sub 
mit, be lost or denied. And the independent reality of the 
individual, when we examine it, is in truth mere illusion. 
Apart from the community what are separate men ? It is 
the common mind within him which gives reality to the 

1 Appearance, and cf. Chap. XIV of this volume. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 435 

human being, and taken by himself, whatever else he is, 
he is not human. When he opposes himself to the com 
munity it is still the whole which lives and moves in discord 
within him, for by himself he is an abstraction without life 
or force. If this is true of the social consciousness in its 
various forms, it is true certainly no less of that common 
mind which is more than social. In art, in science and in 
religion, the individual by himself remains still an abstrac 
tion. The finite minds that in and for religion form one 
spiritual whole, have indeed in the end no visible em 
bodiment, and yet, except as members in an invisible 
community, they are nothing real. For religion in short, 
if the one indwelling Spirit is removed, there are no 
spirits left. 

If you can deny social reality, if you can maintain, for 
example, that the State is a mere aggregate or abstraction, 
and can affirm that the human individual taken by himself 
is still there and still human, then at least you are con 
sistent. And it is but a consequence when you refuse also 
to admit the reality of the one spirit which is present in 
religion. But otherwise I fail to understand how your 
difficulty is rational. For me, if the individual by himself 
anywhere is a fact, the whole Universe is wrecked, while, 
from the other side, if anywhere the community is real, 
the reality of God in religion seems a matter of course. 
The Supreme Will for good which is experienced within 
finite minds is an obvious fact, and it is the doubt as to 
anything in the whole world being more actual than this, 
which seems most to call for inquiry. If you turn this 
indwelling will into a mere relation between yourself and 
another individual, religion has perished and the world is so 
far destroyed. The question which, so much being admitted, 
you can go on to ask, is whether and in what sense the 
reality of the immanent Will is also personal. 

I have stated already that I cannot accept a personal 

Ff 2 



436 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

God as an ultimate truth. 1 I cannot, for one thing, deny 
the relation in religion between God and finite minds, and 
how to make this relation external, or again to include it 
in God s personality, I do not know. The highest Reality, 
so far as I see, must be super-personal. At the same time 
to many minds practical religion seems to call for the belief 
in God as a separate individual. And, where truly that 
belief is so required, I can accept it as justified and true, 
but only if it is supplemented by other beliefs which really 
contradict it. And these other beliefs, I must add, are 
more vital for religion. A God who has made this strange 
and glorious Nature outside of which he remains, is an 
idea at best one-sided. Confined to this idea we lose large 
realms of what is beautiful and sublime, and even for 
religion our conception of goodness suffers. Unless the 
Maker and Sustainer becomes also the indwelling Life and 
Mind and the inspiring Love, how much of the Universe is 
impoverished ! And it is only by an illusion which is really 
stupid that we can feel ourselves into, and feel ourselves 
one with, that which, if not lifeless, is at least external. 
But how this necessary * pantheism is to be made con 
sistent with an individual Creator I myself do not perceive. 
The resulting tendency to seek a refuge in polytheism I of 
course understand, but the belief that in this way we escape 
inconsistency remains to myself unintelligible. 
The so-called pantheism which breathes through much 

1 I do not think that the facts of dual or multiple personality can help 
as here. It is, I believe, found that the more inclusive of these per 
sonalities is, at least in general, the lower. And it is perhaps the case 
that the opposite relation is excluded by a principle. Still I do not deny 
the possibility of a higher inclusive will which can say I to itself, whether, 
for instance, in the case of the State or some other human community, 
or again in the case, say, of some planet or even of the Universe. The 
difficulty, however, remains that any such will must be finite, and that, 
when you try to make it more, you pass at once into another form of 
being and knowledge. God s ways, in short, must be so different from 
our ways that in the end, we may say, we find them cease even to be 
God s ways. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 437 

of our poetry and art is no less vitally implied in religious 
practice. Banish all that is meant by the indwelling 
Spirit of God, in its harmony and discord with the finite 
soul, and what death and desolation has taken the place of 
living religion ! But how this Spirit can be held consist 
ently with the external individual Person, is a problem 
which has defied solution. To confine ourselves to the 
latter is, in principle, to bring disaster on our religion, and 
in practice tends to empty and to narrow it by an attempt 
at consistent one-sidedness. Or, shrinking from that, we 
have either to fall back on some irrational mythology, or 
else, not troubling ourselves much about a creed, play fast 
and loose, as suits the occasion, with our personal God. 
For the reality of God means his own actual presence within 
individual souls, and, apart from this presence, both he 
and they are no more than abstractions. Hence in genuine 
religion you have a pantheism , which is not less there 
because it expresses itself by what in fact is an inconsistent 
polytheism. And you can break with this only by an 
individualism which reduces God to one finite person among 
others, a person whose influence remains utterly external. 
If in short for religion you need a personal God, you must 
accept also a creed which is not consistent. And, so far 
as you refuse, the price you pay is injury or ruin to 
religion. 

The difficulties in the way of any view such as mine will 
always be serious. It will recommend itself to few except 
those who have realized that on any opposite view the 
difficulties are worse. If you can accept individualism 
the doctrine that I and you, apart from any substantial 
unity, are real then what I have to offer must be rejected. 
But on the other side how much is implied in its rejection 
I have tried to show. This may be called the first obstacle, 
and a second obstacle lies in the demand everywhere for 
strict theoretical consistency. No one is likely to content 



438 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

himself with the doctrine which I advocate, if he believes 
that there is no truth except the truth which is self-consistent 
and ultimate, and that this absolute truth is required for 
religion. And the idea that Absolutism, as I understand 
it, can fully warrant relative and inconsistent truths, will 
to many seem even monstrous. This pursuit of consistency, 
however, must lead to fatal one-sidedness. We may have an 
over-emphasis on the universal aspect, and with this will 
come the belittling of what is individual and personal ; or, 
on the other hand, with a stress laid on the practical struggle, 
we arrive at a dualism by which the Universe will be in 
principle torn apart. But when a blind devotion to con 
sistency is seen to involve either in the end worse incon 
sistency, or else the mutilation of religion, there will be 
perhaps more readiness to be content with that relative 
truth which is based on Absolutism. 

I will now pass on to say a few words about what is called 
immortality . I do not think that my individual exist 
ence, whether before my birth or after my death, could 
possibly be disproved by metaphysics, and in favour of each 
existence have been urged metaphysical arguments which 
I do not discuss. 1 But on the other side any such existence, 
so far as established by metaphysics, would, I should say, 
be of a character which for religion is irrelevant and worth 
less. 2 What is wanted for religion is not the mere con 
tinuance, in either direction beyond this life, of something 
which in a sense may be called myself. The main demand 
of religion is for the assurance that the individual, as one 
with the Good, has so far conquered death, and that what 
we call this life with its before and after is not the main 
reality. If and so far as it is necessary in the interest of 

1 On this subject see Dr. McTaggart s Studies in Hegelian Cosmology 
and Some Dogmas of Religion. Compare also the following chapter of 
this volume. 

1 There are some further remarks in this chapter, Supplementary Note B. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 439 

religion to represent this fundamental truth in the form of 
prolonged existence, I approve and I adhere to such a 
doctrine. But for myself I feel the gravest doubt with 
regard to such a necessity. 

I have no desire to discuss once again the arguments for 
what is called immortality. From a religious point of view 
their value, at least to my mind, seems limited. 1 What 
appeals to me, if I may be allowed to repeat it, is the demand 
of personal affection, the wish that, where a few creatures 
love one another, nothing whether before or after death 
should be changed. But how can I insist that such a 
demand (whatever one may dare to fondly hope or dream) 
is endorsed by religion ? And the rest of the arguments 
leave me not merely unconvinced but cold. On the other 
side I readily admit a difference, and, if you please, a defect 
in my temperament, and a difference also, and, if you like 
to say so, a weakness in my imaginative power. And 
wherever after due consideration it is found by any man 
or any set of men that religion calls for a genuine individual 
personal existence after death, I am on the side of such 
a doctrine. I think that the belief, so far, is right, and, 
under this condition, may be called true. Exactly what 
its truth comes to in the end however, I think that we 
cannot know, and, so far as we are religious, I am sure 
that we ought not much to care. And I must insist that 
the above demand is to be made really in the interest of 
religion, and not, as far more often happens, in the interest 
really of something quite different. 

We are encountered here once more by the unfortunate 

1 The insatiable divine discontent within our finite personalities, accord 
ing to Prof. Royce (William James, pp. 296-7), calls for and implies 
satisfaction ; and therefore we are to have an opportunity for an endless 
series of deeds . As this, at least to some minds, appears to be the evident 
condemnation of both God and themselves to the fate of Tantalus, and as 
Prof. Royce can hardly be unaware of this result, I am once more led to 
wonder whether on this question of personal immortality there is much 
use in argument. 



440 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

ambiguity of religion. The fears of the old savage spirit- 
world, with all its terror and all its cruelty, survive deep- 
rooted in our nature, and by some persons still are taken as 
religious. And with them remains the old savage demand 
for feasting and drink, for hunting and fighting, and for 
concubines and wives after death. In the sense, however, 
which I would urge that religion really should bear, these 
fears and desires are not in the very least religious. They 
are on the contrary that which a true religion aims to 
subjugate and control, as being in the main superstitions 
contrary to our best human interests. Humanity has 
progressed, so far as it has progressed, not by the ideas and 
arts of the medicine man but by life and work in the day 
light. And to seek for truth and satisfaction elsewhere 
I take to be the essence of superstition. It is imperative, 
I would once more urge, that, before we seek to deal with 
questions such as these, we should endeavour to decide on 
the sense in which religion is to be used. 1 

1 The same remark is again applicable to any mere curiosity as to 
spirits , or as to our own condition after death. Such curiosity is not 
in the proper sense religious at all. I am of course not condemning any 
kind of scientific inquiry, so far as it is scientific. And I fully recognize 
that, for instance, in some present attempts to communicate with the 
dead there is much which deserves sympathy. Though anything like 
necromancy to myself is most distasteful, I cannot doubt the genuineness, 
at least in part, of the motive which prompts these attempts. But there 
is too much tendency, I think, to forget certain aspects of the matter. 
And the first point is that mere personal survival and continuance has in 
itself absolutely nothing to do with true religion. A man can be as 
irreligious (for anything at least that I know) in a hundred lives as in one. 
And the second point is this. If you are to treat the evidence scientifi 
cally, you must divest your mind of preconceived ideas. But, when 
this is done, and when we are satisfied that we converse with beings 
other than living men, the question as to what these beings are at once 
becomes formidable. The old reply, still given, I believe, by orthodox 
Catholicism, has at least to be considered. The inquiry which is opened 
is in short not altogether a pleasant one, and the ordinary course, so far 
as I know, is to avoid it blindly. What I myself wrote on this head 
some time ago (Fortnightly Review, December 1885) is, I recognize, one 
sided and unsatisfactory ; but it contains, I think, doubts which are far 
easier to ignore than to remove. For instance, to discuss the question 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 44* 

In conclusion I should like to touch briefly on the differ 
ence between morality and religion. From the point of 
view of mere duty, and so far as merely that aspect is 
concerned, I find no difference at all between religion and 
morality. True religion, it is obvious, calls upon us to 
be morally good, and on the other side to limit the sphere 
of moral duty is impossible. But in morality, and still 
more in religion, there is much beside and beyond this 
aspect of mere duty, and hence between religion and 
morality there is a real difference. The whole emotional 
and perceptional side of each should certainly issue in 
practice, and you may add that in each case the existence 
of the entire experience is itself the object of a duty. But 
the experience itself both in religion and morality, when 
you take it as a whole with all its perceptional and emotional 
elements, is a much larger thing than that special relation 
which we call duty. I cannot here attempt to set out 
fully the contents in each case, and will merely point to 
what seems to be the root of their difference. In morality 
proper the moral ideal is, so far, not viewed as existing. 
I do not mean that it cannot be embodied, or that in any 
case (Chap. Ill, pp. 31 foil.) it is really in every sense a mere 
idea ; but still this ideal must be taken as a mere idea so 
far as concerns its practical relation to my world and to 
me. The moral idea is a to be which is not yet . But 
in religion the ideal good must be taken as real, though, 
on the other side, as also in part not realized. Where for 
us there is only an idea, I do not see how it is possible to 
have religion. Morality, it is true, can make a religion of 
morality. It can contemplate its ideal, whether as actually 
embodied or as mere idea, and can entertain towards its 
ideal those emotions which we call religious. But, so far 

of the identification of a spirit without any regard to what is involved 
logically in the identification of a man, seems to be still the common way, 
and to myself it still seems to be ridiculous. 



442 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

as it does this, it necessarily regards its object as somehow 
real. It has so far ceased to be mere morality and has 
passed into an imperfect form of religion. 1 

I do not suppose that what I have said above with regard 
to God and Immortality has given satisfaction. The reader 

1 Some further remarks may perhaps be offered to the reader. If you 
contemplate the realized good as a perceived, individual, self-existing 
object, it is beautiful. To be so contemplated it must of course be loosened 
from its context, be taken out of its space and time, and have thus become 
eternal. And it is possible so to take an actual person or action. But 
with beauty there is no essential relation of my will to the object. 

It is otherwise with the object of religion. That, no matter how far 
it stands above the world of events, is taken as the felt consummation of 
my whole being, in which my self is at one with this utter reality. My 
will is included in the object, and included not by way of relation, but in 
felt intimate unity in which it is satisfied. But religion has also another 
side, and here my will is related to the object as to a superior will, and 
can even conflict with that object. This aspect of relation is essential to 
religion. It depends on, and is subordinate to, the former aspect in 
which the entire reality, including my satisfied will, is already there in 
the object and is felt as mine and as absolute. But, though subordinate, 
this feature of practical relation and of possible discord is necessary for 
religion, and serves to distinguish it from that which is merely aesthetic. 
The aesthetic object fails to comprehend and so to demand the whole of 
my being. 

The object in religion must be idealized so as to be taken out of time, 
and on the other side it must be no mere idea but be real. And, in the 
sense of utterly satisfactory, the object is absolute. But, so far as these 
characters are preserved, the object can be finite. A man s country, 
the view of his native place or of his home, may, for example, be objects 
for religion, if the man feels that this reality is my consummation . 
The finite reality is taken thus out of time and, we may say, as absolute. 
But there is here a contradiction in principle between the characters of 
absoluteness and finitude. And, as religion develops, it is seen that the 
true object of religion can in the end be nothing finite. 

For morality, in the stricter sense, the object (in this unlike the re 
ligious object) is not real. Or, if and so far as the moral ideal is taken as 
real, this ideal, if it is to remain moral, must not appear. as the complete 
realized Good. Wherever the moral ideal is viewed as existing, it may, 
so far, become beautiful, and in any case it tends to pass into a form of 
worshipped reality, where mere morality is transcended. Morality, in 
the sense of duty, emphasizes that aspect of relation and process which 
religion admits only as overridden by the aspect of realized Good. Thus 
the moral failure to realize a duty becomes in religion the falling away 
from one s essential being and reality. And everywhere religion must be 
taken as the completion and fulfilment of what is moral. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 443 

too probably has condemned it as evasive and trifling, or 
even perhaps as dishonest. But this is a sentence which 
he would have to pass not only here but upon the entire 
way in which, after and like others, I have found myself 
compelled to regard the Universe. To us the Universe is 
a living whole which, apart from violence and partial death, 
refuses to divide itself into well-defined objects and clean- 
cut distinctions. On the other hand these definite objects 
and hard distinctions are demanded by that which counts 
itself as sound sense and clear thinking. And the demand 
is right, and its satisfaction is necessary and indispensable. 
But unfortunately this necessary process and its indis 
pensable result must mutilate and distort the living whole. 
And the consequence is that, as that unity is represented, 
its divisions clash not only with one another but even 
internally within themselves. And life as a whole is liveable 
because we select arbitrarily those ideas which seem best 
to suit the occasion, while all the rest of our sound sense 
and clear thinking is for the occasion ignored. But, where 
from any cause we cannot do this, we fall into collisions for 
which we possess and can find no remedy. One man will 
insist on a God palpable as is the friend whom he holds by 
the hand, while another man upon the same principle 
sweeps the heavens with his telescope and finds that God 
exists nowhere. To one of us there is no religion unless 
Jesus was preternaturally born of a virgin, rose with his 
dead body from the grave and ascended with it to the sky. 
While another man, finding that, except in vital relation 
with the mental furniture of the early Christians, you have 
no material by which to reconstitute the historical facts, 
concludes forthwith that Christianity is no better than 
humbug. But if such flagrant inconsistency or helpless 
collision seems everywhere the necessary result of clear 
thinking, that result cannot by every one be accepted as 
final. On the other hand, when we attempt to return to 



444 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

experience and to do justice to life as a whole, and to follow 
the life of that whole in its undivided movements, we are 
driven everywhere to set down as relative those ideas which 
once seemed absolute and independent. And, in our effort 
to keep hold of all ideas of experience at once, we lose our 
grasp of fixed points and our base on the solid ground. 
Our dividing-lines and landmarks are obscured, and, instead 
of reality, we seem to find nothing but that which for ever 
shifts and evades us. And, if we claim to have passed 
beyond the collisions of one-sided thinking into an intel 
lectual world which has come back nearer to fact and to 
life, our claim will seem to be not so much ill-founded or 
exaggerated as insane or dishonest. For myself I must 
confess that I see no way, whether now or in the future, by 
which the clear thinking which calls itself Common Sense 
and is satisfied with itself, can ever be reconciled to meta 
physics. By metaphysics I do not mean the doctrine of 
any one school, but I include under that term all speculation 
which is at once resolved to keep its hold upon all sides of 
fact, and upon the other hand to push, so far as it can, 
every question to the end. For Common Sense it will 
remain that the final result of reflection will seem not only 
out of harmony with experience but in collision with sound 
thought. And for Common Sense also it will remain 
that we shall be able to live only so far as, wherever we feel 
it to be convenient, we can forget to think. 

I cannot believe that a general remedy for our disease is 
to be found in the study of Metaphysics. My own experi 
ence, it is true, might tend to support that idea. Meta 
physical speculation has led me, if I may speak of myself, 
neither to scepticism nor to pessimism. It has on the con 
trary, I hope, inspired me with a higher and a wider con 
fidence, and a better-grounded sympathy with all that is 
best in life. It has in principle broken down the unnatural 
barrier between beauty and truth, between poetry and fact. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 445 

But still even in metaphysics it is difficult to say how far 
conclusions rest upon personal feeling. And for me to 
assume that the majority of students will ever be able to 
justify, each for himself, a result so affirmative, would not 
be reasonable. On the contrary I am bound to suppose 
that for many persons metaphysics would issue, I do not 
say in conclusions abhorrent to our best instincts, but in 
theoretical scepticism. By theoretical scepticism I certainly 
do not understand a positive doctrine about our knowledge 
and its necessary limits. That would be a result to which 
I must once again be allowed to apply the epithet of stupid. 
I mean by scepticism the mere denial of any known satisfac 
tory doctrine, together with the personal despair of any future 
attainment (cf. p. 118). And I must admit that with many 
persons this may be the intelligent outcome of a sincere 
metaphysical endeavour. 

Such a scepticism, I would add, if not the best issue, may 
serve at least as a deliverance from spiritual oppression. 
For it may free us on every side from the tyranny of intel 
lectual prejudices, and in our own living concerns from the 
superstitious idolatry of abstract consistency. 1 For such 
a scepticism all our truths without exception are mere 
working ideas. And this of course does not mean that all 
truths are practical . It means that our ideas are there 
to serve our living interests, of whatever kind these may be, 
whether practical or otherwise, and that our ideas are to be 
subject to those interests which they serve. Hence any 
claim on the part of these ideas to dictate to us on the 
ground of consistency or of Common Sense , may at once 
be dismissed as ridiculous. And, with this, there comes in 
principle an end to the worship of abstractions, abstractions 
whether of the school or of the market-place. And there 
comes the perception that prose and fact may be fanciful 
in a more extravagant and in a lower sense than poetry or 
1 Cf. pp. 123-4, 132-3. 



446 ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE CHAP. 

art. Everything in short in life will be tried, and con 
demned or justified, solely on the ground of our highest 
human interests. 

Such a result, where there is nothing better, may be 
welcome, and yet such a result is not in general enough. 
For theoretical scepticism, if it is to have no bad side, 
demands (we must not forget) some strength of character. 
And, apart from this, there is a desire deep-seated in our 
nature for what we call truth, and for the intelligent and 
rational justification of our best instincts. We want and 
we require in short some kind of working creed, and this 
requirement is hardly met by any mere collection of working 
ideas. And where there are no metaphysics, or where meta 
physics have led to no positive result, such a doctrine 
apparently would have to rest on what we call religion, 
individual or general. 

There is, I should say, a need, and there is even a certain 
demand, for a new religion. We want a creed to recognize 
and justify in due proportion all human interests, and at 
the same time to supply the intellect with that to which it 
can hold with confidence. Whether we shall get this new 
religion, and, if so, how, whether by modification of what 
exists or in some other way, I am unable to surmise. But 
it is not, so far as I see, in the power of philosophy to supply 
this general demand. And I must doubt the possibility of 
a religious doctrine able in the end to meet our metaphysical 
requirement of ultimate consistency. All that, in my 
opinion, we can reasonably desire, is on one side a general 
faith, and on the other side such a critical philosophy as 
would be able in some sense to justify and to support this 
faith. I think, that is (to use a word perhaps anticipated 
by the reader), that any positive metaphysical doctrine 
must remain esoteric , while a religion condemned to be 
esoteric is but a refuge amid general destitution. Therefore 
a religious belief founded otherwise than on metaphysics, 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 447 

and a metaphysics able in some sense to justify that creed, 
seem to me what is required to fulfil our wishes. And, 
though this fulfilment is a thing which I cannot myself 
expect to see, and though the obstacles in its way are 
certainly great, on the other hand I cannot regard it as 
impossible. 



CHAPTER XV 
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE A 

ON THE REALITY AND PERSONALITY OF GOD 

I AM anxious on this subject to be frank with the reader, 
and to answer plainly, so far as I can, or decline to answer, 
his questions. But there is a difficulty here which the 
reader may perhaps fail to apprehend. His questions, as 
he asks them, may imply certain beliefs on his part which 
I do not share. This is eminently the case with regard to 
God s reality. The reader perhaps may be sure that a 
thing must be real or unreal, that, whatever things are real, 
are real alike and equally, and that, in short, with regard 
to reality it is always a case of Yes or No, and never of 
more and less. Now, if I am forced to take reality as having 
thus only one sense, I must reply that God is not real at all, 
any more than you and I are real. Nothing to me in this 
sense is real except the Universe as a whole ; for I cannot 
take God as including, or as equivalent to, the entire 
Universe. This answer is the result of forcing me to reply 
to a question which I regard as erroneous. But, if on the 
other hand I am allowed to hold to degrees in reality, the 
conclusion at once is different. God to me is now so much 
more real than you or myself that to compare God s reality 
with ours would be ridiculous. This conclusion to my 
mind is the truth ; but how can I give this reply, if 
I am asked a question which really implies that my truth 
is an error ? Obviously, if we are to understand one 
another here, the reader and myself must begin by coming 
first to some agreement as to the meaning of reality. 

When we pass from this source of ambiguity to inquire 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 449 

as to the personality of God, our difficulties are not lessened. 
And the idea that any and every question asked on this 
point is a plain question admitting of a plain answer, seems 
thoroughly untenable. Let me, however, begin by saying 
that, if I exclude the evidence of the religious consciousness, 
I, even then, do not deny the possibility or the existence 
of one or more finite persons, such as to serve as the object 
of religion, or at least of some religion. (A person, I should 
add, to me must be finite, or must cease to be personal.) 
But the absence of such a denial, the reader will at once 
see, amounts almost to nothing, and leaves us, so far, 
without any actual object for religion. We have so far 
excluded what, to me at least, is the only evidence which 
counts. For the main interest and the genuine claim of the 
religious consciousness is, to my mind, the ground on which 
everything here must be based. Whatever ideas are re 
quired to satisfy the above interest and claim, must, I think, 
be true, true, that is, really though not absolutely. Hence 
it is solely by an appeal to the religious consciousness that, 
in my judgement, the question as to God s personality must 
be answered. 

If the reader can go with me thus far, he may further 
agree that to define the exact nature of the true religious 
interest becomes at once most important. Any unstated 
difference of opinion here will probably lead to ambiguity 
which obscures the issue and tends to vitiate the result. 
And I may perhaps remind the reader that in my view the 
essence of religion is practical. 1 

If now, passing onwards, I am asked if the personality 
of God is required for religion, in the sense that without it 
religion is ruined, I can answer at once No. Such a state 
ment would be to me not only false but absurd. One may, 
however, maintain in another sense that the personality of 
God is a necessary truth. If without that belief religion 

1 Appearance, pp. 439 foil. 
1574 G g 



450 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE A CHAP. 

remains imperfect, and if, on the other hand, religion s 
claim must be perfectly satisfied, it will follow that the 
above belief is true, and in a sense is even necessary for 
religion. The argument used here, I should agree, is, as an 
argument, sound, but whether the conclusion is true or 
false is a question of fact. The answer depends on the 
interpretation of actual religious experience in the present, 
in the past, and, I should be inclined to add, in the 
future. And I do not myself propose here to offer any 
answer. I prefer to leave this question to be discussed 
by others. 

There is, however, still an ambiguity to which I would 
invite the reader s attention. Suppose that we have 
settled the definition of personality, and have further agreed 
that God must be personal, there none the less may be 
doubt as to a point which seems important if not vital. 
How much personality and of what kind are we to ascribe 
to God ? The personality, for instance, that is proved in 
a philosophical treatise, may, so far as religion is concerned, 
be no more than impersonal. And it is not simply the 
reality perhaps of a special Providence, but the whole 
matter of personal intercourse, love and friendship, which is 
really here at stake. It is not merely one of the doctrines 
of religion, but the central doctrine, the motive for all 
religious exercises, that God cares for every one of us 
individually, that he knows Jane Smith by name, and what 
she is earning a week, and how much of it she devotes to 
keeping her poor paralysed old mother. l I propose to 
leave the issue thus described to be dealt with by others, 
but I would ask the reader to agree that it must be faced 
in any satisfactory treatment of God s personality. 

Finally I must insist that we are dealing here, as every 
where, with that which in the end is beyond us. Any 

1 Hamerton, Human Intercourse, p. 166. The whole context is well 
worth reading. 



xv ON GOD AND THE ABSOLUTE 451 

conclusion to which we come has another side, which more 
or less perforce we omit, and every conclusion is defective 
in a way the nature and extent of which we cannot exactly 
specify. A doctrine such as the personality of God may 
be true, as giving in an imperfect and incorrect manner 
a most essential feature of reality which cannot as well be 
given otherwise. And the doctrine may be necessary, 
perhaps, as being for a certain vital purpose the best idea 
that we can conceive, and the supreme belief on which we 
have to act. But, however this may be, if we go further 
and take personality as being the last word about the 
Universe, we fall, in my opinion, into serious error. 



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B 

ON OUR FEAR OF DEATH AND DESIRE FOR 
IMMORTALITY 

IT may perhaps assist the reader if I add to this chapter 
some further remarks on what is called the fear of death 
and the desire for immortality. I do not doubt that there 
is here some difference in our individual natures and senti 
ments, but the great divergence of opinion among us cannot, 
it seems to me, be justified on this ground. It rests mainly 
on what I am forced to regard as confusion and mental 
impotence. And it may be well for me perhaps to begin by 
setting down my own feelings, so far as I know them. 

Certainly in a sense I fear death and desire future life. 
I shrink, perhaps more than I ought,- from the pain of bodily 
destruction, from the cruelty of severance, and the infinite 
sadness of being torn from what one loves. And, the older 
I grow, the more I recoil from any forced venture in the 
dark. But I recognize that religion, if it were effective in 
me, would master these feelings. And in any case I know 
nothing of what is called the horror of ceasing to be. Any 

eg 2 



452 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B. OUR FEAR CHAP. 

fear of annihilation which may rise in my mind, seems in 
me to come merely from a momentary lapse into thoughtless 
confusion. 

Again, as to personal survival, I should wish to survive if 
my future life were to be desirable, and I on my side to 
remain much what I am now. But, if my future life is to 
be undesirable, I am of course averse from it. And, if I am 
not to continue to be much what I am, the future life, being 
the life of another man, does not personally concern me. 

I have spoken already of the hope that after death we 
might still, or once more, be young, and be with those with 
whom we would be, the hope that decay and parting are 
after all hardly real. If this could be more than a hope, 
then death, I suppose, would have lost its worst terror. 
Apart from this, I should welcome of course the chance to 
undo some evil that I have done if, that is, I did not fear 
that perhaps I might go on to do more, and if the hope of 
individual perfection appeared to me to be anything but 
insane. If I believed that whatever I do now would make 
all the difference to me hereafter, that of course might make 
me more careful; though to be sanguine about a future 
where all, no matter what, is retrievable, might possibly 
produce a different effect. And the idea that by my 
misdeeds I may be prolonging indefinitely an evil series of 
lives, would conceivably trouble me more if I regarded life 
as an evil. Such are my own feelings, which I do not 
suppose to be wholly typical, and, passing from these, 
I will consider more in general what is called the personal 
interest in immortality. 

The question whether what I do and fail to do now, is to 
make any difference, worth considering, to any one after my 
death, must first be dismissed. An answer in the negative 
(I fully assent to this) would be a very serious matter, 
but we are not here concerned with it. I am assuming 
here that we are agreed that death does not end all, but 



xv OF DEATH AND DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY 453 

that on the other hand my actions have results beyond my 
own life, results of which I am bound to take account. 
But consequences to others than myself are not directly 
here in question. What I am to consider here is my own 
future, and I am about to ask, supposing that I have a 
future after death, as to the nature of my present interest 
in that. What kind of interest is it that I really take in 
the idea of my future life ? Far from being plain, this 
question is extremely obscure. In asking it we usually 
do not realize what we mean by our self. And in the second 
place we fall constantly into sheer self-deception. We sup 
pose ourselves to imagine certain situations, when what we 
really imagine is not these but something different. 

That in which I take a personal, an individual, interest 
is the self which I actually feel, and feel as mine now. So 
far as I take this self to be in the past or future, and so far 
as I feel myself now in that past or future self, it is to me 
a matter of personal concern. Memory or anticipation (so 
much seems clear) is not all that is wanted. To some of 
my past which I remember, I remain indifferent, since it is 
alienated too far from my present feeling. And again, if 
I contemplate a future which is alienated in the same way, 
that future fails to concern me personally. To be felt as 
mine the past or future must be included within the self 
which I feel now, or (it is the same thing) I must feel myself 
individually into them. Memory and anticipation are thus 
by themselves insufficient, and yet on the other side memory 
seems clearly wanted for personal interest. 

You may be tempted to deny this. You may suppose, 
for instance, the case of a letter written by me long ago and 
now wholly forgotten. If I read this letter, I recognize 
that there is in it something which is mine, and my interest 
is individual though I do not remember. Yes, I reply, but 
what I feel here as my own, is placed by me, however 
indefinitely, in my past, and that depends upon memory. 



454 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B.-OUR FEAR CHAP. 

Otherwise it is much as when I read of another s past, or 
even of another s present, which has features felt to be 
akin to my own, or again when I meet some person in 
union with whom my felt personality expands. We have 
personal interest here doubtless in a sense, but we have not 
the individual concern felt in the prolongation of myself 
into the past and future. 

Suppose after my death a man to exist who is to be 
very like myself. Certainly I prefer to feel that I have now 
perhaps helped such a man rather than another man less 
like me. And suppose that I myself am to exist after 
death and am to be altered considerably, the more I am 
altered the less and less personal concern do I now feel, 
until a point is reached where my interest really ceases to 
be special. The only personal identity which seems to 
count here is the degree and the amount of likeness in the 
felt self. From the other side, though felt sameness in 
character is wanted in order to have continuity recognized 
between myself now and then, this by itself is not enough. 
If I am to have an individual personal interest, I must 
suppose also a memory in the then . I must imagine, for 
instance, a man after my death reading what I myself 
write now, and saying to himself, Yes, I wrote it. He 
must not only feel it to be the expression of his self, but 
he must make that self continuous in the past (even if there 
are intervals) with my own. Here is the identity in which 
I can now take interest as personal to me myself. In 
whatever falls short of this I can feel a concern which, 
though never individual, may be special, special until by 
lessening degrees we arrive at that which is merely general. 

It may help us if we consider the case of a man who, under 
an anaesthetic, has endured an operation as to which his 
memory is a blank. Let us suppose that a question is 
raised now as to whether at the time pain was present or 
absent. Would the man, if he is sure that he is in any case 



xv OF DEATH AND DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY 455 

no worse now, take a personal concern in the inquiry ? 
And if the same question were raised as to a future opera 
tion, would the man, apart from fear that things might turn 
out badly otherwise, concern himself any more ? l And, 
if not, why, if there is to be no memory, should he trouble 
himself as to whether his future life is to be his or another 
man s ? To answer that, if he is obtuse about one thing, 
he need not be obtuse about another, does not help us to 
see where there really is obtuseness. And if you reply that 
the man in fact assumes that his state, while anaesthetized, 
is in any case so alienated as not to be his, while with regard 
to a future life that assumption is not made, I am not 
shaken in my conclusion. Your alleged fact in the first 
place seems at best very doubtful. And in any case this 
supposed alienation and its opposite are connected in 
separably, I would urge, with the absence and presence of 
memory. The man in the past or in the future who knows 
nothing about me, whatever else he is, after all will not be 
myself. The interest that I feel in him may (to repeat this) 
be more or less special, but it never can really be individual. 
I can of course transcend my present felt state. I can 
make an object of what goes beyond it and is even far 
removed from my life. And with regard to such things 
I can of course entertain a variety of feelings. In such 
objects I can take an interest which is in varying degrees 
special, and which again, from being impersonal, may alter 
tiU it becomes in a sense personal. So far, I presume, we 
are agreed. The question is whether my felt self can take 
an interest in anything as being its own individual self, 
unless it regards its present feeling as prolonged into that 
object. And the further question is whether I can suppose 

1 He would take a personal interest in his future self, as that is to be 
while anaesthetized, if (a) that self is to feel and remember, or if (6) it is 
to be included in the memory of a later self which remembers. I am of 
course not assuming that the second alternative without the first is really 
possible. 



456 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B. OUR FEAR CHAP 

this felt identity to be there in the future, unless I assume 
also that the future self is aware of the connexion between 
itself and me, as I now am. These questions I have to 
answer in the negative, and I am forced also to conclude 
that, where they are answered otherwise, we have con 
fusion and a failure to be clear as to what really is before 
the mind. Promise me, if I may repeat this, a future self 
much the same as mine now, and promise me that my 
present self shall hereafter be present in and present to that 
future self and I am here concerned individually. But, 
with anything less than this, I find an identity which I 
cannot regard as truly personal, though in a diversity of 
ways and degrees I can take in it an interest which is special. 

This conclusion is obscured by the weakness of our 
imagination, and by this I mean our difficulty in realizing 
what elements are and what are not actually present in 
our object. There is a constant tendency to import into 
the object feelings and ideas which are incompatible with 
that object, and which may even have been formally 
excluded from its being. And to this tendency we, many 
of us, seem a helpless prey. Thus, to shrink from pain 
and from partial annihilation is rational, while, if the 
annihilation really is total, there is nothing either to shrink 
or to shrink from. Our fear comes from imagining our 
selves present where we are explicitly set down as absent. 
What we actually fear is the process where that which 
clings to itself is rudely torn away and apart ; while, on 
the other hand, the pain of sheer negation is an incon 
sistent and illusory idea. At sunset where, sunk before 
our eyes, 

Le soleil s est noye dans son sang qui se fige, 
we listen in our hearts to the complaining of 

Un coeur tendre qui halt le neant vaste et noir, 
Du passe lumineux recueille tout vestige. 



xv OF DEATH AND DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY 457 

But, once the heart has ceased to beat, it is but folly to 
dream that it feels. And again to suppose that I seek 
merely to go on after death, while at the same time I 
refuse to go on as another man, seems (to use plain words) 
to be something like stupidity. For obviously I am here 
desiring for myself a great deal more than merely to go on . 
Again there is no illusion when we are pained by the thought 
of parting from what we hold dear. The struggle against 
the destruction of our being, while it lasts, is terrible, and 
the prospect of those whom we love missing us and suffering 
is cruel. And to sorrow for our loss of those who are dead 
is at once rational and human, while to imagine them on 
their side seeking to rejoin us in vain would be torture. 
But at once to suppose our dead to have ceased, and yet to 
grieve not for ourselves but for them, comes from mental 
confusion. Whether the dead now remember me or not may 
concern me vitally, but whether, if they do not remember, 
they are now themselves or some other self, can hardly make 
a difference to me. What they now have become makes 
of course a difference to the Universe. But how, if they 
recall nothing, personal continuance, or its absence, should 
be anything to me or them, I cannot imagine. Again, if we 
meet hereafter, and if (as some think) we are drawn, without 
memory, to one another once more, the question of our 
individual identities (so far as I see) is not likely to concern 
us. That what we have done in this life may cause our 
future love might be true, and yet, if nothing is remembered, 
individual continuance might to us then mean nothing. 
Where love is the passion of which poets speak, the whole 
inquiry might lack interest. Something has been revealed 
which is beyond time and sports with the order of events. 
There never was a before, and God has made the whole 
world for this present. The sum of the matter is this, 
that I understand gratitude towards a past, though I do 
not remember it, if that past has brought good, whatever 



458 SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE B. OUR FEAR CHAP. 

it is, into my personal life. But mere individual survival, 
as an incentive to present affection, is to myself not 
intelligible. 

Ah, Moon of my Delight who know st no wane, 
The Moon of Heaven is rising once again : 
How oft hereafter rising shall she look 
Through this same Garden after me in vain! 

The desolation that invades us, as we recall these lines, is 
due not wholly to illusion. That what we have left should 
search for us hereafter with grief and pain, distresses us in 
prospect, and this is rational. But illusion begins if we 
imagine ourselves at once as nothing, and at the same 
moment as struggling helplessly in darkness towards light 
and love. It may aid us perhaps in testing the real nature 
of our sadness and our desire, if we go on to imagine 
another man hereafter in the same garden, filled with the 
same spirit and offering the same unaltered devotion, a 
devotion recognized rapturously as the same without change 
or loss. If, with that thought, we still suffer, our defect 
is human. But, if we justify our pain, and if we insist 
that we have something here really worth grieving for, then 
either we do not understand, or we do not love. And, 
though what I am about to say will perhaps with some 
right be turned against myself, I must add that, if there 
were more love, there would, at least on such points, be less 
misunderstanding. The striving for personal and individual 
existence and satisfaction is no doubt good in its own place, 
but, whatever else it is, I cannot take it as essential to love 
or religion. 

The reader will understand that the scope of the above 
remarks is limited. I have tried to point out the illusion 
involved in some fears and in some hopes about the here 
after. But I have not attempted to argue that all such 
fear is irrational. To die and go we know not where, to 
survive as ourselves, and yet to become we know not what 



xv OF DEATH AND DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY 459 

such thoughts must always bring disquiet. If we are left 
with that and with no more than that, we have obviously 
some cause for apprehension. It is here that religion, if we 
have a decent religion, should come to our aid. Any but 
an inferior religion must on one hand condemn all self- 
seeking after death. But on the other hand it will assure 
us that all evil is really overcome, and that the victory (even 
if we do not understand how) lies with the Good. 



CHAPTER XVI 
ON MY REAL WORLD 

THERE is an old familiar doubt as to dream and waking. 
A man is led at times to ask whether his real life may not be 
a dream and his dreams reality. With this doubt we all of 
us perhaps are in some sense acquainted. There are moods 
in which our daylight world seems to have lost actuality, 
where the reflection and what it mirrors have equal force, 
and we ourselves seem hardly more than one of the things 
which we contemplate. And, apart from this, we are 
tempted from time to time in an idle hour to question and 
to wonder. Is there not another world within which I 
might suddenly wake, and from which I should look back 
upon this life as unreal ? Such doubts and surmises, far 
from being irrational, are in my opinion even justified. 
And in any case to consider them may serve perhaps as 
a way of approach to some ultimate problems of thought. 

What is the world which I am accustomed to call my 
real world ? l It is (we must reply) the universe of those 
things which are continuous in space with my body, and 
in time with the states and the actions of that body. My 
mental changes form no exception, for, if they are to take 
their place in time as real events, they must, I think, be 
dated in connexion with the history of my body. Now if 
I make an ideal construction of this nature in space and 
time, I can arrange (more or less) in one ordered scheme 
both myself and other animates, together with the physical 
world. This arrangement is practical since I can act on it, 
and since I must act on it if I am to continue what I call my 
real life. Again, this arrangement is true theoretically, 

1 On this point cf. Chap. Ill, pp. 46 foil. 



xvi ON MY REAL WORLD 461 

so far as it serves to bring facts before my mind harmoni 
ously and fully. And there are those who would even 
seek to defend the belief that, beyond the above construc 
tion, there is nothing else more vital and real. But any 
such belief can be seen to be no more than a superstition, 
and against this superstition the old doubt as to dream and 
waking can be urged with what seems convincing force. 

My real world depends, as we saw, on my body, but then 
that leads to a further question, What is really my body ? 
If we insist on an answer we have to reply that my real 
body means my waking body, and that this means my 
present body. It is simply the body which is for me here 
and now as I am asking myself this question. The whole 
centre and foundation of what I call my real scheme is 
the body which to me is mine at this here and this now. 
Such a result may be unwelcome, but, however unwelcome, 
it seems unavoidable. Why I should then assign to my 
real scheme an exclusive or even a superior reality, seems 
far from evident. 

For admittedly in dream, in mere imagination, and in 
states of hypnotism or madness, I find myself with other 
bodies. My body, as I dream, may often, I remember, seem 
more or less helpless and ineffectual. But at other times 
my dream-body does wonderful things to suit with a mar 
vellous environment. As I am awake even now, I can 
remember that this was so. And suppose that I could not 
remember, would my failure be a sufficient ground for 
denying both the fact and the possibility, and for insisting 
on the unique claim of my waking body ? Again, as I find 
myself now awake, I can act only with my body which is 
here present. With these other bodies, try as I may, I can 
do nothing. They are to me here and now both useless 
and foreign, and, in this sense, they are without doubt 
unreal. But that this sense should be the only sense does 
not rationally follow. And if I am to set up this one here 



462 ON MY REAL WORLD CHAP. 

and now as superior to all the rest, I ought surely to find 
some ground on which to justify my assumption. 

My waking world, you may reply, dominates, and ought 
to dominate, because as a system it is vastly more rational. 
The order of things which I construct from the basis of my 
waking body, is far more consistent and more comprehensive 
than any other possible arrangement. In this order my 
own past and future and the past and future of other selves, 
together with our environment, can be displayed as a 
harmonious scheme. If the scheme is not perfect, it is at 
least incomparably better than any scheme set up from the 
basis of any imaginary body. My real world in short, you 
may urge, will contain rationally the other worlds, while 
by none of them is it contained. And surely upon this 
principle that world alone possesses a right to claim reality. 

The above argument is plausible but it is at the mercy of 
a twofold objection. For in the first place (i) the facts, 
even as known to us, will not warrant its conclusion. And 
in the second place (ii) to argue from these facts to a region 
beyond them would in any case be illogical. 

(i) Even within our experience it is not always the fact 
that our normal and waking state is wider and more com 
prehensive than other states. On the contrary, of certain 
dreams, and of some hypnotic and other abnormal con 
ditions, the opposite assertion would hold good. The 
abnormal mind is often wider than the mind which we call 
normal, and at times it may be said to include and compre 
hend the normal mind ; and in certain cases this result, 
however it is to be explained, appears even to be regular. 
Again, to speak in general, it may be true that the controlling 
system of ideas and principles is less orderly and wide in our 
abnormal states ; but, if we go beyond the general, such 
a statement becomes indefensible. If there is less tendency 
in the normal waking mind to dissociation and to fixation 
of the one-sided, we still have no right to exclude apparent 
exceptions to this rule ; and again with regard to the normal 



xvi ON MY REAL WORLD 463 

mind we are bound to add what there is of it . For our 
waking mind is narrowed, and it essentially is the result of 
narrowing in a certain interest. Its memory is so limited 
that, at least often, it recalls nothing of that abnormal state 
which on the other hand may know and remember well 
what is normal. Our waking mind is bounded and con 
tracted first for practical purposes, since it has to maintain 
itself in being against a special environment. And on the 
basis of this maintenance we have to limit ourselves further. 
There are positive human ends which go beyond the defeat 
of that which threatens our mere continuance, and the one 
way in which to realize this ideal order is through concen 
tration, through control and selection. Hence, if I consider 
not merely the life within my actual reach, but compare 
generally what I call normal with abnormal states, 
I cannot conclude that even within my knowledge the 
former are always wider, or mantain that at least they are 
always more orderly. 

(ii) And if my conclusion were so far correct, to push it 
further would still be forbidden. I must not argue from 
the facts as they come to me on a certain ground to the 
denial of facts as they would appear from a different basis. 
Such a denial, so far as I can discover, would rest on the 
merest assumption. On the foundation of your waking 
self you urge that a certain ideal arrangement is best. No 
one has questioned this or has proposed that your arrange 
ment should be dropped. From the same foundation you 
find, again, that your actions can start and succeed. And 
no one has suggested that your starting-place should be 
abandoned by yourself. What we object to is your assump 
tion that no one anywhere can start from a different basis, 
or at least that, if he does so, the result will turn out worse 
theoretically and practically. Those abnormal states which 
in relation to your environment seem to you to be inferior, 
and to be inferior even when taken in and by themselves, 
may really be otherwise when viewed in relation to a differ- 



464 ON MY REAL WORLD CHAP. 

ent environment, and within another mental context their 
character may be transformed. What we call our real 
environment may be indeed the merest fraction of the 
universe, and, such as it is, it might, for anything we can 
tell, be altered to-morrow. The contention that our waking 
world is the one real order of things will not stand against 
criticism. It is a conclusion which in short is based on 
ignorance which chooses to take itself for knowledge. 

Suppose that there are other minds which, in their waking 
lives, start from a basis other than that of my waking self, 
is it impossible that their worlds should be better and more 
real than mine ? And if you reply that the whole supposi 
tion is untenable, such an assertion, we have seen, has no 
rational ground. Again (to leave other minds) suppose that 
in hypnotism, madness or dream, my world becomes wider 
and more harmonious than the scheme which is set up 
from my normal self then does not, I ask, what I dream 
become at once a world better and more real ? And if you 
know that this does not and cannot happen, then explain 
how you know it. Or, again, quit the position of an on 
looker even on yourself, and imagine your own self in 
dream, and that, while you dream, you can recall but little 
of your waking state. But suppose also that, from what 
you can recall, you judge that your waking state was more 
distracted and more narrow, would you not be right if you 
set down your waking state as less rational and real ? And 
if you went on further to embrace your dream as the sole 
true reality, would you not, if reasoning badly, be reasoning 
still on the principle so widely accepted ? And it is useless 
to protest that the above supposition is absurd, if you are 
able to assign no reason for your protest. 

Once more, let us suppose that, as life goes on, your mind 
becomes gradually alienated, that you are able still to 
reflect and yet that things somehow come to you differently. 
Your former interpretation and order of the world would, 
if so, strain the given facts more and more, until a point 



xvi ON MY REAL WORLD 465 

was reached where you would have to choose between 
another arrangement and chaos. And, deciding for another 
system built on a diverse foundation, why, in so deciding, 
would a man not have chosen rightly and rationally ? Can 
a man (here is the main issue) do anything more rational 
than to make the best order in his power out of the material 
which is given him ? And does not the nature of this 
material depend vitally on his present position ? And has 
he not to regard that position, whatever it may be, as being, 
at least for this relative purpose, an ultimate fact ? For 
myself I see no way but one in which these questions can 
be rightly answered. 

In what sense, then (we may ask once more), and how far 
are we justified when we regard such states as dream and 
madness as irrational and take their deliverance as unreal ? 
We believe in the first place their content to be more narrow 
and less consistent ; and within our actual knowledge that 
belief (we have seen) is, to speak in general, correct. Such 
a conclusion on the other hand, even so far as it goes, we 
must remember, is ex parte. It rests on the mere assumption 
that our waking world has a sole or superior reality. Again 
what we call abnormal states lead in general, we find, to 
isolation and destruction. Between dream-bodies, for ex 
ample, we can discover no co-operation, and these bodies 
seem in relation with no common environment. Now that, 
to speak in general, they have no working connexion with 
our environment must be admitted. On the other hand to 
conclude that these bodies have no world of their own and 
are everywhere isolated, each from all others, goes (we saw) 
beyond our knowledge. Our judgement once more here 
is simply ex parte. We are resting throughout on the 
assumption that our real world of fact is the one reality. 

Within limits, we must all agree, such an assumption is 
necessary. If I am to live at all I must act, and, if I am 
to act, it must be on the world which comes to me here and 

1574 H h 



466 ON MY REAL WORLD CHAP. 

now as given. I cannot will myself away into another 
sphere, even if there are other spheres better and more real. 
If my life is to continue, and if I am to realize in it a rational 
order and scheme of conduct and knowledge, there is but 
one course possible. I must start from what I find, now 
and here, in feeling and perception ; I must from this basis 
construct what I call the real world of facts and events ; 
and for most purposes I must accept at least this order as 
real. There is a higher reality doubtless beyond all fact and 
event, but it is within my own world that this higher world 
must realize itself for me. And when reflection tells me 
that, for all I know, the normal world of my experience is 
but one world amongst others, what difference should that 
make ? The true Reality is not in any case a real world 
or worlds of mere fact and event. And in any case for 
myself a real world other than my own is useless. It 
is on my world and on that alone that my ideal life 
can be built. 

It is well to remember that my life and world, as mere 
existing facts, have no value ; and the thought of other, of 
even an indefinite number of other, unknown worlds and 
lives may keep this truth before our minds. I will permit 
myself, therefore, still to dwell for a while on this theme. 
Other systems, as real as my own or more real, seem beyond 
doubt to be possible. Into one or more of these orders 
from time to time I may enter in my dreams, and in one 
of them, for anything that