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Full text of "[untitled] The Harvard Theological Review, (1917-01-01), pages 101-104"

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BOOK REVIEWS 101 

extremities which thought had engendered. Dr. Hirsch thinks that 
the immanent self-criticism of every purely ethical Weltanschauung 
has been consummated in Fichte's philosophical development. 
The systematic value of this self-criticism is all the greater by virtue 
of its having taken place within the sphere of ethical ideahsm. The 
refutation of ethical idealism by appealing to the fact of universal 
sinfulness, was remote from Fichte, who never acknowledged that 
this fact was inevitable. But our author contends that he who 
cannot ignore the fact of universal sinfulness must evaluate the 
reUgious position which Fichte achieved, as untenable. 

Dr. Hirsch has scrutinized Fichte's works in a painstaking manner. 
He has gathered the data exhaustively, and much that he says is 
illuminating. But — so it seems to this reviewer — ^his critical ap- 
proach is faulty. All modern thought inherited an uncriticised 
a priori basis of experience; that is, an experience-less basis of 
experience. There has been a progressive reduction of this basis 
through our modern centuries. We have at length accepted frankly 
the task of demonstrating the complete experiential origin of the 
a priori element, by whatever name it be called. Now, what of the 
traditional a priori element did Fichte retain? What pecuUar form 
did it take in his system? What contribution did he make to the 
historic transition to an exclusively experiential basis of experience, 
and what in this line did he bequeath as task to those who came after 
him? These questions indicate the method of treating the subject 
from the point of view of modem philosophical criticism. But 
Hirsch is a German; and it seems that, whether in philosophical 
system or in social structure, the German is definitively committed 
to an a priori, that is, an absolute of some kind. 

George Bubman Fosteb. 

University op Chicago. 



The Problem of Knowledge. Douglas Clyde Macintosh, Ph.D. 
The Macmillan Co. 1915. Pp. xviii, 503. $2.50. 

"The method of idealistic epistemology is like that of the quack 
physician; it first administers a drug which makes the patient's 
ailment chronic, thus making its own further services permanently 
indispensable." Even the idealists will have to admit some plausi- 
bility in this charge of Professor Macintosh in his very important 
book. For when the idealistic philosopher has introduced the 
neophyte into his wonderland, or put him through Alice's looking- 



102 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

glass, many problems which were diflScult enough before in the 
waking world become insoluble without his guidance. But the 
neo-realist is not found very much more satisfactory than the idealist 
in his interpretation of Being, and the dualist is lost in hopeless 
agnosticism. Critical monism is the term applied by Dr. Macintosh 
to his own theory of knowledge, and he makes out a very strong case 
for it. 

The greatest question of epistemology for the last century has 
been. What kind of stuif is reality made of, and in what way or ways, 
if at all, do we human beings have experience of or acquaintance with 
it? Dr. Macintosh begins with the dualism which found its most 
famous expounder in Kant. There is the phenomenal world of 
things as they appear to our senses, or more strictly the world of our 
sensations and ideas, and the noumenal world of things-in-themselves, 
the true world of reality which lies back of the appearances. But 
there is no point of coincidence between these two worlds, and we 
are shut up to the knowledge of the world of our senses and can know 
nothing whatever about the ultimate reality. But if this is true, 
says our author, then we have no evidence of the existence of things- 
in-themselves, and it is dogmatism to assume that there are such 
things. One after another he considers the forms of dualism proposed 
by a long list of avowed agnostics, and by dualists who did not fully 
acknowledge agnosticism but are logically involved in it. 

Professor Macintosh holds that the reasonuig which leads to the 
Kantian agnosticism might be fairly illustrated in this syllogism: 
"What I suppose to be experience of independent reaHty is included 
within what I experience. But mere sense-impressions, which I 
do not know to be valid of independent reality, are also included 
in what I experience. Therefore what I suppose to be experience of 
independent reality is mere sense-impression, which I do not know to 
be vaKd of independent reality." A slight inspection will reveal 
the fallacy of "undistributed middle." This conclusion, however 
supported, that we never know "independent reality" in sense- 
experience, is, according to the author, the great error in Kant's 
system. 

About a third of the book is then concerned with the fifty-seven 
or more varieties of idealism, or "idea-ism" as it might better be 
called to distinguish it from the view held by all moral persons 
that there are "ideals" which have valid authority over every per- 
sonal life, a doctruie from which these systems of idealistic theories 
of knowledge or reality have gained much of their prestige and with 
which they have been often confused. " Idealistic absolute epistemo- 



BOOK REVIEWS 103 

logical monism," the forms of which are now discussed, is defined 
as the view that "the real object and the perceived object are, at 
the moment of perception, numerically one, and the real object 
cannot exist at other moments, independently of any perception." 
Some types of ideaUsm, however, identify the real as an abstraction 
from the immediately given, rather than the immediate datum of 
consciousness. We need not here dwell on the author's brief but 
satisfactory discussion of mystical idealism and logical idealism, the 
former especially familiar in the philosophy of India and the teach- 
ings of Christian mystics and the latter presented by Plato. 

The third elemental type of idealism is the psychological — and 
from it many of our modern philosophical troubles flow. This is 
defined as "the interpretation of the physical object, under the 
influence of an erroneous suggestion arising in connection with the 
psychological point of view, as being essentially idea, in the psycho- 
logical sense of that word, i.e. as being simply a part of consciousness, 
a content of conscious life which depends upon consciousness for its 
existence." Dr. Macintosh exposes the fallacy of this position by 
stating its defence in various forms, one of which, similar to the 
argument for dualism, involves the undistributed middle, as follows: 
"The unreal objectively is subjective (related to a subject); similarly 
all of which one is conscious is subjective (related to a subject); 
therefore all of which one is conscious is unreal objectively (mere 
idea)." Professor Perry's characterization of the argument as 
involving the fallacy of the ego-centric predicament, is approved. 
Limitations of space forbid even mention of the many interesting 
and popular forms of psychological idealism with which Professor 
Macintosh deals at length. As none of them is able to avoid this 
initial fallacy or to neutralize it by the addition of other ingenious 
fallacies, they must all be considered unsatisfactory. Chapter IX 
on "The Disintegration of Idealism" suggests the fate which the 
author sees already overtaking this doctrine. 

Realism in present epistemology is the view "that the real object 
and the perceived object are at the moment of perception numerically 
one and that the real object may exist at other moments apart from 
perception." The author distinguishes two kinds, dogmatic and 
critical. The "new reaUsts" of today defend the former kind, in 
which it is held "that 'secondary' or sense-qualities are independent 
of relation to a sensing subject," while his own, the "critical" view is 
that secondary quaUties are dependent upon relation to the subject for 
their existence. A number of the neo-reahsts go from the rejection 
of the activity of consciousness in the creation of the secondary 



104 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

quaKties of objects, to a rejection of consciousness altogether as 
having any real existence, or to the position that it is a relation 
between physical objects. 

In his own careful and convincing statement of his critical realism. 
Dr. Madntosh adds to the primary and secondary qualities dis- 
tinguished by Locke, tertiary qualities. Primary qualities of physical 
objects he holds to be those discovered through sense-activity 
but not produced by it. Secondary qualities are discovered in the 
object only because produced and put there by the subject of sense- 
activity. Tertiary quaKties (principally values) are placed in 
the object not by sense but by purposive though purely psychical 
activity of the subject. 

In discussing the ways and means of knowing, the author holds 
that all cognition is perceptual, although with conceptual elements 
active in the perception. He says that our a priori knowledge — 
that which led to Kant's duaUsm and the chaos of later idealism — 
is all derived from experience either of the individual or the race. 

Part II of this great book is taken up with the problem of mediate 
knowledge, discussing first the problem of truth (in which intel- 
lectuaUsm, anti-intellectualism, pragmatism, and Bergson's intui- 
tionism are all carefully examined), and the problem of proof. 

Professor Macintosh's theories may be summed up in the term 
"critical monism," as he is in epistemology a "critical realistic 
monist," in morphology and genetic logic a "critical perceptual 
monist" and a "critical empirical monist," in logical theory a 
"critical pragmatic monist," and in methodology a "critical empirical 
monist." The great attraction about the positions which he takes, 
to the average student, will be his consistent clinging as closely 
to the common-sense views of reality and experience as it is possible 
for a scientist and philosopher to do. For this great service, many 
who will never read his book, because they will not study far enough 
into the technical subjects which he discusses to be able to appreciate 
it, will still owe him a great debt of gratitude, for he has at least 
made the enUghtened common-sense view of the world respectable. 
No philosopher or student of the technical subjects discussed in 
this book can afford to be ignorant of it. The student of theology 
and reUgion will be interested at least in its conclusions, from which 
we may expect the anticipated companion volume on The Problem 
of Religious Knowledge to proceed. 

E. AiBEBT Cook. 
HowABD University, Washington, D.C.