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THE LIFE OF REASON 



THE LIFE OF REASON : or the 
Phases of Human Progress 

By GEORGE SANTA YANA 

Assistant Professor of Philosophy in Harvard 
University 

I. INTRODUCTION AND REA 
SON IN COMMON SENSE. 

II. REASON IN SOCIETY. 

III. REASON IN RELIGION. 

IV. REASON IN ART. 

V. REASON IN SCIENCE. 



THE LIFE OF REASON 

OR THE 

PHASES OF HUMAN PROGRESS 



BY 
GEORGE SANTAYANA 



INTRODUCTION 

AND 

REASON IN COMMON SENSE 



17 yap vov evepycta 0)77 






LONDON 

ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO. Ltd. 
1906 



B 



Copyright, 1905, by Charles Scribner s Sons, for th 
United States of America 



Printed by the Trow Directory, Printing and Bookbinding Company 
New York, U. S. A. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 

THE SUBJECT OF THIS WORK, ITS METHOD AND ANTE 
CEDENTS 

Progress is relative to an ideal which reflection creates. 
Efficacious reflection is reason. The Life of Reason a 
name for all practical thought and all action justified 
by its fruits in consciousness. It is the sum of Art. It 
has a natural basis which makes it definable. Modern 
philosophy not helpful. Positivism no positive ideal. 
Christian philosophy mythical: it misrepresents facts and 
conditions. Liberal theology a superstitious attitude 
toward a natural world. The Greeks thought straight 
in both physics and morals. Heraclitus and the imme 
diate. Democritus and the naturally intelligible. 
Socrates and the autonomy of mind. Plato gave the 
ideal its full expression. Aristotle supplied its natural 
basis. Philosophy thus complete, yet in need of re 
statement. Plato s myths in lieu of physics. Aristotle s 
final causes. Modern science can avoid such expedi 
ents. Transcendentalism true but inconsequential. 
Verbal ethics. Spinoza and the Life of Reason. Mod 
ern and classic sources of inspiration Pages 1-32 



REASON IN COMMON SENSE 
CHAPTER I 

THE BIRTH OF REASON 

Existence always has an Order, called Chaos when 
incompatible with a chosen good. Absolute order, or 
truth, is static, impotent, indifferent. In experience 
order is relative to interests which determine the moral 

V 



VJ CONTENTS 

status of all powers. The discovered conditions of reason 
not its beginning. The flux first. Life the fixation of 
interests. Primary dualities. First gropings. Instinct 
the nucleus of reason. Better and worse the fundamental 
categories Pages 35-47 



CHAPTER II 

FIRST STEPS AND FIRST FLUCTUATIONS 

Dreams before thoughts. The mind vegetates uncon 
trolled save by physical forces. Internal order super 
venes. Intrinsic pleasure in existence. Pleasure a good, 
but not pursued or remembered unless it suffuses an 
object. Subhuman delights. Animal living. Causes at 
last discerned. Attention guided by bodily impulse. 

Pages 48-63 



CHAPTER III 

THE DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 

Nature man s home. Difficulties in conceiving nature. 
Transcendental qualms. Thought an aspect of life and 
transitive. Perception cumulative and synthetic. No 
identical agent needed. Example of the sun. His prim 
itive divinity. Causes and essences contrasted. Voracity 
of intellect. Can the transcendent be known? Can the 
immediate be meant? Is thought a bridge from sensa 
tion to sensation? Mens naturaliter platonica. Identity 
and independence predicated of things Pages 64-83 



CHAPTER IV 

ON SOME CRITICS OF THIS DISCOVERY 

Psychology as a solvent. Misconceived role of intel 
ligence. All criticism dogmatic. A choice of hypoth 
eses. Critics disguised enthusiasts. Hume s gratuitous 
scepticism. Kant s substitute for knowledge. False sub 
jectivity attributed to reason. Chimerical reconstruc 
tion. The Critique a work on mental architecture. 
Incoherences. Nature the true system of conditions. 



CONTENTS vii 

Artificial pathos in subjectivism. Berkeley s algebra of 
perception. Horror of physics. Puerility in morals. 
Truism and sophism. Reality is the practical made 
intelligible. Vain "realities" and trustworthy "fic 
tions" Pages 84-117 

CHAPTER V 

NATURE UNIFIED AND MIND DISCERNED 

Man s feeble grasp of nature. Its unity ideal and 
discoverable only by steady thought. Mind the erratic 
residue of existence. Ghostly character of mind. Hypos- 
tasis and criticism both need control. Comparative con 
stancy in objects and in ideas. Spirit and sense defined 
by their relation to nature. Vague notions of nature in 
volve vague notions of spirit. Sense and spirit the life of 
nature, which science redistributes but does not deny. 

Pages 118-136 

CHAPTER VI 

DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 

Another background for current experience may be 
found in alien minds. Two usual accounts of this con 
ception criticised: analogy between bodies, and dramatic 
dialogue in the soul. Subject and object empirical, not 
transcendental, terms. Objects originally soaked in sec 
ondary and tertiary qualities. Tertiary qualities trans 
posed. Imputed mind consists of the tertiary qualities 
of perceived body "Pathetic fallacy" normal, yet 
ordinarily fallacious. Case where it is not a fallacy. 
Knowledge succeeds only by accident. Limits of insight. 
Perception of character. Conduct divined, conscious 
ness ignored. Consciousness untrustworthy. Metaphor 
ical mind. Summary Pages 137-160 

CHAPTER VII 

CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE AND IN EXISTENCE 

So-called abstract qualities primary. General quali 
ties prior to particular things. Universals are concretions 
in discourse. Similar reactions, merged in one habit of 
reproduction, yield an idea. Ideas are ideal. So-called 



viii CONTENTS 

abstractions complete facts. Things concretions of con 
cretions. Ideas prior in the order of knowledge, things 
in the order of nature. Aristotle s compromise. Empiri 
cal bias in favour of contiguity. Artificial divorce of logic 
from practice. Their mutual involution. Rationalistic 
suicide. Complementary character of essence and exist 
ence Pages 161-183 

CHAPTER VIII 

ON THE RELATIVE VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 

Moral tone of opinions derived from their logical 
principle. Concretions in discourse express instinctive re 
actions. Idealism rudimentary. Naturalism sad. The 
soul akin to the eternal and ideal. Her inexperience. 
Platonism spontaneous. Its essential fidelity to the 
ideal. Equal rights of empiricism. Logic dependent on 
fact for its importance, and for its subsistence. 
Reason and docility. Applicable thought and clarified 
experience Pages 184-204 

CHAPTER IX 

HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 

Functional relations of mind and body. They form one 
natural life. Artifices involved in separating them. Con 
sciousness expresses vital equilibrium and docility. Its 
worthlessness as a cause and value as an expression. 
Thought s march automatic and thereby implicated in 
events. Contemplative essence of action. Mechanical 
efficacy alien to thought s essence. Consciousness trans 
cendental and transcendent. It is the seat of value, 
Apparent utility of pain. Its real impotence. Pre- 
formations involved. Its untoward significance. Perfect 
function not unconscious. Inchoate ethics. Thought 
the entelechy of being. Its exuberance. . . . Pages 205-235 

CHAPTER X 

THE MEASURE OF VALUES IN REFLECTION 

Honesty in hedonism. Necessary qualifications. The 
will must judge. Injustice inherent in representation. 
^Esthetic and speculative cruelty. Imputed values : their 



CONTENTS 



inconstancy. Methods of control. Example of fame. 
Disproportionate interest in the aesthetic. Irrational 
religious allegiance. Pathetic idealisations. Inevitable 
impulsiveness in prophecy. The test a controlled present 
ideal ................................. Pages 236-255 



CHAPTER XI 

SOME ABSTRACT CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 

The ultimate end a resultant. Demands the substance 
of ideals. Discipline of the will. Demands made prac 
tical and consistent. The ideal natural. Need of unity 
and finality. Ideals of nothing. Darwin on moral sense. 

Conscience and reason compared. Reason imposes no 
new sacrifice. Natural goods attainable and compatible 
in principle. Harmony the formal and intrinsic demand 
of reason .............................. Pages 256-268 

CHAPTER XII 

FLUX AND CONSTANCY IN HUMAN NATURE 

Respectable tradition that human nature is fixed. 
Contrary currents of opinion. Pantheism. Instability 
in existences does not dethrone their ideals. Absolutist 
philosophy human and halting. All science a deliverance 
of momentary thought. All criticism likewise. Origins 
inessential. Ideals functional. They are transferable to 
similar beings. Authority internal. Reason autonomous. 

Its distribution. Natural selection of minds. Living 
stability. Continuity necessary to progress. Limits of 
variation. Spirit a heritage. Perfectibility. Nature and 
human nature. Human nature formulated. Its concrete 
description reserved for the sequel ....... Pages 269-291 



INTRODUCTION 

THE SUBJECT OF THIS WORK, ITS 
METHOD AND ANTECEDENTS 

Progress is Whatever forces may govern human 
relative to an iif e ^ if they are to be recognised by 
reflection man, must betray themselves in human 
creates. experience. Progress in science or re 

ligion, no less than in morals and art, is a dra 
matic episode in man s career, a welcome variation 
in his habit and state of mind ; although this vari 
ation may often regard or propitiate things exter 
nal, adjustment to which may be important for 
his welfare. The importance of these external 
things, as well as their existence, he can estab 
lish only by the function and utility which a rec 
ognition of them may have in his life. The en 
tire history of progress is a moral drama, a tale 
man might unfold in a great autobiography, could 
his myriad heads and countless scintillas of con 
sciousness conspire, like the seventy Alexandrian 
sages, in a single version of the truth committed 
to each for interpretation. What themes would 
prevail in such an examination of heart? In 
what order and with what emphasis would they 
be recounted? In which of its adventures would 
VOL. L 1 1 



2 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

the human race, reviewing its whole experience, 
acknowledge a progress and a gain? To answer 
these questions, as they may be answered specu- 
latively and provisionally by an individual, is the 
purpose of the following work. 
__ A philosopher could hardly have a 

Efficacious 

reflection is higher ambition than to make himself 
reason. & mouth-piece for the memory and 

judgment of his race. Yet the most casual con 
sideration of affairs already involves an attempt 
to do the same thing. Keflection is pregnant from 
the beginning with all the principles of synthesis 
and valuation needed in the most comprehensive 
criticism. So soon as man ceases to be wholly 
immersed in sense, he looks before and after, he 
regrets and desires; and the moments in which 
prospect or retrospect takes place constitute the 
reflective or representative part of his life, in con 
trast to the unmitigated flux of sensations in 
which nothing ulterior is regarded. Eepresenta- 
tion, however, can hardly remain idle and merely 
speculative. To the ideal function of envisaging 
the absent, memory and reflection will add (since 
they exist and constitute a new complication in 
being) the practical function of modifying the 
^future. Vital impulse, however, when it is modi 
fied by reflection and veers in sympathy with judg 
ments pronounced on the past, is properly called 
reason. Man s rational life consists in those mo 
ments in which reflection not only occurs but 
proves efficacious. What is absent then works in 



INTRODUCTION 3 

the present, and values are imputed where they 
cannot be felt. Such representation is so far from 
being merely speculative that its presence alone 
can raise bodily change to the dignity of action. 
Reflection gathers experiences together and per 
ceives their relative worth; which is as much as 
to say that it expresses a new attitude of will in 
the presence of a world better understood and 
turned to some purpose. The limits of reflection 
mark those of concerted and rational action; they 
circumscribe the field of cumulative experience, 
or, what is the same thing, of profitable living. 
T . T ., Thus if we use the word life in a 

Ine Life of 

Reason a eulogistic sense to designate the happy 
practical" *" maintenance against the world of some 
thought and definite ideal interest, we may say with 
^tifiedby Aristotle that life is reason in opera- 
its fruits in tion. The Life of Reason will then y 
consciousness. ^ Q & name f or ft^ p ar O f experience 

which perceives and pursues ideals all conduct 
so controlled and all sense so interpreted as to 
perfect natural happiness. 

Without reason, as without memory, there might 
still be pleasures and pains in existence. To 
increase those pleasures and reduce those pains 
would be to introduce an improvement into the 
sentient world, as if a devil suddenly died in hell 
or in heaven a new angel were created. Since 
the beings, however, in which these values would 
reside, would, by hypothesis, know nothing of one 
another, and since the betterment would take place 



4 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

unprayed-for and unnoticed, it could hardly be 
called a progress; and certainly not a progress in 
man, since man, without the ideal continuity given 
by memory and reason, would have no moral being. 
In human progress, therefore, reason is not a 
casual instrument, having its sole value in its ser 
vice to sense; such a betterment in sentience 
would not be progress unless it were a progress in 
reason, and the increasing pleasure revealed some 
object that could please; for without a picture of 
the situation from which a heightened vitality 
might flow, the improvement could be neither re 
membered nor measured nor desired. The Life 
of Reason is accordingly neither a mere means nor 
a mere incident in human progress ; it is the total 
and embodied progress itself, in which the pleas 
ures of sense are included in so far as they can 
be intelligently enjoyed and pursued. To recount 
man s rational moments would be to take an in 
ventory of all his goods; for he is not himself (as 
we say with unconscious accuracy) in the others. 
If he ever appropriates them in recollection or 
prophecy, it is only on the ground of some physi 
cal relation which they may have to his being. 

Reason is as old as man and as prevalent as 
human nature; for we should not recognise an 
animal to be human unless his instincts were to 
some degree conscious of their ends and rendered 
his ideas in that measure relevant to conduct. 
Many sensations, or even a whole world of dreams, 
do not amount to intelligence until the images in 



INTRODUCTION 5 

the mind begin to represent in some way, how 
ever symbolic, the forces and realities confronted 
in action. There may well be intense conscious 
ness in the total absence of rationality. Such 
consciousness is suggested in dreams, in madness, 
and may be found, for all we know, in the depths 
of universal nature. Minds peopled only by 
desultory visions and lusts would not have the dig 
nity of human souls even if they seemed to pur 
sue certain objects unerringly; for that pursuit 
would not be illumined by any vision of its goal. 
Eeason and humanity begin with the union of 
instinct and ideation, when instinct becomes en- 
.lightened, establishes values in its objects, and is 
turned from a process into an art, while at the 
same time consciousness becomes practical and 
cognitive, beginning to contain some symbol or 
record of the co-ordinate realities among which it 
arises. 

Eeason accordingly requires the fusion of two 
types of life, commonly led in the world in well- 
nigh total separation, one a life of impulse ex 
pressed in affairs and social passions, the other a 
life of reflection expressed in religion, science, and 
the imitative arts. In the Life of Keason, if it 
were brought to perfection, intelligence would be 
. at once the universal method of practice and its 
continual reward. All reflection would then be 
applicable in action and all action fruitful in hap 
piness. Though this be an ideal, yet everyone 
gives it from time to time a partial embodiment 



6 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

when he practises useful arts, when his passions 
happily lead him to enlightenment, or when his 
fancy breeds visions pertinent to his ultimate 
good. Everyone leads the Life of Reason in so 
IT far as he finds a steady light behind the world s 
glitter and a clear residuum of joy beneath pleas 
ure or success. No experience not to be repented 
of falls without its sphere. Every solution to a 
doubt, in so far as it is not a new error, every 
practical achievement not neutralised by a second 
maladjustment consequent upon it, every consola 
tion not the seed of another greater sorrow, may 
be gathered together and built into this edifice. 
The Life of Reason is the happy marriage of two 
elements impulse and ideation which if wholly 
divorced would reduce man to a brute or to a 
maniac. The rational animal is generated by the 
union of these two monsters. He is constituted 
by ideas which have ceased to be visionary and 
actions which have ceased to be vain. 

Thus the Life of Reason is another 
ofAr? eSUm name ^ or wna t in the widest sense of 
the word, might be called Art. Opera 
tions become arts when their purpose is conscious 
and their method teachable. In perfect art the 
whole idea is creative and exists only to be em 
bodied, while every part of the product is rational 
and gives delightful expression to that idea. Like 
art, again, the Life of Reason is not a power but 
a result, the spontaneous expression of liberal 
genius in a favouring environment. Both art and 



INTRODUCTION 7 

reason have natural sources and meet with natural 
checks; but when a process is turned successfully 
into an art,, so that its issues have value and the 
ideas that accompany it become practical and 
cognitive, reflection, finding little that it cannot 
in some way justify and understand, begins to 
boast that it directs and has created the world in 
which it finds itself so much at home. Thus if 
art could extend its sphere to include every 
activity in nature, reason, being everywhere exem 
plified, might easily think itself omnipotent. 
This ideal, far as it is from actual realisation, has 
so dazzled men, that in their religion and mythical 
philosophy they have often spoken as if it were 
already actual and efficient. This anticipation 
amounts, when taken seriously, to a confusion of 
purposes with facts and of functions with causes, 
a confusion which in the interests of wisdom and 
progress it is important to avoid ; but these specu 
lative fables, when we take them for what they 
are poetic expressions of the ideal help us to 
see how deeply rooted this ideal is in man s mind, 
and afford us a standard by which to measure his 
approaches to the rational perfection of which he 
dreams. For the Life of Reason, being the sphere 
of all human art, is man s imitation of divinity. 

To study such an ideal, dimly ex 
it has a nat- -, ., , .. , . , . . 

urai basis pressed though it be in human exist- 

whkh makes ence, is no prophetic or visionary un 
it definable. , , . . *L 1 . . .. , \ 

dertaking. Every genuine ideal has a 
natural basis; anyone may understand and safely 



8 THE LIFE OF REASON 

interpret it who is attentive to the life from which 
it springs. To decipher the Life of Keason nothing 
is needed but an analytic spirit and a judicious 
love of man,, a love quick to distinguish success 
from failure in his great and confused experiment 
of living. The historian of reason should not be 
a romantic poet, vibrating impotently to every im 
pulse he finds afoot, without a criterion of excel 
lence or a vision of perfection. Ideals are free, 
but they are neither more numerous nor more 
variable than the living natures that generate 
them. Ideals are legitimate, and each initially 
envisages a genuine and innocent good; but they 
are not realisable together, nor even singly when 
they have no deep roots in the world. Neither is 
the philosopher compelled by his somewhat judi 
cial office to be a satirist or censor, without sym 
pathy for those tentative and ingenuous passions 
out of which, after all, his own standards must 
arise. He is the chronicler of human progress, 
and to measure that progress he should be equally 
attentive to the impulses that give it direction and 
to the circumstances amid which it stumbles 
toward its natural goal. 

Modem hi- There is unfortunately no school of 
losophy not modern philosophy to which a critique 
of human progress can well be at 
tached. Almost every school, indeed, can furnish 
something useful to the critic, sometimes a 
physical theory, sometimes a piece of logical 
analysis. We shall need to borrow from cur- 



INTKODUCTION 9 

rent science and speculation the picture they 
draw of man s conditions and environment, his 
history and mental habits. These may furnish a 
theatre and properties for our drama; but they 
offer no hint of its plot and meaning. A great 
imaginative apathy has fallen on the mind. One- 
half the learned world is amused in tinkering 
obsolete armour, as Don Quixote did his helmet; 
deputing it, after a series of catastrophes, to be 
at last sound and invulnerable. The other half, 
the naturalists who have studied psychology and 
evolution, look at life from the outside, and the 
processes of Nature make them forget her uses. 
_ . . . Bacon indeed had prized science for 

Positivism A 

no positive adding to the comforts of life, a func 
tion still commemorated by positivists 
in their eloquent moments. Habitually, however, 
when they utter the word progress it is, in their 
mouths, a synonym for inevitable change, or at 
best for change in that direction which they con 
ceive to be on the whole predominant. If they 
combine with physical speculation some elements 
of morals, these are usually purely formal, to the 
effect that happiness is to be pursued (probably, 
alas ! because to do so is a psychological law) ; but 
what happiness consists in we gather only from 
casual observations or by putting together their 
national prejudices and party saws. 

The truth is that even this radical school, eman 
cipated as it thinks itself, is suffering from the 
after-effects of supernaturalism. Like children 



10 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

escaped from school, they find their whole happi 
ness in freedom. They are proud of what they 
have rejected, as if a great wit were required to 
do so; but they do not know what they want. If 
you astonish them by demanding what is their 
positive ideal, further than that there should be 
a great many people and that they should be all 
alike, they will say at first that what ought to be 
is obvious, and later they will submit the matter 
to a majority vote. They have discarded the 
machinery in which their ancestors embodied the 
ideal; they have not perceived that those symbols 
stood for the Life of Reason and gave fantastic 
and embarrassed expression to what, in itself, is 
pure humanity; and they have thus remained en 
tangled in the colossal error that ideals are some 
thing adventitious and unmeaning, not having a 
soil in mortal life nor a possible fulfilment there. 
The profound and pathetic ideas 
Christian which inspired Christianity were at- 

philosophy . ^ . 

mythical: it tached in the beginning to ancient 
misrepresents m yths and soon crystallised into many 

facts and con- 

ditions. new ones. The mythical manner per 

vades Christian philosophy; but myth 
succeeds in expressing ideal life only by misrep 
resenting its history and conditions. This 
method was indeed not original with the Fathers ; 
they borrowed it from Plato, who appealed to 
parables himself in an open and harmless fashion, 
yet with disastrous consequences to his school. 
Nor was he the first; for the instinct to regard 






INTKODUCTION 11 

poetic fictions as revelations of supernatural facts 
is as old as the souFs primitive incapacity to dis 
tinguish dreams from waking perceptions, sign 
from thing signified, and inner emotions from 
external powers. Such confusions, though in a 
way they obey moral forces, make a rational esti 
mate of things impossible. To misrepresent the 
conditions and consequences of action is no merely 
speculative error; it involves a false emphasis in 
character and an artificial balance and co-ordina 
tion among human pursuits. When ideals are 

f hypostasised into powers alleged to provide for 
their own expression, the Life of Reason cannot be 
conceived; in theory its field of operation is pre- 

1* empted and its function gone, while in practice its 
inner impulses are turned awry by artificial stimu 
lation and repression. 

The Patristic systems, though weak in their 
foundations, were extraordinarily wise and com 
prehensive in their working out; and while they 
inverted life they preserved it. Dogma added to 
the universe fabulous perspectives; it interpolated 
also innumerable incidents and powers which gave 
a new dimension to experience. Yet the old world 
remained standing in its strange setting, like the 
Pantheon in modern Rome ; and, what is more im 
portant, the natural springs of human action were 
still acknowledged, and if a supernatural disci 
pline was imposed, it was only because experience 
and faith had disclosed a situation in which the 
pursuit of earthly happiness seemed hopeless. 



12 THE LIFE OF REASON 

Nature was not destroyed by its novel appendages, 
nor did reason die in the cloister: it hibernated 
there, and could come back to its own in due sea 
son, only a little dazed and weakened by its long 
confinement. Such, at least, is the situation in 
Catholic regions, where the Patristic philosophy 
has not appreciably varied. Among Protestants 
Christian dogma has taken a new and ambiguous 
direction, which has at once minimised its disturb 
ing effect in practice and isolated its primary illu 
sion. The symptoms have been cured and the 
disease driven in. 

The tenets of Protestant bodies are 
Liberal the- notoriously varied and on principle 
subject to change. There is hardly a 



attitude combination of tradition and spontane- 

naturai world, ity which has not been tried in some 
quarter. If we think, however, of 
broad tendencies and ultimate issues, it appears 
that in Protestantism myth, without disappear 
ing, has changed its relation to reality : instead of 
being an extension to the natural world myth has 
become its substratum. Religion no longer re 
veals divine personalities, future rewards, and ten 
derer Elysian consolations; nor does it seriously 
propose a heaven to be reached by a ladder nor a 
purgatory to be shortened by prescribed devotions. 
It merely gives the real world an ideal status and 
teaches men to accept a natural life on super 
natural grounds. The consequence is that the 
most pious can give an unvarnished description of 



INTRODUCTION 13 

things. Even immortality and the idea of God 
are submitted, in liberal circles, to scientific treat 
ment. On the other hand, it would be hard to 
conceive a more inveterate obsession than that 
which keeps the attitude of these same minds in 
appropriate to the objects they envisage. They 
have accepted natural conditions; they will not 
accept natural ideals. The Life of Keason has no 
existence for them, because, although its field is 
clear, they will not tolerate any human or finite 
standard of value, and will not suffer extant in 
terests, which can alone guide them in action or 
judgment, to define the worth of life. 

The after-effects of Hebraism are here contrary 
to its foundations; for the Jews loved the world 
so much that they brought themselves, in order 
to win and enjoy it, to an intense concentration of 
purpose; but this effort and discipline, which had 
of course been mythically sanctioned, not only 
failed of its object, but grew far too absolute and 
sublime to think its object could ever have been 
earthly; and the supernatural machinery which 
was to have secured prosperity, while that still 
enticed, now had to furnish some worthier object 
for the passion it had artificially fostered. Fanat 
icism consists in redoubling your effort when you 
have forgotten your aim. 

An earnestness which is out of proportion to 
any knowledge or love of real things, which is 
therefore dark and inward and thinks itself deeper 
than the earth s foundations such an earnest- 



14 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ness, until culture turns it into intelligent inter 
ests, will naturally breed a new mythology. It 
will try to place some world of Afrites and shad 
owy giants behind the constellations, which it finds 
too distinct and constant to be its companions or 
supporters; and it will assign to itself vague and 
infinite tasks, for which it is doubtless better 
equipped than for those which the earth now sets 
before it. Even these, however, since they are 
parts of an infinite whole, the mystic may (his 
trionically, perhaps, yet zealously) undertake; but 
as his eye will be perpetually fixed on something 
invisible beyond, and nothing will be done for its 
own sake or enjoyed in its own fugitive presence, 
there will be little art and little joy in existence. 
All will be a tossing servitude and illiberal mist, 
where the parts will have no final values and the 
whole no pertinent direction. 
The Greeks ^ n Greek philosophy the situation is 
thought far more auspicious. The ancients led a 

LTh^physks rational life and envisaged the various 
and morals, spheres of speculation as men might 
whose central interests were rational. In physics 
they leaped at once to the conception of a dynamic 
unity and general evolution, thus giving that 
background to human life which shrewd observa 
tion would always have descried, and which mod 
ern science has laboriously rediscovered. Two 
great systems offered, in two legitimate directions, 
what are doubtless the final and radical accounts 
of physical being. Heraclitus, describing the im- 



INTRODUCTION 15 

mediate, found it to be in constant and pervasive 

change: no substances, no forms, no identities 

could be arrested there, but as in the 

Heraclitus 

and the im- human SOUl, SO in nature, all Was in- 
mediate, stability, contradiction, reconstruction, 
and oblivion. This remains the empirical fact ; and 
we need but to rescind the artificial division which 
Descartes has taught us to make between nature 
and life, to feel again the absolute aptness of 
Heraclitus s expressions. These were thought 
obscure only because they were so disconcertingly 
penetrating and direct. The immediate is what 
nobody sees, because convention and reflection turn 
existence, as soon as they can, into ideas; a man 
who discloses the immediate seems profound, yet \ 
his depth is nothing but innocence recovered and 
a sort of intellectual abstention. Mysticism, 
scepticism, and transcendentalism have all in their 
various ways tried to fall back on the immediate ; 
but none of them has been ingenuous enough. 
Each has added some myth, or sophistry, or de 
lusive artifice to its direct observation. Heracli 
tus remains the honest prophet of immediacy: a 
mystic without raptures or bad rhetoric, a scep 
tic who does not rely for his results on conven 
tions unwittingly adopted, a transcendentalist 
without false pretensions or incongruous dogmas. 
The immediate is not, however, a good subject 
for discourse, and the expounders of Heraclitus 
were not unnaturally blamed for monotony. All 
they could do was to iterate their master s maxim, 



16 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

and declare everything to be in flux. In suggest 
ing laws of recurrence and a reason in which what 
is common to many might be expressed, Heraclitus 
had opened the door into another region : had he 
passed through, his philosophy would have been 
greatly modified, for permanent forms would have 
forced themselves on his attention no less than 
shifting materials. Such a Heraclitus would have 
anticipated Plato; but the time for such a syn 
thesis had not yet arrived. 

Democritus At the opposite pole from imme- 
nat d uran y diac y lies intelligibility. To reduce 
intelligible. phenomena to constant elements, as 
similar and simple as possible, and to conceive 
their union and separation to obey constant laws, 
is what a natural philosopher will inevitably do 
so soon as his interest is not merely to utter 
experience but to understand it. Democritus 
brought this scientific ideal to its ultimate expres 
sion. By including psychic existence in his 
atomic system, he indicated a problem which 
natural science has since practically abandoned 
but which it may some day be compelled to take 
up. The atoms of Democritus seem to us gross, 
even for chemistry, and their quality would have 
to undergo great transformation if they were to 
support intelligibly psychic being as well ; but that 
very grossness and false simplicity had its merits, 
and science must be for ever grateful to the man 
who at its inception could so clearly formulate its 
mechanical ideal. That the world is not so in- 



INTKODUCTION 17 

telligible as we could wish is not to be wondered 
at. In other respects also it fails to respond to 
our ideals; yet our hope must be to find it more 
propitious to the intellect as well as to all the arts 
in proportion as we learn better how to live in it. 

The atoms of what we call hydrogen or oxygen 
may well turn out to be worlds, as the stars are 
which make atoms for astronomy. Their inner or 
ganisation might be negligible on our rude plane 
of being; did it disclose itself, however, it would 
be intelligible in its turn only if constant parts 
and constant laws were discernible within each 
system. So that while atomism at a given level 
may not be a final or metaphysical truth, it will 
describe, on every level, the practical and effica 
cious structure of the world. We owe to Democ- 
ritus this ideal of practical intelligibility; and he 
is accordingly an eternal spokesman of reason. 
His system, long buried with other glories of the 
world, has been partly revived; and although it 
cannot be verified in haste, for it represents an 
ultimate ideal, every advance in science recon 
stitutes it in some particular. Mechanism is not 
one principle of explanation among others. In 
natural philosophy, where to explain means to 
discover origins, transmutations, and laws, mech 
anism is explanation itself. 

Heraclitus had the good fortune of having his 
physics absorbed by Plato. It is a pity that De- 
mocritus physics was not absorbed by Aristotle. 
For with the flux observed, and mechanism con- 

VOL. I. 2 



18 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ceived to explain it, the theory of existence is com 
plete; and had a complete physical theory been 
incorporated into the Socratic philosophy, wisdom 
would have lacked none of its parts. Democri- 
tus, however, appeared too late, when ideal sci 
ence had overrun the whole field and initiated a 
verbal and dialectical physics ; so that Aristotle, for 
all his scientific temper and studies, built his 
natural philosophy on a lamentable misunder 
standing, and condemned thought to confusion 
for two thousand years. 
_ . If the happy freedom of the Greeks 

Socrates and rr J 

the autonomy from religious dogma made them the 

first natural philosophers, their happy 

political freedom made them the first moralists. 

It was no accident that Socrates walked the Athe- 

fnian agora; it was no petty patriotism that made 
him shrink from any other scene. His science had 
its roots there, in the personal independence, in 
tellectual vivacity, and clever dialectic of his 
countrymen. Ideal science lives in discourse; it 
consists in the active exercise of reason, in sig 
nification, appreciation, intent, and self-expres 
sion. Its sum total is to know oneself, not as 
psychology or anthropology might describe a man, 

but to know, as the saying is, one s own mind. 
Nor is he who knows his own mind forbidden to 
change it; the dialectician has nothing to do with 
future possibilities or with the opinion of anyone 
but the man addressed. This kind of truth is 
but adequate veracity; its only object is its own 



INTRODUCTION 19 

intent. Having developed in the spirit the con 
sciousness of its meanings and purposes, Socrates 
rescued logic and ethics for ever from authority. 
With his friends the Sophists, he made man the 
measure of all things, after bidding him measure | 
himself, as they neglected to do, by his own ideal, j 
That brave humanity which had first raised its 
head in Hellas and had endowed so many things 
in heaven and earth, where everything was 
hitherto monstrous, with proportion and use, so 
that man s works might justify themselves to his 
mind, now found in Socrates its precise defini 
tion; and it was naturally where the Life of Eea- 
son had been long cultivated that it came finally 
to be conceived. 

Plato ave Socrates had, however, a plebeian 

the ideal its strain in his humanity, and his utili- 
fuii expression, tarianism, at least in its expression, 
hardly did justice to what gives utility to life. 
His condemnation for atheism if we choose to 
take it symbolically was not altogether unjust: 
the gods of Greece were not honoured explicitly 
enough in his philosophy. Human good appeared 
there in its principle ; you would not set a pilot to 
mend shoes, because you knew your own purpose; 
but what purposes a civilised soul might harbour, 
and in what highest shapes the good might appear, 
was a problem that seems not to have attracted 
his genius. It was reserved to Plato to bring the 
Socratic ethics to its sublimest expression and to 
elicit from the depths of the Greek conscience 



20 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

those ancestral ideals which had inspired its leg 
islators and been embodied in its sacred civic tra 
ditions. The owl of Minerva flew, as Hegel says, 
in the dusk of evening; and it was horror at the 
abandonment of all creative virtues that brought 
Plato to conceive them so sharply and to preach 
them in so sad a tone. It was after all but the 
love of beauty that made him censure the poets; 
for like a true Greek and a true lover he wished 
to see beauty flourish in the real world. It was 
love of freedom that made him harsh to his ideal 
citizens, that they might be strong enough to 
preserve the liberal life. And when he broke 
away from political preoccupations and turned to 
the inner life, his interpretations proved the abso 
lute sufficiency of the Socratic method; and he 
left nothing pertinent unsaid on ideal love and 
ideal immortality. 

Beyond this point no rendering of the 
supplied* its Life ^ Reason has ever been carried, 
natural Aristotle improved the detail, and gave 

breadth and precision to many a part. 
If Plato possessed greater imaginative splendour 
and more enthusiasm in austerity, Aristotle had 
perfect sobriety and adequacy, with greater fidel 
ity to the common sentiments of his race. Plato, 
by virtue of his scope and plasticity, together 
with a certain prophetic zeal, outran at times the 
limits of the Hellenic and the rational; he saw 
human virtue so surrounded and oppressed by 
physical dangers that he wished to give it mythi- 



INTRODUCTION 21 

cal sanctions, and his fondness for transmigra 
tion and nether punishments was somewhat more 
than playful. If as a work of imagination his 
philosophy holds the first place, Aristotle s has the 
decisive advantage of being the unalloyed expres 
sion of reason. In Aristotle the conception of 
human nature is perfectly sound ; everything ideal 
has a natural basis and everything natural an 
ideal development. His ethics, when thoroughly 
digested and weighed, especially when the meagre 
outlines are filled in with Plato s more discursive 
expositions, will seem therefore entirely final. 
The Life of Reason finds there its classic expli 
cation. 

Philosophy As ^ is improbable that there will 

thus complete, S0 on be another people so free from 

yet in need . . , , _ 

of restate- preoccupations, so gifted, and so for- 
ment. tunate as the Greeks, or capable in 

consequence of so well exemplifying humanity, so 
also it is improbable that a philosopher will soon 
arise with Aristotle s scope, judgment, or author 
ity, one knowing so well how to be both reason 
able and exalted. It might seem vain, therefore, 
to try to do afresh what has been done before with 
unapproachable success; and instead of writing 
inferior things at great length about the Life of 
Reason, it might be simpler to read and to propa 
gate what Aristotle wrote with such immortal just 
ness and masterly brevity. But times change; 
and though the principles of reason remain the 
same the facts of human life and of human con- 



22 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

science alter. A new background, a new basis of 
application, appears for logic, and it may be use 
ful to restate old truths in new words, the better 
to prove their eternal validity. Aristotle is, in his 
morals, Greek, concise, and elementary. As a 
Greek, he mixes with the ideal argument illustra 
tions, appreciations, and conceptions which are not 
inseparable from its essence. In themselves, no 
doubt, these accessories are better than what in 
modern times would be substituted for them, being 
less sophisticated and of a nobler stamp; but to 
our eyes they disguise what is profound and uni 
versal in natural morality by embodying it in 
images which do not belong to our life. Our 
direst struggles and the last sanctions of our 
morality do not appear in them. The pagan 
world, because its maturity was simpler than our 
crudeness, seems childish to us. We do not find 
there our sins and holiness, our love, charity, and 
honour. 

The Greek too would not find in our world the 
things he valued most, things to which he sur 
rendered himself, perhaps, with a more constant 
self-sacrifice piety, country, friendship, and beau 
ty ; and he might add that his ideals were rational 
and he could attain them, while ours are extrava 
gant and have been missed. Yet even if we ac 
knowledged his greater good fortune, it would be 
impossible for us to go back and become like him. 
To make the attempt would show no sense of real 
ity and little sense of humour. We must dress in 



INTRODUCTION 23 

our own clothes, if we do not wish to substitute a 
masquerade for practical existence. What we canj 
adopt from Greek morals is only the abstract prin 
ciple of their development; their foundation in all* 
the extant forces of human nature and their effort 
toward establishing a perfect harmony among 
them. These forces themselves have perceptibly 
changed, at least in their relative power. Thus 
we are more conscious of wounds to stanch and 
wrongs to fight against, and less of goods to at 
tain. The movement of conscience has veered; 
the centre of gravity lies in another part of the 
character. 

Another circumstance that invites a restate 
ment of rational ethics is the impressive illustra 
tion of their principle which subsequent history 
has afforded. Mankind has been making extraor 
dinary experiments of which Aristotle could not 
dream ; arid their result is calculated to clarify 
even his philosophy. For in some respects it 
needed experiments and clarification. He had 
been led into a systematic fusion of dialectic with 
physics, and of this fusion^all pretentio^us modern 
philosophy is the aggravated extension. Socrates 
pupils could not abandon his ideal principles, yet 
they could not bear to abstain from physics 
altogether ; they therefore made a mock physics in 
moral terms, out of which theology was after 
ward developed. Plato, standing nearer to 
Socrates and being no naturalist by disposition, 
never carried the fatal experiment beyond the 



24 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

mythical stage. He accordingly remained the 
purer moralist, much as Aristotle s judgment may 
be preferred in many particulars. Their relative 
position may be roughly indicated by saying that 
Plato had no physics and that Aristotle s physics 
was false; so that ideal science in the one suf 
fered from want of environment and control, while 
in the other it suffered from misuse in a sphere 
where it had no application. 
Plato s What had happened was briefly this : 

myths in lieu Plato, having studied many sorts of 
rf physics. philosophy and being a bold and uni 
versal genius, was not satisfied to leave all physi 
cal questions pending, as his master had done. 
He adopted, accordingly, Heraclitus s doctrine of 
the immediate, which he now called the realm of 
phenomena ; for what exists at any instant, if you 
arrest and name it, turns out to have been an 
embodiment of some logical essence, such as dis 
course might define; in every fact some idea 
makes its appearance, and such an apparition of 
the ideal is a phenomenon. Moreover, another 
philosophy had made a deep impression on Plato s 
mind and had helped to develop Socratic defini 
tions: Parmenides had called the concept of jure 
Being the only reality; and to satisfy the strong 
dialectic byVnich this doctrine was supported and 
at the same time to bridge the infinite chasm 
between one formless substance and many appear 
ances irrelevant to it, Plato substituted the many 
Socratic ideas, all of which were relevant to ap- 



INTRODUCTION 25 

pearance, for the one concept _ of_JParmenides. 
Tlie ideas thus acquired what is called metapliYsi- 

cal subsistence ; for they stood in the place of the 
Eleatic Absolute, and at the same time were the 
realities that phenomena manifested. 

The technique of this combination is much to 
be admired; but the feat is technical and adds 
nothing to the significance of what Plato has to 
say on any concrete subject. This barren triumph 
was, however, fruitful in misunderstandings. 
The characters and values a thing possessed were 
now conceived to subsist apart from it, and might > 
even have preceded it and caused its existence; 
a mechanism composed of values and definitions 
could thus be placed behind phenomena to con 
stitute a substantial physical world. Such a 
dream could not be taken seriously, until good 
sense was wholly lost and a bevy of magic spirits 
could be imagined peopling the infinite and yet 
carrying on the business of earth. Aristotle re 
jected the metaphysical subsistence of ideas, but 
thought they might still be essences operative in 
nature, if only they were identified with the life 
or form of particular things. The dream thus 
lost its frank wildness, but none of its inherent 
incongruity: for the sense in which characters 
and values make a thing what it is, is purely 
dialectical. They give it its status in the ideal 
world; but the appearance of these characters 
and values here and now is what needs explan 
ation in physics, an explanation which can "be 



r ju>r~ tf x^vvt^i^^^y 
1 



26 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

furnished, of course, only by the physical con- 
/A catenation and distribution of causes. 

Aristotle himself did not fail to 
Aristotle s make this necessary distinction be- 

final causes. . -, , 

Modern sci- tween efficient cause and formal es- 
encecan sence ; but as his science was only 

v expedients. natural history, and mechanism had no 
plausibility in his eyes, the efficiency 

of the cause was always due, in his view, to its 
ideal quality; as in heredity the father s human 
character, not his physical structure, might seem 
to warrant the son s humanity. Every ideal, 
before it could be embodied, had to pre-exist in 
some other embodiment; but as when the ulti 
mate purpose of the cosmos is considered it seems 
to lie beyond any given embodiment, the highest 
ideal must somehow exist disembodied. It must 
pre-exist, thought Aristotle, in order to supply, by 
way of magic attraction, a physical cause for per- 

petual movement in the world. 

It must be confessed, in justice to this consum 
mate philosopher, who is not less masterly in the 
use of knowledge than unhappy in divination, that 
the transformation of the highest good into a 
physical power is merely incidental with him, and 
due to a want of faith (at that time excusable) 
in mechanism and evolution. Aristotle s deity is 
always a moral ideal and every detail in its defini 
tion is based on discrimination between the better 
and the worse. No accommodation to the ways 
of nature is here allowed to cloud the kingdom of 



INTRODUCTION 27 

heaven ; this deity is not condemned to do whatever 
happens nor to absorb whatever exists. It is mythi 
cal only in its physical application ; in moral phi 
losophy it remains a legitimate conception. 

Truth certainly exists, if existence be not too 
mean an attribute for that eternal realm which is 
tenanted by ideals; but truth is repugnant to 
physical or psychical being. Moreover, truth may 
very well be identified with an impassible intellect, 
which should do nothing but possess all truth, with 
no point of view, no animal warmth, and no transi 
tive process. Such an intellect and truth are ex 
pressions having a different metaphorical back 
ground and connotation, but, when thought out, 
an identical import. They both attempt to evoke 
that ideal standard which human thought pro 
poses to itself. This function is their effective 
essence. It insures their eternal fixity, and this 
property surely endows them with a very genuine 
and sublime reality. What is fantastic is only the 
dynamic function attributed to them by Aristotle, 
which obliges them to inhabit some fabulous ex 
tension to the physical world. Even this physical 
efficacy, however, is spiritualised as much as pos 
sible, since deity is said to move the cosmos only 
as an object of love or an object of knowledge may 
move the mind. Such efficacy is imputed to a 
hypostasised end, but evidently resides in fact in 
the functioning and impulsive spirit that conceives 
and pursues an ideal, endowing it with whatever 
attraction it may seem to have. The absolute 



28 THE LIFE OF REASON 

intellect described by Aristotle remains,, therefore, 
as pertinent to the Life of Eeason as Plato s idea 
of the good. Though less comprehensive (for it 
abstracts from all animal interests, from all pas 
sion and mortality), it is more adequate and dis 
tinct in the region it dominates. It expresses 
sublimely the goal of speculative thinking; which 
is none other than to live as much as may be in 
the eternal and to absorb and be absorbed in the 
truth. 

The rest of ancient philosophy belongs to the 
decadence and rests in physics on eclecticism and 
in morals on despair. That creative breath which 
had stirred the founders and legislators of Greece 
no longer inspired their descendants. Helpless to 
control the course of events, they took refuge in 
abstention or in conformity, and their ethics 
became a matter of private economy and senti 
ment, no longer aspiring to mould the state or 
give any positive aim to existence. The time was 
approaching when both speculation and morals 
-were to regard the other world; reason had abdi 
cated the throne, and religion, after that brief 
interregnum, resumed it for long ages. 

Such are the threads which tradition puts into 
the hands of an observer who at the present time 
might attempt to knit the Life of Reason ideally 
together. The problem is to unite a trustworthy 
conception of the conditions under which man 
lives with an adequate conception of his inter- 



INTRODUCTION 29 

ests. Both conceptions, fortunately, lie before 
us. Heraclitus and Democritus, in systems 
easily seen to be complementary, gave long 
ago a picture of nature such as all later 
observation, down to our own day, has done noth 
ing but fill out and confirm. Psychology and 
physics still repeat their ideas, often with richer 
detail, but never with a more radical or prophetic 
glance. Nor does the transcendental philosophy, 
in spite of its self-esteem, add anytmng e^ntial. 
It was a thing taken for granted in 
ancient and scholastic philosophy that 



true but in- a being dwelling, like man, in 

consequential. ,, . -,. , 

the immediate, whose moments are in 
flux, needed constructive reason to interpret his 
experience and paint in his unstable consciousness 
some symbolic picture of the world. To have 
reverted to this constructive process and studied 
its stages is an interesting achievement; but the 
construction is already made by common-sense 
and science, and it was visionary insolence in the 
Germans to propose to make that construc 
tion otherwise. Retrospective self-consciousness is 
dearly bought if it inhibits the intellect and em 
barrasses the inferences which, in its spontaneous 
operation, it has known perfectly how to make. 
In the heat of scientific theorising or dialectical 
argument it is sometimes salutary to be reminded 
that we are men thinking; but, after all, it is 
no news. We know that life is a dream, and how 
should thinking be more ? Yet the thinking must 



30 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

go on, and the only vital question is to what prac 
tical or poetic conceptions it is able to lead us. 

Similarly the Socratic philosophy affords a 
noble and genuine account of what goods may 
be realised by living. Modern theory has not 
done so much to help us here, however, as it has 
in physics. It seldom occurs to modern moralists 
that theirs is the science of all good and the art 
of its attainment: they think only of 

Verbal ethics. i 

some set of categorical precepts or some 
theory of moral sentiments, abstracting altogether 
from the ideals reigning in society, in science, and 
in art. They deal with the secondary question 
What ought I to do? without having answered 
the primary question, What ought to be? They 
attach morals to religion rather than to politics, 
and this religion unhappily long ago ceased to be 
wisdom expressed in fancy in order to become 
superstition overlaid with reasoning. They divide 
man into compartments and the less they leave 
in the one labelled "morality" the more sub 
lime they think their morality is; and sometimes 
pedantry and scholasticism are carried so far that 
nothing but an abstract sense of duty remains in 
the broad region which should contain all human 
goods. 

Such trivial sanctimony in morals is doubtless 
due to artificial views about the conditions of wel 
fare; the basis is laid in authority rather than in 
human nature, and the goal in salvation rather 
than in happiness. One great modern philoso- 



INTRODUCTION 31 

pher, however, was free from these preconceptions, 
and might have reconstituted the Life of Eeason 
had he had a sufficient interest in cul- 
amTthe iuie. Spinoza brought man back into 

Life of nature, and made him the nucleus of 

all moral values, showing how he may 
recognise his environment and how he may master 
it. But Spinoza s sympathy with mankind fell 
short of imagination ; any noble political or poeti 
cal ideal eluded him. Everything impassioned 
seemed to him insane, everything human neces 
sarily petty. Man was to be a pious tame animal, 
with the stars shining above his head. Instead 
of imagination Spinoza cultivated mysticism, 
which is indeed an alternative. A prophet in 
speculation, he remained a levite in sentiment. 
Little or nothing would need to be changed in his 
system if the Life of Reason, in its higher ranges, 
were to be grafted upon it; but such affiliation 
is not necessary, and it is rendered unnatural by 
the lack of sweep and generosity in Spinoza s 
practical ideals. 

For moral philosophy we are driven 
classic sources back, then, upon the ancients ; but not, 
of inspira- O f course, for moral inspiration. In 
dustrialism and democracy, the French 
Revolution, the Renaissance, and even the Catholic 
system, which in the midst of ancient illusions 
enshrines so much tenderness and wisdom, still 
live in the world, though forgotten by philoso 
phers, and point unmistakably toward their several 



32 THE LIFE OF REASON 

goals. Our task is not to construct but only 
to interpret ideals, confronting them with one 
another and with the conditions which, for the 
most part, they alike ignore. There is no need 
of refuting anything, for the will which is behind 
all ideals and behind most dogmas cannot itself 
be refuted; but it may be enlightened and led to 
reconsider its intent, when its satisfaction is seen 
to be either naturally impossible or inconsistent 
with better things. The age of controversy is 
past; that of interpretation has succeeded. 

Here, then, is the programme of the following 
work : Starting with the immediate flux, in which 
all objects and impulses are given, to describe the 
Life of Eeason; that is, to note what facts and 
purposes seem to be primary, to show how the con 
ception of nature and life gathers around them, 
and to point to the ideals of thought and action 
which are approached by this gradual mastering 
of experience by reason. A great task, which it 
would be beyond the powers of a writer in this age 
either to execute or to conceive, had not the Greeks 
drawn for us the outlines of an ideal culture at 
a time when life was simpler than at present and 
individual intelligence more resolute and free. 



REASON IN COMMON SENSE 



CHAPTER I 

THE BIRTH OF REASON" 

Whether Chaos or Order lay at the beginning 
of things is a question once much debated in the 
schools but afterward long in abeyance, not so 
much because it had been solved as 
because one party had been silenced 



an Order, by social pressure. The question is 

called Chaos . \ , 

whenincom- bound to recur in an age when obser- 
patibie with a va tion and dialectic again freely con 
front each other. Naturalists look back 
to chaos since they observe everything growing 
from seeds and shifting its character in regen 
eration. The order now established in the world 
may be traced back to a situation in which it 
did not appear. Dialecticians, on the other 
hand, refute this presumption by urging that 
every collocation of things must have been pre 
ceded by another collocation in itself no less defi 
nite and precise ; and further that some principle 
of transition or continuity must always have 
obtained, else successive states \vould stand in no 
relation to one another, notably not in the relation 
of cause and effect, expressed in a natural law, 
which is presupposed in this instance. Potentiali- 
35 



36 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ties are dispositions,, and a disposition involves an 
order,, as does also the passage from any specific 
potentiality into act. Thus the world, we are told, 
must always have possessed a structure. 

The two views may perhaps be reconciled if we 
take each with a qualification. Chaos doubtless 
has existed and will return nay, it reigns now, 
very likely, in the remoter and inmost parts of 
the universe if by chaos we understand a nature 
containing none of the objects we are wont to dis 
tinguish, a nature such that human life and human 
thought would be impossible in its bosom ; but this 
nature must be presumed to have an order, an 
order directly importing, if the tendency of its 
movement be taken into account, all the complexi 
ties and beauties, all the sense and reason which 
exist now. Order is accordingly continual; but 
only when order means not a specific arrangement, 
favourable to a given form of life, but any arrange 
ment whatsoever. The process by which an ar- 
rangement which is essentially unstable gradu 
ally shifts cannot be said to aim at every stage 
which at any moment it involves. For the process 
passes beyond. It presently abolishes all the 
forms which may have arrested attention and gen 
erated love; its initial energy defeats every pur 
pose which we may fondly attribute to it. Nor 
is it here necessary to remind ourselves that to 
call results their own causes is always preposter 
ous; for in this case even the mythical sense 
which might be attached to such language is inap- 



THE BIKTH OF KEASON 37 

plicable. Here the process, taken in the gross, 
does not,, even by mechanical necessity, support the 
value which is supposed to guide it. That value 
is realised for a moment only ; so that if we impute 
to Cronos any intent to beget his children we 
must also impute to him an intent to devour them. 
Of course the various states of the 

Absolute 

order, or world, when we survey them retro- 
static im- spectively, constitute another and now 
potent, indif- static order called historic truth. To 
this absolute and impotent order every 
detail is essential. If we wished to abuse language 
so much as to speak of will in an " Absolute " 
where change is excluded, so that nothing can be or 
be conceived beyond it, we might say that the Ab 
solute willed everything that ever exists, and that 
the eternal order terminated in every fact indis 
criminately; but such language involves an after 
image of motion and life, of preparation, risk, and 
subsequent accomplishment, adventures all pre 
supposing refractory materials and excluded from 
eternal truth by its very essence. The only function 
those traditional metaphors have is to shield con 
fusion and sentimentality. Because Jehovah once 
fought for the Jews, we need not continue to say 
that the truth is solicitous about us, when it is only 
we that are fighting to attain it. The universe can 
wish particular things only in so far as particu 
lar beings wish them ; only in its relative capacity 
can it find things good, and only in its relative 
capacity can it be good for anything. 



38 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

The efficacious or physical order which exists at 
any moment in the world and out of which the 
next moment s order is developed, may accordingly 
be termed a relative chaos: a chaos, because the 
values suggested and supported by the second 
moment could not have belonged to the first; but 
merely a relative chaos, first because it probably 
carried values of its own which rendered it an 
order in a moral and eulogistic sense, and sec 
ondly because it was potentially, by virtue of 
its momentum, a basis for the second moment s 
,-jralues as well. 

Human life, when it begins to pos- 
in expen- gegg intrinsic value, is an incipient 

ence order is 

relative to order in the midst of what seems a 
whiciTde vas ^ though, to some extent, a vanish- 
termine the ing chaos. This reputed chaos can be 
deci P hered and appreciated by man 
only in proportion as the order in him 
self is confirmed and extended. For man s con 
sciousness is evidently practical; it clings to his 
fate, registers, so to speak, the higher and lower 
temperature of his fortunes, and, so far as it can, 
represents the agencies on which those fortunes 
depend. When this dramatic vocation of con 
sciousness has not been fulfilled at all, conscious 
ness is wholly confused; the world it envisages 
seems consequently a chaos. Later, if .experience 
has fallen into shape, and there are settled cate 
gories and constant objects in human discourse, 
the inference is drawn that the original dis- 



THE BIRTH OF REASON 39 

position of things was also orderly and indeed 
mechanically conducive to just those feats of 
instinct and intelligence which have been since 
accomplished. A theory of origins, of substance, 
and of natural laws may thus be framed and 
accepted, and may receive confirmation in the 
further march of events. It will be observed, how 
ever, that what is credibly asserted about the past 
is not a report which the past was itself able to 
make when it existed nor one it is now able, in 
some oracular fashion, to formulate and to impose 
upon us. The report is a rational construction 
based and seated in present experience; it has no 
cogency for the inattentive and no existence for 
the ignorant. Although the universe, then, may 
not have come from chaos, human experience cer 
tainly has begun in a private and dreamful chaos 
of its own, out of which it still only partially and 
momentarily emerges. The history of this awa 
kening is of course not the same as that of 
the environing world ultimately discovered; it is 
the history, however, of that discovery itself, of the 
knowledge through which alone the world can be 
revealed. We may accordingly dispense ourselves 
from preliminary courtesies to the real universal 
order, nature, the absolute, and the gods. We 
shall make their acquaintance in due season and 
better appreciate their moral status, if we strive 
merely to recall our own experience, and to retrace, 
the visions and reflections out of which those ap 
paritions have grown. 



40 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

The discov- To revert to primordial feeling is an 
eredcon- exercise in mental disintegration, not 
reason not a ^ ea ^ ^ science. We might, indeed, 
its beginning. as i n animal psychology, retrace the 
situations in which instinct and sense seem first 
to appear and write, as it were, a genealogy of rea 
son based on circumstantial evidence. Reason 
was born, as it has since discovered, into a world 
already wonderfully organised, in which it found 
its precursor in what is called life, its seat in an 
animal body of unusual plasticity, and its func 
tion in rendering that body s volatile instincts and 
sensations harmonious with one another and with 
the outer world on which they depend. It did 
not arise until the will or conscious stress, by which 
any modification of living bodies inertia seems 
to be accompanied, began to respond to repre 
sented objects, and to maintain that inertia not 
absolutely by resistance but only relatively and 
indirectly through labour. Reason has thus super 
vened at the last stage of an adaptation which 
had long been carried on by irrational and even 
unconscious processes. Nature preceded, with 
all that fixation of impulses and conditions which 
gives reason its tasks and its point-d appui. 
Nevertheless, such a matrix or cradle for reason 
belongs only externally to its life. The descrip 
tion of conditions involves their previous discov 
ery and a historian equipped with many data and 
many analogies of thought. Such scientific re 
sources are absent in those first moments of 



THE BIRTH OF REASON 41 

rational living which we here wish to recall; the 
first chapter in reason s memoirs would no more 
entail the description of its real environment than 
the first chapter in human history would include 
true accounts of astronomy, psychology, and ani 
mal evolution. 

The flux I n order to begin at the beginning 

first. we must try to fall back on uninter- 

preted feeling, as the mystics aspire to do. We 
need not expect, however, to find peace there, for 
the immediate is in flux. Pure feeling rejoices 
in a logical nonentity very deceptive to dialectical 
minds. They often think, when they fall back on 
elements necessarily indescribable, that they have 
come upon true nothingness. If they are mys 
tics, distrusting thought and craving the large 
ness of indistinction, they may embrace this 
alleged nothingness with joy, even if it seem posi 
tively painful, hoping to find rest there through 
self-abnegation. If on the contrary they are 
rationalists they may reject the immediate with 
scorn and deny that it exists at all, since in their 
books they cannot define it satisfactorily. Both 
mystics and rationalists, however, are deceived by 
their mental agility ; the immediate exists, even if 
dialectic cannot explain it. What the rationalist 
calls nonentity is the substrate and locus of all 
ideas, having the obstinate reality of matter, the 
crushing irrationality of existence itself; and one 
who attempts to override it becomes to that extent 
an irrelevant rhapsodist, dealing with thin after- 



42 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

images of being. Nor has the mystic who sinks 
into the immediate much better appreciated the 
situation. This immediate is not God but chaos; 
its nothingness is pregnant, restless, and brutish; 
it is that from which all things emerge in so far 
as they have any permanence or value, so that to 
lapse into it again is a dull suicide and no salva 
tion. Peace, which is after all what the mystic 
seeks, lies not in indistinction but in perfection. 
If he reaches it in a measure himself, it is by the 
traditional discipline he still practises, not by his 
heats or his languors. 

The seed-bed of reason lies, then, in the imme 
diate, but what reason draws thence is momentum 
and power to rise above its source. It is the per 
turbed immediate itself that finds or at least seeks 
its peace in reason, through which it comes in 
sight of some sort of ideal permanence. When 
the flux manages to form an eddy and to main 
tain by breathing and nutrition what we call a 
life, it affords some slight foothold and object for 
thought and becomes in a measure like the ark 
in the desert, a moving habitation for the eternal. 
Life begins to have some value and 

JLife the nxa- c 

ationofin- continuity so soon as there is some 
thing definite that lives and something 
definite to live for. The primacy of will, as 
Fichte and Schopenhauer conceived it, is a mythi 
cal way of designating this situation. Of course 
a will can have no being in the absence of reali 
ties or ideas marking its direction and contrast- 



THE BIRTH OF REASON 43 

ing the eventualities it seeks with those it flies 
from ; and tendency, no less than movement, needs 
an organised medium to make it possible, while 
aspiration and fear involve an ideal world. Yet 
a principle of choice is not deducible from mere 
ideas, and no interest is involved in the formal 
relations of things. All survey needs an arbitrary 
starting-point; all valuation rests on an irrational 
bias. The absolute flux cannot be physically ar 
rested; but what arrests it ideally is the fixing of 
some point in it from which it can be measured 
and illumined. Otherwise it could show no form 
and maintain no preference; it would be impos 
sible to approach or recede from a represented 
state, and to suffer or to exert will in view of 
events. The irrational fate that lodges the tran 
scendental self in this or that body, inspires it 
with definite passions, and subjects it to particular 
buffets from the outer world this is the prime 
condition of all observation and inference, of all 
failure or success. 

Primary Those sensations in which a transi- 

duaiities. tion is contained need only analysis to 
yield two ideal and related terms two points in 
space or two characters in feeling. Hot and cold, 
here and there, good and bad, now and then, are 
T dyads that spring into being when the flux accen 
tuates some term and so makes possible a dis 
crimination of parts and directions in its own 
movement. An initial attitude sustains incipient 
interests. What we first discover in ourselves, 



44 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

before the influence we obey has given rise to any 
definite idea, is the working of instincts already 
in motion. Impulses to appropriate and to reject 
first teach us the points of the compass, and space 
itself, like charity, begins at home. 
First grop- The guide in early sensuous educa- 

ings. in- tion is the same that conducts the 
nucleus of whole Life of Eeason, namely, impulse 
reason. checked by experiment, and experi 

ment judged again by impulse. What teaches the 
child to distinguish the nurse s breast from sundry 
blank or disquieting presences? What induces 
him to arrest that image, to mark its associates, 
and to recognise them with alacrity? The dis 
comfort of its absence and the comfort of its 
possession. To that image is attached the chief 
satisfaction he knows, and the force of that 
satisfaction disentangles it before all other images 
from the feeble and fluid continuum of his life. 
What first awakens in him a sense of reality is 
what first is able to appease his unrest. 

Had the group of feelings, now welded together 
in fruition, found no instinct in him to awaken 
and become a signal for, the group would never 
have persisted; its loose elements would have 
been allowed to pass by unnoticed and would 
not have been recognised when they recurred. 
Experience would have remained absolute inex 
perience, as foolishly perpetual as the gurglings 
of rivers or the flickerings of sunlight in a grove. 
But an instinct was actually present, so formed as 



THE BIRTH OF REASON 45 

to be aroused by a determinate stimulus; and the 
image produced by that stimulus,, when it came, 
could have in consequence a meaning and an in 
dividuality. It seemed by divine right to signify 
something interesting, something real, because by 
natural contiguity it flowed from something per 
tinent and important to life. Every accompany 
ing sensation which shared that privilege, or in 
time was engrossed in that function, would ulti 
mately become a part of that conceived reality, a 
quality of that thing. 

The same primacy of impulses, irrational in 
themselves but expressive of bodily functions, is 
observable in the behaviour of animals, and in 
those dreams, obsessions, and primary passions 
which in the midst of sophisticated life sometimes 
lay bare the obscure groundwork of human nature. 
Reason s work is there undone. We can observe 
sporadic growths, disjointed fragments of rational 
ity, springing up in a moral wilderness. In the 
passion of love, for instance, a cause unknown to 
the sufferer, but which is doubtless the spring- 
flood of hereditary instincts accidentally let loose, 
suddenly checks the young man s gayety, dispels 
his random curiosity, arrests perhaps his very 
breath; and when he looks for a cause to explain 
his suspended faculties, he can find it only in the 
presence or image of another being, of whose char 
acter, possibly, he knows nothing and whose beauty 
may not be remarkable; yet that image pursues 
him everywhere, and he is dominated by an unac- 



46 THE LIFE OF REASON 

customed tragic earnestness and a new capacity 
for suffering and joy. If the passion be strong 
there is no previous interest or duty that will be 
remembered before it; if it be lasting the whole 
life may be reorganised by it; it may impose new 
habits, other manners, and another religion. Yet 
what is the root of all this idealism? An irra 
tional instinct, normally intermittent, such as all 
dumb creatures share, which has here managed to 
dominate a human soul and to enlist all the men 
tal powers in its more or less permanent service, 
upsetting their usual equilibrium. This madness, 
however, inspires method; and for the first time, 
perhaps, in his life, the man has something to 
live for. The blind affinity that like a magnet 
draws all the faculties around it, in so uniting 
them, suffuses them with an unwonted spiritual 
light. 

Better and Here, on a small scale and on a pre- 

fumiLnentai car ^ ous foundation, we may see clearly 
categories. illustrated and foreshadowed that Life 
of Reason which is simply the unity given to all 
existence by a mind in love with the good. In the 
higher reaches of human nature, as much as in 
the lower, rationality depends on distinguishing 
the excellent; and that distinction can be made, 
in the last analysis, only by an irrational impulse. 
As life is a better form given to force, by which 
the universal flux is subdued to create and 
serve a somewhat permanent interest, so rea 
son is a better form given to interest itself, by 



THE BIRTH OF REASON 47 

which it is fortified and propagated,, and ulti 
mately, perhaps, assured of satisfaction. The 
substance to which this form is given remains 
irrational; so that rationality, like all excellence, 
is something secondary and relative, requiring a 
natural being to possess or to impute it. When 
definite interests are recognised and the values of 
things are estimated by that standard, action at 
the same time veering in harmony with that esti 
mation, then reason has been born and a moral 
world has arisen. 



CHAPTEK II 

FIRST STEPS AND FIRST FLUCTUATIONS 

Consciousness is a born hermit. 

Dreams 

before Though subject, by divine dispensa- 

thoughts. tion ^ to gpells of fervour and a p a thy 7 

like a singing bird, it is at first quite unconcerned 
about its own conditions or maintenance. To 
acquire a notion of such matters, or an interest in 
them, it would have to lose its hearty simplicity 
and begin to reflect; it would have to forget the 
present with its instant joys in order laboriously 
to conceive the absent and the hypothetical. The 
body may be said to make for self-preservation, 
since it has an organic equilibrium which, when 
not too rudely disturbed, restores itself by growth 
and co-operative action; but no such principle 
appears in the soul. Foolish in the beginning 
and generous in the end, consciousness thinks of 
nothing so little as of its own interests. It is lost 
in its objects; nor would it ever acquire even an 
indirect concern in its future, did not love of 
things external attach it to their fortunes. At 
tachment to ideal terms is indeed what gives con 
sciousness its continuity; its parts have no rele 
vance or relation to one another save what they 
48 



FIRST STEPS 49 

acquire by depending on the same body or repre 
senting the same objects. Even when conscious 
ness grows sophisticated and thinks it cares for 
itself, it really cares only for its ideals; the world 
it pictures seems to it beautiful, and it may inci 
dentally prize itself also, when it has come to re 
gard itself as a part of that world. Initially, how 
ever, it is free even from that honest selfishness; 
it looks straight out; it is interested in the move 
ments it observes; it swells with the represented 
world, suffers with its commotion, and subsides, 
no less willingly, in its interludes of calm. 

Natural history and psychology arrive at con 
sciousness from the outside, and consequently give 
it an artificial articulation and rationality which 
are wholly alien to its essence. These sciences 
infer feeling from habit or expression; so that 
only the expressible and practical aspects of feel 
ing figure in their calculation. But these aspects 
are really peripheral; the core is an irresponsible, 
ungoverned, irrevocable dream. Psychologists 
have discussed perception ad nauseam and become 
horribly entangled in a combined idealism and 
physiology; for they must perforce approach the 
subject from the side of matter, since all science 
and all evidence is external; nor could they ever 
reach consciousness at all if they did not observe 
its occasions and then interpret those occasions 
dramatically. At the same time, the inferred 
mind they subject to examination will yield noth 
ing but ideas, and it is a marvel how such a dream 
VOL. I 4 



50 THE LIFE OF REASON 

can regard those natural objects from which the 
psychologist has inferred it. Perception is in fact 
no primary phase of consciousness; it is an ulte 
rior practical function acquired by a dream which 
has become symbolic of its conditions, and there 
fore relevant to its own destiny. Such relevance 
and symbolism are indirect and slowly acquired; 
their status cannot be understood unless we regard 
them as forms of imagination happily grown sig 
nificant. In imagination, not in perception, lies 
the substance of experience, while knowledge and 
reason are but its chastened and ultimate form. 

Every actual animal is somewhat 

1 he mind * 

vegetates un- dull and somewhat mad. He will at 
controlled times miss his signals and stare va- 

save by 

physical cantly when he might well act, while 

at other times he will run off into con 
vulsions and raise a dust in his own brain to no 
purpose. These imperfections are so human that 
we should hardly recognise ourselves if we could 
shake them off altogether. Not to retain any dul- 
ness would mean to possess untiring attention and 
universal interests, thus realising the boast about 
deeming nothing human alien to us; while to be 
absolutely without folly would involve perfect self- 
knowledge and self-control. The intelligent man 
known to history flourishes within a dullard and 
holds a lunatic in leash. He is encased in a pro 
tective shell of ignorance and insensibility which 
keeps him from being exhausted and confused by 
this too complicated world; but that integument 



FIRST STEPS 51 

blinds him at the same time to many of his near* 
est and highest interests. He is amused by the 
antics of the brute dreaming within his breast; 
he gloats on his passionate reveries, an amuse 
ment which sometimes costs him very dear. Thus 
the best human intelligence is still decidedly bar- 
barous ; it fights in heavy armour and keeps a fool 
at court. 

If consciousness could ever have the function 
of guiding conduct better than instinct can, in the 
beginning it would be most incompetent for that 
office. Only the routine and equilibrium which 
healthy instinct involves keep thought and will at 
all within the limits of sanity. The predeter 
mined interests we have as animals 

Internal 

order fortunately focus our attention on 

supervenes. pract i ca i things, pulling it back, like a 
ball with an elastic cord, within the radius of 
pertinent matters. Instinct alone compels us to 
neglect and seldom to recall the irrelevant infinity 
of ideas. Philosophers have sometimes said that 
all ideas come from experience; they never could 
have been poets and must have forgotten that they 
were ever children. The great difficulty in edu 
cation is to get experience out of ideas. Shame, 
conscience, and reason continually disallow and 
ignore what consciousness presents; and what are 
they but habit and latent instinct asserting them 
selves and forcing us to disregard our midsum 
mer madness? Idiocy and lunacy are merely 
reversions to a condition in which present con- 



52 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

sciousness is in the ascendant and has escaped the 
control of unconscious forces. We speak of people 
being " out of their senses," when they have in 
J/\ fact fallen back into them; or of those who have 
" lost their mind/ when they have lost merely that 
habitual control over consciousness which pre 
vented it from flaring into all sorts of obsessions 
and agonies. Their bodies having become de 
ranged, their minds, far from correcting that 
derangement, instantly share and betray it. A 
dream is always simmering below the conventional 
surface of speech and reflection. Even in the 
highest reaches and serenest meditations of science 
it sometimes breaks through. Even there we are 
seldom constant enough to conceive a truly natural 
world; somewhere passionate, fanciful, or magic 
elements will slip into the scheme and baffle 
rational ambition. 

A body seriously out of equilibrium, either with 
itself or with its environment, perishes outright. 
Not so a mind. Madness and suffering can set 
themselves no limit; they lapse only when the 
corporeal frame that sustains them yields to cir 
cumstances and changes its habit. If they are 
unstable at all, it is because they ordinarily corre 
spond to strains and conjunctions which a vig 
orous body overcomes, or which dissolve the body 
altogether. A pain not incidental to the play of 
practical instincts may easily be recurrent, and it 
might be perpetual if even the worst habits were 
not intermittent and the most useless agitations 



FIRST STEPS 53 

exhausting. Some respite will therefore ensue 
upon pain, but no magic cure. Madness, in like 
manner, if pronounced, is precarious, but when 
speculative enough to be harmless or not strong 
enough to be debilitating, it too may last for 
ever. 

An imaginative life may therefore exist para- 
sitically in a man, hardly touching his action or 
environment. There is no possibility of exorcis 
ing these apparitions by their own power. A 
nightmare does not dispel itself; it endures until 
the organic strain which caused it is relaxed either 
by natural exhaustion or by some external in 
fluence. Therefore human ideas are still for the 
most part sensuous and trivial, shifting with the 
chance currents of the brain, and representing 
nothing, so to speak, but personal temperature. 
Personal temperature, moreover, is sometimes 
tropical. There are brains like a South Ameri 
can jungle, as there are others like an Arabian 
desert, strewn with nothing but bones. While a 
passionate sultriness prevails in the mind there is 
no end to its luxuriance. Languages intricately 
articulate, flaming mythologies, metaphysical per 
spectives lost in infinity, arise in remarkable 
profusion. In time, however, there comes a 
change of climate and the whole forest dis 
appears. 

It is easy, from the stand-point of acquired prac 
tical competence, to deride a merely imaginative 
life. Derision, however, is not interpretation, and 



54 THE LIFE OF SEASON 

the better method of overcoming erratic ideas is 
to trace them out dialectically and see if they will 
not recognise their own fatuity. The most irre 
sponsible vision has certain principles of order and 
j- I valuation by which it estimates itself ; and in these 
I principles the Life of Eeason is already broached, 
however halting may be its development. We 
should lead ourselves out of our dream, as the 
Israelites were led out of Egypt, by the promise 
and eloquence of that dream itself. Otherwise we 
^ might kill the goose that lays the golden egg, and 
by proscribing imagination abolish science, 
intrinsic Visionary experience has a first 

pleasure in value in its possible pleasantness. 
Why any form of feeling should be de 
lightful is not to be explained transcendentally : 
a physiological law may, after the fact, render 
every instance predictable; but no logical affinity 
between the formal quality of an experience and 
the impulse to welcome it will thereby be disclosed. 
We find, however, that pleasure suffuses certain 
states of mind and pain others; which is another 
A way of saying that, for no reason, we love the 
first and detest the second. The polemic which 
certain moralists have waged against pleasure and 
in favour of pain is intelligible when we remem 
ber that their chief interest is edification, and that 
ability to resist pleasure and pain alike is a val 
uable virtue in a world where action and renun 
ciation are the twin keys to happiness. But to 
deny that pleasure is a good and pain an evil 



FIKST STEPS 55 

is a grotesque affectation: it amounts to giving 
"good" and " evil " artificial definitions and there- 
Pleasure a by reducing ethics to arbitrary verbi- 
good, age. Not only is good that adherence i 

of the will to experience of which pleasure is the 
basal example, and evil the corresponding rejec 
tion which is the very essence of pain, but when 
we pass from good and evil in sense to their high 
est embodiments, pleasure remains eligible and * 
pain something which it is a duty to prevent. A 
man who without necessity deprived any person of 
a pleasure or imposed on him a pain, would be a 
contemptible knave, and the person so injured 
would be the first to declare it, nor could the high 
est celestial tribunal, if it was just, reverse that 
sentence. For it suffices, that one being, however 
weak, loves or abhores anything, no matter how 
slightly , x for that thing to acquire a proportionate ^ 
value which no chorus of contradiction ringing 
through all the spheres can ever wholly abolish. 
An experience good or bad in itself remains so 
for ever, and its inclusion in a more general order 
of things can only change that totality propor 
tionately to the ingredient absorbed, which will 
infect the mass, so far as it goes, with its own 
colour. The more pleasure a universe can yield, 
other things being equal, the more beneficent and X 
generous is its general nature; the more pains its 
constitution involves, the darker and more malign 
is its total temper. To deny this would seem im 
possible, yet it is done daily; for there is nothing 



56 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

people will not maintain when they are slaves to 
superstition; and candour and a sense of justice 
are,, in such a case, the first things lost. 

Pleasures differ sensibly in inten- 

but not pur 

sued or re- sity ; but the intensest pleasures are 



often the blindest > and it is hard to 
suffuses an recall or estimate a feeling with which 

no definite and complex object is 
conjoined. The first step in making pleasure 
; intelligible and capable of being pursued is to make 
\ . it pleasure in something. The object it suffuses 
acquires a value, and gives the pleasure itself a 
place in rational life. The pleasure can now be 
named, its variations studied in reference to 
changes in its object, and its comings and goings 
foreseen in the order of events. The more articu- 
. late the world that produces emotion the more 
controllable and recoverable is the emotion itself. 
. Therefore diversity and order in ideas makes the 
life of pleasure richer and easier to lead. A volu 
minous dumb pleasure might indeed outweigh the 
pleasure spread thin over a multitude of tame 
perceptions, if we could only weigh the two in one 
scale; but to do so is impossible, and in memory 
and prospect, if not in experience, diversified 
pleasure must needs carry the day. 
Subhuman Here we come upon a crisis in 

delights. human development which shows 
clearly how much the Life of Eeason is a natural 
thing, a growth that a different course of events 
might well have excluded. Laplace is reported to 



FIRST STEPS 57 

have said on his death-bed that science was mere 
trifling and that nothing was real but love. Love, 
for such a man, doubtless involved objects and 
ideas : it was love of persons. The same revulsion 
of feeling may, however, be carried further. 
Lucretius says that passion is a torment because 
its pleasures are not pure, that is, because they are 
mingled with longing and entangled in vexatious 
things. Pure pleasure would be without ideas, f-4- 
Many a man has found in some moment of his 
life an unutterable joy which made all the rest of 
it seem a farce, as if a corpse should play it was 
living. Mystics habitually look beneath the Life 
of Reason for the substance and infinity of happi 
ness. In all these revulsions, and many others, 
there is a certain justification, inasmuch as sys 
tematic living is after all an experiment, as is the 
formation of animal bodies, and the inorganic 
pulp out of which these growths have come may 
very likely have had its own incommunicable val 
ues, its absolute thrills, which we vainly try to 
remember and to which, in moments of dissolu 
tion, we may half revert. Protoplasmic pleasures 
and strains may be the substance of consciousness ; 
and as matter seeks its own level, and as the sea 
and the flat waste to which all dust returns have 
a certain primordial life and a certain sublimity, 
so all passions and ideas, when spent, may re 
join the basal note of feeling, and enlarge their - r 
volume as they lose their form. This loss of form 
may not be unwelcome, if it is the formless that, 



58 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

by anticipation, speaks through what is surrender 
ing its being. Though to acquire or impart form 
is delightful in art, in thought, in generation, in 
I government, yet a euthanasia of finitude is also 
known. All is not affectation in the poet who 
says, "Now more than ever seems it rich to die" ; 
and, without any poetry or affectation, men may 
love sleep, and opiates, and every luxurious escape 
from humanity. 

The step by which pleasure and pain are at- 
i.tached to ideas, so as to be predictable and to 
become factors in action, is therefore by no means 
irrevocable. It is a step, however, in the direc 
tion of reason; and though reason s path is only 
one of innumerable courses perhaps open to ex- 
,istence, it is the only one that we are tracing here ; 
{the only one, obviously, which human discourse is 
competent to trace. 

Animal When consciousness begins to add 

living. diversity to its intensity, its value is no 

longer absolute and inexpressible. The felt varia 
tions in its tone are attached to the observed 
movement of its objects ; in these objects its values 
are imbedded. A world loaded with dramatic 
values may thus arise in imagination ; terrible and 
delightful presences may chase one another across 
the void; life will be a kind of music made by all 
the senses together. Many animals probably have 
this form of experience; they are not wholly sub 
merged in a vegetative stupor; they can discern 
what they love or fear. Yet all this is still a 



FIRST STEPS 59 

disordered apparition that reels itself off amid 
sporadic movements,, efforts, and agonies. Now 
gorgeous, now exciting, now indifferent, the land 
scape brightens and fades with the day. If a dog, 
while sniffing about contentedly, sees afar off his 
master arriving after long absence, the change in 
the animal s feeling is not merely in the quantity 
of pure pleasure; a new circle of sensations ap 
pears, with a new principle governing interest and 
desire; instead of waywardness subjection, instead 
of freedom love. But the poor brute asks for no 
reason why his master went, why he has come 
again, why he should be loved, or why pres 
ently while lying at his feet you forget him and 
begin to grunt and dream of the chase all that 
is an utter mystery, utterly unconsidered. Such 
experience has variety, scenery, and a certain vital 
rhythm; its story might be told in dithyrambic 
verse. It moves wholly by inspiration; every 
event is providential, every act unpremeditated. 
Absolute freedom and absolute helplessness have Jt 
met together : you depend wholly on divine favour, 
yet that unfathomable agency is not distinguish 
able from your own life. This is the condition 
to which some forms of piety invite men to return ; 
and it lies in truth not far beneath the level of 
ordinary human consciousness. 
Causes at The story which such animal experi- 

last dis- ence contains, however, needs only to , 
be better articulated in order to dis- 
close its underlying machinery. The figures even 



60 THE LIFE OF REASON 

of that disordered drama have their exits and their 
entrances ; and their cues can be gradually discov 
ered by a being capable of fixing his attention and 
retaining the order of events. Thereupon a third - 
step is made in imaginative experience. As pleas 
ures and pains were formerly distributed among 
objects, so objects are now marshalled into a world. 
Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, said a 
poet who stood near enough to fundamental 
human needs and to the great answer which art 
and civilisation can make to them,, to value the 
Life of Reason and think it sublime. To discern 
causes is to turn vision into knowledge and motion 
into action. It is to fix the associates of things, 
so that their respective transformations are col 
lated, and they become significant of one another. 
In proportion as such understanding advances 
each moment of experience becomes consequen 
tial and prophetic of the rest. The calm places 
in life are filled with power and its spasms with 
resource. No emotion can overwhelm the mind, 
for of none is the basis or issue wholly hidden; 
no event can disconcert it altogether, because it 
sees beyond. Means can be looked for to escape 
from the worst predicament; and whereas each 
moment had been formerly filled with nothing but 
its own adventure and surprised emotion, each now 
makes room for the lesson of what went before 
and surmises what may be the plot of the whole. 

At the threshold of reason there is a kind of 
choice. Not all impressions contribute equally to 



FIRST STEPS 61 

the new growth; many, in fact, which were for 
merly equal in rank to the best, now grow obscure. 
Attention ignores them, in its haste to arrive at 
what is significant of something more. Nor are 
the principles of synthesis, by which the aristo 
cratic few establish their oligarchy, themselves un 
equivocal. The first principles of logic are like 
the senses, few but arbitrary. They might have 
been quite different and yet produced, by a now 
unthinkable method, a language no less significant 
than the one we speak. Twenty-six letters may 
suffice for a language, but they are a wretched 
minority among all possible sounds. So the 
forms of perception and the categories of thought, 
which a grammarian s philosophy might think 
primordial necessities, are no less casual than 
words or their syntactical order. Why, we may 
ask, did these forms assert themselves here? 
What principles of selection guide mental growth ? 
To give a logical ground for such a selection is 
evidently impossible, since it is logic itself that is 
to be accounted for. A natural ground is, in 
strictness, also irrelevant, since natural connec 
tions, where thought has not reduced them to a 
sort of equivalence and necessity, are mere data 
and juxtapositions. Yet it is not necessary to 
leave the question altogether unanswered. By 
using our senses we may discover, not indeed why 
each sense has its specific quality or exists at all, 
but what are its organs and occasions. In like 
manner we may, by developing the Life of Reason, 






62 THE LIFE OF REASON 

come to understand its conditions. When con 
sciousness awakes the body has, as we long after- 
Attention ward discover, a definite organisation. 
bodiiy d im- Without guidance from reflection bod- 
puise. ily processes have been going on, and 

most precise affinities and reactions have been set 
up between its organs and the surrounding objects. 
On these affinities and reactions sense and in 
tellect are grafted. The plants are of different 
nature, yet growing together they bear excellent 
fruit. It is as the organs receive appropriate 
stimulations that attention is riveted on definite 
sensations. It is as the system exercises its 
^ natural activities that passion, will, and medita 
tion possess the mind. No syllogism is needed to 
/persuade us to eat, no prophecy of happiness to 
\Jteach us to love. On the contrary, the living 
organism, caught in the act, informs us how to 
reason and what to enjoy. The soul adopts the 
body s aims; from the body and from its instincts 
she draws a first hint of the right means to those 
accepted purposes. Thus reason enters into part 
nership with the world and begins to be respected 
I there; which it would never be if it were not ex- 
| pressive of the same mechanical forces that are to 
! preside over events and render them fortunate or 
| unfortunate for human interests. /Season is sig 
nificant in action only because it has begun by 
taking, so to speak, the body s side; that sympa 
thetic bias enables her to distinguish events per 
tinent to the chosen interests, to compare im- 



FIRST STEPS 63 

pulse with satisfaction, and, by representing a new 
and circular current in the system, to preside over 
the formation of better habits, habits expressing 
more instincts at once and responding to more 
opportunities. 



CHAPTER III 

THE DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 

At. first sight it might seem an idle 

Nature 

man s observation that the first task of intel 

ligence is to represent the environing 
reality; a reality actually represented in the notion, 
universally prevalent among men, of a cosmos in 
space and time, an animated material engine 
called nature. In trying to conceive nature the 
mind lisps its first lesson; natural phenomena are 
the mother tongue of imagination no less than 
of science and practical life. Men and gods are 
not conceivable otherwise than as inhabitants 
of nature. Early experience knows no mystery 
which is not somehow rooted in transformations 
of the natural world, and fancy can build no hope 
which would not be expressible there. But we are 
grown so accustomed to this ancient apparition 
that we may be no longer aware how difficult was 
the task of conjuring it up. We may even have 
forgotten the possibility that such a vision should 
never have arisen at all. A brief excursion into 
that much abused subject, the psychology of per 
ception, may here serve to remind us of the great 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 65 

work which the budding intellect must long ago 
have accomplished unawares. 

Consider how the shocks out of 

Difficulties 

in conceiv- which the notion of material things is 

ing nature. t() be built firgt ^^ ^ QmQ int() the 

soul. Eye and hand, if we may neglect the other 
senses, transmit their successive impressions, all 
varying with the position of outer objects and with 
the other material conditions. A chaos of multi 
tudinous impressions rains in from all sides at all 
hours. Nor have the external or cognitive senses 
an original primacy. The taste, the smell, the 
alarming sounds of things are continually distract 
ing attention. There are infinite reverberations in 
memory of all former impressions, together with 
fresh fancies created in the brain, things at first in 
no wise subordinated to external objects. All these 
incongruous elements are mingled like a witches 
brew. And more : there are indications that inner 
sensations, such as those of digestion, have an 
overpowering influence on the primitive mind, 
which has not learned to articulate or distinguish 
permanent needs. So that to the whirl of outer 
sensations we must add, to reach some notion of 
what consciousness may contain before the advent 
of reason, interruptions and lethargies caused by 
wholly blind internal feelings ; trances such as fall 
even on comparatively articulate minds in rage, 
lust, or madness. Against all these bewildering 
forces the new-born reason has to struggle ; and we 
need not wonder that the costly experiments and 
VOL. I. 5 



66 THE LIFE OF REASON 

disillusions of the past have not yet produced a 
complete enlightenment. 

Transcen ^ ne ons l au g n ^ made in the last cen- 

dentai tury by the transcendental philosophy 

qualms. upon empirical traditions is familiar 

to everybody : it seemed a pertinent attack, yet in 
the end proved quite trifling and unavailing. 
Thought,, we are told rightly enough, cannot be 
accounted for by enumerating its conditions. A 
number of detached sensations, being each its 
own little world, cannot add themselves together 
nor conjoin themselves in the void. Again, ex 
periences having an alleged common cause would 
not have, merely for that reason, a common object. 
Nor would a series of successive perceptions, no 
matter how quick, logically involve a sense of time 
nor a notion of succession. Yet, in point of fact, 
when such a succession occurs and a living brain is 
there to acquire some structural modification by 
virtue of its own passing states, a memory of that 
succession and its terms may often supervene. It 
is quite true also that the simultaneous presence 
or association of images belonging to different 
senses does not carry with it by intrinsic necessity 
any fusion of such images nor any notion of an 
object having them for its qualities. Yet, in 
point of fact, such a group of sensations does 
often merge into a complex image; instead of the 
elements originally perceptible in isolation, there 
arises a familiar term, a sort of personal presence. 
To this felt presence, certain instinctive reactions 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 67 

are attached, and the sensations that may be in 
volved in that apparition, when each for any rea 
son becomes emphatic, are referred to it as its 
qualities or its effects. 

Such complications of course involve the gift of 
memory, with capacity to survey at once vestiges 
of many perceptions, to feel their implication 
and absorption in the present object, and to be 
carried, by this sense of relation, to the thought 
that those perceptions have a representative 
function. And this is a great step. It mani 
fests the mind s powers. It illustrates those 
transformations of consciousness the principle of 
which, when abstracted, we call intelligence. We 
must accordingly proceed with caution, for we are 
digging at the very roots of reason. 
Thought an The chief perplexity, however, which 
aspect of besets this subject and makes discus- 

hfe and 

transitive. sions of it so often end in a cloud, is 
quite artificial. Thought is not a mechanical cal 
culus, where the elements and the method exhaust 
the fact. Thought is a form of life, and should 
be conceived on the analogy of nutrition, genera 
tion, and art. Reason, as Hume said with pro 
found truth, is an unintelligible instinct. It could 
not be otherwise if reason is to remain something 
transitive and existential; for transition is unin 
telligible, and yet is the deepest characteristic of 
existence. Philosophers, however, having per 
ceived that the function of thought is to fix static 
terms and reveal eternal relations, have inadver- 



A 



68 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

tently transferred to the living act what is true 
only of its ideal object; and they have expected 
to find in the process,, treated psychologically, that 
luminous deductive clearness which belongs to the 
ideal world it tends to reveal. The intelligible, 
however, lies at the periphery of experience, the 
j surd at its core ; and intelligence is but one centrif- , 
ugal ray darting from the slime to the stars.) 
Thought must execute a metamorphosis; and 
while this is of course mysterious, it is one of those 
familiar mysteries, like motion and will, which 
are more natural than dialectical lucidity itself; 
for dialectic grows cogent by fulfilling intent, but 
intent or meaning is itself vital and inexplicable. 
Perception The process of counting is perhaps 

as simple an instance as can be found 

uve and syn 
thetic, of a mental operation on sensible data. 

The clock, let us say, strikes two : if the sensorium 
were perfectly elastic and after receiving the first 
tlow reverted exactly to its previous state, retain 
ing absolutely no trace of that momentary oscil 
lation and no altered habit, then it is certain that 
a sense for number or a faculty of counting could 
never arise. The second stroke would be re 
sponded to with the same reaction which had met 
the first. There would be no summation of effects, 
no complication. However numerous the succes 
sive impressions might come to be, each would 
remain fresh and pure, the last being identical in 
character with the first. One, one, one, would be 
the monotonous response for ever. Just so gen- 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 69 

erations of ephemeral insects that succeeded one 
another without transmitting experience might 
repeat the same round of impressions an ever 
lasting progression without a shadow of progress. 
Such, too, is the idiot s life: his liquid brain 
transmits every impulse without resistance and 
retains the record of no impression. 

Intelligence is accordingly conditioned by a 
modification of both structure and consciousness 
by dint of past events. To be aware that a 
second stroke is not itself the first, I must retain 
something of the old sensation. The first must 
reverberate still in my ears when the second ar 
rives, so that this second, coming into a conscious 
ness still filled by the first, is a different experi 
ence from the first, which fell into a mind 
perfectly empty and unprepared. Now the new 
comer finds in the subsisting One a sponsor to 
christen it by the name of Two. The first stroke 
was a simple 1. The second is not simply another 
1, a mere iteration of the first. It is I 1 , where 
the coefficient represents the reverberating first 
stroke, still persisting in the mind, and forming a 
background and perspective against which the new 
stroke may be distinguished. The meaning of 
" two," then, is " this after that " or " this again/ 
where we have a simultaneous sense of two things 
which have been separately perceived but are iden 
tified as similar in their nature. Eepetition must 
cease to be pure repetition and become cumulative 
before it can give rise to the consciousness of 
repetition. 



70 THE LIFE OF REASON 

The first condition of counting, then, is that 
the sensorium should retain something of the first 
impression while it receives the second, or (to 
state the corresponding mental fact) that the sec 
ond sensation should be felt together with a sur 
vival of the first from which it is distinguished in 
point of existence and with which it is identified 
in point of character. 

Now, to secure this, it is not enough 
NO identical that the gen^ri^ should be mate- 

agent needed. 

rially continuous, or that a " spiritual 
substance " or a " transcendental ego " should per 
sist in time to receive the second sensation after 
having received and registered the first. A per 
fectly elastic sensorium, a wholly unchanging soul, 
or a quite absolute ego might remain perfectly 
identical with itself through various experiences 
without collating them. It would then remain, 
in fact, more truly and literally identical than if 
it were modified somewhat by those successive 
shocks. Yet a sensorium or a spirit thus un 
changed would be incapable of memory, unfit to 
connect a past perception with one present or to 
become aware of their relation. It is not identity 
in the substance impressed, but growing compli 
cation in the phenomenon presented, that makes 
possible a sense of diversity and relation between 
things. The identity of substance or spirit, if it 
were absolute, would indeed prevent comparison, 
because it would exclude modifications, and it is 
the survival of past modifications within the pres- 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 71 

ent that makes comparisons possible. We may 
impress any number of forms successively on the 
same water, and the identity of the substance will 
not help those forms to survive and accumulate 
their effects. But if we have a surface that retains 
our successive stampings we may change the sub 
stance from wax to plaster and from plaster to 
bronze, and the effects of our labour will survive 
and be superimposed upon one another. It is the 
actual plastic form in both mind and body, not 
any unchanging substance or agent, that is effi 
cacious in perpetuating thought and gathering 
experience. 

Were not Nature and all her parts such models 
of patience and pertinacity, they never would have 
succeeded in impressing their existence on some 
thing so volatile and irresponsible as thought is. 
Example of A sensation needs to be violent, like 
the sun. the sun s blinding light, to arrest at 
tention, and keep it taut, as it were, long enough 
for the system to acquire a respectful attitude, and 
grow predisposed to resume it. A repetition of 
that sensation will thereafter meet with a pre 
pared response which we call recognition ; the con 
comitants of the old experience will form them 
selves afresh about the new one and by their 
convergence give it a sort of welcome and inter 
pretation. The movement, for instance, by which 
the face was raised toward the heavens was perhaps 
one element which added to the first sensation, 
brightness, a concomitant sensation, height; the 



72 THE LIFE OF REASON 

brightness was not bright merely, but high. Now 
when the brightness reappears the face will more 
quickly be lifted up; the place where the bright 
ness shone will be looked for; the brightness will 
have acquired a claim to be placed somewhere. 
The heat which at the same moment may have 
burned the forehead will also be expected and, 
when felt, projected into the brightness, which will 
now be hot as well as high. So with whatever 
other sensations time may associate with this 
group. They will all adhere to the original im 
pression, enriching it with an individuality which 
will render it before long a familiar complex in 
experience, and one easy to recognise and to com 
plete in idea. 

In the case of so vivid a thing as 
HIS pnm- ^ e sun > s brightness many other sensa- 

itive divinity. 

tions beside those out of which science 
draws the qualities attributed to that heavenly 
body adhere in the primitive mind to the phenom 
enon. Before he is a substance the sun is a god. 
He is beneficent and necessary no less than bright 
and high; he rises upon all happy opportunities 
and sets upon all terrors. He is divine, since all 
life and fruitfulness hang upon his miraculous 
revolutions. His coming and going are life and 
death to the world. As the sensations of light and 
heat are projected upward together to become 
attributes of his body, so the feelings of pleasure, 
safety, and tope which he brings into the soul are 
projected into his spirit; and to this spirit, more 



DISCOVEKY OF NATUEAL OBJECTS 73 

than to anything else, energy, independence, and 
substantiality are originally attributed. The 
emotions felt in his presence being the ultimate 
issue and term of his effect in us, the counterpart 
or shadow of those emotions is regarded as the 
first and deepest factor in his causality. It is his 
divine life, more than aught else, that underlies 
his apparitions and explains the influences which 
he propagates. The substance or independent ex 
istence attributed to objects is therefore by no 
means only or primarily a physical notion. What 
is conceived to support the physical qualities is a 
pseudo-psychic or vital force. It is a moral and 
living object that we construct, building it up out 
of all the materials, emotional, intellectual, and 
sensuous, which lie at hand in our consciousness 
to be synthesised into the hybrid reality which we 
are to fancy confronting us. To discriminate and 
redistribute those miscellaneous physical and psy 
chical elements, and to divorce the god from the 
material sun, is a much later problem, arising at 
a different and more reflective stage in the Life 
of Reason. 

causes and When reflection, turning to the corn- 
essences prehension of a chaotic experience, 
contrasted. busies itself about recurrences, when it 
seeks to normalise in some way things coming and 
going, and to straighten out the causes of events, 
that reflection is inevitably turned toward some 
thing dynamic and independent, and can have no 
successful issue except in mechanical science. 



74 THE LIFE OF REASON 

When on the other hand reflection stops to chal 
lenge and question the fleeting object, not so much 
to prepare for its possible return as to conceive its 
present nature, this reflection is turned no less 
unmistakably in the direction of ideas, and will 
terminate in logic or the morphology of being. 
We attribute independence to things in order to 
normalise their recurrence. We attribute essences 
to them in order to normalise their manifesta 
tions or constitution. Independence will ulti 
mately turn out to be an assumed constancy in 
material processes, essence an assumed constancy 
in ideal meanings or points of reference in dis 
course. The one marks the systematic distribution 
of objects, the other their settled character. 
Voracity of We talk of recurrent perceptions, but 

intellect. materially considered no perception 
recurs. Each recurrence is one of a finite series 
and holds for ever its place and number in that 
series. Yet human attention, while it can survey 
several simultaneous impressions and find them 
similar, cannot keep them distinct if they grow 
too numerous. The mind has a native bias and 
inveterate preference for form and identification. 
Water does not run down hill more persistently 
than attention turns experience into constant 
terms. The several repetitions of one essence 
given in consciousness will tend at once to be neg 
lected, and only the essence itself the character 
shared by those sundry perceptions will stand 
and become a term in mental discourse. After 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 75 

a few strokes of the clock,, the reiterated impres 
sions merge and cover one another; we lose count 
and perceive the quality and rhythm but not the 
number of the sounds. If this is true of so 
abstract and mathematical a perception as is count 
ing, how emphatically true must it be of con 
tinuous and infinitely varied perceptions flowing 
in from the whole spatial world. Glimpses of the 
environment follow one another in quick succes 
sion, like a regiment of soldiers in uniform; only 
now and then does the stream take a new turn, 
catch a new ray of sunlight, or arrest our atten 
tion at some break. 

The senses in their natural play revert con 
stantly to familiar objects, gaining impressions 
which differ but slightly from one another. These 
slight differences are submerged in apperception, 
so that sensation comes to be not so much an addi 
tion of new items to consciousness as a reburnish- 
ing there of some imbedded device. Its character 
and relations are only slightly modified at each 
fresh rejuvenation.) To catch the passing phe 
nomenon in all ifs novelty and idiosyncrasy is a 
work of artifice and curiosity. Such an exercise 
does violence to intellectual instinct and involves 
an aesthetic power of diving bodily into the stream 
of sensation, having thrown overboard all rational 
ballast and escaped at once the inertia and the 
momentum of practical life. Normally every 
datum of sense is at once devoured by a hungry 
intellect and digested for the sake of its vital 



76 THE LIFE OF REASON 

juices. The result is that what ordinarily re 
mains in memory is no representative of particu 
lar moments or shocks though sensation,, as in 
dreams, may be incidentally recreated from within 
but rather a logical possession, a sense of ac^ 
quaintance with a certain field of reality, in a 
word, a consciousness of knowledge. 

But what, we may ask, is this real- 
Can the J 

transcendent ity, which we boast to know ? May not 
be known? the scept i c j ust i y con tend that nothing 

is so unknown and indeed unknowable as this pre 
tended object of knowledge? The sensations 
which reason treats so cavalierly were at least 
something actual while they lasted and made good 
their momentary claim to our interest; but what 
;. ,.is this new ideal figment, unseizable yet ever 
present, invisible but indispensable, unknowable 
yet alone interesting or important ? Strange that 
the only possible object or theme of our knowledge 
should be something we cannot know. 

An answer to these doubts will per 
t/an the im- A 

mediate be haps appear if we ask ourselves what 
meant? gort Q f con t ac t w ith reality would sat 

isfy us, and in what terms we expect or desire to 
possess the subject-matter of our thoughts. Is it 
simply corroboration that we look forj Is it a 
verification of truth in sense? It would be un 
reasonable, in that case, after all the evidencejve 
demand has been gathered, to complain that the 
ideal term thus concurrently suggested, the super 
sensible substance, reality, or independent object, 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 77 

does not itself descend into the arena of immediate 
sensuous presentation. Knowledge is not eating, 
and we cannot expect to devour and possess what 
we mean. Knowledge is recognition of some 
thing absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace. 
It is an advance on sensation precisely because it 
is representative. The terms or goals of thought 
have for their function to subtend long tracts of 
sensuous experience, to be ideal links between fact 
and fact, invisible wires behind the scenes, threads 
along which inference may run in making phe 
nomena intelligible and controllable. An idea 
that should become an image would cease to be 
idea}; a principle. that is to remain a principle can 
never-become a fact. A God that you could see 
with the eyes of the body, a heaven you might 
climb into by a ladder planted at Bethel, would 
be parts of this created and interpretable world, 
not terms in its interpretation nor objects in a 
spiritual sphere./ Now external objects are 
thought to be principles and sources of experi 
ence; they are accordingly conceived realities on 
an ideal plane. We may look for all the evidence 
we cHoose before we declare our inference to be 
warranted; but we must not ask for something 
more than evidence, nor expect to know realities 
without inferring them anew. They are revealed 
only to understanding. We cannot cease to think 
and still continue to know. 

It may be said, however, that principles and 
external objects are interesting only because they 



78 THE LIFE OF REASON 

symbolise further sensations, that thought is an 
expedient of finite minds, and that representation 
is thought a is a ghostly process which we crave 
bridge from to ma t er ialise into bodily possession. 

sensation to J 

sensation? We may grow sick of inferring truth 
and long rather to become reality. Intelligence 
is after all no compulsory possession; and while 
some of us would gladly have more of it, others 
find that they already have too much. The ten 
sion of thought distresses them and to represent 
what they cannot and would not be is not a 
natural function of their spirit. To such minds 
experience that should merely corroborate ideas 
would prolong dissatisfaction. The ideas must be 
realised ; they must pass into immediacy. If real 
ity (a word employed generally in a eulogistic 
sense) is to mean this desired immediacy, no ideal 
of thought can be real. All intelligible objects 
and the whole universe of mental discourse would 
then be an unreal and conventional structure, im 
pinging ultimately on sense from which it would 
derive its sole validity. 

There would be no need of quarrelling with 
such a philosophy, were not its use of words rather 
misleading. Call experience in its existential and 
immediate aspect, if you will, the sole reality ; that 
will not prevent reality from having an ideal 
dimension. The intellectual world will continue 
to give beauty, meaning, and scope to those bub 
bles of consciousness on which it is painted. Eeal- 
ity would not be,, in that case, what thought aspires 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 79 

to reach. Consciousness is the least ideal of things 
when reason is taken out of it. Keality would then 
need thought to give it all those human values of 
which, in its substance, it would have been wholly 
deprived; and the ideal would still be what lent 
music to throbs and significance to being. 

The equivocation favoured by such language at 
once begins to appear. Is not thought with all 
its products a part of experience? Must not 
sense, if it be the only reality, be sentient some 
times of the ideal ? What the site is to a city that is 
immediate experience to the universe of discourse. 
The latter is all held materially within the lim 
its defined by the former; but if immediate ex 
perience be the seat of the moral world, the moral 
world is the only interesting possession of imme 
diate experience. When a waste is built on, how 
ever, it is a violent paradox to call it still a waste ; 
and an immediate experience that represents the 
rest of sentience, with all manner of ideal har 
monies read into the whole in the act of repre 
senting it, is an immediate experience raised to 
its highest power: it is the Life of Eeason. In 
Meng vain, then, will n philosophy of intel- 

naturaiiter lectual abstention limit so Platonic a 
piatonica. term ag rea ^y to the immediate aspect 
of existence, when it is the ideal aspect that en 
dows existence with character and value, together 
with representative scope and a certain lien upon 
eternity. 

More legitimate, therefore, would be the asser- 



80 THE LIFE OF REASON 

tion that knowledge reaches reality when it touches 
its ideal goal. Eeality is known when, as in 
mathematics, a stable and unequivocal object is 
developed by thinking. The locus or material 
embodiment of such a reality is no longer in view ; 
these questions seem to the logician irrelevant. If 
necessary ideas find no illustration in sense, he 
deems the fact an argument against the impor 
tance and validity of sensation, not in the least a 
disproof of his ideal knowledge. If no site be 
found on earth for the Platonic city, its consti 
tution is none the less recorded and enshrined in 
heaven; nor is that the only true ideal that has 
not where to lay its head. What in the sensualis- 
tic or mystical system was called reality will now 
be termed appearance, and what there figured as 
an imaginary construction borne by the conscious 
moment will now appear to be a prototype for all 
existence and an eternal standard for its estima 
tion. 

It is this rationalistic or Platonic system (lit 
tle as most men may suspect the fact) that finds 
a first expression in ordinary perception. When 
you distinguish your sensations from their cause 
and laugh at the idealist (as this kind of sceptic 
is called) who says that chairs and tables exist 
only in your mind, you are treating a figment of 
reason as a deeper and truer thing than the 
moments of life whose blind experience that reason 
has come to illumine. What you call the evidence 
of sense is pure confidence in reason. You will 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 81 

not be so idiotic as to make no inferences from 
your sensations; you will not pin your faith so 
unimaginatively on momentary appearance as to 
deny that the world exists when you stop thinking 
about it. You feel that your intellect has wider 
scope and has discovered many a thing that goes 
on behind the scenes, many a secret that would 
escape a stupid and gaping observation. It is the 
fool that looks to look and stops at the barely 
visible : you not only look but see; for you under 
stand. 

identity and Now the practical burden of such 
^redkTttrof understanding, if y OU take the trouble 
things. to analyse it, will turn out to be what 

the sceptic says it is: assurance of eventual sen 
sations. But as these sensations, in memory and 
expectation, are numerous and indefinitely vari 
able, you are not able to hold them clearly before 
the mind ; indeed, the realisation of all the poten 
tialities which you vaguely feel to lie in the future 
is a task absolutely beyond imagination. Yet 
your present impressions, dependent as they are 
on your chance attitude and disposition and on a 
thousand trivial accidents, are far from repre 
senting adequately all that might be discovered 
or that is actually known about the object before 
you. This object, then, to your apprehension, is 
not identical with any of the sensations that re 
veal it, nor is it exhausted by all these sensations 
when they are added together; yet it contains 
nothing assignable but what they might conceiv- 

VOL. L 6 



82 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ably reveal. As it lies in your fancy, then, this 
object, the reality, is a complex and elusive entity, 
the sum at once and the residuum of all particu 
lar impressions which, underlying the present one, 
have bequeathed to it their surviving linkage in 
discourse and consequently endowed it with a 
large part of its present character. With this 
hybrid object, sensuous in its materials and ideal 
in its locus, each particular glimpse is compared, 
and is recognised to be but a glimpse, an aspect 
which the object presents to a particular observer. 
Here are two identifications. In the first place 
various sensations and felt relations, which can 
not be kept distinct in the mind, fall together into 
one term of discourse, represented by a sign, a 
word, or a more or less complete sensuous image. 
In the second place the new perception is referred 
to that ideal entity of which it is now called a 
manifestation and effect. 

Such are the primary relations of reality and 
I appearance. A reality is a term of discourse based 
" on a psychic complex of memories, associations, 
and expectations, but constituted in its ideal in 
dependence by the assertive energy of thought. 
An appearance is a passing sensation, recognised 
as belonging to that group of which the object 
itself is the ideal representative, and accordingly 
regarded as a manifestation of that object. 

Thus the notion of an independent and per 
manent world is an ideal term used to mark and 
as it were to justify the cohesion in space and the 



DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS 83 

recurrence in time of recognisable groups of sen 
sations. This coherence and recurrence force the 
intellect, if it would master experience at all or 
understand anything, to frame the idea of such a 
reality. If we wish to defend the use of such an 
idea and prove to ourselves its necessity, all we 
need do is to point to that coherence and recur 
rence in external phenomena. That brave effort 
and flight of intelligence which in the beginning 
raised man to the conception of reality, enabling 
him to discount and interpret appearance, will, if 
we retain our trust in reason, raise us continually 
anew to that same idea, by a no less spontaneous 
and victorious movement of thought. 



CHAPTER IV 

ON SOME CRITICS OF THIS DISCOVERY 

Psychology The English psychologists who first 
as a solvent, disintegrated the idea of substance, 
and whose traces we have in general followed in 
the above account, did not study the question 
wholly for its own sake or in the spirit of a science 
that aims at nothing but a historical analysis of 
mind. They had a more or less malicious pur 
pose behind their psychology. They thought that 
if they could once show how metaphysical ideas 
are made they would discredit those ideas and 
banish them for ever from the world. If they 
retained confidence in any notion as Hobbes in 
body, Locke in matter and in God, Berkeley in 
spirits, and Kant, the inheritor of this malicious 
psychology, in the thing-in-itself and in heaven- 
it was merely by inadvertence or want of courage. 
The principle of their reasoning, where they chose 
to apply it, was always this, that ideas whose 
materials could all be accounted for in conscious 
ness and referred to sense or to the operations of 
mind were thereby exhausted and deprived of fur 
ther validity. Only the unaccountable, or rather 
the uncriticised, could be true. Consequently the 

84 



ON SOME CRITICS 85 

advance of psychology meant, in this school, the 
retreat of reason; for as one notion after another 
was clarified and reduced to its elements it was 
ipso facto deprived of its function. 

So far were these philosophers from conceiving 
that validity and truth are ideal relations, accruing 
to ideas by virtue of dialectic and use, that while on 
the one hand they pointed out vital affinities and 
pragmatic sanctions in the mind s economy they 
confessed on the other that the outcome of their 
philosophy was sceptical; for no idea could be 
found in the mind which was not a phenomenon 
there, and no inference could be drawn from these 
phenomena not based on some inherent "tendency 
to feign." The analysis which was in truth legiti 
mising and purifying knowledge seemed to them 
absolutely to blast it, and the closer they came to 
the bed-rock of experience the more incapable they 
felt of building up anything upon it. Self- 
knowledge meant, they fancied, self-detection ; the 
representative value of thought decreased as 
thought grew in scope and elaboration. It became 
impossible to be at once quite serious and quite 
intelligent; for to use reason was to indulge in 
subjective fiction, while conscientiously to abstain 
from using it was to sink back upon inarticulate 
and brutish instinct. 

In Hume this sophistication was frankly 
avowed. Philosophy discredited itself; but a man 
of parts, who loved intellectual games even better 
than backgammon, might take a hand with the 



86 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

wits and historians of his day, until the clock 
struck twelve and the party was over. Even 
in Kant, though the mood was more cramped and 
earnest, the mystical sophistication was quite the 
same. Kant, too, imagined that the bottom had 
been knocked out of the world ; that in comparison 
with some unutterable sort of truth empirical 
truth was falsehood, and that validity for all pos 
sible experience was weak validity, in comparison 
with validity of some other and unmentionable 
sort. Since space and time could not repel the 
accusation of being the necessary forms of percep 
tion, space and time were not to be much thought 
of; and when the sad truth was disclosed that 
causality and the categories were instruments by 
which the idea of nature had to be constructed, if 
such an idea was to exist at all, then nature and 
causality shrivelled up and were dishonoured 
together; so that, the soul s occupation being 
gone, she must needs appeal to some mysterious 
oracle, some abstract and irrelevant omen within 
the breast, and muster up all the stern courage 
of an accepted despair to carry her through this 
world of mathematical illusion into some green 
and infantile paradise beyond. 

What idea, we mar well ask our- 

Misconceived 

role of intern- selves, did these modern philosophers 
gence. entertain regarding the pretensions of 

ancient and mediaeval metaphysics ? What under 
standing had they of the spirit in which the 
natural organs of reason had been exercised and 



ON SOME CEITICS 87 

developed in those schools? Frankly, very little; 
for they accepted from ancient philosophy and 
from common-sense the distinction between reality 
and appearance, but they forgot the function of 
that distinction and dislocated its meaning, which 
was nothing but to translate the chaos of percep 
tion into the regular play of stable natures and 
objects congenial to discursive thought and valid 
in the art of living. Philosophy had been the 
natural science of perception raised to the reflec 
tive plane, the objects maintaining themselves on 
this higher plane being styled realities, and those 
still floundering below it being called appearances 
or mere ideas. The function of envisaging real 
ity, ever since Parmenides and Heraclitus, had 
been universally attributed to the intellect. When 
the moderns, therefore, proved anew that it was the 
mind that framed that idea, and that what we call 
reality, substance, nature, or God, can be reached 
only by an operation of reason, they made no very 
novel or damaging discovery. 

Of course, it is possible to disregard the sugges 
tions of reason in any particular case and it is quite 
possible to believe, for instance, that the hypothesis 
of an external material world is an erroneous one. 
But that this hypothesis is erroneous does not fol 
low from the fact that it is a hypothesis. To discard 
it on that ground would be to discard all reasoned 
knowledge and to deny altogether the validity of 
thought. If intelligence is assumed to be an or 
gan of cognition and a vehicle for truth, a given 



88 THE LIFE OF REASON 

hypothesis about the causes of perception can only 
be discarded when a better hypothesis on the same 
subject has been supplied. To be better such a 
hypothesis would have to meet the multiplicity of 
phenomena and their mutations with a more intel 
ligible scheme of comprehension and a more useful 
instrument of control. 

AII criticism Scepticism is always possible while 
dogmatic. it is partial. It will remain the privi 
lege and resource of a free mind that has elas 
ticity enough to disintegrate its own formations 
and to approach its experience from a variety of 
sides and with more than a single method. But 
the method chosen must be coherent in itself and 
the point of view assumed must be adhered to 
during that survey; so that whatever reconstruc 
tion the novel view may produce in science will 
be science still, and will involve assumptions and 
dogmas which must challenge comparison with 
the dogmas and assumptions they would supplant. 
People speak of dogmatism as if it were a method 
to be altogether outgrown and something for which 
some non-assertive philosophy could furnish a sub 
stitute. But dogmatism is merely a matter of 
degree. Some thinkers and some systems retreat 
further than others into the stratum beneath cur 
rent conventions and make us more conscious of 
the complex machinery which, working silently in 
the soul, makes possible all the rapid and facile 
operations of reason. The deeper this retrospec 
tive glance the less dogmatic the philosophy. A 



ON SOME CKITICS 89 

primordial constitution or tendency, however, must 
always remain, having structure and involving a 
definite life; for if we thought to reach some 
wholly vacant and indeterminate point of origin, 
we should have reached something wholly impotent 
and indifferent, a blank pregnant with nothing 
that we wished to explain or that actual experi 
ence presented. When, starting with the inevi 
table preformation and constitutional bias, we 
sought to build up a simpler and nobler edifice of 
thought, to be a palace and fortress rather than a 
prison for experience, our critical philosophy 
would still be dogmatic, since it would be built 
upon inexplicable but actual data by a process of 
inference underived but inevitable. 
A choke of No doubt Aristotle and the scholas- 
hypotheses. tics were often uncritical. They were 
too intent on building up and buttressing their 
system on the broad human or religious founda 
tions which they had chosen for it. They nursed 
the comfortable conviction that whatever their 
thought contained was eternal and objective truth, 
a copy of the divine intellect or of the world s intel 
ligible structure. A sceptic may easily deride that 
confidence of theirs; their system may have been 
their system and nothing more. But the way to 
proceed if we wish to turn our shrewd suspicions 
and our sense of insecurity into an articulate con 
viction and to prove that they erred, is to build 
another system, a more modest one, perhaps, which 
will grow more spontaneously and inevitably in 



90 THE LIFE OF REASON 

the mind out of the data of experience. Obviously 
the rival and critical theory will make the same 
tacit claim as the other to absolute validity. If 
all our ideas and perceptions conspire to reinforce 
the new hypothesis, this will become inevitable 
and necessary to us. We shall then condemn the 
other hypothesis, not indeed for having been a 
hypothesis, which is the common fate of all 
rational and interpretative thought, but for having 
been a hypothesis artificial, misleading, and false; 
one not following necessarily nor intelligibly out 
of the facts, nor leading to a satisfactory reaction 
upon them, either in contemplation or in practice. 
. Now this is in truth exactly the con- 

guised enthu- viction which those malicious psycholo 
gists secretly harboured. Their critical 
scruples and transcendental qualms covered a 
robust rebellion against being fooled by authority. 
They rose to abate abuses among which, as 
Hobbes said, "the frequency of insignificant speech 
is one." Their psychology was not merely a 
cathartic, but a gospel. Their young criticism was 
sent into the world to make straight the path of 
a new positivism, as now, in its old age, it is in 
voked to keep open the door to superstition. Some 
of those reformers, like Hobbes and Locke, had at 
heart the interests of a physical and political 
mechanism, which they wished to substitute for 
the cumbrous and irritating constraints of tradi 
tion. Their criticism stopped at the frontiers of 
their practical discontent; they did not care to ask 



ON SOME CKITICS 91 

how the belief in matter, space, motion, God, or 
whatever else still retained their allegiance, could 
withstand the kind of psychology which, as they 
conceived, had done away with individual essences 
and nominal powers. Berkeley, whose interests 
lay in a different quarter, used the same critical 
method in support of a different dogmatism; 
armed with the traditional pietistic theory of 
Providence he undertook with a light heart to 
demolish the whole edifice which reason and sci 
ence had built upon spatial perception. He 
wished the lay intellect to revert to a pious idiocy 
in the presence of Nature, lest consideration of her 
history and laws should breed " mathematical 
atheists " ; and the outer world being thus reduced 
to a sensuous dream and to the blur of immediate 
feeling, intelligence and practical faith would be 
more unremittingly employed upon Christian 
mythology. Men would be bound to it by a neces 
sary allegiance, there being no longer any rival 
object left for serious or intelligent consideration. 
The psychological analysis on which these par 
tial or total negations were founded was in a gen 
eral way admirable ; the necessary artifices to which 
it had recourse in distinguishing simple and com 
plex ideas, principles of association and inference, 
were nothing but premonitions of what a physio 
logical psychology would do in referring the men 
tal process to its organic and external supports; 
for experience has no other divisions than those 
it creates in itself by distinguishing its objects 



92 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

and its organs. Keference to external conditions, 
though seldom explicit in these writers, who 
imagined they could appeal to an introspection 
not revealing the external world, was pervasive in 
them ; as, for instance, where Hume made his fun 
damental distinction between impressions and 
ideas, where the discrimination was based nomi 
nally on relative vividness and priority in time, but 
really on causation respectively by outer objects or 
by spontaneous processes in the brain. 

Hume it was who carried this psy- 

Hume s ... 

gratuitous chological analysis to its goal, giving it 
scepticism. g rea ter simplicity and universal scope ; 
and he had also the further advantage of not 
nursing any metaphysical changeling of his own 
to substitute for the legitimate offspring of human 
understanding. His curiosity was purer and his 
scepticism more impartial, so that he laid bare the 
natural habits and necessary fictions of thought 
with singular lucidity, and sufficient accuracy for 
general purposes. But the malice of a psychology 
intended as a weapon against superstition here 
recoils on science itself. Hume, like Berkeley, 
was extremely young, scarce five-and-twenty, when 
he wrote his most incisive work ; he was not ready 
to propose in theory that test of ideas by their 
utility which in practice he and the whole English 
school have instinctively adopted. An ulterior 
test of validity would not have seemed to him sat 
isfactory, for though inclined to rebellion and 
positivism he was still the pupil of that mythical 



ON SOME CKITICS 93 

philosophy which attributed the value of things 
to their origin rather than to their uses, because 
it had first, in its parabolic way, erected the high 
est good into a First Cause. Still breathing, in 
spite of himself, this atmosphere of materialised 
Platonism, Hume could not discover the true 
origin of anything without imagining that he had 
destroyed its value. A natural child meant for 
him an illegitimate one; his philosophy had not 
yet reached the wisdom of that French lady who 
asked if all children were not natural. The outcome 
of his psychology and criticism seemed accord 
ingly to be an inhibition of reason; he was left 
free to choose between the distractions of back 
gammon and " sitting down in a forlorn scepti 
cism." 

In his first youth, while disintegrating reflec 
tion still overpowered the active interests of his 
mind, Hume seems to have had some moments of 
genuine suspense and doubt: but with years and 
prosperity the normal habits of inference which 
he had so acutely analysed asserted themselves 
in his own person and he yielded to the " tendency 
to feign " so far at least as to believe languidly in 
the histories he wrote, the compliments he re 
ceived, and the succulent dinners he devoured. 
There is a kind of courtesy in scepticism. It , 
would be an offence against polite conventions to / 
press our doubts too far and question the per 
manence of our estates, our neighbours independ 
ent, existence, or even the justification of a good 



94 THE LIFE OF REASON 

bishop s faith and income. Against metaphysi 
cians, and even against bishops, sarcasm was not 
without its savour; but the line must be drawn 
somewhere by a gentleman and a man of the 
world. Hume found no obstacle in his specula 
tions to the adoption of all necessary and useful 
conceptions in the sphere to which he limited his 
mature interests. That he never extended this 
liberty to believe into more speculative and com 
prehensive regions was due simply to a voluntary 
superficiality in his thought. Had he been inter 
ested in the rationality of things he would have 
laboured to discover it, as he laboured to discover 
that historical truth or that political utility to 
which his interests happened to attach. 
Kant s substi- Kant, li ke Berkeley, had a private 
tutefor mysticism in reserve to raise upon the 

knowledge. ru i ns O f sc i e nce and common-sense. 
Knowledge was to be removed to make way for 
faith. This task is ambiguous, and the equivoca 
tion involved in it is perhaps the deepest of those 
confusions with which German metaphysics has 
since struggled, and which have made it waver 
between the deepest introspection and the dreari 
est mythology. To substitute faith for knowl 
edge might mean to teach the intellect humility, 
to make it aware of its theoretic and transitive 
function as a faculty for hypothesis and rational 
fiction, building a bridge of methodical inferences 
and ideal unities between fact and fact, between 
endeavour and satisfaction. It might be to remind 



ON SOME CKITICS 95 

us, sprinkling over us, as it were, the Lenten 
ashes of an intellectual contrition, that our 
thoughts are air even as our bodies are dust, 
momentary vehicles and products of an immortal 
vitality in God and in nature, which fosters and 
illumines us for a moment before it lapses into 
other forms. 

Had Kant proposed to humble and concen 
trate into a practical faith the same natural ideas 
which had previously been taken for absolute 
knowledge, his intention would have been inno 
cent, his conclusions wise, and his analysis free 
from venom and arriere-pensee. Man, because of 
his finite and propulsive nature and because he is 
a pilgrim and a traveller throughout his life, is 
obliged to have faith : the absent, the hidden, the 
eventual, is the necessary object of his concern. 
But what else shall his faith rest in except in 
what the necessary forms of his perception present 
to him and what the indispensable categories of 
his understanding help him to conceive? What 
possible objects are there for faith except objects 
of a possible experience? What else should a 
practical and moral philosophy concern itself 
with, except the governance and betterment of the 
real world ? It is surely by using his only possible 
forms of perception and his inevitable categories 
of understanding that man may yet learn, as he 
has partly learned already, to live and prosper in 
the universe. Had Kant s criticism amounted 
simply to such a confession of the tentative, prac 
tical, and hypothetical nature of human reason, 



96 THE LIFE OF REASON 

it would have been wholly acceptable to the wise ; 
and its appeal to faith would have been nothing 
but an expression of natural vitality and courage, 
just as its criticism of knowledge would have been 
nothing but a better acquaintance with self. This 
faith would have called the forces of impulse and 
passion to reason s support, not to its betrayal. 
Faith would have meant faith in the intellect, a 
faith naturally expressing man s practical and 
ideal nature, and the only faith yet sanctioned by 
its fruits. 

False Side by side with this reinstatement 

s ~ bi -l ct ! v i ty f reason, however, which was not 

attributed 

to reason. absent f rom Kant s system in its criti 
cal phase and in its application to science, there 
lurked in his substitution of faith for knowledge 
another and sinister intention. He wished to 
blast as insignificant, because " subjective," the 
whole structure of human intelligence, with all the 
lessons of experience and all the triumphs of 
human skill, and to attach absolute validity 
instead to certain echoes of his rigoristic religious 
education. These notions were surely just as sub 
jective, and far more local and transitory, than the 
common machinery of thought ; and it was actually 
proclaimed to be an evidence of their sublimity 
that they remained entirely without practical sanc 
tion in the form of success or of happiness. The 
1 " categorical imperative " was a shadow of the ten 
commandments; the postulates of practical reason 
were the minimal tenets of the most abstract 



ON SOME CRITICS 97 

Protestantism. These fossils, found unaccount 
ably imbedded in the old man s mind, he regarded 
as the evidences of an inward but supernatural 
revelation. 

chimerical re- Only the quaint severity of Kant s 
construction, education and character can make in 
telligible to us the restraint he exercised in mak 
ing supernatural postulates. All he asserted was 
his inscrutable moral imperative and a God to re 
ward with the pleasures of the next world those 
who had been Puritans in this. But the same 
principle could obviously be applied to other cher 
ished imaginations : there is no superstition which 
it might not justify in the eyes of men accus 
tomed to see in that superstition the sanction of 
their morality. For the "practical" proofs of 
freedom, immortality, and Providence of which 
all evidence in reason or experience had previously 
been denied exceed in perfunctory sophistry any 
thing that can be imagined. Yet this lamentable 
epilogue was in truth the guiding thought of the 
whole investigation. Nature had been proved a 
figment of human imagination so that, once rid of 
all but a mock allegiance to her facts and laws, we 
might be free to invent any world we chose and 
believe it to be absolutely real and independent of 
our nature. Strange prepossession, that while 
part of human life and mind was to be an avenue 
to reality and to put men in relation to external 
and eternal things, the whole of human life and 
mind should not be able to do so! Conceptions 
VOL. L 7 



98 THE LIFE OF REASON 

rooted in the very elements of our being, in our 
senses, intellect, and imagination, which had 
shaped themselves through many generations 
under a constant fire of observation and disillu 
sion, these were to be called subjective, not only 
in the sense in which all knowledge must obvi 
ously be so, since it is knowledge that someone 
possesses and has gained, but subjective in a dis 
paraging sense, and in contrast to some better 
form of knowledge. But what better form of 
knowledge is this ? If it be a knowledge of things 
as they really are and not as they appear, we must 
remember that reality means what the intellect 
infers from the data of sense; and yet the prin 
ciples of such inference, by which the distinction 
between appearance and reality is first instituted, 
are precisely the principles now to be discarded 
as subjective and of merely empirical validity. 

" Merely empirical " is a vicious phrase : what is 
other than empirical is less than empirical, and 
what is not relative to eventual experience is 
something given only in present fancy. The gods 
of genuine religion, for instance, are terms in a 
continual experience: the pure in heart may see 
God. If the better and less subjective principle 
be said to be the moral law, we must remember 
that the moral law which has practical importance 
and true dignity deals with facts and forces of 
the natural world, that it expresses interests and 
aspirations in which man s fate in time and space, 
with his pains, pleasures, and all other empirical 



ON SOME CKITICS 99 

feelings, is concerned. This was not the moral 
law to which Kant appealed, for this is a part of 
the warp and woof of nature. His moral law was 
a personal superstition, irrelevant to the impulse 
and need of the world. His notions of the super 
natural were those of his sect and generation, and 
did not pass to his more influential disciples: 
what was transmitted was simply the contempt for 
sense and understanding and the practice, author 
ised by his modest example, of building air-castles 
in the great clearing which the Critique was sup 
posed to have made. 

It is noticeable in the series of philosophers 
from Hobbes to Kant that as the metaphysical 
residuum diminished the critical and psychologi 
cal machinery increased in volume and value. -~ In 
Hobbes and Locke, with the beginnings of empiri 
cal psychology, there is mixed an abstract mate 
rialism ; in Berkeley, with an extension of analytic 
criticism, a popular and childlike theology, en 
tirely without rational development; in Hume, 
with a completed survey of human habits of idea 
tion, a withdrawal into practical conventions ; and 
in Kant, with the conception of the creative under 
standing firmly grasped and elaborately worked 
out, a flight from the natural world altogether: 
The Critique a The Critique, in spite of some arti- 
mentaT ficialities and pedantries in arrange- 

architecture. ment, presented a conception never 
before attained of the rich architecture of reason. 
It revealed the intricate organisation, comparable 



100 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

to that of the body, possessed by that fine web of 
intentions and counter-intentions whose pulsations 
are our thoughts. The dynamic logic of intelli 
gence was laid bare, and the hierarchy of ideas, if 
not always correctly traced, was at least mani 
fested in its principle. It was as great an enlarge 
ment of Hume s work as Hume s had been of 
Locke s or Locke s of Hobbes s. And the very 
fact that the metaphysical residuum practically 
disappeared for the weak reconstruction in the 
second Critique may be dismissed as irrelevant 
renders the work essentially valid, essentially a 
description of something real. It is therefore a 
great source of instruction and a good compen 
dium or store-house for the problems of mind. 
But the work has been much overestimated. It 
is the product of a confused though laborious 
mind. It contains contradictions not merely in 
cidental, such as any great novel work must retain 
(since no man can at once remodel his whole 
vocabulary and opinions) but contradictions abso 
lutely fundamental and inexcusable, like that 
between the transcendental function of intellect 
and its limited authority, or that between the 
efficacy of things-in-themselves and their un- 
knowability. Kant s assumptions and his conclu 
sions, his superstitions and his wisdom, alternate 
without neutralising each other. 

That experience is a product of two 

factors is an assumption made by Kant. 

It rests on a psychological analogy, namely on the 



ON SOME CRITICS 101 

fact that organ and stimulus are both necessary to 
sensation. That experience is the substance or mat 
ter of nature, which is a construction in thought, 
is Kant s conclusion, based on intrinsic logical 
analysis. Here experience is evidently viewed as 
something uncaused and without conditions, being 
itself the source and condition of all thinkable 
objects. The relation between the transcen 
dental function of experience and its empirical 
causes Kant never understood. The transcenden 
talism which if we have it at all must be fun 
damental, he made derivative! and the realism, 
which must then be derivative, he made absolute. 
Therefore his metaphysics remained fabulous and 
his idealism sceptical or malicious. 

Ask what can be meant by " conditions of ex 
perience " and Kant s bewildering puzzle solves 
itself at the word. Condition, like cause, is a 
term that covers a confusion between dialectical 
and natural connections. The conditions of ex 
perience, in the dialectical sense, are the charac 
teristics a thing must have to deserve the name of 
experience; in other words, its conditions are its 
nominal essence. If experience be used in a loose 
sense to mean any given fact or consciousness in 
general, the condition of experience is merely im 
mediacy. If it be used, as it often is in empirical 
writers, for the shock of sense, its conditions are 
two: a sensitive organ and an object capable of 
stimulating it. If finally experience be given its 



102 THE LIFE OF REASON 

highest and most pregnant import and mean a 
fund of knowledge gathered by living, the condi- 
> tion of experience is intelligence. Taking the 
word in this last sense, Kant showed in a confused 
but essentially conclusive fashion that only by the 
application of categories to immediate data could 
knowledge of an ordered universe arise; or, in 
other language, that knowledge is a vista, that it 
has a perspective, since it is the presence to a 
given thought of a diffused and articulated land 
scape. The categories are the principles of inter 
pretation by which the flat datum acquires this 
perspective in thought and becomes representa 
tive of a whole system of successive or collateral 
existences. 

The circumstance that experience, in the second 
sense, is a term reserved for what has certain 
natural conditions, namely, for the spark flying 
from the contact of stimulus and organ, led Kant 
to shift his point of view, and to talk half the time 
about conditions in the sense of natural causes or 
needful antecedents. Intelligence is not an ante 
cedent of thought and knowledge but their char 
acter and logical energy. Synthesis is not a 
natural but only a dialectical condition of preg 
nant experience; it does not introduce such ex 
perience but constitutes it. Nevertheless, the 
whole skeleton and dialectical mould of experi 
ence came to figure, in Kant s mythology, as 
machinery behind the scenes, as a system of non- 
natural efficient forces, as a partner in a marriage 



ON SOME CRITICS 103 

the issue of which was human thought. The idea 
could thus suggest itself favoured also by remem 
bering inopportunely the actual psychological 
situation that all experience, in every sense of the 
word, had supernatural antecedents, and that the 
dialectical conditions of experience, in the highest 
sense, were efficient conditions of experience in 
the lowest. 

It is hardly necessary to observe that absolute 
experience can have no natural conditions. Ex 
istence in the abstract can have no cause; for 
every real condition would have to be a factor in 
absolute experience, and every cause would be 
something existent. Of course there is a modest 
and non-exhaustive experience that is, any par 
ticular sensation, thought, or life which it would 
be preposterous to deny was subject to natural 
conditions. Saint Lawrence s experience of being 
roasted, for instance, had conditions; some of 
them were the fire, the decree of the court, and his 
own stalwart Christianity. But these conditions 
are other parts or objects of conceivable experi 
ence which, as we have learned, fall into a system 
with the part we say they condition. In our grop- 
Naturethe * n & an ^ inferential thought one part 
true system may become a ground for expecting or 
of conditions. SU p pos i n g the other. Nature is then ] 
the sum total of its own conditions ; the whole 
object, the parts observed plus the parts interpo 
lated, is the self-existent fact. The mind, in its 
empirical flux, is a part of this complex ; to say it 



104 THE LIFE OF REASON 

is its own condition or that of the other objects 
is a grotesque falsehood. A babe s casual sensa 
tion of light is a condition neither of his own 
existence nor of his mother s. The true condi 
tions are those other parts of the world without 
which, as we find by experience, sensations of 
light do not appear. 

Had Kant been trained in a better school of phi 
losophy he might have felt that the phrase "subject 
ive conditions " is a controdiction in terms. When 
we find ourselves compelled to go behind the actual 
and imagine something antecedent or latent to 
pave the way for it, we are ipso facto conceiving 
the potential, that is, the " objective " world. All 
antecedents, by transcendental necessity, are there 
fore objective and all conditions natural. An 
imagined potentiality that holds together the epi 
sodes which are actual in consciousness is the very 
definition of an object or thing. Nature is the 
sum total of things potentially observable, some 
observed actually, others interpolated hypotheti- 
cally ; and common-sense is right as against Kant s 
subjectivism in regarding nature as the condition 
of mind and not mind as the condition of nature. 
This is not to say that experience and feeling are 
not the only given existence, from which the mate 
rial part of nature, something essentially dynamic 
and potential, must be intelligently inferred. But 
are not " conditions " inferred ? Are they not, in 
their deepest essence, potentialities and powers? 
Kant s fabled conditions also are inferred; but 



ON SOME CKITICS 105 

they are inferred illegitimately since the " sub 
jective " ones are dialectical characters turned into 
antecedents, while the thing-in-itself is a natural 
object without a natural function. Experience 
alone being given, it is the ground from which its 
conditions are inferred: its conditions, therefore, 
are empirical. The secondary position of nature 
goes with the secondary position of all causes, 
objects, conditions, and ideals. To have made the 
conditions of experience metaphysical, and prior 
in the order of knowledge to experience itself, was 
simply a piece of surviving Platonism. The form 
was hypostasised into an agent, and mythical 
machinery was imagined to impress that form on 
whatever happened to have it. 

All this was opposed to Kant s own discovery 
and to his critical doctrine which showed that the 
world (which is the complex of those conditions 
which experience assigns to itself as it develops 
and progresses in knowledge) is not before experi 
ence in the order of knowledge, but after it. His 
fundamental oversight and contradiction lay in 
not seeing that the concept of a set of conditions 
was the precise and exact concept of nature, which 
he consequently reduplicated, having one nature 
before experience and another after. The first 
thus became mythical and the second illusory : for 
the first, said to condition experience, was a set 
of verbal ghosts, while the second, which alone 
could be observed or discovered scientifically, was 
declared fictitious. The truth is that the single 



106 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

nature or set of conditions for experience which 
the intellect constructs is the object of our 
thoughts and perceptions ideally completed. This 
is neither mythical nor illusory. It is, strictly 
! speaking, in its system and in many of its parts, 
hypothetical ; but the hypothesis is absolutely safe. 
At whatever point we test it, we find the experi 
ence we expect, and the inferences thence made 
by the intellect are verified in sense at every 
moment of existence. 

The ambiguity in Kant s doctrine 
pathos in sub- makes him a confusing representative 
of that criticism of perception which 
malicious psychology has to offer. When the mind 
has made its great discovery; when it has recog 
nised independent objects, and thus taken a first 
step in its rational life, we need to know unequivo 
cally whether this step is a false or a true one. If 
it be false, reason is itself misleading, since a 
hypothesis indispensable in the intellectual mas 
tery of experience is a false hypothesis and the 
detail of experience has no substructure. Now 
Kant s answer was that the discovery of objects 
was a true and valid discovery in the field of ex 
perience; there were, scientifically speaking, 
causes for perception which could be inferred from 
perception by thought. But this inference was 
not true absolutely or metaphysically because there 
was a real world beyond possible experience, and 
there were oracles, not intellectual, by which 
knowledge of that unrealisable world might be ob- 



ON SOME CRITICS 107 

tained. This mysticism undid the intellectualism 
which characterised Kant s system in its scientific 
and empirical application; so that the justifica 
tion for the use of such categories as that of cause 
and substance (categories by which the idea of 
reality is constituted) was invalidated by the 
counter-assertion that empirical reality was not 
true reality but, being an object reached by infer 
ential thought, was merely an idea. Nor was the 
true reality appearance itself in its crude imme 
diacy, as sceptics would think; it was a realm of 
objects present to a supposed intuitive thought, 
that is, to a non-inferential inference or non-dis 
cursive discourse. 

So that while Kant insisted on the point, which 
hardly needed pressing, that it is mind that dis 
covers empirical reality by making inferences 
from the data of sense, he admitted at the same 
time that such use of understanding is legitimate 
and even necessary, and that the idea of nature 
so framed his empirical truth. There remained, 
however, a sense that this empirical truth was 
somehow insufficient and illusory. Understand 
ing was a superficial faculty, and we might by 
other and oracular methods arrive at a reality that 
was not empirical. Why any reality such as 
God, for instance should not be just as empirical 
as the other side of the moon, if experience sug 
gested it and reason discovered it, or why, if not 
suggested by experience and discovered by reason, 
anything should be called a reality at all or should 



108 THE LIFE OF REASON 

hold for a moment a man s waking attention that 
is what Kant never tells us and never himself 
knew. 

Clearer upon this question of perception is the 
position of Berkeley; we may therefore take him 
as a fair representative of those critics who seek 
to invalidate the discovery of material objects. 

Our ideas, said Berkeley, were in our minds; 
the material world was patched together out of 
our ideas; it therefore existed only in our minds. 
To the suggestion that the idea of the external 
world is of course in our minds, but that our 
minds have constructed it by treating sensations 
as effects of a permanent substance distributed in 
a permanent space, he would reply that this means 
nothing, bcause " substance," " permanence," and 
" space " are non-existent ideas, i.e., they are not 
images in sense. They might, however, be 
" notions " like that of " spirit," which Berkeley 
ingenuously admitted into his system, to be, mys- 
B teriously enough, that which has ideas, 

algebra of Or they might be (what would do just 

perception. &g Wfi jj QJ . our p ur p 0ge ) ^hat w hich he 

elsewhere called them, algebraic signs used to fa 
cilitate the operations of thought. This is, indeed, 
what they are, if we take the word algebraic in 
a loose enough sense. They are like algebraic 
signs in being, in respect of their object or sig 
nification, not concrete images but terms in a men 
tal process, elements in a method of inference. 
Why, then, denounce them? They could be used 



ON SOME CRITICS 109 

with all confidence to lead us back to the concrete 
values for which they stood and to the relations 
which they enabled us to state and discover. Ex 
perience would thus be furnished with an intel 
ligible structure and articulation, and a psycho 
logical analysis would be made of knowledge into 
its sensuous material and its ideal objects. What, 
then, was Berkeley s objection to these algebraic 
methods of inference and to the notions of space, 
matter, independent existence, and efficient cau 
sality which these methods involve? 
Horror of What he abhorred was the belief 

physics. that such methods of interpreting ex 
perience were ultimate and truly valid, and that 
by thinking after the fashion of " mathematical 
atheists " we could understand experience as well 
as it can be understood. If the flux of ideas had 
no other key to it than that system of associations 
and algebraic substitutions which is called the 
natural world we should indeed know just as well 
what to expect in practice and should receive the 
same education in perception and reflection; but 
what difference would there be between such an 
idealist and the most pestilential materialist, save 
his even greater wariness and scepticism ? Berke 
ley at this time long before days of " Siris " and 
tar-water was too ignorant and hasty to under 
stand how inane all spiritual or poetic ideals would 
be did they not express man s tragic dependence 
on nature and his congruous development in her 
bosom. He lived in an age when the study and 



110 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

dominion of external things no longer served 
directly spiritual uses. The middle-men had ap 
peared, those spirits in whom the pursuit of the 
true and the practical never leads to possession of 
the good, but loses itself, like a river in sand, amid 
irrational habits and passions. He was accord 
ingly repelled by whatever philosophy was in him, 
no less than by his religious prejudices, from sub 
mergence in external interests, and he could see 
no better way of vindicating the supremacy of 
moral goods than to deny the reality of matter, 
the finality of science, and the constructive powers 
of reason altogether. With honest English em 
piricism he saw that science had nothing absolute 
or sacrosanct about it, and rightly placed the value 
of theory in its humane uses ; but the complement- 
, ary truth escaped him altogether that only the free 
and contemplative expression of reason, of which 
science is a chief part, can render anything else 
humane, useful, or practical. He was accordingly 
a party man in philosophy, where partisanship is 
treason, and opposed the work of reason in the 
theoretical field, hoping thus to advance it in the 
moral. 

Of the moral field he had, it need hardly be 
added, a quite childish and perfunctory concep- 
Puermtyin tion. There the prayer-book and the 
morals. catechism could solve every problem. 

He lacked the feeling, possessed by all large and 
mature minds, that there would be no intelligi 
bility or value in things divine were they not inter- 



ON SOME CRITICS 111 

pretations and sublimations of things natural. 
To master the real world was an ancient and not 
too promising ambition : it suited his youthful 
radicalism better to exorcise or to cajole it. He 
sought to refresh the world with a water-spout of 
idealism, as if to change the names of things could 
change their values. Away with all arid investi 
gation, away with the cold algebra of sense and 
reason., and let us have instead a direct conversa 
tion with heaven, an unclouded vision of the pur 
poses and goodness of God; as if there were any 
other way of understanding the sources of human 
happiness than to study the ways of nature and 
man. 

Converse with God has been the life of many 
a wiser and sadder philosopher than Berkeley; 
but they, like Plato, for instance, or Spinoza, 
have made experience the subject as well as 
the language of that intercourse, and have thus 
given the divine revelation some degree of perti 
nence and articulation. Berkeley in his positive 
doctrine was satisfied with the vaguest generali 
ties; he made no effort to find out how the con 
sciousness that God is the direct author of our 
incidental perceptions is to help us to deal with 
them ; what other insights and principles are to be 
substituted for those that disclose the economy of 
nature; how the moral difficulties incident to an 
absolute providentialism are to be met, or how the 
existence and influence of fellow-minds is to be 
defended. So that to a piety inspired by con- 



112 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ventional theology and a psychology that refused 
to pass, except grudgingly and unintelligently, 
beyond the sensuous stratum, Berkeley had noth 
ing to add by way of philosophy. An insignifi 
cant repetition of the truism that ideas are all 
" in the mind " constituted his total wisdom. To 
be was to be perceived. That was the great maxim 
by virtue of which we were asked, if not to refrain 
from conceiving nature at all, which was perhaps 
impossible at so late a stage in human develop 
ment, at least to refrain from regarding our neces 
sary thoughts on nature as true or rational. In 
telligence was but a false method of imagination 
by which God trained us in action and thought; 
for it was apparently impossible to endow us with 
a true method that would serve that end. And 
what shall we think of the critical acumen or prac 
tical wisdom of a philosopher who dreamed of 
some other criterion of truth than necessary impli 
cation in thought and action? 
Truism and I n ^ ne melodramatic fashion so corn- 
sophism. mon i n what is called philosophy we 
may delight ourselves with such flashes of light 
ning as this : esse est percipi. The truth of this 
paradox lies in the fact that through perception 
alone can we get at being a modest and familiar 
notion which makes, as Plato s " Theaetetus" shows, 
not a bad point of departure for a serious theory of 
knowledge. The sophistical intent of it, however, 
is to deny our right to make a distinction which 
in fact we do make and which the speaker him- 



ON SOME CRITICS 113 

self is making as he utters the phrase; for he 
would not be so proud of himself if he thought 
he was thundering a tautology. If a thing were 
never perceived, or inferred from perception,, we 
should indeed never know that it existed ; but once 
perceived or inferred it may be more conducive to 
comprehension and practical competence to regard 
it as existing independently of our perception; 
and our ability to make this supposition is reg 
istered in the difference between the two words 
to l)e and to le perceived words which are by no 
means synonymous but designate two very differ 
ent relations of things in thought. Such idealism 
at one fell swoop, through a collapse of assertive 
intellect and a withdrawal of reason into self-con 
sciousness, has the puzzling character of any clever 
pun, that suspends the fancy between two incom 
patible but irresistible meanings. The art of such 
sophistry is to choose for an axiom some ambigu 
ous phrase which taken in one sense is a truism 
and taken in another is an absurdity; and then, 
by showing the truth of that truism, to give out 
that the absurdity has also been proved. It is a 
truism to say that I am the only seat or locus of 
my ideas, and that whatever I know is known by 
me; it is an absurdity to say that I am the only 
object of my thought and perception. 
Reality is To confuse the instrument with its 

thepracti- f unc ti on and the operation with its 

cal made 

intelligible. meaning has been a persistent foible in 
modern philosophy. It could thus come about 
VOL. I 8 



114 THE LIFE OF REASON 

that the function of intelligence should be 
altogether misconceived and in consequence de 
nied, when it was discovered that figments of rea 
son could never become elements of sense but 
must always remain, as of course they should, 
4 ideal and regulative objects, and therefore objects 
to which a practical and energetic intellect will 
tend to give the name of realities. Matter is a 
reality to the practical intellect because it is a 
necessary and ideal term in the mastery of experi 
ence; while negligible sensations, like dreams, are 
called illusions by the same authority because, 
though actual enough while they last, they have 
no sustained function and no right to practical 
dominion. 

Let us imagine Berkeley addressing himself to 
that infant or animal consciousness which first 
used the category of substance and passed from 
its perceptions to the notion of an independent 
thing. " Beware, my child," he would have said, 
" you are taking a dangerous step, one which may 
hereafter produce a multitude of mathematical 
atheists, not to speak of cloisterfuls of scholastic 
triflers. Your ideas can exist only in your mind ; 
if you suffer yourself to imagine them materialised 
in mid-air and subsisting when you do not per 
ceive them, you will commit a great impiety. If 
you unthinkingly believe that when you shut your 
eyes the world continues to exist until you open 
them again, you will inevitably be hurried into an 
infinity of metaphysical quibbles about the discrete 



ON SOME CRITICS 115 

and the continuous, and you will be so bewildered 
and deafened by perpetual controversies that the 
clear light of the gospel will be extinguished in 
your soul." " But/ that tender Peripatetic might 
answer, "I cannot forget the things about me when 
I shut my eyes : I know and almost feel their per 
sistent presence, and I always find them again, 
upon trial, just as they were before, or just in 
that condition to which the operation of natural 
causes would have brought them in my absence. 
If I believe they remain and suffer steady and 
imperceptible transformation, I know what to 
expect, and the event does not deceive me; but 
if I had to resolve upon action before knowing 
whether the conditions for action were to exist 
or no, I should never understand what sort of a 
world I lived in." 

"Ah, my child," the good Bishop would reply, 
" you misunderstand me. You may indeed, nay, 
you must, live and think as if everything remained 
independently real. That is part of your education 
for heaven, which God in his goodness provides for 
you in this life. He will send into your soul at 
every moment the impressions needed to verify 
your necessary hypotheses and support your hum 
ble and prudent expectations. Only you must 
not attribute that constancy to the things them 
selves which is due to steadfastness in the designs 
of Providence. Think and act as if a material 
world existed, but do not for a moment believe it 
to exist." 



116 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

Vain " reaii- With this advice, coming reassur- 
ties"and ingly from the combined forces of 

trustworthy & J 

"fictions." scepticism and religion, we may leave 
the embryonic mind to its own devices, satisfied 
that even according to the most malicious 
psychologists its first step toward the comprehen 
sion of experience is one it may congratulate itself 
on having taken and which, for the present at 
least, it is not called upon to retrace. The Life 
of Reason is not concerned with speculation about 
unthinkable and gratuitous " realities " ; it seeks 
merely to attain those conceptions which are nec 
essary and appropriate to man in his acting and 
thinking. The first among these, underlying all 
arts and philosophies alike, is the indispensable 
conception of permanent external objects, forming 
in their congeries, shifts, and secret animation the 
system and life of nature. 

NOTE There is a larger question raised by Berkeley s 
arguments Avhich I have not attempted to discuss here, 
namely, whether knowledge is possible at all, and whether 
any mental representation can be supposed to inform us 
about anything. Berkeley of course assumed this power in 
that he continued to believe in God, in other spirits, in the 
continuity of experience, and in its discoverable laws. His 
objection to material objects, therefore, could not consist 
ently be that they are objects of knowledge rather than 
absolute feelings, exhausted by their momentary possession 
in consciousness. It could only be that they are unthink 
able and invalid objects, in which the materials of sense are 
given a mode of existence inconsistent with their nature. 
But if the only criticism to which material objects were ob 
noxious were a dialectical criticism, such as that contained 
in Kant s antinomies, the royal road to idealism coveted by 



ON SOME CRITICS 117 

Berkeley would be blocked ; to be an idea in the mind 
would not involve lack of cognitive and representative value 
in that idea. The fact that material objects were represented 
or conceived would not of itself prove that they could not 
have a real existence. It would be necessary, to prove their 
unreality, to study their nature and function and to compare 
them with such conceptions as those of Providence and a 
spirit-world in order to determine their relative validity. 
Such a critical comparison would have augured ill for 
Berkeley s prejudices ; what its result might have been we 
can see in Kant s Critique of Pare Reason. In order to 
escape such evil omens and prevent the collapse of his 
mystical paradoxes, Berkeley keeps in reserve a much 
more insidious weapon, the sceptical doubt as to the repre 
sentative character of anything mental, the possible illusive- 
ness of all knowledge. This doubt he invokes in all those 
turns of thought and phrase in which he suggests that if an idea 
is in the mind it cannot have its counterpart elsewhere, and 
that a given cognition exhausts and contains its object. 
There are, then, two separate maxims in his philosophy, one 
held consistently, viz. , that nothing can be known which is 
different in character or nature from the object present to 
the thinking mind ; the other, held incidentally and incon 
sistently, since it is destructive of all predication and knowl 
edge, viz., that nothing can exist beyond the mind which is 
similar in nature or character to the " ideas " within it; or, 
to put the same thing in other words, that nothing can be re 
vealed by an idea which is different from that idea in point 
of existence. The first maxim does not contradict the ex 
istence of external objects in space ; the second contradicts 
every conception that the human mind can ever form, the 
most airy no less than the grossest. No idealist can go so 
far as to deny that bis memory represents his past experience 
by inward similarity and conscious intention, or, if he pre 
fers this language, that the moments or aspects of the divine 
mind represent one another and their general system. Else 
the idealist s philosophy itself would be an insignificant and 
momentary illusion. 



CHAPTER V 

NATURE UNIFIED AND MIND DISCERNED 

Man s feeble When the mind has learned to dis- 
nature f tinguish external objects and to at 
tribute to them a constant size, shape, 
and potency, in spite of the variety and intermit- 
tence ruling in direct experience, there yet remains 
a great work to do before attaining a clear, even 
if superficial, view of the world. An animal s 
customary habitat may have constant features and 
their relations in space may be learned by con 
tinuous exploration; but probably many other 
landscapes are also within the range of memory 
and fancy that stand in no visible relation to the 
place in which we find ourselves at a given 
moment. It is true that, at this day, we take it 
for granted that all real places, as we call them, 
lie in one space, in which they hold definite geo 
metric relations to one another; and if we have 
glimpses of any region for which no room can be 
found in the single map of the universe which 
astronomy has drawn, we unhesitatingly relegate 
that region to the land of dreams. Since the 
Elysian Fields and the Coast of Bohemia have 
no assignable latitude and longitude, we call these 

118 



NATURE UNIFIED 119 

places imaginary, even if in some dream we re 
member to have visited them and dwelt there with 
no less sense of reality than in this single and 
geometrical world of commerce. It belongs to 
sanity and common-sense, as men now possess 
them, to admit no countries unknown to geography 
and filling no part of the conventional space in 
three dimensions. All our waking experience is 
understood to go on in some part of this space, 
and no court of law would admit evidence relating 
to events in some other sphere. 

This principle, axiomatic as it has become, is in 
no way primitive, since primitive experience is 
sporadic and introduces us to detached scenes 
separated by lapses in our senses and attention. 
These scenes do not hang together in any local 
contiguity. To construct a chart of the world is 
a difficult feat of synthetic imagination, not to be 
performed without speculative boldness and a 
heroic insensibility to the claims of fancy. Even 
now most people live without topographical ideas 
and have no clear conception of the spatial rela 
tions that keep together the world in which they 
move. They feel their daily way about like 
animals, following a habitual scent, without dom 
inating the range of their instinctive wanderings. 
Reality is rather a story to them than a system of 
objects and forces, nor would they think them 
selves mad if at any time their experience should 
wander into a fourth dimension. Vague dramatic 
and moral laws, when they find any casual ap- 



120 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

plication, seem to such dreaming minds more 
notable truths, deeper revelations of efficacious 
reality, than the mechanical necessities of the case, 
which they scarcely conceive of; and in this pri 
mordial prejudice they are confirmed by supersti 
tious affinities often surviving In their religion 
and philosophy. In the midst of cities and affairs 
they are like landsmen at sea, incapable of an in 
tellectual conception of their position: nor have 
they any complete confidence in their principles 
of navigation. They know the logarithms by rote 
merely, and if they reflect are reduced to a stupid 
wonder and only half believe they are in a known 
universe or will ever reach an earthly port. It 
would not require superhuman eloquence in some 
prophetic passenger to persuade them to throw 
compass and quadrant overboard and steer enthu 
siastically for El Dorado. The theory of naviga 
tion is essentially as speculative as that of salva 
tion, only it has survived more experiences of the* 
judgment and repeatedly brought those who trust 
in it to their promised land. 

its unity ideal The theory that all real objects and 
and discover- pl ace s lie together in one even and 

able only by * ..... 

steady homogeneous space, conceived as simi- 

thought. j ar j n ftg constitution to the parts of 

extension of which we have immediate intuition, is 
a theory of the greatest practical importance and 
validity. By its light we carry on all our affairs, 
and the success of our action while we rely upon it 
is the best proof of its truth. The imaginative 



NATURE UNIFIED 121 

parsimony and discipline which such a theory in 
volves are balanced by the immense extension and 
certitude it gives to knowledge. It is at once an 
act of allegiance to nature and a Magna Charta 
which mind imposes on the tyrannous world, which 
in turn pledges itself before the assembled facul 
ties of man not to exceed its constitutional privi 
lege and to harbour no magic monsters in unattain 
able lairs from which they might issue to disturb 
human labours. Yet that spontaneous intelligence 
which first enabled men to make this genial dis 
covery and take so fundamental a step toward 
taming experience should not be laid by after this 
first victory; it is a weapon needed in many sub 
sequent conflicts. To conceive that all nature 
makes one system is only a beginning : the articu 
lation of natural life has still to be discovered in 
detail and, what is more, a similar articulation 
has to be given to the psychic world which now, by 
me very act that constitutes Nature and makes 
her consistent, appears at her side or rather in 
her bosom. 

That the unification of nature is eventual and 
theoretical is a point useful to remember : else the 
relation of the natural world to poetry, meta 
physics, and religion will never become intelligible. 
Lalande, or whoever it was, who searched the 
heavens with his telescope and could find no God, 
would not have found the human mind if he had 
searched the brain with a microscope. Yet God 
existed in man s apprehension long before mathe- 



122 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

matics or even, perhaps, before the vault of 
heaven; for the objectification of the whole mind, 
with its passions and motives, naturally precedes 
that abstraction by which the idea of a material 
world is drawn from the chaos of experience, an 
abstraction which culminates in such atomic and 
astronomical theories as science is now familiar 
with. The sense for life in things, be they small 
or great, is not derived from the abstract idea of 
their bodies but is an ancient concomitant to that 
idea, inseparable from it until it became abstract. 
Truth and materiality, mechanism and ideal in 
terests, are collateral projections from one rolling 
experience, which shows up one aspect or the other 
as it develops various functions and dominates 
itself to various ends. When one ore is abstracted 
and purified, the residuum subsists in that prime 
val quarry in which it originally lay. The failure 
to find God among the stars, or even the attempt 
to find him there, does not indicate that human 
experience affords no avenue to the idea of God 
for history proves the contrary but indicates 
rather the atrophy in this particular man of the 
imaginative faculty by which his race had attained 
to that idea. Such an atrophy might indeed 
become general, and God would in that case dis 
appear from human experience as music would dis 
appear if universal deafness attacked the race. 
Such an event is made conceivable by the loss of 
allied imaginative habits, which is observable in 
historic times. Yet possible variations in human 



NATURE UNIFIED 123 

faculty do not involve the illegitimacy of such 
faculties as actually subsist ; and the abstract world 
known to science,, unless it dries up the ancient 
fountains of ideation by its habitual presence in 
thought, does not remove those parallel dramatisa 
tions or abstractions which experience may have 
suggested to men. 

What enables men to perceive the unity of 
nature is the unification of their own wills. A 
man half-asleep, without fixed purposes, without 
intellectual keenness or joy in recognition, might 
graze about like an animal, forgetting each satis 
faction in the next and banishing from his frivo 
lous mind the memory of every sorrow; what had 
just failed to kill him would leave him as thought 
less and unconcerned as if it had never crossed 
his path. Such irrational elasticity and innocent 
improvidence would never put two and two 
together. Every morning there would be a new 
world with the same fool to live in it. But let 
some sobering passion, some serious interest, lend 
perspective to the mind, and a point of reference 
will immediately be given for protracted observa 
tion; then the laws of nature will begin to dawn 
upon thought. Every experiment will become a 
lesson, every event will be remembered as favour 
able or unfavourable to the master-passion. At 
first, indeed, this keen observation will probably 
be animistic and the laws discovered will be 
chiefly habits, human or divine, special favours or 
envious punishments and warnings. But the same 






124 THE LIFE OF REASON 

constancy of aim which discovers the dramatic con 
flicts composing society, and tries to read nature 
in terms of passion, will, if it be long sustained, 
discover behind this glorious chaos a deeper 
mechanical order. Men s thoughts, like the 
weather, are not so arbitrary as they seem and the 
true master in observation, the man guided by a 
steadfast and superior purpose, will see them re 
volving about their centres in obedience to quite 
calculable instincts, and the principle of all their 
flutterings will not be hidden from his eyes. 
Belief in indeterminism is a sign of indetermina- 
tion. No commanding or steady intellect flirts 
with so miserable a possibility, which in so far as 
it actually prevailed would make virtue impotent 
and experience, in its pregnant sense, impossible. 
Mind the We have said that those objects 

duTof exist- wn i cn cannot be incorporated into the 
ence. one space which the understanding 

envisages are relegated to another sphere called 
imagination. We reach here a most important 
corollary. As material objects, making a single 
system which fills space and evolves in time, are 
conceived by abstraction from the flux of sensuous 
experience, so, pari passu, the rest of experience, 
with all its other outgrowths and concretions, falls 
out with the physical world and forms the sphere 
of mind, the sphere of memory, fancy, and the 
passions. We have in this discrimination the 
genesis of mind, not of course in the transcenden 
tal sense in which the word mind is extended to 



NATURE UNIFIED 125 

mean the sum total and mere fact of existence 
for mind, so taken, can have no origin and indeed 
no specific meaning but the genesis of mind as 
a determinate form of being, a distinguishable part 
of the universe known to experience and discourse, 
the mind that unravels itself in meditation, in 
habits animal bodies, and is studied in psychology. 
Mind, in this proper sense of the word, is the 
residue of existence, the leavings, so to speak, 
and parings of experience when the material world 
has been cut out of the whole cloth. Eeflection 
underlines in the chaotic continuum of sense and 
longing those aspects that have practical signifi 
cance; it selects the efficacious ingredients in the 
world. The trustworthy object which is thus re 
tained in thought, the complex of connected 
events, is nature, and though so intelligible an 
object is not soon nor vulgarly recognised, because 
human reflection is perturbed and halting, yet every 
forward step in scientific and practical knowledge 
is a step toward its clearer definition. At first 
much parasitic matter clings to that dynamic 
skeleton. Nature is drawn like a sponge heavy 
and dripping from the waters of sentience. It is 
soaked with inefficacious passions and overlaid 
with idle accretions. Nature, in a word, is at first 
conceived mythically, dramatically, and retains 
much of the unintelligible, sporadic habit of ani 
mal experience itself. But as attention awakes 
and discrimination, practically inspired, grows 
firm and stable, irrelevant qualities are stripped 



126 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

off, and the mechanical process, the efficacious in 
fallible order, is clearly disclosed beneath. Mean 
time the incidental effects, the " secondary quali 
ties," are relegated to a personal inconsequential 
region; they constitute the realm of appearance, 
the realm of mind. 

Ghostly char- Mind is therefore sometimes identi- 
acter of mind, fied with the unreal. We oppose, in 
an antithesis natural to thought and language, the 
imaginary to the true, fancy to fact, idea to thing. 
But this thing, fact, or external reality is, as we 
have seen, a completion and hypostasis of certain 
portions of experience, packed into such shapes as 
prove cogent in thought and practice. The stuff 
of external reality, the matter out of which its idea 
is made, is therefore continuous with the stuff and 
matter of our own minds. Their common sub 
stance is the immediate flux. This living worm 
has propagated by fission, and the two halves into 
which it has divided its life are mind and nature. 
Mind has kept and clarified the crude appearance, 
the dream, the purpose that seethed in the mass; 
nature has appropriated the order, the constant 
conditions, the causal substructure, disclosed in 
reflection, by which the immediate flux is ex 
plained and controlled. The chemistry of 
thought has precipitated these contrasted terms, 
each maintaining a recognisable identity and hav 
ing the function of a point of reference for 
memory and will. Some of these terms or objects 
of thought we call things and marshal in all their 



NATURE UNIFIED 127 

ideal stability for there is constancy in their 
motions and transformations to make the intel 
ligible external world of practice and science. 
Whatever stuff has not been absorbed in this con 
struction,, whatever facts of sensation, ideation, or 
will, do not coalesce with the newest conception 
of reality, we then call the mind. 

Eaw experience, then, lies at the basis of the 
idea of nature and approves its reality; while an 
equal reality belongs to the residue of experience, 
not taken up, as yet, into that idea. But this resid 
ual sensuous reality often seems comparatively 
unreal because what it presents is entirely without 
practical force apart from its mechanical asso 
ciates. This inconsequential character of what 
remains over follows of itself from the concretion 
of whatever is constant and efficacious into the 
external world. If this fact is ever called in ques 
tion, it is only because the external world is 
vaguely conceived, and loose wills and ideas are 
thought to govern it by magic. Yet in many ways 
falling short of absolute precision people recognise 
that thought is not dynamic or, as they call it, 
not real. The idea of the physical world is the 
first flower or thick cream of practical thinking. 
Being skimmed off first and proving so nutri- 
cious, it leaves the liquid below somewhat thin and 
unsavoury. Especially does this result appear 
when science is still unpruned and mythical, so 
that what passes into the idea of material nature 
is much more than the truly causal network of 



128 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

forces, and includes many spiritual and moral 
functions. 

The material world, as conceived in the first in 
stance, had not that clear abstractness, nor the 
spiritual world that wealth and interest, which they 
have acquired for modern minds. The complex 
reactions of man s soul had been objectified 
together with those visual and tactile sensations 
which, reduced to a mathematical baldness, now 
furnish terms to natural science. Mind then 
dwelt in the world, not only in the warmth and 
beauty with which it literally clothed material 
objects, as it still does in poetic perception, but in 
a literal animistic way; for human passion and 
reflection were attributed to every object and made 
a fairy-land of the world. Poetry and religion dis 
cerned life in those very places in which sense and 
understanding perceived body; and when so much 
of the burden of experience took wing into space, 
and the soul herself floated almost visibly among 
the forms of nature, it is no marvel that the poor 
remnant, a mass of merely personal troubles, an 
uninteresting distortion of things in individual 
minds, should have seemed a sad and unsubstan- 
j tial accident. The inner world was all the more 
ghostly because the outer world was so much alive. 
Hypostasis This movement of thought, which 

bo?hTeed Sm clotned external objects in all the 
control. wealth of undeciphered dreams, has 

long lost its momentum and yielded to a contrary 
tendency. Just as the hypostasis of some terms 



NATURE UNIFIED 129 

in experience is sanctioned by reason, when the 
objects so fixed and externalised can serve as 
causes and explanations for the order of events, 
so the criticism which tends to retract that hypos- 
tasis is sanctioned by reason when the hypostasis 
has exceeded its function and the external object 
conceived is loaded with useless ornament. The 
transcendental and functional secret of such 
hypostases, however, is seldom appreciated by the 
headlong mind; so that the ebb no less than the 
flow of objectification goes on blindly and impul 
sively, and is carried to absurd extremes. An age , 
of mythology yields to an age of subjectivity ; rea 
son being equally neglected and exceeded in both. 
The reaction against imagination has left the ex- 
ternal world, as represented in many minds, stark j 
and bare. All the interesting and vital qualities 
which matter had once been endowed with have 
been attributed instead to an irresponsible sensi 
bility in man. And as habits of ideation change 
slowly and yield only piecemeal to criticism or to 
fresh intuitions, such a revolution has not been 
carried out consistently, but instead of a thorough 
renaming of things and a new organisation of 
thought it has produced chiefly distress and con 
fusion. Some phases of this confusion may per 
haps repay a moment s attention ; they may enable 
us, when seen in their logical sequence, to under 
stand somewhat better the hypostasising intellect 
that is trying to assert itself and come to the light 
through all these gropings. 
VOL. L-9 



130 THE LIFE OF REASON 

comparative What helps in the first place to dis- 

ob^c^and" 1 c l sea P ermanen t object is a permanent 
in ideas. sensation. There is a vast and clear dif 
ference between a floating and a fixed feeling ; the 
latter, in normal circumstances, is present only 
when continuous stimulation renews it at every 
moment. Attention may wander, but the objects 
in the environment do not cease to radiate their 
influences on the body, which is thereby not 
allowed to lose the modification which those in 
fluences provoke. The consequent perception is 
therefore always at hand and in its repetitions sub 
stantially identical. Perceptions not renewed in 
this way by continuous stimulation come and go 
with cerebral currents; they are rare visitors, 
instead of being, like external objects, members 
of the household. Intelligence is most at home in 
the ultimate, which is the object of intent. Those 
realities which it can trust and continually recover 
are its familiar and beloved companions. The 
mists that may originally have divided it from 
them, and which psychologists call the mind, are 
gladly forgotten so soon as intelligence avails to 
pierce them, and as friendly communication can 
be established with the real world. Moreover, per 
ceptions not sustained by a constant external 
stimulus are apt to be greatly changed when they 
reappear, and to be changed unaccountably, 
whereas external things show some method and 
proportion in their variations. Even when not 
much changed in themselves, mere ideas fall into 



NATURE UNIFIED 131 

a new setting, whereas things, unless something 
else has intervened to move them, reappear in 
their old places. Finally things are acted upon by 
other men, but thoughts are hidden from them by 
divine miracle. 

Existence reveals reality when the flux discloses 
something permanent that dominates it. What is 
thus dominated, though it is the primary existence 
itself, is thereby degraded to appearance. Percep 
tions caused by external objects are, as we have just 
seen, long sustained in comparison with thoughts 
and fancies ; but the objects are themselves in flux 
and a man s relation to them may be even more 
variable; so that very often a memory or a senti 
ment will recur, almost unchanged in character, 
long after the perception that first aroused it has 
become impossible. The brain, though mobile, is 
subject to habit; its formations, while they lapse 
instantly, return again and again. These ideal 
objects may accordingly be in a way more real . 
and enduring than things external. Hence no 
primitive mind puts all reality, or what is most 
real in reality, in an abstract material universe. 
It finds, rather, ideal points of reference by which 
material mutation itself seems to be controlled. 
An ideal world is recognised from the beginning 
and placed, not in the immediate foreground, 
nearer than material things, but much farther off. 
It has greater substantiality and independence 
than material objects are credited with. It is 
divine. 



132 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

When agriculture, commerce, or manual crafts 
have given men some knowledge of nature, the 
world thus recognised and dominated is far from 
seeming ultimate. It is thought to lie between 
two others, both now often called mental, but in 
their original quality altogether disparate: the 
world of spiritual forces and that of sensuous 
appearance. The notions of permanence and in 
dependence by which material objects are con 
ceived apply also, of course, to everything spirit 
ual; and while the dominion exercised by spirits 
may be somewhat precarious, they are as remote 
as possible from immediacy and sensation. They 
come and go; they govern nature or, if they neg 
lect to do so, it is from aversion or high indiffer 
ence ; they visit man with obsessions and diseases ; 
they hasten to extricate him from difficulties ; and 
they dwell in him, constituting his powers of 
conscience and invention. Sense, on the other 
hand, is a mere effect, either of body or spirit or 
of both in conjunction. It gives a vitiated per 
sonal view of these realities. Its pleasures are 
dangerous and unintelligent, and it perishes as 
it goes. 
Spirit and Such are, for primitive appercep- 

b e y n their e reTa d - tion > the three S reat Bairns of being: 
tion to nature, nature, sense, and spirit. Their 
frontiers, however, always remain uncertain. 
Sense, because it is insignificant when made an 
object, is long neglected by reflection. No at 
tempt is made to describe its processes or ally them 



NATURE UNIFIED 133 

systematically to natural changes. Its illusions, 
when noticed, are regarded as scandals calculated 
to foster scepticism. The spiritual world is, on 
the other hand, a constant theme for poetry and 
speculation. In the absence of ideal science, it 
can be conceived only in myths, which are 
naturally as shifting and self-contradictory as they 
are persistent. They acquire no fixed character 
until, in dogmatic religion, they are defined with 
reference to natural events, foretold or reported. 
Nature is what first acquires a form and then 
imparts form to the other spheres. Sense admits 
definition and distribution only as an effect of 
nature and spirit only as its principle, 
vague notions Tne form nature acquires is, how- 
of nature in- ever? itself vague and uncertain and 

volve vague .,, , -, 

notions of can ill serve, for long ages, to define 
spirit. the other realms which depend on it 

for definition. Hence it has been common, for 
instance, to treat the spiritual as a remote or finer 
form of the natural. Beyond the moon everything 
seemed permanent; it was therefore called divine 
and declared to preside over the rest. The breath 
that escaped from the lips at death, since it took 
away with it the spiritual control and miraculous 
life that had quickened the flesh, was itself the 
spirit. On the other hand, natural processes have 
been persistently attributed to spiritual causes, 
for it was not matter that moved itself but intent 
that moved it. Thus spirit was barbarously taken 
for a natural substance and a natural force. It 



134 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

was identified with everything in which it was 
manifested, so long as no natural causes could be 
assigned for that operation. 

If the unification of nature were 
spirit the life of complete sense would evidently fall 
nature, which w ithin it; since it is to subtend and 

science redis- . ,,. 

tributes but sustain the sensible flux that intelii- 
does not deny. gence acknowledges first stray mate 
rial objects and then their general system. The 
elements of experience not taken up into the con 
stitution of objects remain attached to them as 
their life. In the end the dynamic skeleton, 
without losing its articulation, would be clothed 
again with its flesh. Suppose my notions of as 
tronomy allowed me to believe that the sun, sink 
ing into the sea, was extinguished every evening, 
and that what appeared the next morning was his 
younger brother, hatched in a sun-producing nest 
to be found in the Eastern regions. My theory 
would have robbed yesterday s sun of its life and 
brightness ; it would have asserted that during the 
night no sun existed anywhere ; but it would have 
added the sun s qualities afresh to a matter that 
did not previously possess them, namely, to the 
imagined egg that would produce a sun for to 
morrow. Suppose we substitute for that astron 
omy the one that now prevails: we have deprived 
the single sun which now exists and spreads its 
influences without interruption of its humanity 
and even of its metaphysical unity. It has become 
a congeries of chemical substances. The facts re- 



NATUKE UNIFIED 135 

vealed to perception have partly changed their 
locus and been differently deployed throughout 
nature. Some have become attached to operations 
in the human brain. Nature has not thereby lost 
any quality she had ever manifested; these have 
merely been redistributed so as to secure a more 
systematic connection between them all. They 
are the materials of the system, which has been 
conceived by making existences continuous, when 
ever this extension of their being was needful to 
render their recurrences intelligible. Sense, which 
was formerly regarded as a sad distortion of its 
objects, now becomes an original and congruent 
part of nature, from which, as from any other 
part, the rest of nature might be scientifically 
inferred. 

Spirit is not less closely attached to nature, 
although in a different manner. Taken existen- 
tially it is a part of sense; taken ideally it is the 
form or value which nature acquires when viewed 
from the vantage-ground of any interest. Indi 
vidual objects are recognisable for a time not 
because the flux is materially arrested but because 
it somewhere circulates in a fashion which awakens 
an interest and brings different parts of the sur 
rounding process into definable and prolonged re 
lations with that interest. Particular objects may 
perish yet others may continue, like the series of 
suns imagined by Heraclitus, to perform the same 
office. The function will outlast the particular 
organ. That interest in reference to which the 



136 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

function is defined will essentially determine a 
perfect world of responsive extensions and con 
ditions. These ideals will be a spiritual reality; 
and they will be expressed in nature in so far as 
nature supports that regulative interest. Many a 
perfect and eternal realm, merely potential in ex 
istence but definite in constitution, will thus sub 
tend nature and be what a rational philosophy 
might call the ideal. What is called spirit would 
be the ideal in so far as it obtained expression in 
nature; and the power attributed to spirit would 
be the part of nature s fertility by which such 
expression was secured. 



CHAPTEK VI 

DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 

Another back- When a ghostly sphere, containing f 
memory and all ideas, has been distin- 
guished from the material world, it 
tends to grow at the expense of the lat- 
ter, until nature is finally reduced to a 
mathematical skeleton. This skeleton itself, but for 
the need of a bridge to connect calculably episode 
with episode in experience, might be transferred to 
mind and identified with the scientific thought in 
which it is represented. But a scientific theory 
inhabiting a few scattered moments of life can 
not connect those episodes among which it is itself 
the last and the least substantial; nor would such 
a notion have occurred even to the most reckless 
sceptic, had the world not possessed another sort 
of reputed reality the minds of others which 
could serve, even after the supposed extinction of 
the physical world, to constitute an independent 
order and to absorb the potentialities of being 
when immediate consciousness nodded. But other 
men s minds, being themselves precarious and in 
effectual, would never have seemed a possible sub 
stitute for nature, to be in her stead the back- 
137 



138 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

ground and intelligible object of experience. 
Something constant, omnipresent, infinitely fer 
tile is needed to support and connect the given 
chaos. Just these properties, however, are actu 
ally attributed to one of the minds supposed to 
confront the thinker, namely, the mind of God. 
The divine mind has therefore always constituted 
in philosophy either the alternative to nature or 
her other name : it is par excellence the seat of all 
potentiality and, as Spinoza said, the refuge of all 
ignorance. 

Speculative problems would be greatly clarified, 
and what is genuine in them would be more easily 
distinguished from what is artificial, if we could 
gather together again the original sources for the 
belief in separate minds and compare these 
sources with those we have already assigned to the 
conception of nature. But speculative problems 
are not alone concerned, for Jin all social life we 
envisage fellow-creatures -received to share the 
same thoughts and passions and to be similarly 
affected by events. What is the basis of this con 
viction ? What are the forms it takes, and in what 
sense is it a part or an expression of reason? 

This question is difficult, and in broaching it we 
cannot expect much aid from what philosophers 
have hitherto said on the subject. For the most 
part, indeed, they have said nothing, as by nature s 
kindly disposition most questions which it is 
beyond a man s power to answer do not occur to 
him at all. The suggestions which have actually 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 139 



been made in the matter may be reduced to two : 
first, that we conceive other men s minds by pro- 
Two usual ac- jccting into their bodies those feelings 
conation* 118 which we immediately perceive to ac- 
criticised: company similar operations in our 
selves, that is, we infer alien minds by analogy; 
and second, that we are immediately aware of 
them and feel them to be friendly or hostile 
counterparts of our own thinking and effort, that 
is, we evoke them by dramatic imagination. 
analo The first suggestion has the advan- 

between tage that it escapes solipsism by a rea- 
bodies, sonable argument, provided the exist 

ence of the material world has already been 
granted. But if the material world is called back 
into the private mind, it is evident that every soul 
supposed to inhabit it or to be expressed in it must 
follow it thither, as inevitably as the characters 
and forces in an imagined story must remain with 
it in the inventor s imagination. When, on the 
contrary, nature is left standing, it is reason 
able to suppose that animals having a similar 
origin and similar physical powers should have 
similar minds, if any of them was to have a 
mind at all. The theory, however, is not satis 
factory on other grounds. We do not in reality 
associate our own grimaces with the feelings that 
accompany them and subsequently, on recognis 
ing similar grimaces in another, proceed to at 
tribute emotions to him like those we formerly 
experienced. Our own grimaces are not easily 



7 



140 THE LIFE OF REASON 

perceived, and other men s actions often reveal 
passions which we have never had, at least with 
anything like their suggested colouring and in 
tensity. This first view is strangely artificial and 
mistakes for the natural origin of the belief in 
question what may be perhaps its ultimate test. 
The second suggestion, on the other 

and dramatic 

dialogue in hand, takes us into a mystic region. 

the soul. rp hat we eyoke the f elt goulg of Qur f e }_ 

lows by dramatic imagination is doubtless true; 
but this does not explain how we come to do so, 
under what stimulus and in what circumstances. 
Nor does it avoid solipsism; for the felt counter 
parts of my own will are echoes within me, while 
if other minds actually exist they cannot have for 
their essence to play a game with me in my own 
fancy. Such society would be mythical, and while 
the sense for society may well be mythical in its 
origin, it must acquire some other character if it 
is to have practical and moral validity. But prac 
tical and moral validity is above all what society 
seems to have. This second theory, therefore, 
while its feeling for psychological reality is keener, 
does not make the recognition of other minds in 
telligible and leaves our faith in them without 
justification. 

Subject and ^ n approaching the subject afresh 
object empiri- w e should do well to remember that 

cal, not tran- -, . . , . , 

scendentai, crude experience knows nothing of the 
terms. distinction between subject and object. 

This distinction is a division in things, a contrast 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 141 

established between masses of images which show 
different characteristics in their modes of exist 
ence and relation. If this truth is overlooked, if 
subject and object are made conditions of experi 
ence instead of being, like body and mind, its con 
trasted parts, the revenge of fate is quick and 
ironical ; either subject or object must immediately 
collapse and evaporate altogether. All objects 
must become modifications of the subject or all 
subjects aspects or fragments of the object. 
Objects ongi- Now the ^ ac ^ that cru ^ e experience 
naiiy soaked i$ innocent of modern philosophy has 
andTertiary 7 this important consequence: that for 
qualities. crude experience all data whatever lie 
originally side by side in the same field ; extension 
is passionate, desire moves bodies, thought broods 
in space and is constituted by a visible metamor 
phosis of its subject matter. Animism or mythol 
ogy is therefore no artifice. Passions naturally 
reside in the object they agitate our own body, 
if that be the felt seat of some pang, the stars, if 
the pang can find no nearer resting-place. Only 
a long and still unfinished education has taught 
men to separate emotions from things and ideas 
from their objects. This education was needed 
because crude experience is a chaos, and the quali 
ties it jumbles together do not march together in 
time. Eeflection must accordingly separate them, 
if knowledge (that is, ideas with eventual appli 
cation and practical transcendence) is to exist at 
all. In other words, action must be adjusted to 



142 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

certain elements of experience and not to others, 
and those chiefly regarded must have a certain 
interpretation put upon them by trained apper 
ception. The rest must be treated as moonshine 
and taken no account of except perhaps in idle and 
poetic revery. In this way crude experience grows 
reasonable and appearance becomes knowledge of 
reality. 

The fundamental reason,, then, why we attribute 
consciousness to natural bodies is that those bodies, 
before they are conceived to be merely material, 
are conceived to possess all the qualities which 
our own consciousness possesses when we behold 
them. Such a supposition is far from being a 
paradox, since only this principle justifies us to 
this day in believing in whatever we may decide 
to believe in. The qualities attributed to reality 
must be qualities found in experience, and if we 
deny their presence in ourselves (e.g., in the case 
of omniscience), that is only because the idea of 
self, like that of matter, has already become 
special and the region of ideals (in which omni 
science lies) has been formed into a third sphere. 
But before the idea of self is well constituted and 
before the category of ideals has been conceived at 
all, every ingredient ultimately assigned to those 
two regions is attracted into the perceptual vortex 
for which such qualities as pressure and motion 
, supply a nucleus. The moving image is there 
fore impregnated not only with secondary quali 
ties colour, heat, etc. but with qualities which 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 143 

we may call tertiary, such as pain, fear, joy, 
malice, feebleness, expectancy. Sometimes these 
tertiary qualities are attributed to the object in 
their fulness and just as they are felt. Thus the 
sun is not only bright and warm in the same way 
as he is round, but by the same right he is also 
happy, arrogant, ever-young, and all-seeing; for a 
suggestion of these tertiary qualities runs through 
us when we look at him, just as immediately as do 
his warmth and light. The fact that these imag 
inative suggestions are not constant does not im 
pede the instant perception that they are actual, 
and for crude experience whatever a thing pos 
sesses in appearance it possesses indeed, no matter 
how soon that quality may be lost again. The 
moment when things have most numerous and best 
defined tertiary qualities is accordingly, for crude 
experience, the moment when they are most ade 
quately manifested and when their inner essence 
is best revealed; for it is then that they appear in 
experience most splendidly arrayed and best 
equipped for their eventual functions. The sun 
is a better expression of all his ulterior effects 
when he is conceived to be an arrogant and all- 
seeing spirit than when he is stupidly felt to be 
merely hot; so that the attentive and devout 
observer, to whom those tertiary qualities are re 
vealed, stands in the same relation to an ordinary 
sensualist, who can feel only the sun s material 
attributes, as the sensualist in turn stands in to 
one born blind, who cannot add the sun s bright- 



144 THE LIFE OF REASON 

ness to its warmth except by faith in some hap 
pier man s reported intuition. The mythologist 
or poet, before science exists, is accordingly the 
man of truest and most adequate vision. His per 
suasion that he knows the heart and soul of things 
is no fancy reached by artificial inference or 
analogy but is a direct report of his own experi 
ence and honest contemplation. 
Tertiar More often, however, tertiary quali- 

quaiities ties are somewhat transposed in pro- 
transposed, jection, as sound in being lodged in the 
bell is soon translated into sonority, made, that is, 
into its own potentiality. In the same way pain- 
fulness is translated into malice or wickedness, 
terror into hate, and every felt tertiary quality into 
whatever tertiary quality is in experience its more 
quiescent or potential form. So religion, which 
remains for the most part on the level of crude 
experience, attributes to the gods not only happi 
ness the object s direct tertiary quality but 
goodness its tertiary quality transposed and made 
potential; for goodness is that disposition which 
is fruitful in happiness throughout imagined ex 
perience. The devil, in like manner, is cruel and 
wicked as well as tormented. Uncritical science 
still attributes these transposed tertiary qualities 
to nature; the mythical notion of force, for 
instance, being a transposed sensation of effort. 
In this case we may distinguish two stages or 
degrees in the transposition : first, before we think 
of our own pulling, we say the object itself pulls ; 



DISCOVEEY OF FELLOW-MINDS 145 

in the first transposition we say it pulls against 
us, its pull is the counterpart or rival of ours but 
it is still conceived in the same direct terms of 
effort; and in the second transposition this in 
termittent effort is made potential or slumbering 
in what we call strength or force. 

It is obvious that the feelings at- 

tributed to other men are nothing but 
tertiary quail- the tertiary qualities of their bodies. 
tie . s * J e *~ j n beings of the same species, however, 

these qualities are naturally exceed 
ingly numerous, variable, and precise. Nature 
has made man man s constant study. His 
thought, from infancy to the drawing up of his 
last will and testament, is busy about his neigh 
bour. A smile makes a child happy; a caress, a 
moment s sympathetic attention, wins a heart and 
gives the friend s presence a voluminous and 
poignant value. In youth all seems lost in losing 
a friend, j For the tertiary values, the emotions 
attached fo^ a given image, the moral effluence 
emanating from it, pervade the whole present 
world. The sense of union, though momentary, 
is the same that later returns to the lover or the 
mystic, when he feels he has plucked the heart of 
life s mystery .and penetrated to the peaceful cen 
tre of things. ) What the mystic beholds in his 
ecstasy and loses in his moments of dryness, what 
the lover pursues and adores, what the child cries 
for when left alone, is much more a spirit, a per 
son, a haunting mind, than a set of visual sensa- 
VOL. I.10 



146 THE LIFE OF REASON 

tions; yet the visual sensations are connected in 
extricably with that spirit, else the spirit would 
not withdraw when the sensations failed. We are 
not dealing with an articulate mind whose posses 
sions are discriminated and distributed into a mas 
tered world where everything has its department, 
its special relations, its limited importance; we 
are dealing with a mind all pulp, all confusion, 
keenly sensitive to passing influences and reacting 
on them massively and without reserve. 

This mind is feeble, passionate, and ignorant. 
Its sense for present spirit is no miracle of intelli 
gence or of analogical reasoning ; on the contrary, 
it betrays a vagueness natural to rudimentary con 
sciousness. Those visual sensations suddenly cut 
off cannot there be recognised for what they are. 
The consequences which their present disappear 
ance may have for subsequent experience are in 
no wise foreseen or estimated, much less are any 
inexperienced feelings invented and attached to 
that retreating figure, otherwise a mere puppet. 
What happens is that by the loss of an absorbing 
stimulus the whole chaotic mind is thrown out of 
gear; the child cries, the lover faints, the mystic 
feels hell opening before him. All this is a pres 
ent sensuous commotion, a derangement in an 
actual dream. Yet just at this lowest plunge of 
experience, in this drunkenness of the soul, does 
the overwhelming reality and externality of the 
other mind dawn upon us, Then we feel that we 
are surrounded jnot fty-si blue sky or an earth 



DISCOVEKY OF FELLOW-MINDS 147 

known to geographers buj( by unutterable and most 
personal hatreds and loves. For then we allow 
the half-deciphered images of sense to drag behind 
them every emotion they have awakened. We 
endow each overmastering stimulus with all its 
diffuse effects; and any dramatic potentiality that 
our dream acts out under that high pressure 
and crude experience is rich in dreams becomes 
our notion of the life going on before us. We 
cannot regard it as our own life, because it is not 
felt to be a passion in our own body, but attaches 
itself rather to images we see moving about in 
the world; it is consequently, without hesitation, 
called the life of those images, or those creatures 
souls. 

"Pathetic The pathetic fallacy is accordingly 

fallacy " nor-v what originally peoples the imagined 

malyetor- ,, ? ,./ * \. 

fai- world. All the feelings aroused by 



lacious. perceived things are merged in those 

things and made to figure as the spiritual and in 
visible part of their essence, a part, moreover, 
quite as well known and as directly perceived as 
their motions. To ask why such feelings are 
objectified would be to betray a wholly sophis 
ticated view of experience and its articulation. 
They do not need to be objectified, seeing they 
were objective from the beginning, inasmuch as 
they pertain to objects and have never, any more 
than those objects, been "subjectified" or localised 
in the thinker s body, nor included in that train 
of images which as a whole is known to have in 



148 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

that body its seat and thermometer. The ther 
mometer for these passions is, on the contrary, the 
body of another; and the little dream in us, the 
quick dramatic suggestion which goes with our 
perception of his motions, is our perception of his 
thoughts. 

A sense for alien thought is accordingly at its 
inception a complete illusion. The thought is 
one s own, it is associated with an image moving 
in space, and is uncritically supposed to be a hid 
den part of that image, a metaphysical significa 
tion attached to its motion and actually existing 
behind the scenes in the form of an unheard 
soliloquy. A complete illusion this sense remains 
in mythology, in animism, in the poetic forms of 
love and religion. A better mastery of experience 
will in such cases dispel those hasty conceits by 
showing the fundamental divergence which at once 
manifests itself between the course of phenomena 
and the feelings associated with them. It will 
appear beyond question that those feelings were 
private fancies merged with observation in an un 
digested experience. They indicated nothing in 
the object but its power of arousing emotional and 
playful reverberations in the mind. Criticism 
will tend to clear the world of such poetic distor 
tion; and what vestiges of it may linger will be 
avowed fables, metaphors employed merely in con 
ventional expression. In the end even poetic 
power will forsake a discredited falsehood: the 
poet himself will soon prefer to describe nature in 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 149 

natural terms and to represent human emotions 
in their pathetic humility, not extended beyond 
their actual sphere nor fantastically uprooted from 
their necessary soil and occasions. He will sing 
the power of nature over the soul, the joys of the 
soul in the bosom of nature, the beauty visible in 
things, and the steady march of natural processes, 
so rich in momentous incidents and collocations. 
The precision of such a picture will accentuate its 
majesty, as precision does in the poems of Lucre 
tius and Dante, while its pathos and -dramatic 
interest will be redoubled by its truth. 
Case where it is A primary habit producing wide- 
not a fallacy, spread illusions may in certain cases 
become the source of rational knowledge. This 
possibility will surprise no one who has studied 
nature and life to any purpose. Nature and life 
are tentative in all their processes, so that there 
is nothing exceptional in the fact that, since in 
crude experience image and emotion are inevitably 
regarded as constituting a single event, this habit 
should usually lead to childish absurdities, but 
also, under speciaL-ycircumstances, to rational 
insight and morality./ There is evidently one case 
in which the pathetic fallacy is not fallacious, the 
case in which the object observed happens to be an 
animal similar to the observer and similarly 
affected, as for instance when a flock or herd arc 
swayed by panic fear. The emotion which each, 
as he runs, attributes to the others is, as usual, the 
emotion he feels himself; but this emotion, fear, 



150 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

is the same which in fact the others are then feel 
ing. Their aspect thus becomes the recognised 

- expression for the feeling which really accom 
panies it. So in hand-to-hand fighting: the in 
tention and passion which each imputes to the 
other is what he himself feels ; but the imputation 
is probably just, since pugnacity is a remarkably 

* contagious and monotonous passion. It is awa 
kened by the slightest hostile suggestion and is 
greatly intensified by example and emulation; 
those we fight against and those we figh^ with 
arouse it concurrently and the universal battle-cry 
that fills the air, and that each man instinctively 
emits, is an adequate and exact symbol for what 
is passing in all their souls. 

Whenever, then, feeling is attributed to an ani 
mal similar to the percipient and similarly em 
ployed the attribution is mutual and correct. 
Contagion and imitation are great causes of feel 
ing, but in so far as they are its causes and set 
the pathetic fallacy to work they forestall and 
correct what is fallacious in that fallacy and turn 
it into a vehicle of true and, as it were, miraculous 
insight. 
.. . Let the reader meditate for a 

Knowledge 

succeeds only moment upon the following point : to 

by accident. ^ now rea ^y ^ j n a way ^ an i m p 0ss ible 

pretension, because knowledge means significant 
representation, discourse about an existence not 
contained in the knowing thought, and different 
in duration or locus from the ideas which repre- 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 151 

sent it. But if knowledge does not possess its 
object how can it intend it? And if knowledge 
possesses its object, how can it be knowledge or 
have any practical, prophetic, or retrospective 
value? Consciousness is not knowledge unless 
it indicates or signifies what actually it is not. 
This transcendence is what gives knowledge its 
cognitive and useful essence, its transitive func 
tion and validity. In knowledge, therefore, there 
must be some such thing as a justified illusion, an 
irrational pretension by chance fulfilled, a chance 
shot hitting the mark. For dead logic would stick 
at solipsism; yet irrational life, as it stumbles 
along from moment to moment, and multiplies 
itself in a thousand centres, is somehow amenable 
to logic and finds uses for the reason it breeds. 

Now, in the relation of a natural being to simi 
lar beings in the same habitat there is just the 
occasion we require for introducing a miraculous 
transcendence in knowledge, a leap out of solip 
sism which, though not prompted by reason, will 
find in reason a continual justification. For ter 
tiary qualities are imputed to objects by psycho 
logical or pathological necessity. Something not 
visible in the object, something not possibly re 
vealed by any future examination of that object, 
is thus united with it, felt to be its core, its meta 
physical truth. Tertiary qualities are emotions 
or thoughts present in the observer and in his 
rudimentary consciousness not yet connected with 
their proper concomitants and antecedents, not yet 



152 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

relegated to his private mind, nor explained by 
his personal endowment and situation. To take 
these private feelings for the substance of other 
beings is evidently a gross blunder ; yet this blun- 
I der, without ceasing to be one in point of method, 
ceases to be one in point of fact when the other 
being happens to be similar in nature and situa 
tion to the mythologist himself and therefore 
actually possesses the very emotions and thoughts 
which lie in the mythologist s bosom and are at 
tributed by him to his fellow. Thus an imaginary 
self-transcendence, a rash pretension to grasp an 
independent reality and to know the unknowable, 
may find itself accidentally rewarded. Imagina 
tion will have drawn a prize in its lottery and the 
1 pathological accidents of thought will have begot 
ten knowledge and right reason. The inner and 
unattainable core of other beings will have been 
revealed to private intuition. 

Limits of This miracle of insight, as it must 

insight. seem to those who have not understood 

its natural and accidental origin, extends only so 
far as does the analogy between the object and the 
instrument of perception. The gift of intuition 
fails in proportion as the observer s bodily habit 
differs from the habit and body observed. Mis 
understanding begins with constitutional diver 
gence and deteriorates rapidly into false imputa 
tions and absurd myths. The limits of mutual 
understanding coincide with the limits of similar 
structure and common occupation, so that the dis- 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 153 

tortion of insight begins very near home. It is 
hard to understand the minds of children unless 
we retain unusual plasticity and capacity to play; 
men and women do not really understand each 
other, what rules between them being not so much 
sympathy as habitual trust, idealisation, or satire ; 
foreigners minds are pure enigmas, and those at 
tributed to animals are a grotesque compound of 
^Esop and physiology. When we come to religion 
the ineptitude of all the feelings attributed to 
nature or the gods is so egregious that a sober 
critic can look to such fables only for a pathetic 
expression of human sentiment and need; while, 
even apart from the gods, each religion itself is 
quite unintelligible to infidels who have never fol 
lowed its worship sympathetically or learned by 
contagion the human meaning of its sanctions and 
formulas. Hence the stupidity and want of in 
sight commonly shown in what calls itself the his 
tory of religions. We hear, for instance, that 
Greek religion was frivolous, because its mystic 
awe and momentous practical and poetic truths 
escape the Christian historian accustomed to a 
catechism and a religious morality; and similarly 
Catholic piety seems to the Protestant an aesthetic 
indulgence, a religion appealing to sense, because 
such is the only emotion its externals can awaken 
in him, unused as he is to a supernatural economy 
reaching down into the incidents and affections of 
daily life. 

Language is an artificial means of establishing 



154 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

unanimity and transferring thought from one 
mind to another. Every symbol or phrase, like 
every gesture, throws the observer into an attitude 
to which a certain idea corresponded in the 
speaker ; to fall exactly into the speaker s attitude 
is exactly to understand. Every impediment to 
contagion and imitation in expression is an im 
pediment to comprehension. For this reason lan 
guage, like all art, becomes pale with years ; words 
and figures of speech lose their contagious and 
suggestive power; the feeling they once expressed 
can no longer be restored by their repetition. 
Even the most inspired verse, which boasts not 
without a relative justification to be immortal, 
becomes in the course of ages a scarcely legible 
hieroglyphic; the language it was written in dies, 
a learned education and an imaginative effort are 
requisite to catch even a vestige of its original 
force. Nothing is so irrevocable as mind. 

Unsure the ebb and flood of thought, 
The moon comes back, the spirit not. 

Perception of There is, however, a wholly differ- 
character. en t and far more positive method of 
reading the mind, or what in a metaphorical sense 
is called by that name. This method is to read 
character. Any object with which we are familiar 
teaches us to divine its habits; slight indications, 
which we should be at a loss to enumerate sepa 
rately, betray what changes are going on and 
what promptings are simmering in the organism. 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 155 

Hence the expression of a face or figure ; hence the 
traces of habit and passion visible in a man and 
that indescribable something about him which in 
spires confidence or mistrust. The gift of read 
ing character is partly instinctive, partly a result 
of experience; it may amount to foresight and is 
directed not upon consciousness but upon past or 
eventual action. Habits and passions, however, 
have metaphorical psychic names, names indicat 
ing dispositions rather than particular acts (a dis 
position being mythically represented as a sort of 
wakeful and haunting genius waiting to whisper 
suggestions in a man s ear). We may accord 
ingly delude ourselves into imagining that a pose 
or a manner which really indicates habit indicates 
feeling instead. In truth the feeling involved, if 
conceived at all, is conceived most vaguely, and is 
only a sort of reverberation or penumbra sur 
rounding the pictured activities, 
conduct It is a mark of the connoisseur to 

sdousn es C sigI be able t0 r6ad character and h *bit and 

nored. to divine at a glance all a creature s 

potentialities. This sort of penetration charac 
terises the man with an eye for horse-flesh, the 
dog-fancier, and men and women of the world. 
It guides the born leader in the judgments he in 
stinctively passes on his subordinates and enemies ; 
it distinguishes every good judge of human affairs 
or of natural phenomena, who is quick to detect 
small but telling indications of events past or 
brewing. As the weather-prophet reads the 



156 THE LIFE OF REASON 

heavens so the man of experience reads other men. 
Nothing concerns him less than their conscious 
ness ; he can allow that to run itself off when he is 
sure of their temper and habits. A great master 
of affairs is usually unsympathetic. His observa 
tion is not in the least dramatic or dreamful, he 
does not yield himself to animal contagion or re- 
enact other people s inward experience. He is 
too busy for that, and too intent on his own pur 
poses. His observation, on the contrary, is 
straight calculation and inference, and it some 
times reaches truths about people s character and 
destiny which they themselves are very far from 
divining. Such apprehension is masterful and 
odious to weaklings, who think they know them 
selves because they indulge in copious soliloquy 
(which is the discourse of brutes and madmen), 
but who really know nothing of their own capacity, 
situation, or fate. 

If Rousseau, for instance, after writing those 
Confessions in which candour and ignorance of self 
are equally conspicuous, had heard some intelli 
gent friend, like Hume, draw up in a few words 
an account of their author s true and contemptible 
character, he would have been loud in protesta 
tions that no such ignoble characteristics existed 
in his eloquent consciousness ; and they might not 
have existed there, because his consciousness was 
a histrionic thing, and as imperfect an expression 
of his own nature as of man s. When the mind 
is irrational no practical purpose is served by stop- 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 157 

ping to understand it, because such a mind is 
irrelevant to practice, and the principles that guide 
the man s practice can be as well understood by 
eliminating his mind altogether. So a wise gov 
ernor ignores his subjects religion or concerns 
himself only with its economic and temperamental 
aspects; if the real forces that control life are 
understood, the symbols that represent those 
forces in the mind may be disregarded. But such 
a government, like that of the British in India, is 
more practical than sympathetic. While wise men 
may endure it for the sake of their material in 
terests, they will never love it for itself. There 
is nothing sweeter than to be sympathised with, 
while nothing requires a rarer intellectual hero 
ism than willingness to see one s equation written 
out. 

Consciousness Nevertheless this same algebraic 
untrustworthy. sense f or character plays a large part 
in human friendship. A chief element in friend 
ship is trust, and trust is not to be acquired by 
reproducing consciousness but only by penetrating 
to the constitutional instincts which, in determin 
ing action and habit, determine consciousness as 
well. Fidelity is not a property of ideas. It is 
a virtue possessed pre-eminently by nature, from 
the animals to the seasons and the stars. But 
fidelity gives friendship its deepest sanctity, and 
the respect we have for a man, for his force, abil 
ity, constancy, and dignity, is no sentiment evoked 
by his floating thoughts but an assurance founded 



158 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

\ 

on our own observation that his conduct and char 
acter are to be counted upon.; Smartness and 
vivacity, much emotion and niany conceits, are 
obstacles both to fidelity and to merit. There is 
n. high worth in rightly constituted natures inde 
pendent of incidental consciousness. It consists 
in that ingrained virtue which under given cir 
cumstances would insure the noblest action and 
with that action, of course, the noblest sentiments 
and ideas; ideas which would arise spontaneously 
and would make more account of their objects 
than of themselves. 

Metaphorical The "expression of habit in psychic 
mind. metaphors is a procedure known also 

to theology. Whenever natural or moral law is 
declared to reveal the divine mind, this mind is 
a set of formal or ethical principles rather than 
an imagined consciousness, re-enacted dramati 
cally. What is conceived is the god s operation, 
not his emotions. In this way God s goodness 
becomes a symbol for the advantages of life, his 
wrath a symbol for its dangers, his command 
ments a symbol for its laws. The deity spoken 
of by the Stoics had exclusively this symbolic char 
acter; it could be called a city dear City of Zeus 
as readily as an intelligence. And that intelli 
gence which ancient and ingenuous philosophers 
said they saw in the world was always intelligence 
in this algebraic sense, it was intelligible order. 
Nor did the Hebrew prophets, in their emphatic 
political philosophy, seem to mean much more by 



DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS 159 

Jehovah than a moral order, a principle giving 
vice and virtue their appropriate fruits. "" 
Summary. True society, then, is limited to 

similar beings living similar lives and enabled by 
the contagion of their common habits and arts to 
attribute to one another, each out of his own ex 
perience, what the other actually endures. A 
fresh thought may be communicated to one who 
has never had it before, but only when the speaker / 
so dominates the auditor s mind by the instru-j 
mentalities he brings to bear upon it that he com-f 
pels that mind to reproduce his experience. 
Analogy between actions and bodies is accordingly 
the only test of valid inference regarding the ex 
istence or character of conceived minds; but this 
eventual test is far from being the source of such 
a conception. Its source is not inference at all 
but direct emotion and the pathetic fallacy. In 
the beginning, as in the end, what is attributed to 
others is something directly felt, a dream dreamed 
through and dramatically enacted, but uncritically 
attributed to the object by whose motions it is sug 
gested and controlled. In a single case, however, 
tertiary qualities happen to correspond to an ex 
perience actually animating the object to which, 
they are assigned. This is the case in which the 
object is a body similar in structure and action t( 
the percipient himself, who assigns to that body 
passion he has caught by contagion from it anu 
by imitation of its actual attitude. Such are the 
conditions of intelligible expression and true com- 



160 THE LIFE OF REASON 

munion; beyond these limits nothing is possible 
save myth and metaphor, or the algebraic desig 
nation of observed habits under the name of moral 
dispositions. 



CHAPTER VII 

CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE AND IN EXISTENCE 

So-called ab- Ideas ^ material objects ordinarily 
stract quail- absorb the human mind, and their 
ties primary. p reva i ence nas \ e ^ to the rash supposi 
tion that ideas of all other kinds are posterior to 
physical ideas and drawn from the latter by a proc 
ess of abstraction. The table, people said, was a 
particular and single reality ; its colour, form, and 
material were parts of its integral nature, quali 
ties which might be attended to separately, per 
haps, but which actually existed only in the table 
itself. Colour, form, and material were therefore 
abstract elements. They might come before the 
mind separately and be contrasted objects of at 
tention, but they were incapable of existing in 
nature except together, in the concrete reality 
called a particular thing. Moreover, as the same 
colour, shape, or substance might be found in vari 
ous tables, these abstract qualities were thought 
to be general qualities as well ; they were universal 
terms which might be predicated of many indi 
vidual things. A contrast could then be drawn 
between these qualities or ideas, which the mind 
may envisage, and the concrete reality existing 
VOL. L-ll 161 



162 THE LIFE OF REASON 

beyond. Thus philosophy could reach the famil 
iar maxim of Aristotle that the particular alone 
exists in nature and the general alone in the mind. 
Such language expresses correctly enough a 
secondary conventional stage of conception, but it 
ignores the primary fictions on which convention 
itself must rest. Individual physical objects must 
be discovered before abstractions can be made from 
their conceived nature; the bird must be caught 
before it is plucked. To discover a physical object 
is to pack in the same part of space, and fuse in 
one complex body, primary data like coloured form 
General and tangible surface. Intelligence, 

tTparticu^l observin g these sensible qualities to 
things. evolve together, and to be controlled at 

once by external forces, or by one s own voluntary 
motions, identifies them in their operation 
although they remain for ever distinct in their sen 
sible character. A physical object is accordingly 
conceived by fusing or interlacing spatial quali 
ties, in a manner helpful to practical intelligence. 
It is a far higher and remoter thing than the ele 
ments it is compacted of and that suggest it ; what 
habits of appearance and disappearance the latter 
may have, the object reduces to permanent and 
calculable principles. It is altogether erroneous, 
therefore, to view all object s sensible qualities as 
abstractions from it, seeing they are its original 
and component elements; nor can the sensible 
qualities be viewed as generic notions arising by 
comparison of several concrete objects, seeing that 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 163 

these concretions would never have been made or 
thought to be permanent, did they not express 
observed variations and recurrences in the sensible 
qualities immediately perceived and already rec 
ognised in their recurrence. These are them 
selves the true particulars. They are the first 
objects discriminated in attention and projected 
against the background of consciousness. 

The immediate continuum may be traversed and 
mapped by two different methods. The prior one, 
because it is so very primitive and rudimentary, 
and so much a condition of all mental discourse, 
is usually ignored in psychology. The secondary 
method, by which external things are discovered, 
has received more attention. The latter consists 
in the fact that when several disparate sensations, 
having become recognisable in their repetitions, 
are observed to come and go together, or in fixed 
relation to some voluntary operation on the ob 
server s part, they may be associated by contiguity 
and merged in one portion of perceived space. 
Those having, like sensations of touch and sight, 
an essentially spatial character, may easily be 
superposed ; the surface I see and that I touch may 
be identified by being presented together and being 
found to undergo simultaneous variations and to 
maintain common relations to other perceptions. 
Thus I may come to attribute to a single object, 
the term of an intellectual synthesis and ideal in 
tention, my experiences through all the senses 
within a certain field of association, defined by its 



164 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

practical relations. That ideal object is thereby 
endowed with as many qualities and powers as I 
had associable sensations of which to make it up. 
This object is a concretion of my perceptions in 
space, so that the redness, hardness, sweetness, and 
roundness of the apple are all fused together in 
my practical regard and given one local habita 
tion and one name. 

Universal This kind of synthesis, this super- 

are concre- position and mixture of images into 

tions in 

discourse. notions of physical objects, is not, how 
ever, the only kind to which perceptions are sub 
ject. They fall together by virtue of their quali 
tative identity even before their spatial superposi 
tion ; for in order to be known as repeatedly simul 
taneous, and associable by contiguity, they must 
be associated by similarity and known as indi 
vidually repeated. The various recurrences of a 
sensation must be recognised as recurrences, and 
this implies the collection of sensations into classes 
of similars and the apperception of a common 
nature in several data. Now the more frequent a 
perception is the harder it will be to discriminate in 
memory its past occurrences from one another, and 
yet the more readily will its present recurrence be 
recognised as familiar. The perception in sense 
will consequently be received as a repetition not of 
any single earlier sensation but of a familiar and 
, generic experience. This experience, a spontaneous 
reconstruction based on all previous sensations of 
that kind, will be the one habitual idea with which 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 165 

recurring sensations will be henceforth identified. 
Such a living concretion of similars succeeding 
one another in time, is the idea of a nature or 
quality, the universal falsely supposed to be an 
abstraction from physical objects, which in truth 
are conceived by putting together these very ideas 
into a spatial and permanent system. 

Here we have, if I am not mistaken, the origin 
of the two terms most prominent in human knowl 
edge, ideas and things. Two methods of concep 
tion divide our attention in common life; science 
and philosophy develop both, although often with 
an unjustifiable bias in favour of one or the other. 
They are nothing but the old principles of Aris 
totelian psychology, association by similarity and 
association by contiguity. Only now, after logi 
cians have exhausted their ingenuity in criticising 
them and psychologists in applying them, we may 
go back of the traditional position and apply the 
ancient principles at a deeper stage of mental life, 
similar reac- Association by similarity is a fusion 
tions, merged of impressions merging what is com- 

orpro?uc- mon in tnem > interchanging what is 
tion, yield an peculiar, and cancelling in the end 
what is incompatible; so that any ex 
citement reaching that centre revives one generic 
reaction which yields the idea. These concrete 
generalities are actual feelings, the first terms in 
mental discourse, the first distinguishable particu 
lars in knowledge, and the first bearers of names. 
Intellectual dominion of the conscious stream 



166 THE LIFE OP REASON 

begins with the act of recognising these pervasive 
entities" which having character and ideal per 
manence can furnish common points of reference 
for different moments of discourse. Save for ideas 
no perception could have significance, or acquire 
that indicative force which we call knowledge. 
For it would refer to nothing to which another 
perception might also have referred; and so long 
as perceptions have no common reference, so long 
as successive moments do not enrich by their con 
tributions the same object of thought, evidently 
experience, in the pregnant sense of the word, is 
impossible. No fund of valid ideas, no wisdom, 
could in that case be acquired by living, 
ideas are Ideas, although their material is of 

ideal. course sensuous, are not sensations 

nor perceptions nor objects of any possible im 
mediate experience : they kre creatures of intelli 
gence, goals of thought,- ideal terms which cogi 
tation and action circle about. As the centre 
of mass is a body, while it may by chance 
coincide with one or another of its atoms, is 
no atom itself and no material constituent of 
the bulk that obeys its motion, so an idea, the 
centre of mass of a certain mental system, is no 
material fragment of that system, /but an ideal 
term of reference and signification by allegiance 
to which the details of consciousness first become 
parts of a system and of a thought. An idea is 
an ideal. It represents a functional relation in 
the diffuse existences to which it gives a name and 






CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 167 

f 

a rational value. An idea is an expression of life, 
and shares with life that transitive and elusive 
nature which defies definition by mere enumera 
tion of its materials, j The peculiarity of life is 
that it lives ; and /thought also,, when living, passes 
out of itself and directs itself on the ideal, on the 
eventual. It is an activity. Activity does not 
consist in velocity of change but in constancy of 
purpose; in the conspiracy of many moments and 
many processes toward one ideal harmony and 
one concomitant ideal result. The most rudiment 
ary apperception, recognition, or expectation, is 
already a case of representative cognition, of tran 
sitive thought resting in a permanent essence. 
Memory is an obvious case of the same thing; for 
the past, in its truth, is a system of experiences 
in relation, a system now non-existent and never, 
as a system, itself experienced, yet confronted in 
retrospect and made the ideal object and standard 
for all historical thinking. 

So called ab These arrested and recognisable 
stractions ideas, concretions of similars succeed- 
complete facts. ing Qne another in time ^ are not ab _ 

stractions; but they may come to be regarded as 
such after the other kind of concretions in experi 
ence, concretions of superposed perceptions in 
space, have become the leading objects of atten 
tion. The sensuous material for both concretions 
is the same; the perception which, recurring in 
different objects otherwise not retained in memory 
gives the idea of roundness, is the same percep- 



168 THE LIFE OF REASON 

tion which helps to constitute the spatial concre 
tion called the sun. Soundness may therefore be 
carelessly called an abstraction from the real 
object " sun " ; whereas the peculiar optical and 
muscular feelings by which the sense of roundness 
is constituted probably feelings of gyration and 
perpetual unbroken movement are much earlier 
than any solar observations; they are a self-suffi 
cing element in experience which, by repetition in 
various accidental contests, has come to be recog 
nised and named, and to be a characteristic by 
virtue of which more complex objects can be dis 
tinguished and defined. The idea of the sun is 
a much later product, and the real sun is so far 
from being an original datum from which round 
ness is abstracted, that it is an ulterior and quite 
ideal construction, a spatial concretion into which 
the logical concretion roundness enters as a prior 
and independent factor. Roundness may be felt 
in the dark, by a mere suggestion of motion, and 
is a complete experience in itself. When this rec 
ognisable experience happens to be associated by 
contiguity with other recognisable experiences of 
heat, light, height, and yellowness, and these vari 
ous independent objects are projected into the 
same portion of a real space ; then a concretion 
occurs, and these ideas being recognised in that re 
gion and finding a momentary embodiment there, 
become the qualities of a thing. 

A conceived thing is doubly a product of mind, 
more a product of mind, if you will, than an idea, 



CONCKETIONS IN DISCOURSE 169 

since ideas arise, so to speak, by the mind s in 
ertia and conceptions of things by its activity. 
Ideas are niental sediment ; "conceived 

Things con 
cretions of things are mental growths. A concre- 
concretions. ^ Qn n dig cour s e occurs by repetition 

and mere emphasis on a datum, but a concretion 
in existence requires a synthesis of disparate ele 
ments and relations. An idea is nothing but a 
sensation apperceived and rendered cognitive, so" 
that it envisages its own recognised character af 
its object and ideal: yellowness is only some sen 
sation of yellow raised to the cognitive power and 
employed as the symbol for its own specific essence. 
It is consequently capable of entering as a term 
into rational discourse and of becoming the sub 
ject or predicate of propositions eternally valid: 
A thing, on the contrary, is discovered only when 
the order and grouping of such recurring essences 
can be observed, and when various themes and 
strains of experience are woven together into elab 
orate progressive harmonies. When consciousness 
first becomes cognitive it frames ideas; but when 
it becomes cognitive of. causes, that is, when it 
becomes practical, it perceives things. 

Concretions of qualities recurrent in time and 
concretions of qualities associated in existence are 
alike involved in daily life and inextricably in 
grown into the structure of reason. In conscious 
ness and for logic, association by similarity, with 
its aggregations and identifications of recurrences 
in time, is fundamental rather than association 



170 THE LIFE OF REASON 

by contiguity and its existential syntheses; for 
recognition identifies similars perceived in suc 
cession, and without recognition of 

Ideas prior in 

the order of similars there could be no known per- 

knowiedge, gigtence of phenomena. But physio- 
things in the " J 
order of logically and for the observer associa 
tion by contiguity comes first. All 
instinct without which there would be no fixity 
or recurrence in ideation makes movement fol 
low impression in an immediate way which for 
consciousness becomes a mere juxtaposition of sen 
sations, a juxtaposition which it can neither ex 
plain nor avoid. Yet this juxtaposition, in which 
pleasure, pain, and striving are prominent factors, 
. is the chief stimulus to attention and spreads 
before the mind that moving and variegated field 
in which it learns to make its first observations. 
Facts the burdens of successive moments are 
all associated by contiguity, from the first facts 
of perception and passion to the last facts of fate 
and conscience. We undergo events, we grow into 
character, by the subterraneous working of irra 
tional forces that make their incalculable irrup 
tions into life none the less wonderfully in the 
revelations of a man s heart to himself than in the 
cataclysms of the world around him. Nature s 
placid procedure, to which we yield so willingly in 
times of prosperity, is a concatenation of states 
which can only be understood when it is made its 
own standard and law. A sort of philosophy with 
out wisdom may seek to subjugate this natural life, 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 171 

this blind budding of existence, to some logical or 
moral necessity; but this very attempt remains, 
perhaps, the most striking monument to that irra 
tional fatality that rules affairs, a monument which 
reason itself is compelled to raise with unsus 
pected irony. 

Reliance on external perception, constant ap 
pals to concrete fact and physical sanctions, .have 
always led the mass of reasonable men to magnify 
Aristotle s concretions in existence and belittle 
compromise, concretions in discourse. They are too 
clever, as they feel, to mistake words for things. 
The most authoritative thinker on this subject, 
because the most mature, Aristotle himself, taught 
that things had reality, individuality, indepen 
dence, and were the outer cause of perception, 
while general ideas, products of association by 
similarity, existed only in the mind. The pub 
lic, pleased at its ability to understand this doc 
trine and overlooking the more incisive part of 
the philosopher s teaching, could go home com 
forted and believing that material things were 
primary and perfect entities, while ideas were only 
abstractions, effects those realities produced on our 
incapable minds. Aristotle, however, had a juster 
view of general concepts and made in the end the 
- whole material universe gravitate around them 
and feel their influence, though in a metaphysical 
and magic fashion to which a more advanced 
natural science need no longer appeal. While in 
the shock of life man was always coming upon the 



172 THE LIFE OF REASON 

accidental, in the quiet of reflection he could not 
but recast everything in ideal moulds and retain 
nothing but eternal natures and intelligible rela 
tions. Aristotle conceived that while the origin 

of knowledge lay in the impact of matter upon 

sense its goal was the comprehension of essences, 
and that while man was involved by his animal 
nature in the accidents of experience he was also 

by virtue of his rationality a participator in eternal 
truth. A substantial justice was thus done both 
to the conditions and to the functions of human 
life, although, for want of a natural history in 
spired by mechanical ideas, this dualism remained 
somewhat baffling and incomprehensible in its 
basis. Aristotle, being a true philosopher and pu- 

I !/j pil of experience, preferred incoherence to par- 
1 1 tiality. 

Em iricai bias Active life and the philosophy that 
in favour of borrows its concepts from practice has 
contiguity. ^ ug ^-^ a g rea em phasis on asso 
ciation by contiguity. Hobbes and Locke made 
knowledge of this kind the only knowledge of 
reality, while recognising it to be quite empirical, 
tentative, and problematical. It was a kind of 
acquaintance with fact that increased with years 
and brought the mind into harmony with some 
thing initially alien to it. Besides this practical 
knowledge or prudence there was a sort of verbal 
and merely ideal knowledge, a knowledge of the 
meaning and relation of abstract terms. In 
mathematics and logic we might carry out long 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 173 

trains of abstracted thought and analyse and 
develop our imaginations ad infinitum. These 
speculations, however, were in the air or what for 
these philosophers is much the same thing in the 
mind; their applicability and their relevance to 
practical life and to objects given in perception 
remained quite problematical. A self-developing 
science, a synthetic science a priori, had a value 
entirely hypothetical and provisional; its prac 
tical truth depended on the verification of its re 
sults in some eventual sensible experience. Asso 
ciation was invoked to explain the adjustment of 
ideation to the order of external perception. As 
sociation, by which association by contiguity was 
generally understood, thus became the battle-cry 
of empiricism; if association by similarity had 
been equally in mind, the philosophy of pregnant 
reason could also have adopted the principle for 
its own. But logicians and mathematicians nat 
urally neglect the psychology of their own proc 
esses and, accustomed as they are to an irrespon 
sible and constructive use of the intellect, regard 
as a confused nd uninspired intruder the critic 
Who, by a retrospective and naturalistic method, 
tries to give them a little knowledge of them 
selves. 

Rational ideas must arise somehow in the mind, 
and since they are not meant to be without ap- 
lication to the world of experience, it is interest 
ing to discover the point of contact between the 
two and the nature of their interdependence. 



174 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

This would have been found in the mind s initial 
capacity to frame objects of two sorts, those com 
pacted of sensations that are persistently similar, 
Artificial an( ^ * nose compacted of sensations that 
divorce of logic are momentarily fused. In empirical 
from practice, philosophy the applicability of logic 

". and mathematics remains a miracle or becomes 
a misinterpretation : a miracle if the process of 
nature independently follows the inward elabora 
tion of human ideas; a misinterpretation if the 
bias of intelligence imposes a priori upon reality 
a character and order not inherent in it. The 
mistake of empiricists among which Kant is in 
this respect to be numbered which enabled them 
to disregard this difficulty, was that they admitted, 

beside rational thinking, another instinctive kind 
of wisdom by which men could live, a wisdom the 
Englishmen called experience and the Germans 
practical reason, spirit, or will. The intellectual 
sciences could be allowed to spin themselves out in 
abstracted liberty while man practised his illogi- 

cal and inspired art of life. 

Here we observe a certain elementary crudity 
or barbarism which the human spirit often betrays 
when it is deeply stirred. Not only are chance 
and divination welcomed into the world but they 
are reverenced all the more, like the wind and fire 
of idolaters, precisely for not being amenable to 

, the petty rules of human reason. In truth, how 
ever, the English duality between prudence and 
science is no more fundamental than the German 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 175 

duality between reason and understanding.* The 
true contrast is between impulse and reflection, 
instinct and intelligence. When men feel the 
primordial authority of the animal in them and 
have little respect for a glimmering reason which 
they suspect to be secondary but cannot discern 
to be ultimate, they readily imagine they are 
appealing to something higher than intelligence 
when in reality they are falling back on something 
deeper and lower. The rudimentary seems to 
them at such moments divine; and if they con 
ceive a Life of Reason at all they despise it as a 
mass of artifices and conventions. Reason is 
indeed not indispensable to life, nor needful if liv 
ing anyhow be the sole and indeterminate aim; 

as the existence of animals and of most men suffi- 

t 

ciently proves. In so far as man is not a rational 
being and does not live in and by the mind, in so 
far as his chance volitions and dreamful ideas roll 
by without mutual representation or adjustment, 
in so far as his body takes the lead and even his 
galvanised action is a form of passivity, we may 
truly say that his life is not intellectual and not 

* This distinction, in one sense, is Platonic : but Plato s 
Reason was distinguished from understanding (which dealt 
with phenomenal experience) because it was a moral faculty 
defining those values and meanings which in Platonic nomen 
clature took the title of reality. The German Reason was 
only imagination, substituting a dialectical or poetic history 
of the world for its natural development. German idealism, 
accordingly, was not, like Plato s, a moral philosophy hypofl- 
tasised but a false physics adored. 



176 THE LIFE OF SEASON 

dependent on the application of general concepts 
to experience ; for he lives by instinct. 

The Life of Reason, the comprehension of causes 
/and pursuit of aims., begins precisely where instinc 
tive operation ceases to be merely such by becom- 

. Their mutual in g Conscious of its purposes and rep- 
involution, resentative of its conditions. Logical 
forms of thought impregnate and constitute practi 
cal intellect. The shock of experience can indeed 
correct, disappoint,, or inhibit rational expectation, 
but it cannot take its place. The very first les 
son that experience should again teach us after our 
. disappointment would be a rebirth of reason in the 
soul. Reason has the indomitable persistence of 
all natural tendencies; it returns to the attack as 
waves beat on the shore. To observe its defeat is 
already to give it a new embodiment. Prudence 
itself is a vague science, and science, when it con 
tains real knowledge, is but a clarified prudence, 
a description of experience and a guide to life. 
Speculative reason, if it is not also practical, is 
not reason at all. Propositions irrelevant to ex 
perience may be correct in form, the method they 
are reached by may parody scientific method, but 
they cannot be true in substance, because they refer 
to nothing. Like music, they have no object. 
They merely flow, and please those whose unat 
tached sensibility they somehow flatter. 

Hume, in this respect more radical and satis 
factory than Kant himself, saw with perfect clear 
ness that reason was an ideal expression of in- 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 177 

stinct, and that consequently no rational spheres 
could exist other than the mathematical and the 
empirical, and that what is not a datum must cer 
tainly be a construction. In establishing his 
" tendencies to feign " at the basis of intelligence, 
and in confessing that he yielded to them himself 
no less in his criticism of human nature than in 
his practical life, he admitted the involution of 
reason that unintelligible instinct in all the 
observations and maxims vouchsafed to an empiri 
cist or to a man. He veiled his doctrine, however, 
in a somewhat unfair and satirical nomenclature, 
and he has paid the price of that indulgence 
in personal humour by incurring the immortal 
hatred of sentimentalists who are too much 
scandalised by his tone ever to understand his 
principles. 

If the common mistake in empiricism is not to 
see the omnipresence of reason in thought, the 
mistake of rationalism is not to admit its varia 
bility and dependence, not to understand its 
Rationalistic natural life. Parmenides was the 
suicide. Adam of that race, and first tasted the 

deceptive kind of knowledge which, promising to 
make man God, banishes him from the paradise 
of experience. His sin has been transmitted to 
his descendants, though hardly in its magnificent 
and simple enormity. " The whole is one," 
Xenophanes had cried, gazing into heaven; and 
that same sense of a permeating identity, trans 
lated into rigid and logical terms, brought his 
VOL. L 12 



178 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

sublime disciple to the conviction that an indis 
tinguishable immutable substance was omnipres 
ent in the world. Parmenides carried association 
by similarity to such lengths that he arrived at 
the idea of what alone is similar in everything, 
viz., the fact that it is. Being exists, and nothing 
else does; whereby every relation and variation 
in experience is reduced to a negligible illusion, 
and reason loses its function at the moment of 
asserting its absolute authority. Notable lesson, 
taught us like so many others by the first experi 
ments of the Greek mind, in its freedom and in 
sight, a mind led quickly by noble self-confidence 
to the ultimate goals of thought. 

Such a pitch of heroism and abstraction has 
not been reached by any rationalist since. No one 
else has been willing to ignore entirely all the 
data and constructions of experience, save the 
highest concept reached by assimilations in that 
experience; no one else has been willing to de 
molish all the scaffolding and all the stones of his 
edifice, hoping still to retain the sublime symbol 
which he had planted on the summit. Yet all 
rationalists have longed to demolish or to degrade 
some part of the substructure, like those Gothic 
architects who wished to hang the vaults of their 
churches upon the slenderest possible supports, 
abolishing and turning into painted crystal all the 
dead walls of the building. So experience and its 
crowning conceptions were to rest wholly on a 
skeleton of general natures, physical forces being 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 179 

assimilated to logical terms, and concepts gained 
by identification of similars taking the place of 
those gained by grouping disparate things in their 
historical conjunctions. These contiguous sensa 
tions, which occasionally exemplify the logical 
contrasts in ideas and give them incidental exist 
ence, were either ignored altogether and dismissed 
as unmeaning, or admitted merely as illusions. 
The eye was to be trained to pass from that parti 
coloured chaos to the firm lines and permanent 
divisions that were supposed to sustain it and 
frame it in. 

Eationalism is a kind of builder s bias which 
the impartial public cannot share; for the dead 
walls and glass screens which may have no 
function in supporting the roof are yet as 
needful as the roof itself to shelter and beauty. 
So the incidental filling of experience which re 
mains unclassified under logical categories retains 
all its primary reality and importance. The out 
lines of it emphasised by logic, though they may 
be the essential vehicle of our most soaring 
thoughts, are only a method and a style of archi 
tecture. They neither absorb the whole material 
of life nor monopolise its values. And as each 
material imposes upon the builder s ingenuity a 
different type of construction, and stone, wood, 
and iron must be treated on different structural 
principles, so logical methods of comprehension, 
spontaneous though they be in their mental origin, 
must prove themselves fitted to the natural order 



180 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

and affinity of the facts.* Nor is there in this 
necessity any violence to the spontaneity of reason : 
for reason also has manifold forms, and the acci 
dents of experience are more than matched in 
variety by the multiplicity of categories. Here 
one principle of order and there another shoots 
into the mind, which breeds more genera and spe 
cies than the most fertile terrestrial slime can 
breed individuals. 
Complement- Language, then, with the logic im- 

ary character bedded in it ig a repository of terms 
of essence and * 

existence. formed by identifying successive per 
ceptions, as the external world is a repository of 
objects conceived by superposing perceptions that 
exist together. Being formed on different prin 
ciples these two orders of conception the logical 

* This natural order and affinity is something imputed to 
the ultimate object of thought the reality by the last act of 
judgment assuming its own truth. It is, of course, not 
observable by consciousness before the first experiment in 
comprehension has been made ; the act of comprehension 
which first imposes on the sensuous material some subjective 
category is the first to arrive at the notion of an objective 
order. The historian, however, has a well-tried and mature 
conception of the natural order arrived at after many such 
ezperiments in comprehension. From the vantage-ground 
- of this latest hypothesis, he surveys the attempts others have 
made to understand events and compares them with the ob 
jective order which he believes himself to have discovered. 
This observation is made here lest the reader should confuse 
the natural order, imagined to exist before any application 
of human categories, with the last conception of that order 
attained by the philosopher. The latter is but faith, the 
former is faith s ideal object. 



CONGESTIONS IN DISCOURSE 181 

and the physical do not coincide, and the attempt 
to fuse them into one system of demonstrable 
reality or moral physics is doomed to failure by 
the very nature of the terms compared. When the 
Eleatics proved the impossibility i.e., the inex- 
pressibility of motion,, or when Kant and his fol 
lowers proved the unreal character of all objects 
of experience and of all natural knowledge, their 
task was made easy by the native diversity 
between the concretions in existence which were 
the object of their thought and the concretions in 
discourse which were its measure. The two do 
not fit; and intrenched as these philosophers were 
in the forms of logic they compelled themselves 
to reject as unthinkable everything not fully ex 
pressible in those particular forms. Thus they 
took their revenge upon the vulgar who, being busy 
chiefly with material things and dwelling in an 
atmosphere of sensuous images, call unreal and 
abstract every product of logical construction 
or reflective analysis. These logical products, 
however, are not really abstract, but, as we have 
seen, concretions arrived at by a different method 
than that which results in material conception?. 
Whereas the conception of a thing is a local con 
glomerate of several simultaneous sensations, log 
ical entity is a homogeneous revival in memory 
of similar sensations temporally distinct. 

Thus the many armed \vith prejudice and the 
few armed with logic fight an eternal battle, 
the logician charging the physical world with 



THE LIFE OF KEASON 

4 

unintelligibility and the man of common-sense 
charging the logical world with abstractness and 
unreality. The former view is the more profound, 
since association by similarity is the more elemen 
tary and gives constancy to meanings; while the 
latter view is the more practical, since association 
by contiguity alone informs the mind about the 
mechanical sequence of its own experience. 
Neither principle can be dispensed with, and each 
errs only in denouncing the other and wishing to 
be omnivorous, as if on the one hand logic could 
make anybody understand the history of events and 
the conjunction of objects, or on the other hand 
as if cognitive and moral processes could have any 
, other terms than constant and ideal natures. The 
i n&mable essence of things or the standard of val- 
I ues must always be an ideal figment; existence 
must always be an empirical fact. The former 
remains always remote from natural existence and 
the latter irreducible to a logical principle.* 

* For the sake of simplicity only such ideas as precede 
conceptions of things have been mentioned here. After 
things are discovered, however, they may be used .as terms 
in a second ideal synthesis and a concretion in discourse on 
a higher plane may be composed out of sustained concre 
tions in existence. Proper names are such secondary con 
cretions in discourse. " Venice " is a term covering many 
successive aspects and conditions, not distinguished in fancy, 
belonging to an object existing continuously in space and 
time. Each of these states of Venice constitutes a natural 
object, a concretion in existence, and is again analysable 
into a mass of fused but recognisable qualities light, 
motion, beauty each of which was an original concretion in 



CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE 183 

discourse, a primordial term in experience. A quality is 
recognised by its own idea or permanent nature, a thing by 
its constituent qualities, and an embodied spirit by fusion 
into an ideal essence of the constant characters possessed by 
a thing. To raise natural objects into historic entities it is 
necessary to repeat upon a higher plane that concretion in 
discourse by which sensations were raised to ideas. When 
familiar objects attain this ideal character they have become 
poetical and achieved a sort of personality. They then 
possess a spiritual status. Thus sensuous experience is 
solidified into logical terms, these into ideas of things, and 
these, recast and smelted again in imagination, into forms of 
spirit. 



CHAPTEE VIII 

ON THE RELATIVE VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 

Moral tone of Those who look back upon the his- 

r^edTrom" ^ OT ^ ^ pi n i n f r m & n y centuries 
their logical commonly feel, by a vague but pro- 
principle, found instinct, that certain conse 
crated doctrines have an inherent dignity and 
spirituality, while other speculative tendencies and 
other vocabularies seem wedded to all that is 
ignoble and shallow. So fundamental is this 
moral tone in philosophy that people are usually 
more firmly convinced that their opinions are 
precious than that they are true. They may avow, 
in reflective moments, that they may be in 
error, seeing that thinkers of no less repute 
have maintained opposite opinions, but they are 
commonly absolutely sure that if their own views 
could be generally accepted, it would be a boon 
to mankind, that in fact the moral interests of 
the race are bound up, not with discovering what 
may chance to be true, but with discovering the 
truth to have a particular complexion. This pre 
dominant trust in moral judgments is in some 
cases conscious and avowed, so that philosophers 
invite the world to embrace tenets for which no 
184 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 185 

evidence is offered but that they chime in with 
current aspirations or traditional bias. Thus the 
substance of things hoped for becomes, even in 
philosophy, the evidence of things not seen. 

Such faith is indeed profoundly human and has 
accompanied the mind in all its gropings and dis 
coveries; preference being the primary principle 
of discrimination and attention. Reason in her 
earliest manifestations already discovered her affin 
ities and incapacities, and loaded the ideas she 
framed with friendliness or hostility. It is not 
strange that her latest constructions should inherit 
this relation to the will ; and we shall see that the 
moral tone and affinity of metaphysical systems 
corresponds exactly with the primary function 
belonging to that type of idea on which they are 
based. Idealistic systems, still cultivating con- 
cretions in discourse, study the first conditions of 
knowledge and the last interests of life; material 
istic systems, still emphasising concretions in ex 
istence, describe causal relations, and the habits of 
nature. Thus the spiritual value of various philos 
ophies rests in the last instance on the kind of 
good which originally attached the mind to that 
habit and plane of ideation. 

We have said that perceptions must be recog 
nised before they can be associated by contiguity, 
and that consequently the fusion of temporally 
diffused experiences must precede their local 
fusion into material objects. It might be urged 
in opposition to this statement that concrete 



186 THE LIFE OF REASON 

objects can be recognised in practice before their ^ 
general qualities have been distinguished in dis- 
concretions course. Eecognition may be instinct- j 
in discourse [y Qy that is, based on the repetition of / 
1 reaction or emotion, rather than 



re- 



actions. O n any memory of a former occasion 

on which the same perception occurred. Such an 
objection seems to be well grounded, for it is in 
stinctive adjustments and suggested action that 
give cognitive value to sensation and endow it 
with that transitive force which makes it con 
sciously representative of what is past, future, or 
absent. If practical instinct did not stretch what 
is given into what is meant, reason could never 
recognise the datum for a copy of an ideal object. 
This description of the case involves an appli 
cation or extension of our theory rather than an 
argument against it. For where recognition is 
instinctive and a familiar action is performed with 
absent-minded confidence and without attend 
ing to the indications that justify that action, 
there is in an eminent degree a qualitative con 
cretion in experience. Present impressions are 
merged so completely in structural survivals of 
the past that instead of arousing any ideas dis 
tinct enough to be objectified they merely stimu 
late the inner sense, remain imbedded in the gen 
eral feeling of motion or life, and constitute in 
fact a heightened sentiment of pure vitality and 
idealism freedom. For the lowest and vaguest 
rudimentary. O f concretions in discourse are the 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 187 

ideas of self and of an embosoming external being, 
with the felt continuity of both; what Fichte 
would call the Ego, the Non-Ego, and Life. 
Where no particular events are recognised there 
is still a feeling of continuous existence. We 
trail after us from our whole past some sense of 
the continuous energy and movement both of our 
passionate fancies and of the phantasmagoria 
capriciously at work beyond. An ignorant mind 
believes itself omniscient and omnipotent; those 
impulses in itself which really represent the iner 
tia and unspent momentum of its last dream it 
regards as the creative forces of nature. 

The first lines of cleavage and the first recognis 
able bulks at which attention is arrested are in truth 
those shadowy Fichtean divisions: such are the 
rude beginnings of logical architecture. In its 
inability to descry anything definite and fixed, for 
want of an acquired empirical background and a 
distinct memory, the mind flounders forward in a 
dream full of prophecies and wayward identifica 
tions. The world possesses as yet in its regard 
only the superficial forms that appear in revery, 
it has no hidden machinery, no third dimension 
in which unobserved and perpetual operations are 
going on. Its only terms, in a word, are concre 
tions in discourse, ideas combined in their aesthetic I 
and logical harmonies, not in their habitual and 
efficacious conjunctions. The disorder of such 
experience is still a spontaneous disorder; it has 
not discovered how calculable are its unpremedi- 



188 THE LIFE OF REASON 

tated shocks. The cataclysms that occur seem to 
have only ideal grounds and only dramatic mean 
ing. Though the dream may have its terrors and 
degenerate at moments into a nightmare, it has 
still infinite plasticity and buoyancy. What per 
ceptions are retained merge in those haunting and 
friendly presences, they have an intelligible and 
congenial character because they appear as parts 
and effluences of an inner fiction, evolving accord 
ing to the barbaric prosody of an almost infant 
mind. 

This is the fairy-land of idealism where only 
the miraculous seems a matter of course and every 
hint of what is purely natural is disregarded, 
for the truly natural still seems artificial, dead, 
and remote. New and disconcerting facts, which 
intrude themselves inopportunely into the story, 
chill the currents of spontaneous imagination and 
are rejected as long as possible for being alien and 
perverse. Perceptions, on the contrary, which can 
be attached to the old presences as confirmations 
or corollaries, become at once parts of the warp 
and woof of what we call ourselves. They seem 
of the very substance of spirit, obeying a vital 
momentum and flowing from the inmost principle 
of being; and they are so much akin to human 
presumptions that they pass for manifestations of 
necessary truth. Thus the demonstrations of geom 
etry being but the intent explication of a long- 
consolidated ideal concretion which we call space, 
are welcomed by the mind as in a sense familiar 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 189 

and as revelations of a truth implicit in the soul, 
so that Plato could plausibly take them for rec 
ollections of prenatal wisdom. But a rocket that 
bursts into sparks of a dozen colours, even if ex 
pected, is expected with anxiety and observed with 
surprise; it assaults the senses at an incalculable 
moment with a sensation individual and new. 
The exciting tension and lively stimulus may 
please in their way, yet the badge of the acciden 
tal and unmeaning adheres to the thing. It is a 
trivial experience and one quickly forgotten. The 
shock is superficial and were it repeated would 
soon fatigue. We should retire with relief into 
darkness and silence, to our permanent and 
rational thoughts. 

Naturalism ^ is a remarkable fact, which may 
sad - easily be misinterpreted, that while all 

the benefits and pleasures of life seem to be asso 
ciated with external things, and all certain knowl 
edge seems to describe material laws, yet a deified 
nature has generally inspired a religion of melan 
choly. / Why should the only intelligible philoso 
phy seem to defeat reason and the chief means of 
benefiting mankind seem to blast our best hopes? 
Whence this profound aversion to so beautiful and 
fruitful a universe ? Whence this persistent search 
for invisible regions and powers and for meta 
physical explanations that can explain nothing, 
while nature s voice without and within man cries 
aloud to him to look, act, and enjoy? And when 
someone, in protest against such senseless oracu- 



190 THE LIFE OF REASON 

lar prejudices, has actually embraced the life and 
faith of nature and taught others to look to the 
natural world for all motives and sanctions, ex 
pecting thus to refresh and marvellously to invig 
orate human life, why have those innocent hopes 
failed so miserably? Why is that sensuous opti 
mism we may call Greek, or that industrial opti 
mism we may call American, such a thin disguise 
for despair? Why does each melt away and 
become a mockery at the first approach of reflec 
tion?) Why has man s conscience in the end in 
variably rebelled against naturalism and reverted 
in some form or other to a cultus of the unseen? 

answer i n the WOrds of 



The soul akin 

to the eternal Saint Paul i because things seen are 
temporal and things not seen are eter 
nal. And we may add, remembering our analysis 
of the objects inhabiting the mind, that the eter 
nal is the truly human, that which is akin to the 
first indispensable products of intelligence, which 
arise by the fusion of successive images in dis 
course, and transcend the particular in time, peo 
pling the mind with permanent and recognisable 
objects, and strengthening it with a synthetic, 
dramatic apprehension of itself and its own experi 
ence. Concretion in existence, on the contrary, 
yields essentially detached and empirical unities, 
foreign to mind in spite of their order, and unin 
telligible in spite of their clearness. Eeason fails 
to assimilate in them precisely that which makes 
them real, namely, their presence here and now, 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 191 

in this order and number. The form and qual 
ity of them we can retain, domesticate, and weave 
into the texture of reflection, but their existence 
and individuality remain a datum of sense need 
ing to be verified anew at every moment and 
actually receiving continual verification or dis 
proof while we live in this world. 

" This world " we call it, not without justifiable 
pathos, for many other worlds are conceivable 
and if discovered might prove more rational and 
intelligible and more akin to the soul than this 
strange universe which man has hitherto always 
looked upon with increasing astonishment] The 
materials of experience are no sooner in nand 
than they are transformed by intelligence, re 
duced to those permanent presences, those na 
tures and relations, which alone can live in 
discourse. Those materials, rearranged into the 
abstract summaries we call history or science, 
or pieced out into the reconstructions and ex 
tensions we call poetry or religion, furnish us 
with ideas of as many dream-worlds as we 
please, all nearer to reason s ideal than is the 
actual chaos of perceptual experience, and some 
nearer to the heart s desire. /When an em 
pirical philosophy, therefore, calls us back from 
the irresponsible flights of imagination to the 
shock of sense and tries to remind us that in this 
alone we touch existence and come upon fact, we 
feel dispossessed of our nature and cramped in 
our life. The actuality possessed by external ex- 



192 THE LIFE OF REASON 

perience cannot make up for its instability, nor 

- /the applicability of scientific principles for their 
1 y hypothetical character. The dependence upon 

sense, which we are reduced to when we consider 
the world of existences, becomes a too plain hint 
of our essential impotence and mortality, while 
the play of logical fancy, though it remain in 
evitable, is saddened by a consciousness of its own 
insignificance. 

That dignity, then, which inheres in logical ideas 
and their affinity to moral enthusiasm, springs 
from their congruity with the primary habits of 
intelligence and idealisation. The soul or self or 
personality, which in sophisticated social life is 
so much the centre of passion and concern, is itself 
an idea, a concretion in discourse; and the level 
on which it swims comes to be, by association and 
affinity, the region of all the more vivid and mas 
sive human interests. The pleasures which lie 
Her beneath it are ignored, and the ideals 

inexperience, which lie above it are not perceived. 
Aversion to an empirical or naturalistic philoso 
phy accordingly expresses a sort of logical patriot 
ism and attachment to homespun ideas. The 
actual is too remote and unfriendly to the 
dreamer ; to understand it he has to learn a foreign 
tongue, which his native prejudice imagines to be 

unmeaning and unpoetical. The truth is, how- 
! ever, that nature s language is too rich for man; 

and the discomfort he feels when he is compelled 
to use it merely marks his lack of education. 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 193 

There is nothing cheaper than idealism. It can 
be had by merely not observing the ineptitude of 
our chance prejudices, and by declaring that the 
first rhymes that have struck our ear are the 
eternal and necessary harmonies of the world, 
piatonism The thinker s bias is naturally favour- 

spontaneous. a ble to logical ideas. The man of re 
flection will attribute, as far as possible, validity 
and reality to these alone. Piatonism remains the 
classic instance of this way of thinking. Living 
in an age of rhetoric, with an education that dealt 
with nothing but ideal entities, verbal, moral, or 
mathematical, Plato saw in concretions in dis 
course the true elements of being. Definable 
meanings, being the terms of thought, must also, 
he fancied, be the constituents of reality. And 
with that directness and audacity which was pos 
sible to the ancients, and of which Pythagoreans 
and Eleatics had already given brilliant examples, 
he set up these terms of discourse, like the Pythag 
orean numbers, for absolute and eternal entities, 
existing before all things, revealed in all things, 
giving the cosmic artificer his models and the 
creature his goal. By some inexplicable necessity 
the creation had taken place. The ideas had mul 
tiplied themselves in a flux of innumerable images 
which could be recognised by their resemblance to 
their originals, but were at once cancelled and ex 
punged by virtue of their essential inadequacy. 
What sounds are to words and words to thoughts, 
that was a thing to its idea. 
VOL. I 13 



194 THE LIFE OF REASON 

Plato, however, retained the moral and signifi 
cant essence of his ideas, and while he made them 
its essential ^ ea ^ absolutes, fixed meanings antece- 
fideiity to the dent to their changing expressions, 
never dreamed that they could be nat 
ural existences, or psychological beings. In an 
original thinker, in one who really thinks and 
does not merely argue, to call a thing super 
natural, or spiritual, or intelligible is to declare 
that it is no thing at all, no existence actual 
or possible, but a value, a term of thought, a 
merely ideal principle ; and the more its reality in 
such a sense is insisted on the more its incommen 
surability with brute existence is asserted. To ex 
press this ideal reality myth is the natural vehicle ; 
a vehicle Plato could avail himself of all the more 
freely that he inherited a religion still plastic and 
conscious of its poetic essence, and did not have to 
struggle, like his modern disciples, with the ar 
rested childishness of minds that for a hundred 
generations have learned their metaphysics in the 
cradle. His ideas, although their natural basis 
was ignored, were accordingly always ideal; they 
always represented meanings and functions and 
were never degraded from the moral to the physi 
cal sphere. The counterpart of this genuine ideal 
ity was that the theory retained its moral force and 
did not degenerate into a bewildered and idola 
trous pantheism. Plato conceived the soul s des 
tiny to be her emancipation from those material 
things which in this illogical apparition were so 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 195 

alien to her essence. She should return, after her 
baffling and stupefying intercourse with the world 
of sense and accident, into the native heaven of her 
ideas. For animal desires were no less illusory, 
and yet no less significant, than sensuous percep 
tions. They engaged man in the pursuit of the 
good and taught him, through disappointment, to 
look for it only in those satisfactions which can 
be permanent and perfect. Love, like intelli 
gence, must rise from appearance to reality, and 
rest in that divine world which is the fulfilment 
of the human. 

A geometrician does a good service when he de 
clares and explicates the nature of the triangle, 
an object suggested by many casual and recurring 
sensations. His service is not less real, even if less 
obvious, when he arrests some fundamental con 
cretion in discourse, and formulates the first prin 
ciples of logic. Mastering such definitions, sinking 
into the dry life of such forms, he may spin out 
and develop indefinitely, in the freedom of his irre 
sponsible logic, their implications and congruous 
extensions, opening by his demonstration a depth 
of knowledge which we should otherwise never 
have discovered in ourselves. But if the geometer 
Equal rights na( l a fanatical zeal and forbade us to 
of empiricism, consider space and the triangles it con 
tains otherwise than as his own ideal science con 
siders them: forbade us, for instance, to inquire 
how we came to perceive those triangles or that 
space; what organs and senses conspired in fur- 



196 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

nishing the idea of them; what material objects 
show that character, and how they came to offer 
themselves to our observation then surely the 
geometer would qualify his service with a distinct 
injury and while he opened our eyes to one fas 
cinating vista would tend to blind them to others 
no less tempting and beautiful. For the natural 
ist and psychologist have also their rights and can 
tell us things well worth knowing; nor will any 
theory they may possibly propose concerning the 
origin of spatial ideas and their material embodi 
ments ever invalidate the demonstrations of geom 
etry. These, in their hypothetical sphere, are per 
fectly autonomous and self-generating, and their 
applicability to experience will hold so long as the 
initial images they are applied to continue to 
abound in perception. 

If we awoke to-morrow in a world containing 
nothing but music, geometry would indeed lose 
its relevance to our future experience ; but it would 
keep its ideal cogency, and become again a living 
language if any spatial objects should ever re 
appear in sense. 

The history of such reappearances natural his 
tory is meantime a good subject for observation 
and experiment. Chronicler and critic can always 
approach experience with a method complementary 
to the deductive methods pursued in mathematics 
and logic: instead of developing the import of a 
definition, he can investigate its origin and de 
scribe its ^relation to other disparate phenomena. 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 197 

The mathematician develops the import of given 
ideas; the psychologist investigates their origin 
and describes their relation to the rest of human 
experience. So Ithe prophet develops the import 
of his trance, Irad the theologian the import of the 
prophecy : which prevents not the historian from 
coming later and showing the origin, the growth, 
and the possible function of that maniacal sort 
of wisdom. True, the theologian commonly 
dreads a critic more than does the geometer, but 
this happens only because the theologian has prob 
ably not developed the import of his facts with 
any austerity or clearness, but has distorted that 
ideal interpretation with all sorts of concessions 
and side-glances at other tenets to which he is 
already pledged, so that he justly fears, when his 
methods are exposed, that the religious heart will 
be alienated from him and his conclusions be left 
with no foothold in human nature. If he had not 
been guilty of such misrepresentation, no history 
or criticism that reviewed his construction would 
do anything but recommend it to all those who 
found in themselves the primary religious facts 
and religious faculties which that construction 
had faithfully interpreted in its ideal deductions 
and extensions. All who perceived the facts 
would thus learn their import ; and theology would 
reveal to the soul her natural religion, just as 
Euclid reveals to architects and navigators the 
structure of natural space, so that they value his 
demonstrations not only for their hypothetical 



198 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

cogency but for their practical relevance and 
truth. 

Now, like the geometer and ingenuous theo 
logian that he was, Plato developed the import of 
moral and logical experience. Even his followers, 
though they might give rein to narrower and more 
fantastic enthusiasms, often unveiled secrets, hid 
den in the oracular intent of the heart, which 
might never have been disclosed but for their les 
sons. But with a zeal unbecoming so well 
grounded a philosophy they turned their backs 
upon the rest of wisdom, they disparaged the evi 
dence of sense, they grew hot against the ultimate 
practical sanctions furnished by impulse and 
pleasure, they proscribed beauty in art (where 
Plato had proscribed chiefly what to a fine sensi 
bility is meretricious ugliness), and in a word they 
sought to abolish all human activities other than 
the one pre-eminent in themselves. In revenge 
for their hostility the great world has 

Logic depend- J 

ent on fact for never given them more than a distrust- 
its importance, ful a d m i ra tion and, confronted daily 
by the evident truths they denied, has encouraged 
itself to forget the truths they asserted. For they 
had the bias of reflection and man is born to do 
more than reflect; they attributed reality and 
validity only to logical ideas, and man finds other 
objects continually thrusting themselves before his 
eyes, claiming his affection and controlling his 
fortunes. 

The most legitimate constructions of reason 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 199 

soon become merely speculative, soon pass, I 
mean, beyond the sphere of practical applica 
tion; and the man of affairs, adjusting himself 
at every turn to the opaque brutality of fact, loses 
his respect for the higher reaches of logic and for 
gets that his recognition of facts themselves is an 
application of logical principles. In his youth, 
perhaps, he pursued metaphysics, which are the 
love-affairs of the understanding; now he is wed 
ded to convention and seeks in the passion he calls 
business or in the habit he calls duty some substi 
tute for natural happiness. He fears to question 
the value of his life, having found that such ques 
tioning adds nothing to his powers ; and he thinks 
the mariner would die of old age in port who 
should wait for reason to justify his voyage. 
Eeason is indeed like the sad Iphigenia whom her 
royal father, the Will, must sacrifice before any 
wind can fill his sails. The emanation of all 
things from the One involves not only the incar 
nation but the crucifixion of the Logos. Reason 
must be eclipsed by its supposed expressions, and 
can only shine in a darkness which does not com 
prehend it. For reason is essentially hypotheti- . 
cal and subsidiary, and can never constitute what 
it expresses in man, nor what it recognises in 
nature. 

and for its If logic should refuse to make this 

subsistence, initial self -sacrifice and to subordinate 
itself to impulse and fact, it would immediately 
become irrational and forfeit its own justification. 



200 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

For it exists by virtue of a human impulse and in 
answer to a human need. To ask a man, in the 
satisfaction of a metaphysical passion, to forego 
every other good is to render him fanatical and to 
shut his eyes daily to the sun in order that he may 
see better by the star-light. The radical fault of 
rationalism is not any incidental error committed 
in its deductions, although such necessarily abound 
in every human system. Its great original sin is 
its denial of its own basis and its refusal to occupy 
its due place in the world, an ignorant fear of 
being invalidated by its history and dishonoured, 
as it were, if its ancestry is hinted at. Only 
bastards should fear that fate, and criticism would 
indeed be fatal to a bastard philosophy, to one that 
does not spring from practical reason and has no 
roots in life. But those products of reason which 
arise by reflection on fact, and those spontaneous 
and demonstrable systems of ideas which can be 
verified in experience, and thus serve to render the 
facts calculable and articulate, will lose nothing of 
their lustre by discovering their lineage. So the 
idea of nature remains true after psychology has 
analysed its origin, and not only true, but beau 
tiful and beneficent. For unlike many negligible 
products of speculative fancy it is woven out of 
recurrent perceptions into a hypothetical cause 
from which further perceptions can be deduced as 
they are actually experienced. 

Such a mechanism once discovered confirms 
itself at every breath we draw, and surrounds 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 201 

every object in history and nature with infinite 
and true suggestions,, making it doubly inter 
esting, fruitful, and potent over the mind. The 
naturalist accordingly welcomes criticism because 
his constructions, though no less hypothetical 
and speculative than the idealist s dreams, are 
such legitimate and fruitful fictions that they 

, are obvious truths. For truth, at the intelligi 
ble level where it arises, means not sensible 
fact, but valid ideation, verified hypothesis, and 

- inevitable, stable inference. If the idealist fears 
and deprecates any theory of his own origin 
.and function, he is only obeying the instinct of 
self-preservation; for he knows very well that his 
past will not bear examination. He is heir to every 
superstition and by profession an apologist; his 
deepest vocation is to rescue, by some logical tour 
de force, what spontaneously he himself would have 
taken for a consecrated error. Now history and 
criticism would involve, as he instinctively per 
ceives, the reduction of his doctrines to their prag 
matic value, to their ideal significance for real life. 
But he detests any admission of relativity in his 
doctrines, all the more because he cannot avow his 
reasons for detesting it; and zeal, here as in so 
many cases, becomes the cover and evidence of a 
bad conscience. Bigotry and craft, with a rhetori 
cal vilification of enemies, then come to reinforce 
in the prophet that natural limitation of his in 
terests which turns his face away from history and 
Criticism; until his system, in its monstrous un- 



202 THE LIFE OF REASON 

reality and disingenuousness, becomes intolerable, 
and provokes a general revolt in which too often 
the truth of it is buried with the error in a com 
mon oblivion, j 

Reason and ^ idealism is intrenched in the very 
docility. structure of human reason, empiricism 
represents all those energies of the external uni 
verse which, as Spinoza says, must infinitely ex 
ceed the energies of man. If meditation breeds 
science, wisdom comes by disillusion, even on the 
subject of science itself. Docility to the facts 
makes the sanity of science. Reason is only half 
grown and not really distinguishable from imag 
ination so long as she cannot check and recast her 
own processes wherever they render the moulds 
of thought unfit for their subject-matter. Docil 
ity is, as we have seen, the deepest condition of 
reason s existence ; for if a form of mental synthe 
sis were by chance developed which was incapable 
of appropriating the data of sense^these data could 
not be remembered or introduced at all into a 
growing and cumulative experience. Sensations 
would leave no memorial; while logical thoughts 
would play idly, like so many parasites in the 
mind, and ultimately languish and die of inani 
tion. To be nourished and employed, intelligence 
must have developed such structure and habits as 
will enable it to assimilate what food comes in its 
way; so that the persistence of any intellectual 
habit is a proof that it has some applicability, 
however partial, to the facts of sentience. 



VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS 203 

Applicable This applicability, the prerequisite 

cLrified and of sig 111 ^ 1 ^ thought, is also its 
experience. eventual test ; and the gathering of 
new experiences, the consciousness of more and 
more facts crowding into the memory and demand 
ing co-ordination, is at once the presentation to 
reason of her legitimate problem and a proof that 
she is already at work. It is a presentation of her 
problem, because reason is not a faculty of dreams 
but a method in living; and by facing the flux of 
sensations and impulses~~that constitute mortal life 
with the gift of ideal construction and the aspira 
tion toward eternal goods, she is only doing her 
duty and manifesting what she is. To accumu 
late facts, moreover, is in itself to prove that 
rational activity is already awakened, because a 
consciousness of multitudinous accidents diversi 
fying experience involves a wide scope in memory, 
good methods of classification, and keen senses, so 
that all working together they may collect many 
observations. Memory and all its instruments are 
embodiments, on a modest scale, of rational activi 
ties which in tfceory and speculation reappear upon 
a higher level. The expansion of the mind in 
point of retentiveness and wealth of images is as 
much an advance in knowledge as is its develop 
ment in point of organisation. The structure may 
be widened at the base as well as raised toward 
its ideal summit, and while a mass of information 
imperfectly digested leaves something still for in 
telligence to do, it shows at the same time how 
much intelligence has done already. 



204 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

The function of reason is to dominate experi 
ence; and obviously openness to new impressions 
is no less necessary to that end than is the pos 
session of principles by which new impressions 
may be interpreted. 



CHAPTER IX 

HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 

Functional Nothing is more natural or more 

minded * congruous with all the analogies of ex- 
body, perience than that animals should feel 
and think. The relation of mind to body, of rea 
son to nature, seems to be actually this: when 
bodies have reached a certain complexity and vital 
equilibrium, a sense begins to inhabit them which 
is focussed upon the preservation of that body and 
on its reproduction. This sense, as it becomes 
reflective and expressive of physical welfare, points 
more and more to its own persistence and har 
mony, and generates the Life of Reason. Nature 
is reason s basis and theme; reason is nature s 
consciousness ; and, from the point of view of that 
consciousness when it has arisen, reason is also 
nature s justification and goal. 

To separate things so closely bound together as 
are mind and body, reason and nature, is conse 
quently a violent and artificial divorce, and a 
man of judgment will instinctively discredit any 
philosophy in which it is decreed. But to avoid 
divorce it is well first to avoid unnatural unions, 
and not to attribute to our two elements, which 

205 



206 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

must be partners for life, relations repugnant to 
their respective natures and offices. Now the body 
is an instrument, the mind its function, the wit 
ness and reward of its operation. Mind is the 
body s entelechy, a value which accrues to the 
body when it has reached a certain perfection, of 
which it would be a pity, so to speak, that it 
should remain unconscious ; so that while the body 
feeds the mind the mind perfects the body, lifting 
it and all its natural relations and impulses into 
the moral world, into the sphere of interests and 
ideas. 

No connection could be closer than this re 
ciprocal involution, as nature and life reveal it; 
but the connection is natural, not dialectical. 
The union will be denaturalised and, so far as 
philosophy goes, actually destroyed, if we seek to 
carry it on into logical equivalence. If we isolate 
the terms mind and body and study the inward 
implications of each apart, we shall never discover 
the other. That matter cannot, by transposition 
of its particles, become what we call consciousness, 
is an admitted truth; that mind cannot become its 
own occasions or determine its own march, though 
it be a truth not recognised by all philosophers, is 
in itself no less obvious. Matter, dialectically 
studied, makes consciousness seem a superfluous 
and unaccountable addendum; mind, studied in 
the same way, makes nature an embarrassing idea, 
a figment which ought to be subservient to con 
scious aims and perfectly transparent, but which 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 207 

remains opaque and overwhelming. In order to 
escape these sophistications, it suffices to revert to 
immediate observation and state the question in 
its proper terms : nature lives, and perception is a 
private echo and response to ambient motions. 
The soul is the voice of the body s interests; in 
watching them a man defines the world that sus 
tains him and that conditions all his satisfactions. 
In discerning his origin he christens Nature by the 
eloquent name of mother, under which title she 
enters the universe of discourse. Simultaneously 
he discerns his own existence and marks off the 
inner region of his dreams. And it behooves him 
not to obliterate these discoveries. By trying to 
give his mind false points of attachment in nature 
he would disfigure not only nature but also that 
reason which is so much the essence of his life. 
They form one Consciousness, then, is the expression 
natural life. O f bodily life and the seat of all its 
values. Its place in the natural world is like that 
of its own ideal products, art, religion, or science ; 
it translates natural relations into synthetic and 
ideal symbols by which things are interpreted with 
reference to the interests of consciousness itself. 
This representation is also an existence and has its 
place along with all other existences in the bosom 
of nature. In this sense its connection with its 
organs, and with all that affects the body or that 
the body affects, is a natural connection. If the 
word cause did not suggest dialectical bonds we 
might innocently say that thought was a link in 



208 THE LIFE OF REASON 

the chain of natural causes. It is at least a link in 
the chain of natural events ; for it has determinate 
antecedents in the brain and senses and determi 
nate consequents in actions and words. But this 
dependence and this efficacy have nothing logical 
about them; they are habitual collocations in the 
world, like lightning and thunder. A more mi 
nute inspection of psycho-physical processes, were 
it practicable, would doubtless disclose undreamed 
of complexities and harmonies in them ; the mathe 
matical and dynamic relations of stimulus and 
sensation might perhaps be formulated with pre 
cision. But the terms used in the equation, their 
quality and inward habit, would always remain 
data which the naturalist would have to assume 
after having learned them by inspection. Move 
ment could never be deduced dialectically or 
graphically from thought nor thought from move 
ment. Indeed no natural relation is in a different 
case. Neither gravity, nor chemical reaction, nor 
life and reproduction, nor time, space, and motion 
themselves are logically deducible, nor intelligible 
in terms of their limits. The phenomena have to 
be accepted at their face value and allowed to 
retain a certain empirical complexity; otherwise 
the seed of all science is sterilised and calculation 
cannot proceed for want of discernible and preg 
nant elements. 

How fine nature s habits may be, where repeti 
tion begins, and down to what depth a mathe 
matical treatment can penetrate, is a question for 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 209 

the natural sciences to solve. Whether conscious 
ness, for instance, accompanies vegetative life, or 
even all motion, is a point to be decided solely by 
empirical analogy. When the exact physical con 
ditions of thought are discovered in man, we may 
infer how far thought is diffused through the uni 
verse, for it will be coextensive with the condi 
tions it will have been shown to have. Now, in 
a very rough way, we know already what these con 
ditions are. They are first the existence of an 
organic body and then its possession of adaptable 
instincts, of instincts that can be modified by ex 
perience. This capacity is what an observer calls 
intelligence; docility is the observable half of rea 
son. When an animal winces at a blow and read 
justs his pose, we say he feels; and we say he 
thinks when we see him brooding over his impres 
sions, and find him launching into a new course 
of action after a silent decoction of his potential 
impulses. Conversely, when observation covers 
both the mental and the physical process, that is, 
in our own experience, we find that felt impulses, 
the conceived objects for which they make, and the 
values they determine are all correlated with ani 
mal instincts and external impressions. A desire 
is the inward sign of a physical proclivity to act, 
an image in sense is the sign in most cases of some 
material object in the environment and always, 
we may presume, of some cerebral change. The 
brain seems to simmer like a caldron in which 
all sorts of matters are perpetually transforming 
VOL. L-14 



210 THE LIFE OF REASON 

themselves into all sorts of shapes. When this 
cerebral reorganisation is pertinent to the external 
situation and renders the man, when he resumes 
action, more a master of his world, the accompany 
ing thought is said to be practical ; for it brings a 
consciousness of power and an earnest of success. 
Cerebral processes are of course largely hypo 
thetical. Theory suggests their existence, and ex 
perience can verify that theory only in an indirect* 
and imperfect manner. The addition of a physi 
cal substratum to all thinking is only a scientific 
expedient, a hypothesis expressing the faith that 
nature is mechanically intelligible even beyond 
the reaches of minute verification. The accom 
panying consciousness, on the other hand, is some 
thing intimately felt by each man in his own per 
son; it is a portion of crude and immediate 
experience. That it accompanies changes in his 
body and in the world is not an inference for him 
but a datum. But when crude experience is 
somewhat refined and the soul, at first mingled 
with every image, finds that it inhabits only her 
private body, to whose fortunes hers are altogether 
wedded, we begin to imagine that we know the 
cosmos at large better than the spirit; for beyond 
the narrow limits of our own person only the mate 
rial phase of things is open to our observation. 
To add a mental phase to every part and motion 
of the cosmos is then seen to be an audacious 
fancy. It violates all empirical analogy, for the 
phenomenon which feeling accompanies in crude 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 211 

experience is not mere material existence, but 
reactive organisation and docility. 
Artifices The limits set to observation,, how- 

invoivedin e render the mental and material 

separating 

them. spheres far from coincident, and even 

in a rough way mutually supplementary, so that 
human reflection has fallen into a habit of inter 
larding them. The world, instead of being a living 
body, a natural system with moral functions, has 
seemed to be a bisectible hybrid, half material and 
half mental, the clumsy conjunction of an autom- -f 
aton with a ghost. These phases, taken in their 
abstraction, as they first forced themselves on 
human attention, have been taken for independent 
and separable facts. Experience, remaining in 
both provinces quite sensuous and superficial, has 
accordingly been allowed to link this purely men 
tal event with that purely mechanical one. The 
linkage is practically not deceptive, because men 
tal transformations are indeed signs of changes 
in bodies ; and so long as a cause is defined merely 
as a sign, mental and physical changes may truly 
be said to cause one another. But so soon as this 
form of augury tries to overcome its crude empiri 
cism and to establish phenomenal laws, the men 
tal factor has to fall out of the efficient process 
and be represented there by what, upon accurate 
examination, it is seen to be really the sign of I 
mean by some physiological event. 

If philosophers of the Cartesian school had taken 
to heart, as the German transcendentalists did, the 



212 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

cogito ergo sum of their master, and had considered 
that a physical world is, for knowledge, nothing 
, but an instrument to explain sensations and their 
1 order, they might have expected this collapse of 
half their metaphysics at the approach of their 
positive science: for if mental existence was to 
be kept standing only by its supposed causal 
efficacy nothing could prevent the whole world 
from becoming presently a lete-machine. Psychic 
events have no links save through their organs 
and their objects; the function of the material 
world is, indeed, precisely to supply their linkage. 
The internal relations of ideas, on the other hand, 
are dialectical; their realm is eternal and abso 
lutely irrelevant to the march of events. If we 
must speak, therefore, of causal relations between 
mind and body, we should say that matter is the 
pervasive cause of mind s distribution, and mind 
the pervasive cause of matter s discovery and 
value. To ask for an efficient cause, to trace back 
a force or investigate origins, is to have already 
turned one s face in the direction of matter and 
mechanical laws : no success in that undertaking 
can fail to be a triumph for materialism. To ask 
for a justification, on the other hand, is to turn no 
less resolutely in the direction of ideal results and 
actualities from which instrumentality and further 
use have been eliminated. Spirit is useless, being 
the end of things : but it is not vain, since it alone 
rescues all else from vanity. It is called prac 
tical when it is prophetic of its own better fulfil- 



HOW THOUGHT IS PKACTICAL 213 

ments, which is the case whenever forces are being 
turned to good uses, whenever an organism is ex 
ploring its relations and putting forth new ten 
tacles with which to grasp the world, 
consciousness We saw in the beginning that the 
Tumbrium^ 1 ex ig ences f bodily life gave conscious- 
and docility, ness its first articulation. A bodily 
feat, like nutrition or reproduction, is celebrated 
by a festival in the mind, and consciousness is a 
sort of ritual solemnising by prayer, jubilation, or 
mourning, the chief episodes in the body s fort 
unes. The organs, by their structure, select the 
impressions possible to them from the divers in 
fluences abroad in the world, all of which, if ani 
mal organisms had learned to feed upon them, 
might plausibly have offered a basis for sensation. 
Every instinct or habitual impulse further selects 
from the passing bodily affections those that are 
pertinent to its own operation and which conse 
quently adhere to it and modify its reactive 
machinery. Prevalent and notable sensations are 
therefore signs, presumably marking the presence 
of objects important for the body s welfare or for 
the execution of its predestined offices. So that 
not only are the soul s aims transcripts of the 
body s tendencies, but all ideas are grafted upon 
the interplay of these tendencies with environing 
forces. Early images hover about primary wants 
as highest conceptions do about ultimate achieve 
ments. 

Thought is essentially practical in the sense 



214 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

that but for thought no motion would be an action, 
no change a progress; but thought is in no way 

instrumental or servile; it is an ex 
its worthless- . , . -. 

ness as a cause penence realised, not a force to be 
and value as used. That same spontaneity in na- 

an expression. . -, . , , . 1 n 

ture which has suggested a good must 
be trusted to fulfil it. If we look fairly at the 
actual resources of our minds we perceive that 
we are as little informed concerning the means 
and processes of action as concerning the rea 
son why our motives move us. To execute the 
simplest intention we must rely on fate: our 
own acts are mysteries to us. Do I know how 
I open my eyes or how I walk down stairs? Is 
it the supervising wisdom of consciousness that 
guides me in these acts? Is it the mind that 
controls the bewildered body and points out 
the way to physical habits uncertain of their 
affinities? Or is it not much rather automatic 
inward machinery that executes the marvellous 
work, while the mind catches here and there 
some glimpse of the operation, now with de 
light and adhesion, now with impotent rebel 
lion ? When impulses work themselves out unim 
peded we say we act; when they are thwarted we 
say we are acted upon; but in neither case do we 
in the least understand the natural history of 
what is occurring. The mind at best vaguely 
forecasts the result of action: a schematic verbal 
sense of the end to be accomplished possibly hovers 
in consciousness while the act is being performed ; 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 215 

but this premonition is itself the sense of a proc 
ess already present and betrays the tendency at 
work; it can obviously give no aid or direction to 
the unknown mechanical process that produced it 
and that must realise its own prophecy, if that 
prophecy is to be realised at all. 

That such an unknown mechanism exists, and 
is adequate to explain every so-called decision, is 
indeed a hypothesis far outrunning detailed veri 
fication, although conceived by legitimate analogy 
with whatever is known about natural processes; 
but that the mind is not the source of itself or its 
own transformations is a matter of present experi 
ence; for the world is an unaccountable datum, 
in its existence, in its laws, and in its incidents. 
The highest hopes of science and morality look 
only to discovering those laws and bringing one 
set of incidents facts of perception into har 
mony with another set facts of preference. This 
hoped-for issue, if it comes, must come about in 
the mind; but the mind cannot be its cause since, 
by hypothesis, it does not possess the ideas it seeks 
nor has power to realise the harmonies it desider 
ates. These have to be waited for and begged of 
destiny ; human will, not controlling its basis, can 
not possibly control its effects. Its existence and 
its efforts have at best the value of a good omen. 
They show in what direction natural forces are 
moving in so far as they are embodied in given 
men. 

Men, like all things else in the world, are prod- 



216 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

nets and vehicles of natural energy, and their 

operation counts. But their conscious will, in its 

moral assertiveness, is merely a sign 

Thought s J 

march auto- of that energy and of that will s event- 
matic and ua j fortunes. Dramatic terror and 

thereby im- 

plicated in dramatic humour both depend on con- 
events, trasting the natural pregnancy of a 
passion with its conscious intent. Everything in 
human life is ominous, even the voluntary acts. 
We cannot, by taking thought, add a cubit to our 
stature, but we may build up a world without 
meaning it. Man is as full of potentiality as he is 
of impotence. A will that represents many active 
forces, and is skilful in divination and augury, 
may long boast to be almighty without being con 
tradicted by the event. 

That thought is not self-directive appears best 
in the most immaterial processes. In strife 
against external forces men, being ignorant of 
their deeper selves, attribute the obvious effects of 
their action to their chance ideas; but when the 
process is wholly internal the real factors are more 
evenly represented in consciousness and the magi 
cal, involuntary nature of life is better perceived. 
My hand, guided by I know not what machinery, 
is at this moment adding syllable to syllable upon 
this paper, to the general fulfilment, perhaps, of 
my felt intent, yet giving that intent an articula 
tion wholly unforeseen, and often disappointing. 
The thoughts to be expressed simmer half-con- 
sciously in my brain. I feel their burden and 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 217 

tendency without seeing their form,, until the 
mechanical train of impulsive association, started 
by the perusal of what precedes or by the acciden 
tal emergence of some new idea, lights the fuse 
and precipitates the phrases. If this happens in 
the most reflective and deliberate of activities, like 
this of composition, how much more does it hap 
pen in positive action, " The die is 

Contemplative r 

essence of cast," said CaBsar, feeling a decision 
in himself of which he could neither 
count nor weigh the multitudinous causes; and so 
says every strong and clear intellect, every well- 
formed character, seizing at the same moment 
with comprehensive instinct both its purposes and 
the means by which they shall be attained. Only 
the fool, whose will signifies nothing, boasts to 
have created it himself. 

We must not seek the function of thought, then, 
in any supposed power to discover either ends not 
suggested by natural impulse or means to the ac 
complishment of those irrational ends. Atten 
tion is utterly powerless to change or create its 
objects in either respect; it rather registers with 
out surprise for it expects nothing in particular 
and watches eagerly the images bubbling up in 
the living mind and the processes evolving there. 
These processes are themselves full of potency and 
promise; will and reflection are no more incon 
sequential than any other processes bound by 
natural links to the rest of the world. Even if an 
atomic mechanism suffices to mark the concatena- 



218 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

tion of everything in nature, including the mind, 
it cannot rob what it abstracts from of its natural 
weight and reality: a thread that may suffice to 
hold the pearls together is not the whole cause of 
the necklace. But this pregnancy and implica 
tion of thought in relation to its natural environ 
ment is purely empirical. Since natural connec 
tion is merely a principle of arrangement by which 
the contiguities of things may be described and 
inferred, there is no difficulty in admitting con 
sciousness and all its works into the web and woof 
of nature. Each psychic episode would be her 
alded by its material antecedents; its transforma 
tions would be subject to mechanical laws, which 
would also preside over the further transition from 
thought into its material expression. 
Mechanical This inclusion of mind in nature, 
efficacy alien j loweve r, is as far as possible from 

to thought s 

essence. constituting the mind s function and 
value, or its efficacy in a moral and rational 
sense. To have prepared changes in matter 
would give no rationality to mind unless those 
changes in turn paved the way to some better men 
tal existence. The worth of natural efficacy is 
therefore always derivative; the utility of mind 
would be no more precious than the utility of mat 
ter; both borrow all their worth from the part 
they may play empirically in introducing those 
\ moral values which are intrinsic and self-sufficing. 
In so far as thought is instrumental it is not worth 
having, any more than matter, except for its prom- 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 219 

ise; it must terminate in something truly profit 
able and ultimate which, being good in itself, may 
lend value to all that led up to it. But this ulti 
mate good is itself consciousness, thought, rational 
activity; so that what instrumental mentality may 
have preceded might be abolished without loss, if 
matter suffices to sustain reason in being; or if 
that instrumental mentality is worth retaining, it 
is so only because it already contains some pre 
monition and image of its own fulfilment. In 
a word, the value of thought is ideal. The mate 
rial efficacy which may be attributed to it is the 
proper efficacy of matter an efficacy which mat 
ter would doubtless claim if we knew enough of 
its secret mechanism. And when that imputed 
and incongruous utility was subtracted from ideas 
they would appear in their proper form of expres 
sions, realisations, ultimate fruits. 

The incongruity of making thought, in its 
moral and logical essence, an instrument in the 
natural world will appear from a different point 
of view if we shift the discussion for a moment to 
a transcendental level. Since the material world 
is an object for thought, and potential in relation 
Consciousness to immediate experience, it can hardly 
transcendental. li e j n the same plane of reality with 
the thought to which it appears. Tlie spectator on 
this side of the foot-lights, while surely regarded 
by the play as a whole, cannot expect to figure in 
its mechanism or to see himself strutting among 
the actors on the boards. He listens and is served, 



220 THE LIFE OF REASON 

being at once impotent and supreme. It has been 
well said that 

Only the free divine the laws, 
The causeless only know the cause. 

Conversely, what in such a transcendental sense 
is causeless and free will evidently not be causal 
or determinant, being something altogether uni 
versal and notional, without inherent determina 
tions or specific affinities. The objects figuring in 
consciousness will have implications and will re 
quire causes ; not so the consciousness itself. The 
Ego to which all things appear equally, whatever 
their form or history, is the ground of nothing 
incidental: no specific characters or order found 
in the world can be attributed to its efficacy. The 
march of experience is not determined by the mere 
fact that experience exists. Another experience, 
differently logical, might be equally real. Con 
sciousness is not itself dynamic, for it has no body, 
no idiosyncrasy or particular locus, to be the point 
of origin for definite relationships. It is merely 
an abstract name for the actuality of its random 
objects. All force, implication, or direction 
inhere in the constitution of specific objects and 
live in their interplay. Logic is revealed to 
thought no less than nature is, and even what we 
call invention or fancy is generated not by thought 
itself but by the chance fertility of nebulous 
objects, floating and breeding in the primeval 
chaos. Where the natural order lapses, if it ever 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 221 

does, not mind or will or reason can possibly inter 
vene to fill the chasm for these are parcels and 
expressions of the natural order but only noth 
ingness and pure chance. 

Thought is thus an expression of natural rela 
tions, as will is of natural affinities ; yet conscious 
ness of an object s value, while it declares the 
blind disposition to pursue that object, consti 
tutes its entire worth. Apart from the pains and 
satisfactions involved, an impulse and its execu 
tion would be alike destitute of importance. It 
would matter nothing how chaotic or how orderly 
the world became, or what animal bodies arose or 
perished there; any tendencies afoot in nature, 
whatever they might construct or dissolve, would 
involve no progress or disaster, since no prefer 
ences would exist to pronounce one eventual state 
of things better than another. These preferences 
and are in themselves, if the dynamic order 

transcendent, alone be considered, works of superero 
gation, expressing force but not producing it, like 
a statue of Hercules; but the principle of such 
preferences, the force they express and depend 
upon, is jLQme mechanical impulse itself involved 
in the causal process. Expression gives value to 
power, and the strength of Hercules would have 
no virtue in it had it contributed nothing to art 
and civilisation. That conceived basis of all life 
which we call matter would be a mere potentiality, 
an inferred instrument deprived of its func 
tion, if it did not actually issue in life and con- 



222 THE LIFE OF REASON 

sciousness. What gives the material world a legit 
imate status and perpetual pertinence in human 
discourse is the conscious life it supports and car 
ries in its own direction, as a ship carries its pas 
sengers or rather as a passion carries its hopes. 
Conscious interests first justify and moralise the 
, mechanisms they express. Eventual satisfac 
tions, while their form and possibility must be de 
termined by animal tendencies, alone render these 
tendencies vehicles of the good. The direction in 
which benefit shall lie must be determined by irra 
tional impulse^ but the attainment of benefit con 
sists in crowning that impulse with its ideal 
achievement. Nature dictates what men shall 
seek and prompts them to seek it; a possibility of 
happiness is thus generated and only its fulfil 
ment would justify nature and man in their com 
mon venture. 

it is the seat Satisfaction is the touchstone of 
of value. value; without reference to it all talk 
about good and evil, progress or decay, is mere 
ly confused verbiage, pure sophistry in which 
the juggler adroitly withdraws attention from 
what works the wonder namely, that human 
and moral colouring to which the terms he plays 
with owe whatever efficacy they have. Metaphy 
sicians sometimes so define the good as to make 
it a matter of no importance ; not seldom they give 
that name to the sum of all evils. A good, 
absolute in the sense of being divorced from all 
natural demand and all possible satisfaction, would 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 223 

be as remote as possible from goodness: to call it 
good is mere disloyalty to morals, brought about 
by some fantastic or dialectical passion. In ex 
cellence there is an essential bias, an opposition 
to the possible opposite; this bias expresses a 
mechanical impulse, a situation that has stirred 
the senses and the will. Impulse makes value pos 
sible; and the value becomes actual when the im 
pulse issues in processes that give it .satisfaction 
and have a conscious worth. 1 Character is the 
basis of happiness and happiness the sanction of 
character.* 

That thought is nature s concomitant expres 
sion or entelechy, never one of her instruments, 
is a truth long ago divined by the more judicious 
thinkers, like Aristotle and Spinoza ; but it has not 
met with general acceptance or even consideration. 
It is obstructed by superficial empiricism, which 
associates the better-known aspects of events di 
rectly together, without considering what mechani- 

* Aristippus asked Socrates " whether he knew any 
thing good, so that if he answered by naming food or drink 
or money or health or strength or valour or anything of that 
sort, lie might at once show that it was sometimes an evil. 
Socrates, however, knew very well that if anything troubles 
us what we demand is its cure, and he replied in the most 
pertinent fashion. Are you asking me, he said, if I know 
anything good for a fever ? Oh, no, said the other. Or 
for sore eyes ? Not that, either. Or for hunger ? No, 
not for hunger. Well, then, said he, if you ask me 
whether I know a good that is. good for nothing, I neither 
know it nor want to know it " Xenophon, Memorabilia, 
iii., 8. 



224 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

cal bonds may secretly unite them ; it is obstruct 
ed also by the traditional mythical idealism, in 
tent as this philosophy is on proving nature to 
be the expression of something ulterior and non- 
natural and on hugging the fatal misconception 
that ideals and eventual goods are creative and 
miraculous forces, without perceiving that it 
thereby renders goods and ideals perfectly sense 
less; for how can anything be a good at all to 
which some existing nature is not already directed ? 
It may therefore be worth while, before leaving 
this phase of the subject, to consider one or two 
prejudices which might make it sound paradoxi 
cal to say, as we propose, that ideals are ideal and 
nature natural. 

Apparent Of all forms of consciousness the 

utility of pain. one apparently most useful is pain, 
which is also the one most immersed in matter 
and most opposite to ideality and excellence. Its 
utility lies in the warning it gives: in trying to 
escape pain we escape destruction. That we de 
sire to escape pain is certain; its very definition 
can hardly go beyond the statement that pain is 
that element of feeling which we seek to abolish on 
account of its intrinsic quality. That this desire, 
however, should know how to initiate remedial 
action is a notion contrary to experience and in 
itself unthinkable. If pain could have cured us we 
should long ago have been saved. The bitterest 
quintessence of pain is its helplessness, and our 
incapacity to abolish it. The most intolerable 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 225 

torments are those we feel gaining upon us, in 
tensifying and prolonging themselves indefinitely. 
its real This baffling quality, so conspicuous in 

impotence. extreme agony, is present in all pain 
and is perhaps its essence. If we sought to de 
scribe by a circumlocution what is of course a 
primary sensation, we might scarcely do better 
than to say that pain is consciousness at once in 
tense and empty, fixing attention on what con 
tains no character, and arrests all satisfactions 
without offering anything in exchange. The hor 
ror of pain lies in its intolerable intensity and its 
intolerable tedium. Tt can accordingly be cured 
either by sleep or by entertainment. In itself it 
has no resource; its violence is quite helpless and 
its vacancy offers no expedients by which it might 
be unknotted and relieved. 

Pain is not only impotent in itself but is a sign 
of impotence in the sufferer. Its appearance, far 
from constituting its own remedy, is like all other 
organic phenomena subject to the law of inertia 
and tends only to its own continuance. A man s 
hatred of his own condition no more helps to im 
prove it than hatred of other people tends to im 
prove them. If we allowed ourselves to speak in 
such a case of efficacy at all, we should say that 
pain perpetuates and propagates itself in various 
ways, now by weakening the system, now by 
prompting convulsive efforts, now by spreading to 
other beings through the contagion of sympathy 
or vengeance. In fact, however, it merely betrays 

VOL. L-15 



226 THE LIFE OF REASON 

a maladjustment which has more or less natural 
stability. It may be instantaneous only; by its 
lack of equilibrium it may involve the immediate 
destruction of one of its factors. In that case we 
fabulously say that the pain has instinctively re 
moved its own cause. Pain is here apparently 
useful because it expresses an incipient tension 
which the self-preserving forces in the organism 
are sufficient to remove. Pain s appearance is then 
the sign for its instant disappearance; not indeed 
by virtue of its inner nature or of any art it can 
initiate, but merely by virtue of mechanical asso 
ciations between its cause and its remedy. The 
burned child dreads the fire and, reading only the 
surface of his life, fancies that the pain once felt 
and still remembered is the ground of his new 
prudence. Punishments, however, are not always 
efficacious, as everyone knows who has tried to 
govern children or cities by the rod ; suffering does 
not bring wisdom nor even memory, unless intelli 
gence and docility are already there; that is, unless 
the friction which the pain betrayed sufficed to 
obliterate permanently one of the impulses in con 
flict. This readjustment, on which real improve 
ment hangs and which alone makes " experience " 
useful, does not correspond to the intensity or repe 
tition of the pains endured; it corresponds rather 
to such a plasticity in the organism that the pain 
ful conflict is no longer produced. 
Preformations Threatened destruction would not 
involved. involve pain unless that threatened de- 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 227 

struction were being resisted ; so that the reaction 
which pain is supposed to cause must already be 
taking place before pain_can-ba-:folt. A will with 
out direction cannot be thwarted; so that inhibi 
tion cannot be the primary source of any effort or 
of any ideal. Determinate impulses must exist 
already for their inhibition to have taken place or 
for the pain to arise which is the sign of that 
inhibition. The child s dread of the fire marks 
the acceleration of that impulse which, when he 
was burned, originally enabled him to withdraw 
his hand ; and if he did not now shrink in antici 
pation he would not remember the pain nor know 
to what to attach his terror. Sight now suffices to 
awaken the reaction which touch at first was 
needed to produce; the will has extended its line 
of battle and thrown out its scouts farther afield ; 
and pain has been driven back to the frontiers of 
the spirit. The conflicting reactions are now 
peripheral and feeble; the pain involved in aver 
sion is nothing to that once involved in the burn. 
Had this aversion to fire been innate, as many 
aversions are, no pain would have been caused, 
because no profound maladjustment would have 
occurred. The surviving attraction, checked by 
fear, is a remnant of the old disorganisation in 
the brain which was the seat of conflicting re 
actions. 

To say that this conflict is the guide to its 
own issue is to talk without thinking. The con 
flict is the sign of inadequate organisation, or of 



228 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

non-adaptation in the given organism to the vari 
ous stimuli which irritate it. The reconstruction 

Its untoward which follows this Conflict, When it in 
significance, deed follows, is of course a new and 
better adaptation; so that what involves the 
pain may often be a process of training which 
directs reaction into new and smoother channels. 
But the pain is present whether a permanent ad 
aptation is being attained or not. It is present 
in progressive dissolution and in hopeless and ex 
hausting struggles far more than in education or 
in profitable correction. Toothache and sea-sick 
ness, birth-pangs and melancholia are not useful 
ills. The intenser the pain the more probable its 
uselessness. Only in vanishing is it a sign of 
progress; in occurring it is an omen of defeat, 
just as disease is an omen of death, although, for 
those diseased already, medicine and convalescence 
may be approaches to health again. Where a 
man s nature is out of gear and his instincts are 
inordinate, suffering may be a sign that a danger 
ous peace, in which impulse was carrying him 
ignorantly into paths without issue, is giving place 
to a peace with security in which his reconstructed 
character may respond without friction to the 
world, and enable him to gather a clearer experi 
ence and enjoy a purer vitality. The utility of 
pain is thus apparent only, and due to empirical 
haste in collating events that have no regular nor 
inward relation; and even this imputed utility 
pain has only in proportion to the worthlessness of 
those who need it. 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 229 
A second current prejudice which 

Perfect func 
tion not un- may deserve notice suggests that an 

organ, when its function is perfect, 
becomes unconscious, so that if adaptation were 
complete life would disappear. The well-learned 
routine of any mechanical art passes into habit, 
and habit into unconscious operation. The vir 
tuoso is not aware how he manipulates his instru 
ment ; what was conscious labour in the beginning 
has become instinct and miracle in the end. Thus 
it might appear that to eliminate friction and diffi 
culty would be to eliminate consciousness, and 
therefore value, from the world. Life would thus 
be involved in a contradiction and moral effort in 
an absurdity; for while the constant aim of prac 
tice is perfection and that of labour ease, and both 
are without meaning or standard unless directed 
to the attainment of these ends, yet such attain 
ment, if it were actual, would be worthless, so 
that what alone justifies effort would lack justifi 
cation and would in fact be incapable of exist 
ence. The good musician must strive to play per 
fectly, but, alas, we are told, if he succeeded he 
would have become an automaton. The good man 
must aspire to holiness, but, alas, if he reached 
holiness his moral life would have evaporated. 

These melodramatic prophecies, however, need 
not alarm us. They are founded on nothing but 
rhetoric and small allegiance to any genuine good. 
When we attain perfection of function we lose 
consciousness of the medium, to become more 



230 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

clearly conscious of the result. The eye that does 
its duty gives no report of itself and has no sense 
of muscular tension or weariness; but it gives all 
the brighter and steadier image of the object seen. 
Consciousness is not lost when focussed, and the 
labour of vision is abolished in its fruition. So the 
musician, could he play so divinely as to be un 
conscious of his body, his instrument, and the very 
lapse of time, would be only the more absorbed in 
the harmony, more completely master of its uni 
ties and beauty. At such moments the body s 
long labour at last brings "forth the soul. Life 
from its inception is simply some partial natural 
harmony raising its voice and bearing witness to 
its own existence; to_^ej:j^ct~liiatJiarnioiiy is to 
round out and intensify that life. This is the 
very secret of power, of joy, of intelligence. Not 
to have understood it is to have passed through 
life without understanding anything. 

The analogy extends to morals, where also the 
means may be advantageously forgotten when the 
end has been secured. That leisure to which work 
is directed and that perfection in which virtue 
would be fulfilled are so far from being apathetic 
that they are states of pure activity, by containing 
which other acts are rescued from utter passivity 
and unconsciousness. Impure feeling ranges 
between two extremes : absolute want and com 
plete satisfaction. The former limit is reached 
in anguish, madness, or the agony of death, when 
the accidental flux of things in contradiction has 



71 



HOW THOUGHT IS PKACTICAL 231 

reached its maximum or vanishing point, so that 
the contradiction and the flux themselves disappear 
by diremption. Such feeling denotes inward dis 
organisation and a hopeless conflict of reflex 
actions tending toward dissolution. The second 
limit is reached in contemplation, when anything 
is loved, understood, or enjoyed. SyiiUmliu power 
is then at its height ; the mind can survey its ex 
perience and correlate all the motions it suggests. 
Power in the mind is exactly proportionate to 
representative scope, and representative scope to 
rational activity. A steady vision of all things 
in their true order and worth (results from per 
fection of f unction and is its index ; it secures the 
greatest distinctness in thought together with the 
greatest decision, wisdom, and ease in action, as 
the lightning is brilliant and quick. It also 
secures, so far as human energies avail, its own 
perpetuity, since what is perfectly adjusted within 
and without lasts long and goes far. 
inchoate ethics. To confuse means with ends and 
mistake disorder for vitality is not unnatural to 
minds that hear the hum of mighty workings but 
can imagine neither the cause nor the fruits of 
that portentous commotion. All functions, in 
such chaotic lives, seem instrumental functions. 
It is then supposed that what serves no further 
purpose can have no value, and that he who 
suffers no offuscation can have no feeling and 
no life. To attain an ideal seems to destroy 
its worth. Moral life, at that low level, is a 



232 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

fantastic game only, not having come in sight 
of humane and liberal interests. The barba 
rian s intensity is without seriousness and his 
passion without joy. His philosophy, which 
means to glorify all experience and to digest 
all vice, is in truth an expression of pathetic in 
nocence. It betrays a rudimentary impulse to fol 
low every beckoning hand, to assume that no ad 
venture and no bewitchment can be anything but 
glorious. Such an attitude is intelligible in one 
who has never seen anything worth seeing nor 
loved anything worth loving. Immaturity could 
go no farther than to acknowledge no limits de 
fining will and happiness. When such limits, 
however, are gradually discovered and an authori 
tative ideal is born of the marriage of human 
nature with experience, happiness becomes at once 
definite and attainable; for adjustment is pos 
sible to a world that has a fruitful and intelligible 
structure. 

Such incoherences, which might well arise in 
ages without traditions, may be preserved and fos 
tered by superstition. Perpetual servile employ 
ments and subjection to an irrational society may 
render people incapable even of conceiving a lib 
eral life. They may come to think their happi 
ness no longer separable from their misery and 
to fear the large emptiness, as they deem it, of a 
happy world. Like the prisoner of Chillon, after 
so long a captivity, they would regain their free 
dom with a sigh. The wholesome influences of 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 233 

nature, "however., would soon revive their wills, 
contorted by unnatural oppression, and a vision 
of perfection would arise within them upon breath 
ing a purer air. Freedom and perfection are 
synonymous with life. The peace they bring is one 

whose names are also rapture, power, 
Clear sight, and love; for these are parts of peace. 

Thou ht the Thought belongs to the sphere of 
enteiechy ultimate results. What, indeed, could 
of being. ke more fitting than that conscious 
ness, which is self -revealing and transcendentally 
primary, should be its own excuse for being and 
should contain its own total value, together with 
the total value of everything else? What could 
be more proper than that the whole worth of ideas 
should be ideal? To make an idea instrumental 
would be to prostitute what, being self-existent, 
should be self-justifying. That continual abso 
luteness which consciousness possesses, since in it 
alone all heaven and earth are at any moment re 
vealed, ought to convince any radical and heart- 
searching philosopher that all values should be 
continually integrated and realised there, where 
all energies are being momently focussed. 
Thought is a fulfilment; its function is to lend 
utility to its causes and to make actual those con 
ceived and subterranean processes which find in 
it their ultimate expression. Thought is nature 
represented; it is, potential energy producing life 
and becoming an actual appearance. 



234 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

The conditions of consciousness, however, are 
far from being its only theme. As consciousness 
its exuberance, bears a transcendent relation to the 
dynamic world (for it is actual and spiritual, 
while the dynamic is potential and material) so 
it may be exuberant and irresponsibly rich. 
Although its elements, in point of distribution and 
derivation, are grounded in matter, as music is 
in vibrations, yet in point of character the result 
may be infinitely redundant. The complete musi 
cian would devote but a small part of his attention 
to the basis of music, its mechanism, psychology, 
or history. Long before he had represented to his 
mind the causes of his art, he would have pro 
ceeded to practise and enjoy it. So sense and im 
agination, passion and reason, may enrich the soil 
that breeds them and cover it with a maze of 
flowers. 

The theme of consciousness is accordingly far 
more than the material world which constitutes 
its basis, though this also is one of its themes; 
thought is no less at home in various expres 
sions and embroideries with which the material 
world can be overlaid in imagination. The mate 
rial world is conceived by digging beneath experi 
ence to find its cause ; it is the efficacious structure 
and skeleton of things. This is the subject of 
scientific retrospect and calculation. The forces 
disclosed by physical studies are of course not 
directed to producing a mind that might merely 
describe them. A force is expressed in many other 



HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL 235 

ways than by being defined; it may be felt, re 
sisted, embodied, transformed, or symbolised. 
Forces work ; they are not, like mathematical con 
cepts, exhausted in description. From that mat 
ter which might be describable in mechanical 
formulae there issue notwithstanding all manner 
of forms and harmonies, visible, audible, imagin 
able, and passionately prized. Every phase of the 
ideal world emanates from the natural and loudly 
proclaims its origin by the interest it takes in 
natural existences, of which it gives a rational in 
terpretation. Sense, art, religion, society, express 
nature exuberantly and in symbols long before 
science is added to represent, by a different ab 
straction, the mechanism which nature contains. 



CHAPTER X 

THE MEASURE OF VALUES IN REFLECTION 

Honesty in To put value in pleasure and pain, 

hedonism. regarding a given quantity of pain 
as balancing a given quantity of pleasure, is to 
bring to practical ethics a worthy intention to be 
clear and, what is more precious, an undoubted 
honesty not always found in those moralists who 
maintain the opposite opinion and care more for 
edification than for truth. For in spite of all 
logical and psychological scruples, conduct that 
should not justify itself somehow by the satisfac 
tions secured and the pains avoided would not 
justify itself at all. The most instinctive and 
unavoidable desire is forthwith chilled if you dis 
cover that its ultimate end is to be a preponder 
ance of suffering; and what arrests this desire is 
not fear or weakness but conscience in its most 
categorical and sacred guise. Who would not be 
ashamed to acknowledge or to propose so inhuman 
an action? 

By sad experience rooted impulses may be 
transformed or even obliterated. And quite intel 
ligibly: for the idea of pain is already the sign 
and the beginning of a certain stoppage. To 
236 



MEASURE OF VALUES 237 

imagine failure is to interpret ideally a felt in 
hibition. To prophesy a check would be impos 
sible but for an incipient movement already meet 
ing an incipient arrest. Intensified, this prophecy 
becomes its own fulfilment and totally inhibits 
the opposed tendency. Therefore a mind that 
foresees pain to be the ultimate result of action 
cannot continue unreservedly to act, seeing that 
its foresight is the conscious transcript of a recoil 
already occurring. Conversely, the mind that 
surrenders itself wholly to any impulse must think 
that its execution would be delightful. A per 
fectly wise and representative will, therefore, 
would aim only at what, in its attainment, could 
continue to be aimed at and approved; and this 
is another way of saying that its aim would secure 
the maximum of satisfaction eventually possible. 
Necessary I n spite, however, of this involution 

qualifications. O f p a in and pleasure in all deliberate 
forecast and volition, pain and pleasure are not 
the ultimate sources of value. A correct psychol 
ogy and logic cannot allow that an eventual and, 
in strictness, unpresentable feeling, can determine 
any act or volition, but must insist that, on the 
contrary, all beliefs about future experience, with 
all premonition of its emotional quality, is based 
on actual impulse and feeling; so that the source 
of value is nothing but the inner fountain of life 
and imagination, and the object of pursuit noth 
ing but the ideal object, counterpart of the pres 
ent demand. Abstract satisfaction is not pursued, 



238 THE LIFE OF REASON 

but., if the will and the environment are constant, 
satisfaction will necessarily be felt in achieving 
the object desired. A rejection of hedonistic 
psychology, therefore, by no means involves any 
opposition to eudaemonism in ethics. Euda3mon- 
ism is another name for wisdom : there is no other 
moral morality. Any system that, for some sinis 
ter reason, should absolve itself from good-will 
toward all creatures, and make it somehow a duty 
to secure their misery, would be clearly disloyal 
to reason, humanity, and justice. Nor would it 
be hard, in that case, to point out what supersti 
tion, what fantastic obsession, or what private fury, 
had made those persons blind to prudence and 
kindness in so plain a matter. Happiness is the 
only sanction of life; where happiness fails, ex 
istence remains a mad and lamentable experiment. 
The question, however, what happiness shall con 
sist in, its complexion if it should once arise, can 
only be determined by reference to natural de 
mands and capacities; so that while satisfaction 
by the attainment of ends can alone justify their 
pursuit, this pursuit itself must exist first and be 
spontaneous, thereby fixing the goals of endeavour 
and distinguishing the states in which satisfaction 
might be found.. Natural disposition, therefore, 
is the principle of preference and makes morality 
and happiness possible. 

The win must The standard of value, like every 
judge. standard, must be one. Pleasures and 

pains are not only infinitely diverse but, even if 



MEASURE OF VALUES 239 

reduced to their total bulk and abstract opposi 
tion, they remain two. Their values must be 
compared, and obviously neither one can be the 
standard by which to judge the other. This 
standard is an ideal involved in the judgment 
passed, whatever that judgment may be. Thus 
when Petrarch says that a thousand pleasures 
are not worth one pain, he establishes an ideal 
of value deeper than either pleasure or pain, an 
ideal which makes a life of satisfaction marred by 
a single pang an offence and a horror to his soul. 
If our demand for rationality is less acute and 
the miscellaneous affirmations of the will carry us 
along with a well-fed indifference to some single 
tragedy within us, we may aver that a single pang 
is only the thousandth part of a thousand pleas 
ures and that a life so balanced is nine hundred 
and ninety-nine times better than nothing. This 
judgment, for all its air of mathematical calcu 
lation, in truth expresses a choice as irrational as 
Petrarch s. It merely means that, as a matter of 
fact, the mixed prospect presented to us attracts 
our wills and attracts them vehemently. So that 
the only possible criterion for the relative values, 
of pains and pleasures is the will that chooses 
among them or Rmong combinations of them ; nor 
can the intensity of pleasures and pains, apart 
from the physical violence of their expression, be 
judged by any other standard than by the power 
they have, when represented, to control the will s 
movement. 



240 THE LIFE OF EEASON 



Here we come upon one of those 

Injustice 

inherent in initial irrationalities in the world 



representation. wMch theories O f all sorts? gince they 

are attempts to find rationality in things, are in 
serious danger of overlooking. In estimating the 
value of any experience, our endeavour, our pre 
tension, is to weigh the value which that experi 
ence possesses when it is actual. But to weigh 
is to compare, and to compare is to represent, since 
the transcendental isolation and self-sufficiency of 
actual experience precludes its lying side by side 
with another datum, like two objects given in 
a single consciousness. Successive values, to be 
compared, must be represented ; but the conditions 
of representation are such that they rob objects 
of the values they had at their first appearance 
to substitute the values they possess at their re 
currence. For representation mirrors conscious 
ness only by mirroring its objects, and the emo 
tional reaction upon those objects cannot be 
represented directly, but is approached by indirect 
methods, through an imitation or assimilation of 
will to will and emotion to emotion. Only by the 
instrumentality of signs, like gesture or language, 
can we bring ourselves to reproduce in some meas 
ure an absent experience and to feel some premoni 
tion of its absolute value. Apart from very elab 
orate and cumulative suggestions to the contrary, 
we should always attribute to an event in every 
other experience the value which its image now 
had in our own. But in that case the pathetic 



MEASUKE OF VALUES 241 

fallacy would be present; for a volitional reaction 
upon an idea in one vital context is no index to 
what the volitional reaction would be in another 
vital context upon the situation which that idea 
represents. 

jEsthetic and ^^ s divergence falsifies all repre- 
specuiative sentation of life and renders it initially 
cruelty. cruel, sentimental, and mythical. We 

dislike to trample on a flower, because its form 
makes a kind of blossoming in our own fancy 
which we call beauty; but we laugh at pangs we 
endured in childhood and feel no tremor at the 
incalculable sufferings of all mankind beyond our 
horizon, because no imitable image is involved to 
start a contrite thrill in our own bosom. The 
same cruelty appears in aesthetic pleasures, in 
lust, war, and ambition; in the illusions of desire 
and memory; in the uns}^mpathetic quality of 
theory everywhere, which regards the uniformi 
ties of cause and effect and the beauties of law 
as a justification for the inherent evils in the ex 
perience described; in the unjust judgments, 
finally, of mystical optimism, that sinks so com 
pletely into its subjective commotion as to mistake 
the suspension of all discriminating and represen 
tative faculties for a true union in things, and 
the blur of its own ecstasy for a universal glory. 
These pleasures are all on the sensuous plane, the 
plane of levity and unintentional wickedness; but 
in their own sphere they have their own value. 
Esthetic and speculative emotions make an im- 
VOL. L 16 



242 THE LIFE OF REASON 

portant contribution to the total worth of exist 
ence, but they do not abolish the evils of that ex 
perience on which they reflect with such ruthless 
satisfaction. The satisfaction is due to a private 
flood of emotion submerging the images present in 
fancy, or to the exercise of a new intellectual func 
tion, like that of abstraction, synthesis, or com 
parison. Such a faculty, when fully developed, 
is capable of yielding pleasures as intense and 
voluminous as those proper to rudimentary ani 
mal functions,, wrongly supposed to be more vital. 
The acme of vitality lies in truth in the most 
comprehensive and penetrating thought. The 
rhythms, the sweep, the impetuosity of impassioned 
contemplation not only contain in themselves a 
great vitality and potency, but they often succeed 
in engaging the lower functions in a sympathetic 
vibration, and we see the whole body and soul rapt, 
as we say, and borne along by the harmonies of 
imagination and thought. In these fugitive 
moments of intoxication the detail of truth is sub 
merged and forgotten. < The emotions which 
would be suggested by tlie parts are replaced by 
the rapid emotion of transition between them ; and 
this exhilaration in survey, this mountain-top ex 
perience, is supposed to be also the truest vision 
of reality. Absorption in a supervening function 
is mistaken for comprehension of all fact, and this 
inevitably, since all consciousness of particular 
facts and of their values is then submerged in the 
torrent of cerebral excitement. 



MEASUKE OF VALUES 243 

That luminous blindness which in 

Imputed 

values: their these cases takes an extreme form is 
inconstancy. pre g en t j n principle throughout all re 
flection. We tend to regard our own past as good 
only when we still find some value in the memory 
of it. Last year, last week,, even the feelings of 
the last five minutes, are not otherwise prized than 
by the pleasure we may still have in recalling 
them; the pulsations of pleasure or pain which 
they contained we do not even seek to remember 
or to discriminate. The period is called happy or 
unhappy merely as its ideal representation exer 
cises fascination or repulsion over the present will. 
Hence the revulsion after physical indulgence, 
often most violent when the pleasure judged by 
its concomitant expression and by the desire that 
heralded it was most intense. For the strongest 
passions are intermittent, so that the unspeakable 
charm which their objects possess for a moment is 
lost immediately and becomes unintelligible to a 
chilled and cheated reflection. The situation, 
when iyet unrealised, irresistibly solicited the will 
and seemed to promise incomparable ecstasy; and 
perhaps it yields an indescribable moment of ex 
citement and triumph a moment only half-appro 
priated into waking experience, so fleeting is it, 
and so unfit the mind to possess or retain its 
tenser attitudes. The same situation, if revived 
in memory when the system is in an opposite 
and relaxed state, forfeits all power to attract 
and fills the mind rather with aversion and dis- 



244 THE LIFE OF REASON 

gust. For all violent pleasures, as Shakespeare 
says, are cruel and not to be trusted. 

A bliss in proof and, proved, a very woe : 
Before, a joy proposed ; behind, a dream . . . 
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight; 
Past reason hunted and, no sooner had, 
Past reason hated. C 0Vrv^?f* / Z f . 

Methods of P as t reason, indeed. For although 
control. an impulsive injustice is inherent in 

the very nature of representation and cannot be 
overcome altogether, yet reason, by attending to 
all the evidences that can be gathered and by con 
fronting the first pronouncement by others fetched 
from every quarter of experience, has power to 
minimise the error and reach a practically just 
estimate of absent values . This achieved right- 
ness can be tested by comparing two experiences, 
each when it is present, with the same conventional 
permanent object chosen to be their expression. 
A love-song, for instance, can be pronounced ade 
quate or false by various lovers; and it can thus 
remain a sort of index to the fleeting sentiments 
once confronted with it. Eeason has, to be sure, 
no independent method of discovering values. 
They must be rated- as the sensitive balance of 
present inclination, when completely laden, shows 
them to stand. In estimating values reason is 
reduced to data furnished by the mechanical proc 
esses of ideation and instinct, as in framing all 
knowledge; an absent joy can only be represented 
by a tinge of emotion dyeing an image that pictures 



MEASURE OF VALUES 245 

.the situation in which the joy was felt; but the 
suggested value being once projected into the 
potential world, that land of inferred being, this 
projection may be controlled and corroborated by 
other suggestions and associations relevant to it, 
which it is the function of reason to collect and 
compare. A right estimate of absent values must 
be conventional and mediated by signs. Direct 
sympathies, which suffice for instinctive present 
co-operation, fail to transmit alien or opposite 
pleasures. They over-emphasise momentary rela 
tions, while they necessarily ignore permanent 
bonds. Therefore the same intellect that puts a 
mechanical reality behind perception must put a 
moral reality behind sympathy. 
Example of Fame, for example, is a good; its 
fame. value arises from a certain movement 

of will and emotion which is elicited by the 
thought that one s name might be associated with 
great deeds and with the memory of them. The 
glow of this thought bathes the object it describes, 
so that fame is felt to have a value quite distinct 
from that which the expectation of fame may have 
in the present moment. Should this expectation 
be foolish and destined to prove false, it would 
have no value, and be indeed the more ludicrous 
and repulsive the more pleasure its dupe took in 
it, and the longer his illusion lasted. The heart 
is resolutely set on its object and despises its own 
phenomena, not reflecting that its emotions have 
first revealed that object s worth and alone can 



246 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

maintain it. For if a man cares nothing for 
fame,, what value has it? ! 

This projection of interest into excellence 
takes place mechanically and is in the first 
instance irrational. Did all glow die out from 
memory and expectation,, the events represented 
remaining unchanged, we should be incapable 
of assigning any value to those events, just 
as, if eyes were lacking, we should be in 
capable of assigning colour to the world, which 
would, notwithstanding, remain as it is at pres 
ent. So fame could never be regarded as a good 
if the idea of fame gave no pleasure; yet now, 
because the idea pleases, the reality is regarded as 
a good, absolute and intrinsic. This moral hypos- 
tasis involved in the love of fame could never be 
rationalised, but would subsist unmitigated or die 
out unobserved, were it not associated with other 
conceptions and other habits of estimating values. 
For the passions are humanised only by being 
juxtaposed and forced to live together. As fame 
is not man s only goal and the realisation of it 
comes into manifold relations with other interests 
no less vivid, we are able to criticise the impulse 
to pursue it. 

Fame may be the consequence of benefits con 
ferred upon mankind. In that case the ab 
stract desire for fame would be reinforced and, 
as it were, justified by its congruity with the 
more voluminous and stable desire to benefit our 
fellow-men. Or, again, the achievements which 



MEASURE OF VALUES 247 

insure fame and the genius that wins it probably 
involve a high degree of vitality and many pro 
found inward satisfactions to the man <?f genius 
himself; so that again the abstract love of fame 
would be reinforced by the independent and more 
rational desire for a noble and comprehensive ex 
perience. On the other hand, the minds of pos 
terity, whose homage is craved by the ambitious 
man, will probably have very false conceptions of 
his thoughts and purposes. What they will call 
by his name will be, in a great measure, a fiction 
of their own fancy and not his portrait at all. 
Would Caesar recognise himself in the current 
notions of him, drawn from some school-history, 
or perhaps from Shakespeare s satirical portrait? 
Would Christ recognise himself upon our altars, 
or in the romances about him constructed by im 
aginative critics ? And not only is remote experi 
ence thus hopelessly lost and misrepresented, but 
even this nominal memorial ultimately disappears. 
The love of fame, if tempered by these and simi 
lar considerations, would tend to take a place in 
man s ideal such as its roots in human nature and 
its functions in human progress might seem to 
justify. It would be rationalised in the only 
sense in which any primary desire can be rational 
ised, namely, by being combined with all others 
in a consistent whole. How much of it would sur 
vive a thorough sifting and criticism, may well 
remain in doubt. The result would naturally dif 
fer for different temperaments and in different 



248 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

states of society. The wisest men, perhaps, while 
they would continue to feel some love of honour 
and some interest in their image in other minds, 
would yet wish that posterity might praise them 
as Sallust praises Cato by saying: Esse quam 
videri bonus maluit; he preferred worth to repu 
tation. 

The fact that value is attributed to 

Disproportion 
ate interest in absent experience according to the 
the aesthetic. va j ue experience has in representation 
appears again in one of the most curious anoma 
lies in human life the exorbitant interest which 
thought and reflection take in the form of experi 
ence and the slight account they make of its in 
tensity or volume. Sea-sickness and child-birth 
when they are over, the pangs of despised love 
when that love is finally forgotten or requited, the 
travail of sin when once salvation is assured, all 
melt away and dissolve like a morning mist leav 
ing a clear sky without a vestige of sorrow. So 
also with merely remembered and not reproduc 
ible pleasures; the buoyancy of youth, when ab 
surdity is not yet tedious, the rapture of sport 
or passion, the immense peace found in a mysti 
cal surrender to the universal, all these generous 
ardours count for nothing when they are once gone. 
The memory of them cannot cure a fit of the blues 
nor raise an irritable mortal above some petty 
act of malice or vengeance, or reconcile him to 
foul weather. An ode of Horace, on the other 
hand, a scientific monograph, or a well-written 



MEASURE OF VALUES 249 

page of music is a better antidote to melancholy 
than thinking on all the happiness which one s 
own life or that of the universe may ever have 
contained. Why should overwhelming masses of 
suffering and joy affect imagination so little while 
it responds sympathetically to aesthetic and intel 
lectual irritants of very slight intensity, objects 
that, it must be confessed, are of almost no impor 
tance to the welfare of mankind ? Why should we 
be so easily awed by artistic genius and exalt men 
whose works we know only by name, perhaps, and 
whose influence upon society has been infinitesimal, 
like a Pindar or a Leonardo, while we regard great 
merchants and inventors as ignoble creatures in 
comparison ? Why should we smile at the inscrip 
tion in Westminster Abbey which calls the inventor 
of the spinning-jenny one of the true benefactors 
of mankind? Is it not probable, on the whole, 
that he has had a greater and less equivocal in 
fluence on human happiness than Shakespeare 
with all his plays and sonnets? But the cheap 
ness of cotton cloth produces no particularly de 
lightful image in the fancy to be compared with , 
Hamlet or Imogen. There is a prodigious selfish- ! 
ness in dreams: they live perfectly deaf and in 
vulnerable amid the cries of the real world. 

The same aesthetic bias appears in the moral 
sphere. Utilitarians have attempted to show that 
the human conscience commends precisely those 
actions which tend to secure general happiness 
and that the notions of justice and virtue pre- 



250 THE LIFE OF REASON 

vailing in any age vary with its social economy 
and the prizes it is able to attain. And, if due 
allowance is made for the complexity of the sub 
ject, we may reasonably admit that the precepts 
of obligatory morality bear this relation to the 
general welfare; thus virtue means courage in a 
soldier, probity in a merchant, and chastity in a 
woman. But if we turn from the morality re 
quired of all to the type regarded as perfect and 
ideal, we find no such correspondence to the bene 
fits involved. The selfish imagination intervenes 
here and attributes an absolute and irrational value 
to those figures that entertain it with the most 
irrational absorbing and dreamful emotions, 
religious The character of Christ, for instance, 
allegiance. which e ven the least orthodox among 
us are in the habit of holding up as a perfect 
model, is not the character of a benefactor but of 
a martyr, a spirit from a higher world lacerated 
in its passage through this uncomprehending and 
perverse existence, healing and forgiving out of 
sheer compassion, sustained by his inner affinities 
to the supernatural, and absolutely disenchanted 
with all earthly or political goods. Christ did not 
suffer, like Prometheus, for having bestowed or 
wished to bestow any earthly blessing: the only 
blessing he bequeathed was the image of himself 
upon the cross, whereby men might be comforted 
in their own sorrows, rebuked in their worldliness. 
driven to put their trust in the supernatural, and 
united, by their common indifference to the world, 



MEASURE OF VALUES 251 

in one mystic brotherhood. As men learned these 
lessons, or were inwardly ready to learn them, 
they recognised more and more clearly in Jesus 
their heaven-sent redeemer, and in following their 
own conscience and desperate idealism into the 
desert or the cloister, in ignoring all civic virtues 
and allowing the wealth, art, and knowledge of 
the pagan world to decay, they began what they 
felt to be an imitation of Christ. 

All natural impulses, all natural ideals, subsisted 
of course beneath this theoretic asceticism, writhed 
under its unearthly control, and broke out in fre 
quent violent irruptions against it in the life of 
each man as well as in the course of history. Yet 
the image of Christ remained in men s hearts and 
retained its marvellous authority, so that even now, 
when so many who call themselves Christians, be 
ing pure children of nature, are without the least 
understanding of what Christianity came to do in 
the world, they still offer his person and words a 
sincere if inarticulate worship, trying to transform 
that sacrificial and crucified spirit, as much as 
their bungling fancy can, into a patron of Philis- 
tia Felix. Why this persistent adoration of a char 
acter that is the extreme negation of all that these 
good souls inwardly value and outwardly pursue? 
Because the image of Christ and the associations 
of his religion, apart from their original import, 
remain rooted in the mind : they remain the focus 
for such wayward emotions and mystic intuitions 
as their magnetism can still attract, and the value 



252 THE LIFE OF REASON 

which this hallowed compound possesses in repre 
sentation is transferred to its nominal object, and 
Christ is the conventional name for all the im 
pulses of religion, no matter how opposite to the 
Christian. 

Symbols, when their significance has been great, 
outlive their first significance. The image of 
Christ was a last refuge to the world; it was 
a consolation and a new ground for hope, from 
which no misfortune could drive the worship 
per. Its value as an idea was therefore im 
mense, as to the lover the idea of his untasted 
joys, or to the dying man the idea of health and 
invigorating sunshine. The votary can no more 
pathetic as ^ himself whether his deity, in its 
idealizations, total operation, has really blessed him 
and deserved his praise than the lover can ask if 
his lady is worth pursuing or the expiring crip 
ple whether it would be, in very truth, a benefit 
to be once more young and whole. That life is 
worth living is the most necessary of assumptions 
and, were it not assumed, the most impossible of 
conclusions. Experience, by its passive weight of 
joy and sorrow, can neither inspire nor prevent 
enthusiasm ; only a present ideal will avail to move 
the will and, if realised, to justify it. A saint s 
halo is an optical illusion; it glorifies his actions 
whatever their eventual influence in the world, 
because they seem to have, when rehearsed dramat 
ically, some tenderness or rapture or miracle about 
them. 



MEASURE OF VALUES 253 

Thus it appears that the great figures of art or 
religion, together with all historic and imaginative 
ideals, advance insensibly on the values they rep 
resent. The image has more lustre than the orig 
inal, and is often the more important and influen 
tial fact. Things are esteemed as they weigh in 
representation. A memorable thing, people say in 
their eulogies, little thinking to touch the ground 
of their praise. For things are called great 
because they are memorable, they are not remem 
bered because they were great. The deepest 
pangs, the highest joys, the widest influences are 
lost to apperception in its haste, and if in some 
rational moment reconstructed and acknowledged, 
are soon forgotten again and cut off from living 
consideration. But the emptiest experience, even 
the most pernicious tendency, if embodied in a 
picturesque image, if reverberating in the mind 
with a pleasant echo, is idolised and enshrined. 
Fortunate indeed was Achilles that Homer sang 
of him, and fortunate the poets that make a pub 
lic titillation out of their sorrows and ignorance. 
This imputed and posthumous fortune is the 
only happiness they have. The favours of memory 
are extended to those feeble realities and denied 
to the massive substance of daily experience. 
When life dies, when what was present becomes a 
memory, its ghost flits still among the living, 
feared or worshipped not for the experience it 
once possessed but for the aspect it now wears. 
Yet this injustice in representation, speculatively 



254 THE LIFE OF REASON 

so offensive, is practically excusable; for it is in 
one sense right and useful that all things, what 
ever their original or inherent dignity, should be 
valued at each moment only by their present func 
tion and utility. 

inevitable im ^ e error involved in attributing 
puisiveness in value to the past is naturally aggra- 
prophecy. V ated when values are to be assigned 
to the future. In the latter case imagination can 
not be controlled by circumstantial evidence, and 
is consequently the only basis for judgment. But 
as the conception of a thing naturally evokes an 
emotion different from that involved in its pres 
ence, ideals of what is desirable for the future con 
tain no warrant that the experience desired would, 
when actual, prove to be acceptable and good. An 
ideal carries no extrinsic assurance that its realisa 
tion would be a benefit. To convince ourselves 
that an ideal has* rational authority and repre 
sents a better experience than the actual condition 
it is contrasted with, we must control the prophetic 
image by as many circumlocutions as possible. 
T , As in the case of fame, we must but- 

ine test a 

controlled tress or modify our spontaneous judg- 

present ideal. ment ^^ flU the other j u( j gments t h at 

the object envisaged can prompt: we must make 
our ideal harmonise with all experience rather 
than with a part only. The possible error re 
mains even then ; but a practical mind will always 
accept the risk of error when it has made every 
possible correction. A rational will is not a will 



MEASURE OF VALUES 255 

that has reason for its basis or that possesses any 
other proof that its realisation would be possible 
or good than the oracle which a living will inspires 
and pronounces. The rationality possible to the 
will lies not in its source but in its method. An 
ideal cannot wait for its realisation to prove its 
validity. To deserve adhesion it needs only to be / 
adequate as an ideal, that is, to express com- / 
pletely what the soul at present demands, and to 
do justice to all extant interests. 



CHAPTER XI 

SOME ABSTRACT CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 



The ultimate Reason s function is to embody the 
enda good, but the test of excellence is itself 

resultant, 

ideal; therefore before we can assure 
ourselves that reason has been manifested in any 
given case we must make out the reasonableness 
of the ideal that inspires us. And in general, 
before we can convince ourselves that a Life of 
Reason, or practice guided by science and directed 
toward spiritual goods, is at all worth having, we 
must make out the possibility and character of 
its ultimate end. Yet each ideal is its own justi 
fication; so that the only sense in which an ulti 
mate end can be established and become a test of 
general progress is this: that a harmony and co 
operation of impulses should be conceived, leading 
to the maximum satisfaction possible in the whole 
community of spirits affected by our action. 
Now, without considering for the present any con 
crete Utopia, such, for instance, as Plato s Repub 
lic or the heavenly beatitude described by theo 
logians, we may inquire what formal qualities are 
imposed on the ideal by its nature and function 

256 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 257 

and by the relation it bears to experience and to 
desire. 

Demands the The ideal h&S the Same Delation to 

substance of given demands that the reality has to 
given perceptions. In the face of the 
ideal, particular demands forfeit their authority 
and the goods to which a particular being may 
aspire cease to be absolute; nay, the satisfaction 
of desire comes to appear an indifferent or unholy 
thing when compared or opposed to the ideal to 
be realised. So, precisely, in perception, flying 
impressions come to be regarded as illusory when 
contrasted with a stable conception of reality. 
Yet of course flying impressions are the only 
material out of which that conception can be 
formed. Life itself is a flying impression, and 
had we no personal and instant experience, impor 
tuning us at each successive moment, we should 
have no occasion to ask for a reality at all, and 
no materials out of which to construct so gratui 
tous an idea. In the same way present demands 
are the only materials and occasions for any ideal : 
without demands the ideal would have no locus 
standi or foothold in the world, no power, no 
charm, and no prerogative. If the ideal can con 
front particular desires and put them to shame, 
that happens only because the ideal is the object 
of a more profound and voluminous desire and 
embodies the good which they blindly and per 
haps deviously pursue. Demands could not be 
misdirected, goods sought could not be false, if 
VOL. L 17 



258 THE LIFE OF REASON 

the standard by which they are to be corrected 
were not constructed out of them. Otherwise 
each demand would render its object a detached, 
absolute, and unimpeachable good. But when 
each desire in turn has singed its wings and re 
tired before some disillusion, reflection may set 
in to suggest residual satisfactions that may still 
be possible, or some shifting of the ground by 
which much of what was hoped for may yet be 
attained. 

The force for this new trial is but the old 
impulse renewed; this new hope is a justified 
remnant of the old optimism. Each passion, in 
this second campaign, takes the field conscious that 
it has indomitable enemies and ready to sign a 
reasonable peace, and even to capitulate before 
superior forces. Such tameness may be at first 
merely a consequence of exhaustion and prudence ; 
but a mortal will, though absolute in its deliver 
ances, is very far from constant, and its sacrifices 
soon constitute a habit, its exile a new home. 
The old ambition, now proved to be unrealisable, 
begins to seem capricious and extravagant; the 
circle of possible satisfactions becomes the field of 
Discipline of conventional happiness. Experience, 
the will. which brings about this humbler and 

more prosaic state of mind, has its own imagina 
tive fruits. Among those forces which compelled 
each particular impulse to abate its pretensions, 
the most conspicuous were other impulses, other 
interests active in oneself and in one s neighbours. 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 259 

When the power of these alien demands is recog 
nised they begin, in a physical way, to be re 
spected; when an adjustment to them is sought 
they begin to be understood, for it is only by 
studying their expression and tendency that the 
degree of their hostility can be measured. But to 
understand is more than to forgive, it is to adopt ; 
and the passion that thought merely to withdraw 
into a sullen and maimed self-indulgence can feel 
itself expanded by sympathies which in its pri 
mal vehemence it would have excluded altogether. 
Experience, in bringing humility, brings intelli 
gence also. Personal interests begin to seem rela 
tive, factors only in a general voluminous welfare 
expressed in many common institutions and arts, 
moulds for whatever is communicable or rational 
in every passion. Each original impulse, when 
. trimmed down more or less according 

Demands made 

practical and to its degree of savageness, can then 
consistent. inhabit the state, and every good, when 
sufficiently transfigured, can be found again in the 
general ideal. The factors may indeed often be 
unrecognisable in the result, so much does the 
process of domestication transform them; but the 
interests that animated them survive this disci 
pline and the new purpose is really esteemed ; else 
the ideal would have no moral force. An ideal 
representing no living interest would be irrelevant 
to practice, just as a conception of reality would 
be irrelevant to perception which should not be 
composed of the materials that sense supplies, or 



260 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

should not re-embody actual sensations in an intel 
ligible system. 

The ideal Here we "have, then, one condition 

natural. which the ideal must fulfil : it must be 
a resultant or synthesis of impulses already afoot. 
An ideal out of relation to the actual demands of 
living beings is so far from being an ideal that it 
is not even a good. The pursuit of it would be 
not the acme but the atrophy of moral endeavour. 
Mysticism and asceticism run into this danger, 
when the intent to be faithful to a supreme good 
too symbolically presented breeds a superstitious 
repugnance toward everything naturally prized. 
So also an artificial scepticism can regard all ex 
perience as deceptive, by contrasting it with the 
chimera of an absolute reality. As an absolute 
reality would be indescribable asd without a func 
tion in the elucidation of phenomena, so a supreme 
good which was good for nobody would be without 
conceivable value. Respect for such an idol is a 
dialectical superstition; and if zeal for that shib 
boleth should actually begin to inhibit the exercise 
of intelligent choice or the development of appre 
ciation for natural pleasures, it _would constitute 
a reversal of the Life of Reason which, if persist 
ently indulged in, could only issue in madness or 
revert to imbecility. 

Need of unity No l ess important, however, than 
and finality, this basis which the ideal must have 
in extant demands, is the harmony with which 
reason must endow it. If without the one the 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 261 

ideal loses its value, without the other it loses its 
finality. Human nature is fluid and imperfect; 
its demands are expressed in incidental desires, 
elicited by a variety of objects which perhaps can 
not coexist in the world. If we merely trans 
cribe these miscellaneous demands or allow these 
floating desires to dictate to us the elements of the 
ideal-, we shall never come to a Whole or to an 
End. One new fancy after another will seem an 
embodiment of perfection, and we shall contradict 
each expression of our ideal by every other. A 
ideals of certain school of philosophy if we 
nothing. m ay give that name to the systematic 

neglect of reason has so immersed itself in the 
contemplation of this sort of inconstancy, which is 
indeed prevalent enough in the world, that it has 
mistaken it for a normal and necessary process. 
The greatness of the ideal has been put in its 
vagueness and in an elasticity which makes it 
wholly indeterminate and inconsistent. The goal 
of progress, beside being thus made to lie at every 
point of the compass in succession, is removed to 
an infinite distance, whereby the possibility of at 
taining it is denied and progress itself is made 
illusory. For a progress must be directed to at 
taining some definite type of life, the counterpart 
of a given natural endowment, and nothing can 
be called an improvement which does not contain 
an appreciable benefit. A victory would be a 
mockery that left us, for some new reason, as much 
impeded as before and as far removed from peace. 



262 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

The picture of life as an eternal war for illusory 
ends was drawn at first by satirists, unhappily with 
too much justification in the facts. Some grosser 
minds, too undisciplined to have ever pursued a 
good either truly attainable or truly satisfactory, 
then proceeded to mistake that satire on human 
folly for a sober account of the whole universe; 
and finally others were not ashamed to "represent 
it as the ideal itself so soon is the dyer s hand 
subdued to what it works in. A barbarous mind 
cannot conceive life, like health, as a harmony 
continually preserved or restored, and containing 
those natural and ideal activities which disease 
merely interrupts. Such a mind, never having 
tasted order, cannot conceive it, and identifies 
progress with new conflicts and life with continual 
death. Its deification of unreason, instability, 
and strife comes partly from piety and partly 
from inexperience. There is piety in- saluting 
nature in her perpetual flux and in thinking that 
since no equilibrium is maintained for ever none, 
perhaps, deserves to be. There is inexperience in 
not considering that wherever interests and judg 
ments exist, the natural flux has fallen, so to speak, 
into a vortex, and created a natural good, a cumu 
lative life, and an ideal purpose. Art, science, 
government, human nature itself, are self-defin 
ing and self-preserving: by partly fixing a struct 
ure they fix an ideal. But the barbarian can 
hardly regard such things, for to have distin 
guished and fostered them would be to have 
founded a civilisation. 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 263 

Darwin on Reason s function in denning the 

lse< ideal is in principle extremely simple, 
although all time and all existence would have to 
be gathered in before the applications of that 
principle could be exhausted. A better example 
of its essential working could hardly be found 
than one which Darwin gives to illustrate the 
natural origin of moral sense. A swallow, im 
pelled by migratory instincts to leave a nest full 
of unfledged young, would endure a moral conflict. 
The more lasting impulse, memory being assumed, 
would prompt a moral judgment when it emerged 
again after being momentarily obscured by an in 
termittent passion. " While the mother bird is 
feeding or brooding over her nestlings, the mater 
nal instinct is probably stronger than the migra 
tory; but the instinct which is more persistent 
gains the victory, and at last, at a moment when 
her young ones are not in sight, she takes flight 
and deserts them. When arrived at the end of 
her long journey, and the migratory instinct ceases 
to act, what an agony of remorse each bird would 
feel if, from being endowed with great mental 
activity, she could not prevent the image continu 
ally passing before her mind of her young ones 
perishing in the bleak north from cold and 
hunger."* She would doubtless upbraid herself, 
like any sinner, for a senseless perfidy to her own 
dearest good. The perfidy, however, was not 
wholly senseless, because the forgotten instinct 
* Descent of Man, chapter iii. 



264 THE LIFE OF REASON 

was not less natural and necessary than the re 
membered one, and its satisfaction no less true. 
Temptation has the same basis as duty. The dif 
ference is one of volume and permanence in the 
rival satisfactions, and the attitude conscience will 
assume toward these depends more on the repre- 
sentability of the demands compared than on their 
original vehemence or ultimate results. 

A passionate conscience may thus 

Conscience / 

and reason arise in the play of impulses differing 
compared. j n permanence, without involving a 
judicial exercise of reason. Nor does such a con 
science involve a synthetic ideal, but only the ideal 
presence of particular demands. Conflicts in the 
conscience are thus quite natural and would con 
tinually occur but for the narrowness that com 
monly characterises a mind inspired by passion. 
A life of sin and repentance is as remote as pos 
sible from a Life of Eeason. Yet the same situa 
tion which produces conscience and the sense of 
duty is an occasion for applying reason to action 
and for forming an ideal, so soon as the demands 
and satisfactions concerned are synthesised and 
balanced imaginatively. The stork might do more 
than feel the conflict of his two impulses, he 
might do more than embody in alternation the 
eloquence of two hostile thoughts. He might pass 
judgment upon them impartially and, in the felt 
presence of both, conceive what might be a union 
or compromise between them. 

This resultant object of pursuit, conceived in 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 265 

reflection and in itself the initial goal of neither 
impulse, is the Meal of a mind occupied by the 
two : it is the^im Described by reason) under 
the circumstances. It differs from the ^prescrip 
tion of conscience, in that conscience is often 
the spokesman of one interest or of a group of 
interests in opposition to other primary impulses 
which it would annul altogether; while reason 
and the ideal are not active forces nor embodi 
ments of passion at all, but merely a method 
by which objects of desire are compared in re 
flection. The goodness of an end is felt in 
wardly by conscience; by reason it can be only 
taken upon trust and registered as a fact. For 
conscience the object of an opposed will is an evil, 
for reason it is a good on the same ground as any 
other good, because it is pursued by a natural im 
pulse and can bring a real satisfaction. Con 
science, in fine, is a party to moral strife, reason 
an observer of it who, however, plays the most j 
important and beneficent part in the outcome by . 
suggesting the terms of peace. This suggested 
peace, inspired by sympathy and by knowledge of 
the world, is the ideal, which borrows its value 
and practical force from the irrational impulses 
which it embodies, and borrows its final authority 
from the truth with which it recognises them all 
and the necessity by which it imposes on each 
such sacrifices as are requisite to a general har 
mony. 

Could each impulse, apart from reason, gain per- 



266 THE LIFE OF REASON 

feet satisfaction, it would doubtless laugh at jus 
tice. The divine, to exercise suasion, must use an 
argumentum ad hominem; reason must justify 
itself to the heart. But perfect satisfaction is 
what an irresponsible impulse can never hope for : 
all other impulses, though absent per- 

Reason im 
poses no new haps from the mind, are none the less 

present in nature and have possession 
of the field through their physical basis. They 
offer effectual resistance to a reckless intruder. 
To disregard them is therefore to gain nothing: 
reason, far from creating the partial renunciation 
and proportionate sacrifices which it imposes, 
really minimises them by making them voluntary 
and fruitful. The ideal, which may seem to wear 
so severe a frown, really fosters all possible pleas 
ures; what it retrenches is nothing to what blind 
forces and natural catastrophes would otherwise 
cut off ; while it sweetens what it sanctions, adding 
to spontaneous enjoyments a sense of moral secur 
ity and an intellectual light. 

Those who are guided only by an irrational 
conscience can hardly understand what a good 
life would be. Their Utopias have to be super 
natural in order that the irresponsible rules 
which they call morality may lead by miracle 
to happy results. But such a magical and 
undeserved happiness, if it were possible, would 
be unsavoury: only one phase of human nature 
would be satisfied by it, and so impoverished 
an ideal cannot really attract the will. For 



CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL 267 

human nature has been moulded by the same natu 
ral forces among which its ideal has to be fulfilled, 
and, apart from a certain margin of 

Natural goods ., n , 

attainable and Wlld hopes and extravagances, the 
compatible in things man s heart desires are attain- 

principle. , -. -. , . 

able under his natural conditions and 
would not be attainable elsewhere. The conflict of 
desires and interests in the world is not radical 
any more than man s dissatisfaction with his own 
nature can be ; for every particular ideal, being an 
expression of human nature in operation, must in 
the end involve the primary human faculties and 
cannot be essentially incompatible with any other 
ideal which involves them too. 

To adjust all demands to one ideal and adjust I 
that ideal to its natural conditions in other I 
words, to live the Life of Reason is something * 
perfectly possible; for those demands, being akin 
to one another in spite of themselves, can be bet 
ter furthered by co-operation than by blind con 
flict, while the ideal, far from demanding any 
profound revolution in nature, merely expresses 
her actual tendency and forecasts what her per 
fect functioning would be. J 

Harmony the Eeason as stich represents or rather/ 
formal and in- const itutes a single formal interest, the 1 

trmsic demand 

of reason. interest in harmony. When two in 
terests are simultaneous and fall within one act of 
apprehension the desirability of harmonising 
them is involved in the very effort to realise them 
together. If attention and imagination are steady 



268 THE LIFE OF REASON 

enough to face this implication and not to allow 
impulse to oscillate between irreconcilable tenden 
cies, reason comes into being. Henceforth things 
actual and things desired are confronted by an 
ideal which has both pertinence and authority. 



CHAPTEE XII 

FLUX AND CONSTANCY IN HUMAN NATURE 

Respectable A conception of something called 
tradition that i mman na ture arises not unnaturally 

human nature 

is fixed. on observing the passions of men, pas 
sions which under various disguises seem to re 
appear in all ages and countries. The tendency 
of Greek philosophy, with its insistence on gen 
eral concepts, was to define this idea of human 
nature still further and to encourage the belief 
that a single and identical essence, present in all 
men, determined their powers and ideal destiny. 
Christianity, while it transposed the human ideal 
and dwelt on the superhuman affinities of man, 
did not abandon the notion of a specific humanity. 
On the contrary, such a notion was implied in the 
Fall and Redemption, in the Sacraments, and in 
the universal validity of Christian doctrine and 
precept. For if human nature were not one, there 
would be no propriety in requiring all men to 
preserve unanimity in faith or conformity in con 
duct. Human nature was likewise the entity 
which the English psychologists set themselves to 
describe; and Kant was so entirely dominated by 
the notion of a fixed and universal human nature 

369 



270 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

that its constancy, in his opinion, was the source 
of all natural as well as moral laws. Had he 
doubted for a moment the stability of human 
nature, the foundations of his system would have 
fallen out; the forms of perception and thought 
would at once have lost their boasted necessity, 
since to-morrow might dawn upon new categories 
and a modified a priori intuition of space or time ; 
and the avenue would also have been closed by 
which man was led, through his unalterable moral 
sentiments, to assumptions about metaphysical 
truths. 

The force of this long tradition has 

contrary cur- 

rents of opin- been broken, however, by two influences 
of great weight in recent times, the 
theory of evolution and the revival of pantheism. 
The first has reintroduced flux into the conception 
Evolution. of existence and the second into the 
conception of values. If natural species are fluid 
and pass into one another, human nature is merely 
a name for a group of qualities found by chance in 
certain tribes of animals, a group to which new 
qualities are constantly tending to attach them 
selves while other faculties become extinct, now in 
whole races, now in sporadic individuals. Human 
nature is therefore a variable, and its ideal cannot 
have a greater constancy than the demands to 
which it gives expression. Nor can the ideal of 
one man or one age have any authority over 
another, since the harmony existing in their nature 
and interests is accidental and each is a transi- 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 271 

tional phase in an indefinite evolution. The crys 
tallisation of moral forces at any moment is con 
sequently to be explained by universal, not by 
human, laws; the philosopher s interest cannot be 
to trace the implications of present and unstable 
desires, but rather to discover the mechanical law 
by which these desires have been generated and 
will be transformed, so that they will change irrev 
ocably both their basis and their objects. 
Pantheism. To this picture of physical instabil 
ity furnished by popular science are to be added 
the mystical self-denials involved in pantheism. 
These come to reinforce the doctrine that human 
nature is a shifting thing with the sentiment that 
it is a finite and unworthy one: for every deter 
mination of being, it is said, has its significance 
as well as its origin in the infinite continuum of 
which it is a part. Forms are limitations, and 
limitations, according to this philosophy, would 
be defects, so that man s only goal would be to 
escape humanity and lose himself in the divine 
nebula that has produced and must invalidate 
each of his thoughts and ideals. As there would 
be but one spirit in the world, and that infinite, 
so there would be but one ideal and that indiscrim 
inate. The despair which the naturalist s view of 
human instability might tend to produce is turned 
by this mystical initiation into a sort of ecstasy; 
and the deluge of conformity suddenly submerges 
that Life of Reason which science seemed to con 
demn to gradual extinction. 



272 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

Reason is a human function. Though the 
name of reason has been applied to various alleged 
principles of cosmic life, vital or dialectical, these 
instability principles all lack the essence of 
in existences rationality, in that they are not con- 
throne their scious movements toward satisfaction, 
ideals. no t, in other words, moral and benefi 

cent principles at all. Be the instability of 
human nature what it may, therefore, the insta 
bility of reason is not less, since reason is but a 
function of human nature. However relative and 
subordinate, in a physical sense, human ideals may 
be, these ideals remain the only possible moral 
standards for man, the only tests which he can 
apply for value or authority in any other quarter. 
And among unstable and relative ideals none is 
more relative and unstable than that which trans 
ports all value to a universal law, itself indiffer 
ent to good and evil, and worships it as a deity. 
Such an idolatry would indeed be impossible if it 
were not partial and veiled, arrived at in follow 
ing out some human interest and clung to by force 
of moral inertia and the ambiguity of words. In 
truth mystics do not practise so entire a renuncia 
tion of reason as they preach : eternal validity and 
the capacity to deal with absolute reality are still 
assumed by them to belong to thought or at least 
to feeling. Only they overlook in their descrip 
tion of human nature just that faculty which they 
exercise in their speculation ; their map leaves out 
the ground on which they stand. The rest, which 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 273 

they are not identified with for the moment, they 
proceed to regard de haut en bos and to discredit 
as a momentary manifestation of universal laws, 
physical or divine. They forget that this faith 
in law, this absorption in the blank reality, this 
enthusiasm for the ultimate thought, are mere 
human passions like the rest; that they endure 
them as they might a fever and that the animal 
instincts are patent on which those spiritual yearn 
ings repose. 

Absolutist This last fact would be nothing 

humankind a g a i ns t tne feelings in question, if they 
halting. were not made vehicles for absolute 

revelations. On the contrary, such a relativity in 
instincts is the source of their importance. In 
virtue of this relativity they have some basis and 
function in the world; for did they not repose on 
human nature they could never express or trans 
form it. Religion and philosophy are not always 
beneficent or important, but when they are it is 
precisely because they help to develop human 
faculty and to enrich human life. To imagine 
that by means of them we can escape from human 
nature and survey it from without is an ostrich- 
like illusion obvious to all but to the victim of it. 
Such a pretension may cause admiration in the 
schools, where self-hypnotisation is easy, but in 
the world it makes its professors ridiculous. For 
in their eagerness to empty their mind of human 
prejudices they reduce its rational burden to u 
minimum, and if they still continue to dogmatise, 
VOL. 118 



274 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

it is sport for the satirist to observe what forgotten 
accident of language or training has survived the 
crash of the universe and made the one demon 
strable path to Absolute Truth. 
AII science a Neither the path of abstraction fol- 

mome nteS * 10Wed ^ the m J sticS > n r that f direct 

thought. and, as it avers, unbiassed observation 
followed by the naturalists, can lead beyond that 
region of common experience, traditional feeling, 
and conventional thought which all minds enter 
at birth and can elude only at the risk of inward 
collapse and extinction. The fact that observation 
involves the senses, and the senses their organs, 
is one which a naturalist can hardly overlook ; and 
when we add that logical habits, sanctioned by 
utility, are needed to interpret the data of sense, 
the humanity of science and all its constructions 
becomes clearer than day. Superstition itself 
could not be more human. The path of unbiassed 
observation is not a path away from conventional 
life; it is a progress in conventions. It improves 
human belief by increasing the proportion of two 
of its ingredients, attentive perception and prac 
tical calculus. The whole resulting vision, as it 
is sustained from moment to moment by present 
experience and instinct, has no value apart from 
actual ideals. And if it proves human nature to 
be unstable, it can build that proof on nothing 
more stable than human faculty as at the moment 
it happens to be. 

Nor is abstraction a less human process, as if 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 275 

by becoming very abstruse indeed we could hope 
to become divine. Is it not a commonplace of the 
AII criticism schools that to form abstract ideas is 
likewise. the prerogative of man s reason ? Is not 
abstraction a method by which mortal intelligence 
makes haste? Is it not the makeshift of a mind 
overloaded with its experience, the trick of an eye 
that cannot master a profuse and ever-changing 
world ? Shall these diagrams drawn in fancy, this 
system of signals in thought, be the Absolute 
Truth dwelling within us? Do we attain reality 
by making a silhouette of our dreams? If the 
scientific world be a product of human faculties, 
the metaphysical world must be doubly so ; for the 
material there given to human understanding is 
here worked over again by human art. This con 
stitutes the dignity and value of dialectic, that in 
spite of appearances it is so human; it bears to 
experience a relation similar to that which the arts 
bear to the same, where sensible images, selected 
by the artist s genius and already coloured by his 
aesthetic bias, are redyed in the process of repro 
duction whenever he has a great style, and sat 
urated anew with his mind. 

There can be no question, then, of eluding 
human nature or of conceiving it and its environ 
ment in such a way as to stop its operation. We 
may take up our position in one region of experi 
ence or in another, we may, in unconsciousness 
of the interests and assumptions that support us, 
criticise the truth or value of results obtained else- 



276 THE LIFE OF REASON 

where. Our criticism will be solid in proportion 
to the solidity of the unnamed convictions that 
inspire it, that is, in proportion to the deep roots 
and fruitful ramifications which those convictions 
may have in human life. Ultimate truth and 
ultimate value will be reasonably attributed to 
those ideas and possessions which can give human 
nature, as it is, the highest satisfaction. We may 
admit that human nature is variable; but that 
admission, if justified, will be justified by the sat 
isfaction which it gives human nature to make it. 
We might even admit that human ideals are vain 
but only if they were nothing worth for the attain 
ment of the veritable human ideal. 
Origins in- The given constitution of reason, 
essential. with whatever a dialectical philosophy 
might elicit from it, obviously determines nothing 
about the causes that may have brought reason to 
its present pass or the phases that may have pre 
ceded its appearance. Certain notions about 
physics might no doubt suggest themselves to the 
moralist, who never can be the whole man; he 
might suspect, for instance, that the transitive 
intent of intellect and will pointed to their vital 
basis. Transcendence in operation might seem 
appropriate only to a being with a history and 
with an organism subject to external influences, 
whose mind should thus come to represent not 
merely its momentary state but also its constitu 
tive past and its eventual fortunes. Such sugges 
tions, however, would be extraneous to dialectical 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 277 

self-knowledge. They would be tentative only, 
and human nature would be freely admitted to be 
as variable, as relative, and as transitory as the 
natural history of the universe might make it. 
Ideals The error, however, would be pro- 

functional, found and the contradiction hopeless 
if we should deny the ideal authority of human 
nature because we had discovered its origin and 
conditions. Nature and evolution, let us say, 
have brought life to the present form; but this 
life lives, these organs have determinate functions, 
and human nature, here and now, in relation to 
the ideal energies it unfolds, is a fundamental 
essence, a collection of activities with determinate 
limits, relations, and ideals. The integration and 
determinateness of these faculties is the condition 
for any synthetic operation of reason. As the 
structure of the steam-engine has varied greatly 
since its first invention, and its attributions have 
increased, so the structure of human nature has 
undoubtedly varied since man first appeared upon 
the earth; but as in each steam-engine at each 
moment there must be a limit of mobility, a unity 
of function and a clear determination of parts and 
tensions, so in human nature, as found at any time 
in any man, there is a definite scope by virtue of 
which alone he can have a reliable memory, a 
recognisable character, a faculty of connected 
thought and speech, a social utility, and a moral 
ideal. On man s given structure, on his activity 
hovering about fixed objects, depends the possibil- 



278 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

ity of conceiving or testing any truth or making 

any progress in happiness. 

,. Thinkers of different experience and 

Iney are trans- . * 

ferabie to sim- organisation have pro tanto different 
liar beings. logicg and Different moral laws. There 
are limits to communication even among beings of 
the same race, and the faculties and ideals of one 
intelligence are not transferable without change to 
any other. If this historic diversity in minds 
were complete, so that each lived in its own moral 
world, a science of each of these moral worlds 
would still be possible provided some inner fixity 
or constancy existed in its meanings. In every 
human thought together with an immortal intent 
there is a mortal and irrecoverable perception: 
something in it perishes instantly, the part that 
can be materially preserved being proportionate 
to the stability or fertility of the organ that pro 
duced it. If the function is imitable, the object 
it terminates in will reappear, and two or more 
moments, having the same ideal, will utter com 
parable messages and may perhaps be unanimous. 
Unanimity in thought involves identity of func 
tions and similarity in organs. These conditions 
mark off the sphere of rational communication and 
society; where they fail altogether there is no 
mutual intelligence, no conversation, no moral 
solidarity. 

The inner authority of reason, however, is no 
more destroyed because it has limits in physical 
expression or because irrational things exist, than 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 279 

the grammar of a given language is invalidated 
Authority because other languages do not share 
internal. j^ O r because some people break its 
rules and others are dumb altogether. Innumer 
able madmen make no difference to the laws of 
thought, which borrow their authority from the 
inward intent and cogency of each rational mind. 
Reason, like beauty, is its own excuse for being. 
It is useful, indeed, for living well, when to give 
reason satisfaction is made the measure of good. 
The true philosopher, who is not one chiefly by 
profession, must be prepared to tread the wine 
press alone. He may indeed flourish like the bay- 
tree in a grateful environment, but more often he 
will rather resemble a reed shaken by the wind. 
Whether starved or fed by the accidents of fortune 
he must find his essential life in his own ideal. 
In spiritual life, heteronomy is suicide. That 
universal soul sometimes spoken of, which is to 
harmonise and correct individual demands, if it 
were a will and an intelligence in act, would itself 
be an individual like the others; while if it pos 
sessed no will and no intelligence, such as individ 
uals may have, it would be a physical force or 
law, a dynamic system without moral authority 
and with a merely potential or represented exist 
ence. For to be actual and self-existent is to be 
individual. The living mind cannot surrender its 
rights to any physical power or subordinate itself 
to any figment of its own art without falling into 
manifest idolatry. 



280 THE LIFE OF REASON 

Human nature, in the sense in which it is the 
transcendental foundation of all science and 
morals, is a functional unity in each man ; it is no 
Reason auton- general or abstract essence, the average 
omous. O f all men s characters, nor even the 

complex of the qualities common to all men. It 
is the entelechy of the living individual, be he 
typical or singular. That his type should be odd 
or common is merely a physical accident. If he 
can know himself by expressing the entelechy of 
his own nature in the form of a consistent ideal, 
he is a rational creature after his own kind, even 
if, like the angels of Saint Thomas, he be the only 
individual of his species. What the majority of 
human animals may tend to, or what the past or 
future variations of a race may be, has nothing to 
do with determining the ideal of human nature in 
a living man, or in an ideal society of men bound 
together by spiritual kinship. Otherwise Plato 
could not have reasoned well about the republic 
without adjusting himself to the politics of 
Buddha or Eousseau, and we should not be able to 
determine our own morality without making con 
cessions to the cannibals or giving a vote to the 
ants. Within the field of an anthropology that 
tests humanity by the skull s shape, there might 
be room for any number of independent morali 
ties, and although, as we shall see, there is actually 
a similar foundation in all human and even in all 
animal natures, which supports a rudimentary 
morality common to all, yet a perfect morality is 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 281 

not really common to any two men nor to any two 
phases of the same man s life, 
its distribution. The distribution of reason, though a 
subject irrelevant to pure logic or morals, is one 
naturally interesting to a rational man, for he is 
concerned to know how far beings exist with a 
congenial structure and an ideal akin to his own. 
That circumstance will largely influence his hap 
piness if, being a man, he is a gregarious and sym 
pathetic animal. His moral idealism itself will 
crave support from others, if not to give it direc 
tion, at least to give it warmth and courage. The 
best part of wealth is to have worthy heirs, and 
mind can be transmitted only to a kindred mind. 
Hostile natures cannot be brought together by 
mutual invective nor harmonised by the brute de 
struction and disappearance of either party. But 
when one or both parties have actually disap 
peared, and the combat has ceased for lack of com 
batants, natures not hostile to one another can fill 
the vacant place. In proportion to their inbred 
unanimity these will cultivate a similar ideal and 
rejoice together in its embodiment. 

This has happened to some extent in the whole 
world, on account of natural conditions which 
limit the forms of life possible in one region; for 
nature is intolerant in her laxity and punishes too 
Natural seiec- S Teai originality and heresy with 
tion of minds, death. Such moral integration has 
occurred very markedly in every good race and 
society whose members, by adapting themselves to 



282 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

the same external forces, have created and discov 
ered their common soul. Spiritual unity is a 
natural product. There are those who see a great 
mystery in the presence of eternal values and im 
personal ideals in a moving and animal world, and 
think to solve that dualism, as they call it, by 
denying that nature can have spiritual functions 
or spirit a natural cause; but nothing can be 
simpler if we make, as we should, existence the 
test of possibility. A b esse ad posse valet illatio. 
Nature is a perfect garden of ideals, and passion 
is the perpetual and fertile soil for poetry, myth, 
and speculation. Nor is this origin merely im 
puted to ideals by a late and cynical observer : it 
is manifest in the ideals themselves, by their sub 
ject matter and intent. For what are ideals 
about, what do they idealise, except natural exist 
ence and natural passions ? That would be a mis 
erable and superfluous ideal indeed that was 
nobody s ideal of nothing. The pertinence of 
ideals binds them to nature, and it is only the worst 
and flimsiest ideals, the ideals of a sick soul, that 
elude nature s limits and belie her potentialities. 
Ideals are forerunners or heralds of nature s suc 
cesses, not always followed, indeed, by their ful 
filment, for nature is but nature and has to feel 
her way; but they are an earnest, at least, of an 
achieved organisation, an incipient accomplish 
ment, that tends to maintain and root itself in the 
world. 

To speak of nature s successes is, of course, to 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 283 

impute success retroactively ;. but the expression 
may be allowed when we consider that the same 
functional equilibrium which is looked back upon 
as a good by the soul it serves, first creates in 
dividual being and with it creates the possibility 
of preference and the whole moral world; and it 
is more than a metaphor to call that achievement 
a success which has made a sense of success pos 
sible and actual. That nature cannot intend or 
previously esteem those formations which are the 
condition of value or intention existing at all, is 
a truth too obvious to demand repetition; but 
when those formations arise they determine esti 
mation,, and fix the direction of preference, so that 
the evolution which produced them, when looked 
back upon from the vantage-ground thus gained, 
cannot help seeming to have been directed toward 
the good now distinguished and partly attained. 
For this reason creation is regarded as a work of 
love, and the power that brought order out of 
chaos is called intelligence. 

Living, These natural formations, tending 

stability. to generate and realise each its ideal, 
Tire, as it were, eddies in the universal flux, pro 
duced no less mechanically, doubtless, than the 
onward current, yet seeming to arrest or to reverse 
it. Inheritance arrests the flux by repeating a 
series of phases with a recognisable rhythm; 
memory reverses it by modifying this rhythm itself 
by the integration of earlier phases into those that 
supervene. Inheritance and memory make human 



284 THE LIFE OF EEASON 

stability. This stability is relative, being still a 
mode of flux, and consists fundamentally in repe 
tition. Eepetition marks some progress on mere 
continuity, since it preserves form and disregards 
time and matter. Inheritance is repetition on a 
larger scale, not excluding spontaneous variations ; 
while habit and memory are a sort of heredity 
within the individual, since here an old percep 
tion reappears, by way of atavism, in the midst of 
a forward march. Life is thus enriched and re 
action adapted to a wider field; much as a note is 
enriched by its overtones, and by the tensions, in 
herited from the preceding notes, which give it a 
new setting. 

Progress, far from consisting in 

Continuity 

necessary to change, depends on retentiveness. 
progress. When change is absolute there re 
mains no being to improve and no direction 
is set for possible improvement: and when ex 
perience is not retained, as among savages, 
infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remem 
ber the past are condemned to repeat it. In 
the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and 
easily distracted; it misses progress by failing in 
consecutiveness and persistence. This is the con 
dition of children and barbarians, in whom in 
stinct has learned nothing from experience. In a 
second stage men are docile to events, plastic to 
new habits and suggestions, yet able to graft them 
on original instincts, which they thus bring to 
fuller satisfaction. This is the plane of manhood 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 285 

and true progress. Last comes a stage when re- 
tentivene^s is exhausted and all that happens is 
at once forgotten; a vain, because unpractical, 
repetition of the past takes the place of plasticity 
and fertile readaptation. In a moving world re- 
adaptation is the price of longevity. The hard 
shell, far from protecting the vital principle, con 
demns it to die down slowly and be gradually 
chilled ; immortality in such a case must have been 
secured earlier, by giving birth to a generation 
plastic to the contemporary world and able to re 
tain its lessons. Thus old age is as forgetful as 
youth, and more incorrigible ; it displays the same 
inattentiveness to conditions; its memory becomes 
self-repeating and degenerates into an instinctive 
reaction, like a bird s chirp. 

Limits of Not all readaptation, however, is 

Tlti^T progress, for ideal identity must not 
heritage. be lost. The Latin language did not 
progress when it passed into Italian. It died. 
Its amiable heirs may console us for its depart 
ure, but do not remove the fact that their parent 
is extinct. So every individual, nation, and re 
ligion has its limit of adaptation; so long as the 
increment it receives is digestible, so long as the 
organisation already attained is extended and elab 
orated without being surrendered, growth goes on ; 
but when the foundation itself shifts, when what 
is gained at the periphery is lost at the centre, the f 
flux appears again and progress is not real. Thus 
a succession of generations or languages or relig- 



286 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

ions constitutes no progress unless some ideal pres 
ent at the beginning is transmitted to the end and 
reaches a better expression there ; without this sta 
bility at the core no common standard exists and 
all comparison of value with value must be exter 
nal and arbitrary. Ketentiveness, we must repeat, 
is the condition of progress. 

The variation human nature is open to is not, 
then, variation in any direction. There are trans 
formations that would destroy it. So long as it 
endures it must retain all that constitutes it now, 
. all that it has so far gathered and worked into its 
substance. The genealogy of progress is like that 
of man, who can never repudiate a single ancestor. 
It starts, so to speak, from a single point, free as 
yet to take any direction. When once, however, 
evolution has taken a single step, say in the direc 
tion of vertebrates, that step cannot be retraced 
without extinction of the species. Such extinc 
tion may take place while progress in other lines 
is continued. All that preceded the forking of 
the dead and the living branch will be as well rep 
resented and as legitimately continued by the sur 
viving radiates as it could have been by the ver 
tebrates that are no more; but the vertebrate 
ideal is lost for ever, and no more progress is pos 
sible along that line. 

Perfectibility. The future of moral evolution is 
accordingly infinite, but its character is more and 
more determinate at every step. Mankind can 
never, without perishing, surrender its animal 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 287 

nature, its need to eat and drink, its sexual method 
of reproduction, its vision of nature, its faculty of 
speech, its arts of music, poetry, and building. 
Particular races cannot subsist if they renounce 
their savage instincts, but die, like wild animals, 
in captivity; and particular individuals die when 
not suffered any longer to retain their memories, 
their bodies, or even their master passions. Thus 
human nature survives amid a continual fluctua 
tion of its embodiments. At every step twigs and 
leaves are thrown out that last but one season ; but 
the underlying stem may have meantime grown 
stronger and more luxuriant. Whole branches 
sometimes wither, but others may continue to 
bloom. Spiritual unity runs, like sap, from the 
common root to every uttermost flower; but at 
each forking in the growth the branches part com 
pany, and what happens in one is no direct con 
cern of the others. The products of one age and 
nation may well be unintelligible to another; the 
elements of humanity common to both may lie 
lower down. So that the highest things are com 
municable to the fewest persons, and yet, among 
these few, are the most perfectly communicable. 
The more elaborate and determinate a man s heri 
tage and genius are, the more he has in common 
with his next of kin, and the more he can transmit 
and implant in his posterity for ever. Civilisation 
is cumulative. The farther it goes the intenser it 
is, substituting articulate interests for animal 
fumes and for enigmatic passions. Such articu- 



288 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

late interests can be shared ; and the infinite vistas 
they open up can be pursued for ever with the 
knowledge that a work long ago begun is being 
perfected and that an ideal is being embodied 
which need never be outworn. 

So long as external conditions re- 
Nature and main cons t an t it is obvious that the 

human nature. 

greater organisation a being possesses 
the greater strength he will have. If indeed pri 
mary conditions varied, the finer creatures would 
die first; for their adaptation is more exquisite 
and the irreversible core of their being much 
larger relatively; but in a constant environment 
their equipment makes them irresistible and 
secures their permanence and multiplication. Now 
man is a part of nature and her organisation may 
be regarded as the foundation of his own : the word 
nature is therefore less equivocal than it seems, for 
every nature is Nature herself in one of her more 
specific and better articulated forms. Man there 
fore represents the universe that sustains him; his 
existence is a proof that the cosmic equilibrium 
that fostered his life is a natural equilibrium, 
capable of being long maintained. Some of the 
ancients thought it eternal; physics now suggests 
a different opinion. But even if this equilibrium, 
by which the stars are kept in their, courses and 
human progress is allowed to proceed, is funda 
mentally unstable, it shows what relative stability 
nature may attain. Could this balance be pre 
served indefinitely, no one knows what wonderful 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 289 

adaptations might occur within it, and to what ex 
cellence human nature in particular might arrive.- 
Nor is it unlikely that before the cataclysm comes 
time will be afforded for more improvement than 
moral philosophy has ever dreamed of. For it is 
remarkable how inane and unimaginative Utopias 
have generally been. This possibility is not un 
inspiring and may help to console those who think 
the natural conditions of life are not conditions 
that a good life can be lived in. The possibility 
of essential progress is bound up with the tragic 
possibility that progress and human life should 
some day end together. If the present equilibrium 
of forces were eternal all adaptations to it would 
have already taken place and, while no essential 
catastrophe would need to be dreaded, no essential 
improvement could be hoped for in all eternity. 
I am not sure that a humanity such as we know, 
were it destined to exist for ever, would offer a 
more exhilarating prospect than a humanity hav 
ing indefinite elasticity together with a precarious 
tenure of life. Mortality has its compensations: 
one is that all evils are transitory, another that 
better times may come. 

Human nature, then, has for its core 



Human nature t ^ g^gtance of nature at large, and 

formulated. 

is one of its more complex lormations. 
Its determination is progressive. It varies indefi 
nitely in its historic manifestations and fades into 
what, as a matter of natural history, might no 
longer be termed human. At each moment it has 
VOL. I. 19 



290 THE LIFE OF KEASON 

its fixed and determinate entelechy, the ideal of 
that being s life, based on his instincts, summed 
up in his character, brought to a focus in his re 
flection, and shared by all who have attained or 
may inherit his organisation. His perceptive and 
reasoning faculties are parts of human nature, as 
embodied in him; all objects of belief or desire, 
with all standards of justice and duty which he 
can possibly acknowledge, are transcripts of it, 
conditioned by it, and justifiable only as expres 
sions of its inherent tendencies. 

This definition of human nature, clear as it may 
be in itself and true to the facts, will perhaps 
hardly make sufficiently plain how the Life of 
Reason, having a natural basis, has in the ideal 
world a creative and absolute authority. A more 
its concrete concrete description of human nature 
description ma accor( Ji n prly not come amiss, espe- 

reserved for . J 

\hs sequel. cially as the important practical ques 
tion touching the extension of a given moral 
authority over times and places depends on the 
degree of kinship found among the creatures in 
habiting those regions. To give a general picture 
of human nature and its rational functions will 
be the task of the following books. The truth of 
a description which must be largely historical may 
not be indifferent to the reader, and I shall study 
to avoid bias in the presentation, in so far as 
is compatible with frankness and brevity; yet 
even if some bias should manifest itself and if the 
picture were historically false, the rational prin- 



FLUX AND CONSTANCY 291 

ciples we shall be trying to illustrate will not 
thereby be invalidated. Illustrations might have 
been sought in some fictitious world, if imagina 
tion had not seemed so much less interesting than 
reality,, which besides enforces with unapproach 
able eloquence the main principle in view, namely, 
that nature carries its ideal with it and that the 
progressive organisation of irrational impulses 
makes a rational life. 



B 

945 

S23L7 

1906 

v.1 



Santayana, George 
The life of reason 



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