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IT is my hope that this volume may serve a pur- 
pose as an introduction to the theory of knowledge. 
While we have pretentious works covering the field of 
logic and epistemology, we are not so well supplied with 
books giving a general survey of the main problems in- 
volved in the investigation of truth. The time seems 
peculiarly ripe for such an effort. In the bewildering 
amount of discussion and misunderstanding to which the 
pragmatic movement has led, there is need for fresh em- 
phasis of the main issues. There is also need for building 
out the pragmatic theory hi neglected directions. In a 
small way, this book tries to serve both purposes. 

This book is intended to be used in connection with a 
course in elementary logic or as an introduction or sequel 
to it. It is hoped that its human interest will also make 
it available for the general philosophic reader and as an 
introduction to philosophy. To the cultured public, not 
technically trained in philosophy, the first and the last 
chapters may be of special interest. 

My relation to the pragmatic movement will be clear 
enough in the course of the text. It may be of interest 
that the larger part of Chapter XVII, "The Reality of 
Religious Ideals," was given as a lecture at Harvard in 
1899, practically before the movement had started. This 
direction of my thought was in part due to the influence of 
Fichte and Herrmann's Religionsphilosophie, in part to 


viii Preface 

my personal relations to William James. My going on 
with the work in the last few years is altogether due to 
the clarifying influence of the pragmatic movement 

I may say here that this volume will be followed shortly 
by another on metaphysics entitled A Realistic Universe, 
where some problems suggested in this book will be dealt 
with more fully. 

I am under obligation to the following journals for 
permission to use in whole or part material which has 
appeared during the last few years. Chapters I, IX, 
and XIV have been revised from the Monist ; Chapters 
II, XI (Truth and Meaning), and XII from the Psycho- 
logical Review ; Chapters VII and VIII (printed as the 
Nature of Truth and Discussion) from the Philosophical 
Review ; Chapters X and XV (published as Truth and its 
Object) in the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Sci- 
entific Methods ; and Chapter XVII from the Harvard 
Theological Review. 

To my friends and colleagues, Professor S. L. Whitcomb 
and Professor E. C. Wilm, I am indebted for reading the 
proof, and for many valuable suggestions. 














X. WHAT PRAGMATISM is AND is NOT . . . .186 














TO-DAY as I sit before the warm grate fire with the 
snowflakes falling outside, I feel in a peculiarly dreamy 
and charitable mood towards all mankind, especially 
philosophers. Perhaps I have what Dooley calls the 
Carnegie feeling. At any rate there jar upon me more 
than usually the petty nagging and jostling and rushing to 
the patent office in the philosophic camp, as though one 
small head could carry all of truth, or as though one ex- 
pression of truth, however comprehensive, could be more 
than a passing phase of experience as a whole. Consider- 
ing the variety of human nature as a result of evolution, 
why should it not require an indefinite number of systems 
to express human nature in the various stages of its de- 
velopment and in its various moods ? And why are they 
not all true, in so far as they are really genuine and really 
express human nature then and there ? Philosophers, 
above all people, need open-mindedness and a sense of 
humor. Dogmatism has erected the stakes and the gib- 
bet for those who have ventured on any new path, while 
philosophy must always breathe the air of freedom, and 
has always proved wiser in its hero-worship than in its 


4 Truth and Reality 

This brings to my mind an occasion in one of the 
temples of Boston, made more venerable in its associations 
since then. It was a discussion of educational ideals at a 
meeting of a brilliant group of educators. It was a Babel 
of many tongues, one saying : It is this way ; another : It 
is this; one saying: Come to us, we have the latest; an- 
other : Come to us, we have the most venerable ; another 
one : Come to us, we have the best equipped bazaar of 
learning. I remember President Eliot rising at the close 
of the discussion, and in his dignified simplicity gleaning 
in unadorned eloquence the wisdom of the day. I do not 
remember his exact words, but the import of them was 
something like this : " Education is at present in its ex- 
perimental stage ; and in the meantime it is best that each 
experiment should be carried out with the greatest possible 
consistency under the best conditions. Harvard has stood 
for a system of free election in its college course. It is 
well that a system of required work, under the best condi- 
tions, should be tried somewhere, at Princeton perhaps. 
Thus future generations shall be wiser for our experi- 
ments." It struck us all as so eminently sane. 

Why is this not true, to an even greater extent, of phil- 
osophy, the science of the meaning of it all ? Why should 
we not welcome and encourage different experiments ? Is 
not philosophy, and must it not always be, in the experi- 
mental stage? One of the few fragments which have 
survived from the brilliant author of the homo mensura 
tenet is : " In respect to the gods, I am unable to know 
either that they are or that they are not, for there are 
many obstacles to such knowledge, above all the obscurity 
of the matter and the life of man in that it is so short." 
Why should not this brevity of life and the complex and 

Philosophic Tolerance 5 

changing character of our world teach us modesty in the 
ultimate matters, where our little lifetimes and limited 
points of view must be supplemented by other lifetimes 
and other points of view, and where the checkered mosaic 
of truth never can be completed? Truth is at best ex- 
perimental, and nothing can be more fatal than stopping 
the experiment. The most that will be said of any of us 
in the ages to come is : Yes, he saw a phase of the problem ; 
or he proved suggestive in the infancy of the science. 

I, for one, though I have elsewhere urged a Weltan- 
schauung of absolute time and realistic pluralism, want to 
see the experiment of absolute idealism carried out with 
the best psychological and methodological advantages, 
and I confess, rabid realist that I am, that in some moods, 
in which my passion for permanence and unity asserts 
itself, I take comfort in absolute idealism, or at least like 
to play with it. There is a certain intellectual coziness 
about absolute idealism for which I sometimes long. I 
want to close the accounts and find how things stand, or 
at least feel sure that somebody knows and that no evil 
can befall my ideals. But again, in other and with me 
more prevailing moods, this esthetic craving gives way to 
the respect for facts as they seem, to the longing for action 
and risk; and I sometimes revel, in imagination at least, 
in the daring and courage of helping to make an unknown 
future, in which my plans and I myself may prove unfit. 
A fair field, I say, and no favors, not even for my own pet 
theories. There are other moods, too ; and only God 
knows which is the truest in the end. Ideals may prove 
truer than facts. 

We are told of the Chinese that he has several religions, 
a different religion for different functions of his life. As 

6 Truth and Reality 

a public official and statesman he is a Confucian, this being 
a religion of ideals for public life. Again, Buddhism sup- 
plies the need for ritual, and furnishes a larger religious 
setting ; while Taoism, with its forms of magic, satisfies the 
more primitive folklore side of Chinese nature. Besides 
these there are various local cults. The state recognizes 
the place these various religions have in Chinese life by 
supporting them. This condition of things causes no end 
of trouble to the Western census taker, and is very difficult 
for us sectarian Occidentals to understand. But why should 
we insist so persistently on fitting human nature into one 
arbitrary mold for the sake of conventional consistency ? 
Why should we not have recourse to different forms of 
religion and different systems of philosophy, different 
universes of appreciation, according to the varying moods 
and needs of the soul ? Why should not institutions, which 
after all are our creations, be made to serve us, instead 
of our being enslaved by them ? 

Here I see the poetic sanity of Plato, which has troubled 
his stupid and stereotyped commentators so much. The 
secret of the difficulty of unifying Plato, over which so 
many have stumbled, is that Plato's philosophy varies with 
his poetic moods. He, as no other philosopher, coins his 
own soul ; and therefore he has continued to speak to the 
soul of man as no other philosopher. Each dialogue is a 
Weltanschauung by itself. Most moods seem to fit the 
overshadowing, large-hearted, and sane personality of 
Socrates; but in other, more abstract moods, the cold 
personality of Parmenides or Zeno seems more fitting. 
We have not Plato, but a mosaic of the rich life of Plato. 
Why should not every sincere man express his life in a 
philosophy that seems reasonable to him at the time, fits 

Philosophic Tolerance 7 

experience now ? It is easy enough for the man who deals 
in mere verbiage to manipulate continually the same iden- 
tical counters, but not so with the man who expresses him- 
self. Thus not only man, but the different moments of 
man, become the measure of all things ; and the Sophists, 
had they been shrewd, might have pointed to the plastic 
nature of Plato as the best illustration of their theory. 
Agreement and sameness are practical necessities for the 
sake of common action, but outside the elementary qualifi- 
cations for social life they are the bane of progress. 

In art and poetry conventional limitations have been less 
effective and made it less difficult for men to be sincere 
with themselves. We do not demand rigid consistency 
here. We are disappointed at mere repetition. We look 
for a different mood of the soul in every new work of the 
artist. Here human nature has been able to find a more 
varied and genuine expression for its complex and varying 
tendencies, and we who enjoy the art find here a varied 
supplement for our varying inner attitudes. Here it is not 
a question of either or ; there is no need here of finding 
a common denominator of different types, though silly 
would-be art lovers will insist on nauseating one with such 
questions as : What is your favorite painting ? your favorite 
poem ? Poor one-horse souls. In the realm of poetry and 
art we have a right to have our whole nature ministered 
unto, to live in an infinite number of universes. In one 
mood we want lyric sweetness, dreamy romance, Shelley 
and Keats ; in other moods we crave for the searching of 
tragedy, for something that will appeal to the deeper self 
within us, and so we ask for the Antigone and Hamlet 
and Othello. Again we want something that appeals to 
the heroic, that satisfies the boy within us, and he is 

8 Truth and Reality 

always there, even in the oldest of us, so we take up 
Homer. What is the use of taking a vote on the world's 
greatest poem ? The greatest for me is that which 
expresses my soul most perfectly at the time. Why 
should I not enthrone each one to an exclusive place in 
my soul according to my needs, as the ancient Hindu 
enthroned Indra and Agni and Varuna in turn ? There is 
no poetic Absolute unless it be the freedom of enjoying 
the varying expressions according to the varying moods. 

What is true in poetry is equally true of art in the 
narrower sense. Why should my admiration for the 
Sistine Madonna prevent me from enjoying other Ma- 
donnas of Raphael, different moods of his soul? And 
why should my love for Raphael prevent me from loving 
Millet and Corot ? Why should I try to find a common 
denominator for a Madonna and a Sunset ? My soul 
needs them both; and my love for one does not fill the 
place of the other, any more than my love for Beethoven's 
symphonies fills the place of Schubert's songs and Bizet's 
Carmen. To be sectarian here is to have no music in 
one's soul and to be fit for all the villainous things of 
which Shakespeare speaks. 

And why should a man's soul be crowded into one 
system of philosophy ? The ultimate realities with which 
metaphysics deals are no less plastic in the hands of the 
potter than the realities of art. In either case the soul is 
endeavoring to create an objective counterpart to its 
tendencies or needs, to mirror itself, become conscious of 
itself, and so to create anew its meaning through the 
expression of itself. Philosophy, like poetry and art, 
when it is genuine, is only the expression of a mood of the 
soul, and it is not always for the artist to tell what mood 

Philosophic Tolerance 9 

is most significant Let each one, then, in the moment 
when he feels the impulse to create, "from his separate 
star draw the thing as he sees it," not only once, but again 
and again, as he feels the impulse to express himself. 
Let the soul create its belief-worlds as its own needs 
demand, wrapping its belief-mantle around itself to make 
itself cozy in the world, whether to lie down to pleasant 
dreams or to face a sea of trouble. In the realm of truth, 
as well as art, man must be the measure, however finite 
and passing the measure may be. All sincere expression, 
therefore, is worth while. History will see to it that the 
fittest survives. At least, he who has expressed himself 
genuinely has become repaid by the insight gained in his 
own expressive act If human nature in his case is rich 
and deep, as well as sincere, the expression becomes 
significant not only for him, but for others as well, a 
creation of new social values. The expression of human 
nature, whether it is a measure of the universe or not, is 
always a measure of the individual soul that expresses 
itself. The reason that philosophy has exercised so small 
an influence upon the world, compared to poetry, art and 
religion, is that it has often been a matter of verbiage, with 
no real soul back of it Philosophic meaning, then, like 
artistic and poetic, is a mosaic of points of view, of belief- 
worlds, rather than cut out of whole cloth or according to 
one pattern. Whether we will so or no, our moods and our 
lives are phases merely of the whole process of reality, and 
our belief-worlds are phases of the total meaning. At best 
the objective counterpart of our inner attitudes is a very 
fragmentary expression of what we feel and mean. Hence 
it is right that philosophy should have its Plato as poetry 
has its Shakespeare; and philosophy needs its Walt Whit- 

io Truth and Reality 

man, too, to reduce it to what is elemental and make it sure 
of its sincerity. " Make thyself new mansions, oh, my 
soul," must be the motto of philosophy. Let the architec- 
ture be Greek or Gothic, or both, as the soul may require. 
The history of philosophy is a picture gallery in which we 
can study not only the history of thought, but the history 
of ourselves, and through sympathy with the past become 
conscious of our own meaning in our various moods. 

To-day, therefore, I feel that I want to be Chinese in 
my homage to philosophy as I already am in poetry and 
art. I like to visit sometimes, in the company of my friend 
Royce, a beautiful Greek temple built according to Plato's 
Idea of the Good. It is wonderfully complete and satisfy- 
ing, carried out after the plan of one master artist accord- 
ing to perfect mathematical models, frescoed in an infinitely 
varied pattern, in which the past, present and future are 
set in wonderful mosaic through the immortal artist's cun- 
ning. And withal the soul is filled with such sweet har- 
mony as to forget for the time being its limitations and its 
longings. You can only gaze in rapture and wonder at 
the beauty of it all. So impressed was I that I turned to 
my friend and asked : What can I do ? He replied with 
a smile at my impatience : Only enjoy the eternal beauty 
of that which is. And it was wonderful for a time to 
dream there, while I could keep quiet and until my old 
restlessness returned. But I fancy I shall sometime steal 
in again for another quiet hour, to see Hegel gazing at 
his chart of logical categories, Augustine in mystic devo- 
tion, and the transfigured countenance of Plato. 

But sometimes I like to worship in another temple, very 
unlike the one just mentioned, bare and simple in the ex- 
treme. It is the temple of Democritus and Priestley and 

Philosophic Tolerance n 

other stern and heroic souls. A temple did I say ? Yes, 
for its devotees were filled with a tremendous reverence 
and enthusiasm. Yet no ornaments were there, nor roof 
nor walls. Only a pile of rough-hewn rocks in the wilds 
of the desert, exposed to the storms and snow and sleet 
in a climate of perpetual winter. For moments the sun- 
shine would break through the gray clouds and make the 
landscape sparkle into diamonds and crystals of icy gran- 
deur. But those that worshiped there counted it as naught. 
They watched the wreaths of sand as they rose in many a 
whirl, or the fall of the snowflakes, and made records of 
it all. On the altar were two idols, cut out of granite, 
Simplicity and Necessity, grim to look at. To them they 
offered, to my horror, human sacrifices, their own children. 
But so the idols craved ; and many fond hopes, many warm 
desires, many tender sentiments went up in smoke on the 
rock-bound altar. As I stayed I became impressed with 
the absolute democracy of the religion the democracy 
of absolute poverty and absolute law and their willing- 
ness to sacrifice all to what seemed to me mere idols. 

So impressed was I with the simplicity and sternness and 
cold awfulness of it that my inner self seemed to shrink 
within me to a mere ghost of its former puffed-up state. 
I felt so impressed with the uncompromising, relentlessly 
democratic character of the forces of the universe and my 
own insignificance as a finite individual, that when their 
priests told me that to please their gods I must sacrifice 
all that I loved, I threw into the fire many of my conceits, 
many subjective breedings and many a petty desire but 
not all that I loved, and so I could not become a member 
of the fraternity. But sometime, I dare say, I shall go 
out again into the wilds, where I can feel the tonic of the 

12 Truth and Reality 

north wind and admire again the bleak solemnity of the 

But I could not stay there always. I need to get back 
to the society of Kant and Fichte and Browning and the 
rest who have felt that circumstance is to some extent 
plastic in the service of ideals and that we shall not utterly 
perish, at least not without having our say. The temple 
where I spend most of my time is an unfinished Gothic 
sort of structure, where many artists are at work, each in 
his own way. I was introduced to the group by a friend 
of mine, the brilliant and human William James, who spent 
a lifetime trying to provide a framework, and who is now 
at work on some plans for the interior. It is a place where 
everybody has something to do. Each one is allowed to 
choose his own task, make his own plan and fix his own 
salary. There is no supervision as yet ; in fact the plan is 
that there shall be no supervision of the work as a whole. 
This is looked at askance by outsiders, and mutiny is 
prophesied. What can be the worth of the work thus 
pursued ? And how can a man be allowed to draw on 
the universe according to his own estimate ? A system of 
grading has been suggested to ascertain the fitness of plan 
and work. But so far no available tribunal has been found 
except the succession of workers themselves and what 
appeals to them. Each artist is thus his own judge of 
fitness, and when he is superseded, there seems to be no 
guarantee that his work will be carried on. But as the 
workers are conscious of each other's plans, and as new 
artists serve apprenticeships under old masters, it is ex- 
pected that there will be a degree of continuity and unity. 

But after all, the center of interest in this religion is 
not the temple, but the artists. The temple may never be 

Philosophic Tolerance 13 

finished, as each artist and each generation of artists modify 
the plans to suit their own ideals. But the artists get prac- 
tice, and the temple is first of all a school for artists. And 
each artist is paid at least through the joy of the working 
and the appreciation he feels for such momentary beauty 
as he can produce. 

Here at least the artist has the sense of doing some- 
thing, for in the other temples there is nothing to do but 
contemplate that which is, whether beauty or desert. Here 
worship is work and work is worship. Perhaps somehow, 
somewhere and sometime his work may mean more than 
he knows. Perhaps an unseen Artist may be piecing to- 
gether from moment to moment the scattered fragments 
of our insight. If the artist gets disheartened, and if his 
work and fellow-workers do not offer sufficient encourage- 
ment, with the strenuous Kant working away at the fresco 
of his dark corner, and young Fichte with untamed en- 
thusiasm trying to boss the job, and the lovable James 
preaching his favorite principle of pragmatism, and other 
heroic souls, "each in his own tongue" if all of these 
sometimes fail to please, and work becomes irksome, let 
him go into the temple of beauty, in the fairy land of 
summer, and rest awhile. And if he gets too absorbed 
in his own plans to be tolerant of other workers, I should 
advise him to go out to that lonely rock-bound altar in the 
wilds, and there learn to sacrifice his subjective conceits 
and to respect law and order. 

In the absorption of my meditation, the glowing coals 
of the grate fire have turned to ashes. The snowflakes 
have ceased to fall ; and the brisk zero temperature 
beckons me into God's out-of-doors. The spell of revery 
is over; and instead of dreamy sympathy, I feel the call 

14 Truth and Reality 

to stern activity to conquer the world in my own Norse 
way. I realize now that whatever our moods and sym- 
pathies, they do not make our ideas come true. This 
must be tested by their ability to lead us in the direction 
of the intended facts to guide conduct. But I hope 
that I shall not forget after to-day that I, too, am a being 
of moods and temperamental limitations ; and that in the 
gentle school of friendship and appreciation I may be the 
better able to discriminate sanely and create truly. 

We should be tolerant, not because there is no such 
thing as truth, but because, under the limitations of human 
nature, it is important that 

Each from his separate star 
Shall draw the thing as he sees it 
For the God of things as they are, 

so he does it conscientiously, using all the cautions that 
the technique of truth provides. The race, in its historic 
experience, will eventually pass upon the individual insight, 
and reject or incorporate into its institutional network, 
according as it explains or simplifies life. Even now we 
like to think that somehow, somewhere, there is a per- 
sonality, whose insight is as wide as the facts; whose 
sympathy can embrace the variety of nature and human 
nature ; and whose sanity can give each tendency and 
mood its proper place, in the infinite perspective of his- 
tory. To this ideal Socius, however incomprehensible 
his existence, we must finally entrust our fragmentary 
insight. But we half-men, while we struggle and see 
through a glass, darkly, should at least make our tolerance 
as large as our ignorance. 



THE thesis I wish to maintain in this chapter, for purposes 
of simplification, is that all of our fundamental adjustments 
or categories, viewed from the point of view of individual 
development, are instinctive or organic adjustments ; that 
the stimuli, which constitute the environment, are simply 
the occasion for calling into play the structural tendencies 
of the organic growth series, and that such categories as 
recapitulation, imitation, and accommodation are pseudo- 
categories, stating certain results from the point of view 
of another consciousness, but not explanatory of the real 
process of consciousness. This I believe to apply to the 
whole history of individual consciousness, and not simply 
to its initial stages. If this thesis is true, progress must 
take place through spontaneous variations and natural 
selection, though tendencies must be made definite and 
effective through external stimuli and the process of 
experience. The possibility of education is determined 
by our evolutionary heritage. Whether natural selection 
alone or other agencies must be called in to account for 
this heritage, we must leave open here. Natural selection, 
at any rate, is evident enough both in society and nature ; 
and it must act upon such grist as spontaneous variations. 
Some of these variations, the mutations, in the process of 
heredity evidently stick. 

The old idea of the evolution of consciousness as a con- 


1 6 Truth and Reality 

tinuous series, statable in terms of simpler processes from 
which the more complex were supposed to be compounded, 
has gradually become a thing of the past. Sensationalism, 
simple and plausible as it seemed, has been proven inade- 
quate, and psychology is now looking not to chemistry, but 
to evolutionary biology, for its cue. The reason for the 
discontinuity of the psychic series or its leaps and starts is 
that psychological process waits upon biological structure ; 
and only when the biological conditions are complete do 
the new forms of consciousness leap forth as mysteriously 
as the wonders in rubbing Aladdin's lamp. The lamp is 
the thing, and just that kind of lamp, though of course the 
magic result would not follow unless the lamp were rubbed. 
With the perfection of the mechanism of the eye, and the 
complicated structural conditions for sight, light leaps into 
being. So with the mechanism of the ear and the won- 
drous world of sound. 

The stages of consciousness are abrupt, however graded 
may be the development of the structural conditions. First 
of all, whether there is prenatal consciousness or not, con- 
sciousness waits upon certain antecedent structural condi- 
tions before it appears at all. Before the appearance of 
consciousness the foetus, in response to certain stimuli of 
temperature and blood supply, has already unfolded a struc- 
tural series embodying the /evolutionary results of varia- 
tions and survival of untold ages. But the unfolding of 
structural characteristics does not stop with the appearance 
of the first vague consciousness. In obedience to stimuli, 
intra- and extra-organic, the organism continues to grow 
and to develop new structural characteristics, and as the 
structural conditions reach certain stages of complexity 
there appear new forms of conscious response. Let us for 

Mind as Instinct 17 

our purpose state the dramatic stages as three : First, sen- 
sitiveness or immediate consciousness ; secondly, associative 
memory and expectancy ; thirdly, reflection, the analyzing 
out or making focal, to use Lloyd Morgan's term, certain 
relations and abstracting them for the better manipulation 
of the concrete situation. Now the thesis here maintained 
is that the successive appearance of each of these stages 
of development, with all their intermediaries, is equally or- 
ganic and abrupt, the unfolding or growth of a structural 
series in obedience to certain stimuli, which do not make 
the series any more than the heat of the incubator makes 
the chicken, but which are simply the conditions calling 
forth the series ; the stages of development from first to 
last, as well as what stimuli are effective, being determined 
by the nature of the organism, which again is what it is as 
a result of spontaneous variation and natural selection. 

It is wrong to suppose with many recent psychologists 
and biologists that the human brain is essentially unor- 
ganized and that the environment organizes it. The envi- 
ronment, whether physical or social, can only furnish stimuli. 
The human brain has far more complex structural tenden- 
cies than that of any other being. But while the brain of 
the animals below man has a comparatively short dynamic 
span and the few instincts appear practically together and 
mature shortly after birth, the human organism has a long 
dynamic span, with an organic series of instincts maturing 
in a certain order. Natural selection has here pro- 
vided for an hierarchy of instincts. But the law of devel- 
opment is the same : a certain congenital structural order 
unfolds itself in response to certain stimuli. That this 
structural development is in response largely to post-natal 
and extra-organic stimuli in the human being does not alter 

1 8 Truth and Reality 

the instinctive character of the process. If we define in- 
stinct as a response to stimulus determined by congenital 
structure, then we may reduce all the stages of mental 
process to the category of instinct. The only question is 
as between earlier and later or simpler and more complex 
stages of instincts. What must not be forgotten is that the 
growth order of our instincts, as well as the number of our 
instincts, is congenital. 

Nothing fills me with more amazement than this pro- 
vision of nature for a growth span, in which the series of 
instincts is called forth in its due order at the beck of the 
environment. The first great departure which nature 
makes from the animals, where maturity sits close on birth, 
is to stretch out the period of infancy. This permits the 
nervous system, with its capacity for habit and memory, to 
develop in the presence of the stimuli upon which it must 
act, instead of starting ready made. With this equipment 
and this prolongation of growth, nature makes necessary 
the first great social institution the family. But nature 
does not stop here. In order to provide for the proper 
staging of the ideals and sentiments, so indispensable for 
the complexer demands of civilization, nature splices in 
the period of adolescence, with its emotional plasticity, its 
enthusiasm and loyalty ; and this period is being ever pro- 
longed to meet the increasing social demands for adjust- 
ment. How it is that a growth order can be inherited, and in 
what way the seemingly indefinite protoplasmic material 
can develop in mere response to stimuli a series of ten- 
dencies, is as dark as is the problem of causation generally, 
and of transmission of characteristics at all in particular. 
We do not doubt, however, the innateness of the sexual 
response, though it is conditioned in the case of a human 

Mind as Instinct 19 

being by a complex and long series of structural growth. 
This one instance ought to convince us that the survival 
variations operate not only sectionally, but longitudinally in 
the stream of development. The absurd supposition of the 
English empiricists that innate is synonymous with that 
with which we are born and that the rest is acquired, is 
once and for all exploded by biology. Development before 
and after birth is due alike to an inner structural tendency 
unfolding in response to stimuli. 

To suppose, therefore, as contemporary psychology still 
largely does, that the higher mental activities are compli- 
cations of lower activities; that, for example, associative 
memory is simply the result of sensation? and habit ; that 
concepts are only a specific kind of mechanical association, 
and that thus the higher strata of experience are built right 
up from the lower, is simply substituting chemical meta- 
phors for explanation. If images were the complication 
of sensations merely, why is it that some of the animals 
lower in the scale, which show signs of sensation and 
habit, never acquire images ? They must have sensations 
enough probably a larger variety than Helen Keller. 
And, again, if concepts and judgments are simply associa- 
tions, why is it that animals with complex associative mech- 
anism do not show any sign of abstract analysis? It is 
surely not the fault of stimuli, as they are surrounded by 
the same world in which we exist, hear the same sounds 
and have the same variety of light and color. The higher 
types of reaction are not compounded out of the simpler, 
though they may presuppose these. They are the result 
of structural development, not merely of functional adap- 
tation. Given the inner structural equipment, and we can- 
not help remembering and reasoning, when the proper 

2O Truth and Reality 

stimuli are furnished, but without that stimuli are of no 
avail. Let us now inquire a little more in detail into the 
stages of instinct. 



Each of the stages or leaps of development mentioned 
above, sensitiveness, associative memory and reflection, 
has its own characteristic instincts, which emerge with the 
structural growth of which the above stages of conscious- 
ness are the coefficients. I do not deny that there are 
intermediary stages less dramatic, but those we can afford 
for our purposes to neglect. Nor must I be understood 
as holding that associative memory and reflection are in 
any sense creative of instincts. On the contrary, the later 
instincts may be said to be creative of them. They are 
simply the structural machinery which has proved service- 
able, if not essential, in the unfolding of certain instincts, 
and hence this machinery has been grafted on the instincts 
or become congenital. 

I. The Sensitive Stage and the Primary Instincts 

The instincts on the sensitive stage, and before that on 
the merely physiological, are relatively simple and general 
in character. They correspond to a relatively primitive 

Looked at from a later point of view they are altogether 
egoistic, i.e., they have to do with individual preservation, 
in the way of defensive and food-getting series of reflexes. 
An intricate series of structural adaptations has become 
purely mechanical when we have a chance to observe, 



Uv ex. 

Mind as Instinct 21 

such as the machinery for digestion, circulation, breathing, 
etc. If natural selection, acting upon spontaneous varia- 
tions, has been able to perfect such a network of interre- 
lated processes, with such continuity of operation as we 
find, for example, in digestion, from the preparatory seizing, 
deglutition and swallowing until the substances are con- 
verted into blood or carried off as excrement, we ought not 
to be staggered at the thought that our adjustments in 
general are a chain forged by natural selection and simply 
rattled off by the environment, making due allowance for 
the mechanical character of this figure. 

The instincts that are usually credited to a human infant 
are such as grasping, sucking, crying and sneezing. A 
comparison is drawn between the human infant and the 
chicken, for example, to the advantage of the latter. That 
is misleading, however, as the human chick is still being 
fledged in response to external stimuli. Thus the develop- 
ment of sense and motor coordinations, and the coordina- 
tions of the senses with each other during the first weeks 
of the human infant, are no less instinctive, though they 
take place partly in response to extra-organic stimuli. It 
is the growth series of the organism that produces the in- 
stincts. The extra-organic stimuli stand in no different 
relation to the child than do the prenatal stimuli to the 
chicken. The superiority of the child's development lies 
in the larger range of its stimuli, not in its less instinctive 
character. The same may be said of the more complex 
motor coordinations for walking. These are not learned by 
experience. They developed even when an absurd system 
of swaddling clothes prevented functional adaptation. So 
with the development of speech. The conduct of the gar- 
rulous human environment merely furnishes stimuli for 

22 Truth and Reality 

more definite response by the developing speech centers. 
The human being is simply a long time being fledged. 
We may say that the infant reactions at the outset are 
more general than those of the chicken, though here too 
we have to be cautious, as the reactions of the chicken are 
probably much more general than was supposed by early 
investigators. The chicken, according to Morgan, does 
not have a special response for the hawk, though it has a 
certain response for a certain kind of stimuli that cause 
instinctive terror. 

If we look at the conscious side of the more primitive 
instinctive adjustments, we find ourselves on a rather specu- 
lative foundation. Where consciousness is not efficient, 
its presence must naturally be conjectural, and a large 
number of reactions not only in the lower animals but in 
human beings can be treated as tropisms. The going off 
of the early instincts is largely a penny-in-the-slot affair, to 
use Lloyd Morgan's figure. Consciousness is at first at 
most a spectator. If consciousness is present, the proper 
working of the slot is accompanied by a pleasure value, 
the improper by pain. Thus likes and dislikes, on one 
hand, and reactions, advantageous and disadvantageous 
to the organism, on the other, tend to coincide. But it 
would be wrong on that account to regard pleasure-pain as 
legislative in the evolution of instincts; for, on the one 
hand, complex structural adaptations exist which seem 
purely physiological, and, on the other hand, where pleas- 
ure and pain now indicate survival value, it is simply 
because, as a result of the sorting of natural selection, they 
have survived. Where the environment changes rapidly 
and where the law of natural selection has not chance to 
operate, pleasure and pain are not sufficient guides. Wit- 

Mind as Instinct 23 

ness the cows transplanted to South America, which took 
pleasure in poisonous weeds, and the birds on the South 
Sea Islands spoken of by Darwin, which lacking the 
instinct of fear toward man paid the penalty until they 
either were exterminated or established the instinct. Wit- 
ness, too, the large number of pleasures in human beings, such 
as indulgence in opium, alcoholic liquors, and various forms 
of sexual excess which are pernicious and on which the 
law of natural selection has yet failed to operate. Pleas- 
ure and pain have indeed become a vital part of the func- 
tionirfg of some instincts, though of others not. It surely 
would be absurd to try to state our primary instinctive 
reactions in terms of mere subjective teleology, as some 
seem inclined to do at present. 

The stimuli which make the slot work may be qualitative 
differences, such as loud sounds or brilliant lights, or they 
may be behavior stimuli, which call forth similar move- 
ments in the individual. But in either case we have 
simply a stimulus as setting off a congenital mechanism. 
The reaction on behavior stimuli is sometimes called imi- 
tation. But this is the significance of the reaction to the 
psychologist, who compares it with the behavior stimulus. 
It is not imitation or accommodation to the child or animal. 
It is simply a case of a fascinating stimulus, which is only 
another name for fitting the slot and the slot going off. 
Interest always waits on tendency. If the child prove to 
deviate or to be original in its imitation, from the specta- 
tor's point of view, that is because it does not imitate but 
responds to the stimulus in a way dictated by its structural 
tendencies. If it continues the process, that is not for the 
sake of approximation, but because given such structural 
tendencies it cannot help repeating the conduct. The con- 

24 Truth and Reality 

scious imitation of a copy marks a late stage in human 

Sometimes instincts are explained as recapitulation, and 
they do indeed have a long survival history back of them. 
But to call them recapitulatory is again the point of view 
of the external observer who compares the reactions with 
those of ancestors. The individual on the level of sensi- 
tive consciousness at any rate does not act to recapitulate 
his ancestors. The spring for the action must be found 
in his own organic machinery, whether it agrees or dis- 
agrees with that of his ancestors. There is no such thing 
as evolution in the sense of simply marching the old cate- 
gories upon the stage again as implied in recapitulation. 
The machinery for imitation, accommodation and recapitu- 
lation exists only when the individual has in mind a copy 
of the behavior of others, whether past or present. But 
even on that level the springs for the action must be sought 
in the individual structural tendencies. He does not imi- 
tate because of imitation or recapitulate because of recapitu- 
lation, but because he is wound up in such a way that such 
stimuli appeal to him or set him off. Such categories as 
imitation, accommodation and recapitulation are not ex- 
planatory categories; they are simply comparisons as made 
by an observer external to the process. They are pseudo- 

Instincts, on the sensitive level, are made definite by 
trial and habit. The instinct puts forth a succession of 
efforts to attain its vague end. These efforts are first 
random. By a law, as organic as instinct itself, the suc- 
cessful efforts are emphasized by the organism; the 
unsuccessful are weeded out, until gradually a definite 
habit is forged. 

Mind as Instinct 2$ 

2. Associative Memory and the Secondary Instincts 

While the stimuli are playing the primary tendencies 
and under the shelter of the parental and other social 
instincts of the individuals of its immediate environment, 
the organism is busy perfecting the structure for the later 
instincts with their more complex machinery. These we 
may call secondary, though that does not mean that they 
are less instinctive. They only presuppose a greater struc- 
tural differentiation. Lloyd Morgan speaks of the mother 
hen protecting the chick from the law of natural selection. 
That is true in the chick's individual capacity, but we must 
not forget that it is as a result of natural selection that the 
parent has its parental instincts which shelter the newly 
developed chick. Before the chick has social feelings it 
has the shelter of social feelings. Else there would be 
neither hen nor chickens to survive. Natural selection 
has operated to produce a group supplementation of in- 
stincts. It can thus telescope the undeveloped structure 
into the later structures of other individuals, at the same 
time providing in the behavior of the more developed 
members of the group the stimuli to call off the dynamic 
tendencies of the immaturer developing structure, thus 
lengthening the dynamic span and increasing its develop- 
mental possibilities. 

It must be remembered, however, that the social environ- 
ment occupies exactly the same relation to the develop- 
mental series as the physical. It can only furnish the 
occasion or stimuli for setting off the dynamic series. 
There is no social heritage in any other sense than there 
is a physical heritage, a set of stimuli, pennies for the slot 
that will make it go off, if they fit. Social institutions, like 

26 Truth and Reality 

physical stimuli, must be the counterpart of our instinctive 
tendencies to be of significance for us. They must be our 
inner needs and dispositions objectified, if we are to find 
ourselves in them. Else they become a handicap, not stim- 
uli for our self -development. They must play the growth 
scale of instinct in its proper order ; or we must develop, 
as best we can, in spite of them, not because of them. In- 
deed there could be no stronger testimony to the innate 
character of mind than that in spite of all the abuses of 
our unpsychological methods of education the abstrac- 
tions of the alphabet and the multiplication table the 
human mind develops true to its nature. 

Looked at from the point of view of race history, the 
mechanism for associative memory must be regarded as a 
lucky variation or an accumulation of variations which 
make it possible to live an experience again, given an in- 
ternal or external cue ; which make it possible, therefore, 
to guide the present beck of stimuli with reference to con- 
sequences of past experience, thus making instinct more 
definite and serviceable, a reaction on particulars and not 
merely on a vague kind. The survival value of such an 
organic leap must have been momentous. For whatever 
history of accumulations of survival this machinery may 
represent on its structural side, from the point of view of 
consciousness it is a radical leap. There is no way of re- 
ducing efficient consciousness into simply more conscious- 
ness of the concomitant or spectator kind ; no way in 
which the play of immediate impulse with its simple ma- 
chinery of tedious trial, gradual elimination, and dumb, 
monotonous habit can be made to yield a picture of the 
past result and a short cut to reaction on the basis of it. 
Using the penny-in-the-slot illustration again, a new mech- 

Mind as Instinct 27 

anism has been introduced into the slot that not only makes 
the slot register its going off, but also uses as guide the 
structural picture in its next going off. 

But the new machinery is still essentially a slot. It is 
conditioned through and through by organic tendencies : 
organic tendency in the form of instinct conditions interest ; 
organic tendency in the form of habit makes dynamic 
continuity possible ; and organic tendency as specialization 
of structure conditions the kinds of imagery or content the 
operation shall have. While the machinery, therefore, is 
vastly more complex and immensely more efficient in its 
greater scope of coordination and its greater economy of 
effort, it remains as organic or instinctive in character as 

With the perfecting of the machinery of associative 
memory there leap into being in their proper order a to- 
tally new group of instincts, the social instincts. While 
these instincts are conditioned by the more complex struc- 
tural machinery, that does not mean that they are the 
result of associative memory. The latter might make us 
more efficiently egoistic, but could not change our funda- 
mental attitude. The social instincts are rather the ratio- 
nale of the more complex machinery than vice versa. Only 
thus could the social instincts become efficient. But with 
these instincts and the associative mechanism the individ- 
ual is equipped for the beginnings of group life with new 
possibilities and necessities of survival variations. 

That associative memory and the fundamental social 
instincts are interdependent is shown not only by observ- 
ing the coincident appearance of the two in the develop- 
ment series, but more conclusively by the vivisectional and 
pathological methods. In the experiments of the removal 

28 Truth and Reality 

of the hemispheres of the dog, the pigeon, and the frog, 
for example, it has been shown that all social, which here 
means primarily sexual, response vanishes, together with 
associative memory. The same is shown in widespread 
injury to the human brain, in such a case as that cited in 
Huxley's essay on Animal Automatism, and in the recent 
case in Paris of a human being born without hemispheres. 
If we regard the matter merely logically, it is hard to see 
what social could mean apart from representation, though 
representation can be conceived without sociability. But 
while the social instincts thus wait upon a certain structural 
development, that makes them no less organic and funda- 
mental in nature. 

There are, properly speaking, no such things as social 
categories. Imitation, sympathy, the whole list of sexual, 
parental and more general group responses, constituting 
social fitness, must be reduced to individual variations, 
which have proved to have survival value and which in 
turn have come to condition the survival of individuals ex- 
ceptionally lacking or over-redundant in such variations. 
What environment furnishes, and all it can furnish, is the 
stimuli and the survival conditions. 

3. Reflection and the Tertiary Strata of Instincts the 
Ideals or Sentiments 

While the environment is, finally, playing the primary 
and secondary instincts, and under the shelter of the later 
ideal tendencies or sentiments of the group, the human 
organism is perfecting its structural machinery for the 
issuance of a new set of instincts demands that have to 
do with the unity and meaning of experience. Given a 

Mind as Instinct 29 

certain complexity of our registering slot, and there ap- 
pears the power of analysis and abstraction. This again 
is a leap, perhaps the most wonderful leap of all. Con- 
sciousness by a new device is able to hold its head above 
the passing stream and survey the before and after. It no 
longer merely is but sees the passing events. From the 
point of view of race history it means a lucky structural 
variation or accumulation of variations, which changed the 
whole course of evolution by giving meaning to the pro- 
cess and thus establishing new survival values. With the 
individual, however, reasoning, as habit and associative 
memory, is congenital, appearing when the proper struc- 
tural series has been passed through in response to the 
stimuli of the environment, which now first become prob- 
lems. The idiot cannot learn to reason. 

Some psychologists have held that reasoning has its 
beginning in language and that it is in language that 
man is especially superior to the animals below him. 
But language in some form can exist without reasoning, 
as is shown in animal life, and as people's creeds and 
platforms still testify. Given the structural machinery 
for abstraction, and language becomes an indispensable 
instrument and so has developed to answer the demands 
of reflection. Nor can reason or meaning be reduced to 
lower forms of consciousness. It is not more of dreamy 
association, however complex the latter may become. It 
is a new attitude. However much its genesis may exceed 
our comprehension, we have now the structural machinery 
for holding ourselves, i.e., our primary and secondary in- 
stincts, at arm's length and looking at ourselves a mech- 
anism which furnished us with those tools by means of 
which we can break up our world and select those rela- 

3O Truth and Reality 

tions and objects that have meaning and value for us, in- 
stead of dealing with the world as a collection. 

With the structural machinery for reason there appear 
a new group of tendencies, demands for simplicity and 
consistency, for unity and wholeness, for truth, for right, 
for happiness, for beauty, for a religious and philosophic 
setting for our tendencies or needs. From the vantage 
ground of this new structural differentiation the primary 
and secondary instincts can be surveyed and evaluated, 
and a whole constituted. Yet our bias for simplicity and 
consistency, our sentiments for truth and beauty, are in 
their deepest roots instinctive, however luminous they 
have made the pathway of life. The deepest attitudes 
towards the universe were never invented by man; they 
are not the result of a consensus of opinion ; they are 
presupposed, on the contrary, in all our reflections upon 
life. Without them we should not have raised the ques- 
tion of why and wherefore nor have felt the need of a 
consensus of opinion. Our highest activities, therefore, 
no less than the most primitive, move within instinct, are 
the response of our organism to the call of the environ- 
ment Before these instinctive demands existed there was 
no call, for the environment spoke to deaf ears ; there was 
no riddle of the Sphinx, only a vacant stare; no order, 
but only the passing show of meaningless events. 

It has been said as a criticism against Kant that his 
categories are shot out of a pistol. This is true of reflec- 
tion generally, as well as its fundamental categories. Re- 
flection, systematic meaning, when it appears, is not more 
complex associations merely. It is a radically new atti- 
tude. It did not grow out of previous non-reflective 
experience, however complex. Stimuli, intra- and extra- 

Mind as Instinct 31 

organic, have been acting upon the organism. These 
have been the occasion for the organism unfolding its 
structural series, according to its own inner dynamic unity, 
until at the beck of the ever active environment there leaps 
forth reason, abruptly, as Athena leaped from the head of 
Zeus, and mysteriously, as Aphrodite rose from the sea. 
The self is awake instead of dreaming. This could not 
be due simply to the call of the environment, for that has 
been comparatively stable. Rather the reason for the call 
being a call must be sought in the new structural conditions 

perfected for the purpose. Just as sexual love appears at 
a certain stage of development, when certain structural 
conditions have been completed, and a totally new response 
is made to old stimuli, so reason appears suddenly and un- 
solicited, when the structural series reaches a certain stage. 
We ought to speak, therefore, of falling into reflection as 
we speak of falling in love. This I need not say has 
nothing to do with Flechsig's attempt to establish a dis- 
tinct anatomical center for higher mental processes. This 
theory no more stands or falls with his success or failure 
than does the instinctive character of sexual love with the 
phrenological bump of amativeness. 

What has been said of the more general categories holds 
equally for the more particular preferences and tastes that 
go to differentiate one individual from other individuals. 
Imitation no more on the higher than on the lower levels 
creates tendencies ; but a certain stimulus is the fascinat- 
ing thing, because a certain structure is set off. The 
illuminating sanity of James, Royce's esthetic bias for an 
Hegelian absolute, and Miinsterberg's love of dialectic 
all are organic : they condition, and are not made by, en- 
vironmental stimuli. There is a certain sameness indeed 

32 Truth and Reality 

in our categories and preferences, in so far as we are nor- 
mal, due to survival conditions. This is especially true of 
our moral tendencies, which would be especially concerned. 
Beyond the dead level, however, which keeps us out of the 
penitentiary or the insane asylum, our tendencies or pref- 
erences vary vastly. Here natural selection is tolerant 
of sports, and the more so the more evolution progresses. 
This helps us to understand the different tastes which 
become creative of such different types in philosophy 
and art. It also accounts for the utter lack of finer 
esthetic or philosophic appreciation in the larger number 
of men. These are so far aristocratic variations. Of 
course, in the progress of civilization, tendencies such as 
the higher esthetic may become more universal as an 
equipment of the race; and "he that hath no music in 
himself " may in such a state of society be regarded as " fit 
for treasons, stratagems and spoils " and dealt with accord- 
ingly. A higher moral equipment, at any rate, is gradually 

Yes, if we are poets or artists or philosophers or scien- 
tists at all, we are born such, and not only to the class but 
to that particular type that individualizes our contribution 
from that of others, though of course owing to a defective 
environment our tendencies may never be played so as to 
develop the possible scale of values. Only the other day 
I was startled by the striking resemblance between a cab- 
man and a great philosopher that I know. Had the en- 
vironment played the scales with some degree of skill, the 
cabman might have been a philosopher, and with a different 
set of stimuli the philosopher might have been a cabman. 
Again, we find too often those lacking evolutionary qualifi- 
cations holding down the job ; and men without philosophic 

Mind as Instinct 33 

insight respond with a feigned adjustment of mere words, 
as the color-blind man classifies the beautiful world of 
colors in his own series of dull grays. Sometimes the lack 
of native equipment is in more elementary tendencies, as in 
the incapacity shown by some people for the rudiments of 
number or language; sometimes it seems a lack of the more 
fundamental moral tendencies, though the clumsy and un- 
natural order of our stimuli may be responsible rather than 
the native equipment. Out of the young criminals com- 
mitted to the Iowa Industrial School at Eldora about eighty 
per cent turn out honorable men. 

If we say that what is native is docility, then at least we 
shall have to use the plural or docilities, because docility 
in one direction need not mean docility in another. But 
what does docility mean ? Is it not like imitation, a mere 
name for a result? Is not man docile in very much the 
same sense that the slot is when the proper coin is put in 
and it works? A man may be docile as regards things 
intellectual and not in things esthetic, to one kind of in- 
tellectual things rather than to another, and to one kind at 
one stage of his development, to another kind at another 
stage. Docility, then, must find its explanation in the fact 
that certain tendencies or instincts can be set off by a cer- 
tain kind of stimulus. 

While the machinery of reason was evolved for the sake 
of the earlier instincts and those that came into being with 
it, the machinery in some individuals, as a result again of 
variation, has become detached from the earlier strata and 
runs with wheels free. This is one of the forms of play, 
in other words, and the mechanism of reflection thus sub- 
serves a double purpose, that of coordinating the more 
primary tendencies and that of mere play, whether as ab- 

34 Truth and Reality 

stract reflection and system making or perhaps working in 
the more picturesque material of concrete images, instead 
of words, in obedience to the sentiment for the beautiful. 
This play purpose of the reflective machinery may alto- 
gether eclipse the primary purpose, but even here the ma- 
chinery is run by instinctive demands. 

We have sketched broadly three stages of mind with 
their characteristic instincts and their characteristic mech- 
anism for making the instincts effective. First, the stage 
of physiological or sensitive reaction, where consciousness 
is a mere spectator. Here appear the egoistic-preservative 
instincts. The mechanism here is trial with gradual elim- 
ination and habit. Secondly, the stage of associative mem- 
ory, where an image d past result can guide the reaction. 
Here appear the social instincts. This stage is vastly su- 
perior to the preceding in its coordination, in the complex- 
ity of its instincts and the economy of effort. Last of all 
we sketched the stage of reflective meaning with the ap- 
paratus for survey, for selection, abstraction and substitu- 
tion. With this appear the ideal instincts or demands. 
We have seen too that each earlier stage as a result of nat- 
ural selection can be telescoped into a later stage of the 
group by the providential arrangement that all individuals 
are not of the same age, but that the parents by the virtue 
of becoming parents have developed a later set of instincts, 
sheltering the offspring in their earlier stage and furnish- 
ing stimuli for the development of the structural series. 
As the later instincts appear, however, the earlier are tele- 
scoped into the later in the same individual and the later 
become the guides and the sheltering foster-parents of the 
earlier. Even on the reflective level the instinctive stages 
retain something of their integrity. We are not always, 

Mind as Instinct 35 

indeed very seldom, reasoning. In that case the next 
lower court presides. But even this may sleep or be dis- 
attached from the lower centers, and then the lowest pre- 
sides. Or, taking a cross section of the reflective stage, 
while attention selects certain aspects as focal, in the mar- 
ginal field we shade off into the more primitive stages of 
consciousness through border-line associations into dim 
awareness. And so the stages of race history repeat them- 
selves in their general outlines, not only in the stages of 
individual history, but every day, and, in fact, coexist in one 
attention moment, the whole distance from tropism to re- 
flective meaning. 

The purpose of the mechanism of instinct, whether 
habit or associative memory or abstraction, is to make 
instinct more definite. Instincts are at first universal. 
They are fitted to go off at a certain kind of stimuli, 
on the lowest level a very vague kind indeed, but more 
limited with each stage. There is a good deal of differ- 
ence between taste in general and taste for music. Habit 
is at best a clumsy device for limiting the kind, but mem- 
ory makes possible reaction upon a particular, while the 
reflective machinery makes possible descriptive definition. 

The whole series of life can thus be expressed in in- 
stinctive terms, both as regards content and mechanism 
meaning by instinctive reaction a response that is called 
off as a result of organic structure, given the proper stimu- 
lus. We are such mechanisms as to develop in a certain 
structural order and to respond at certain stages in certain 
characteristic ways, given a certain range and order of 
stimuli. The failure to call forth a certain tendency in 
its dynamic order may fail to call forth other tendencies, 
as some tendencies are dynamically conditioned upon each 

36 Truth and Reality 

other. Thus the failure to respond to sexual love must 
mean the failure to call forth the paternal tendencies, and 
the failure to present the situations of danger and sacrifice 
must also fail to call forth the heroic tendencies. It is 
here that we are helped to some extent at least by the 
ideal situations of poetry and art. 

I realize full well how one-sided and mechanical seems 
such a statement of the evolution of mind. The structural 
side of the process is but one side, though it lends itself 
most easily to scientific description. The whole series of 
evolutionary forms and categories must be understood from 
the point of view of creative will, which through a variety 
of efforts, gradual cumulations or sudden mutations, strives 
to make itself definite and individual and which gives con- 
tinuity and unity to the process. And while on the lower 
levels of life we may have to be satisfied with a chemical 
statement of the seemingly accidental variations, may it 
not be that we have over-emphasized physical generation 
as a condition for variations in structure ? May not the pas- 
sion and birth in ideal beauty intense moments of ideal 
creation have their effect upon the germ cells, as they 
have their creative effect upon the later life of the individ- 
ual ? It may be a provisional bias, due to our experiment- 
ing with lower forms of life, that makes us look upon sexual 
generation as the only condition of plasticity. There 
seems, at any rate, to be something especially plastic about 
the life of reason as contrasted with the more primitive life 
of habit and association. We know little about the condi- 
tions that can influence the germ cells those bearers of 
the life of the race ; but we have come to realize more and 
more the widespread and subtle physiological changes of 
which our psychic states, especially under conditions of 


Mind as Instinct 37 

high intensity, may be the occasion. May it not be, too, 
that the universe itself operates as an artist and that the 
blindness of the process lies only in our ignorance ? At 
any rate, the continuity of the building out of structure 
must be sought on the side of spontaneous impulse, not 
as the mere mechanical heaping up of bricks by blind 


It is jclear now that the nature of the environment and 
with it the survival value of tendencies varies at each stage 
of development In the early stages of evolution, survival 
is a matter of individual fitness based upon certain primary 
tendencies and their gradual definition by means of habit. 
Then the social tendencies emerge and survival value must 
be writ in tendencies that supplement each other so as to 
make group life possible. The primary instincts are thus 
telescoped into the more complex secondary instincts with 
their mechanism of associative memory. Last come the 
ideal instincts that appear with the power of analysis and 
abstraction, and primary and secondary instincts must be 
telescoped into these tertiary instincts in order to meet the 
conditions of survival. With each stage of evolution in- 
stincts become more numerous and complex, and as the 
later individuals become part of the survival conditions to 
be met, the survival conditions become more complex. 

It must be kept in mind, too, that, while we classify our 
ideal instincts under certain large genera, such as feelings 
for truth, for beauty, for right, for reverence, etc., these 
are only large rubrics and that within them there may 
be any number of instinctive variations, conditioning our 
creativeness and appreciation. Hence our realists and 

38 Truth and Reality 

idealists in art, our tender-minded and tough-minded in 
philosophy, our rigorists and hedonists in ethics, our Prot- 
estants and Catholics in religion in brief our schools with 
their types and traditions and their intolerance. While it 
is true that imitation, conventional and customary, may 
lead people into those schools, who do not belong there 
natively, and, therefore, a large degree of uniformity may 
be obtained, yet it is also true that such types of feeling 
and thought would not have arisen in the first place and 
would not continue indefinitely through the ages, if they 
did not have an instinctive basis in human nature. 

With greater complexity goes also greater freedom of 
development. The transmitting of variations with the 
progress of civilization is not limited to those immediately 
involved in survival ; and in the greater differentiation of 
labor possible under an industrial regime, survival takes 
many directions. Thus a greater variety of tastes makes 
possible a wider range of survival. There is room for the 
musician and actor and sign-painter, as well as the me- 
chanic. Then, too, the instinct of pity or sympathy shel- 
ters the unfit, for the time being at least, thus complicating 
survival conditions. 

Survival conditions never change more rapidly than in 
a civilized environment. While in one generation an ar- 
tistic genius starves to death on his art, in another he can 
dictate his own terms, provided his style of art becomes a 
fad ; while in one generation a man would be deemed in- 
sane for printing or making furniture by hand, when fac- 
tories can turn out as serviceable goods by the millions, 
in another he can become wealthy and famous besides; 
while in one generation the stake, the cross and the gibbet 
cut short the opportunity of the heretic from propagating 

Mind as Instinct 39 

his doctrines and the species, in another he gets the praise 
of men and the fat salaries, while the orthodox man is 
doing the starving stunt. And so it goes, all because dif- 
ferent ages produce or at least stimulate different tenden- 
cies because in one age the backward look, in another 
age the forward look predominates ; because the mood of 
humanity varies. 

It is clear that Spencer's idea of a finite static environ- 
ment which would permit of absolute adjustment once and 
for all, and a consequent relapse to the level of the pri- 
mary Instincts, neglects the fundamental nature of the 
evolutionary process. Environment is not merely the 
mechanical and stereotyped part of nature, but first of 
all man, and in man the evolutionary process so far from 
having stopped is going on with even more rapidity as it 
becomes more complex. Our environment never was more 
in the making than now and never furnished as large or 
rapidly shifting a scale of selective values. If the old 
men just now are in danger of being shelved, as is often 
complained, it is not so much because they are old as that 
they grow stereotyped and cannot keep up with the rapid 
rearrangements. The young old men, the geniuses of the 
race, were never more valued. 

What the social environment does, then, as embodied in 
human behavior and in the products of mind, is to furnish 
ever new stimuli and more complex survival conditions. 
What the individual must do to respond to the fullest ex- 
tent is to meet the new demands with the corresponding 
variations. Fortunately it is not necessary to respond to 
more than a small number of the physico-social character- 
istics in order to survive. Only an absolute being could be 
equipped to respond to the universe, point for point. A 

40 Truth and Reality 

man may reach the highest eminence of social usefulness 
by the narrowness of his specialty, if for the rest he con- 
form to certain general survival tendencies such as honesty 
and truthfulness (and I regret to say that does not always 
seem necessary at present). Thus he may rise to the high- 
est efficiency in the business world without responding 
to things philosophical, artistic or even religious. A 
genius is one who is gifted with an unusual variation, either 
in the direction of that which has no direct survival value 
but calls off the play tendencies of man, such as art, or in 
the direction of greater survival advantage, as in the case 
of the moral prophets or the inventors of tools. Nothing 
is more obvious than the marked difference in the range as 
well as quality of response in different individuals. Some 
brains, as those of the idiot, are remarkably opaque; others, 
like those of the genius, show a wonderful power of refract- 
ing light in brilliant and unusual ways ; but each mind re- 
flects the light by virtue of its own constitution as manifest 
in each stage of the series. 

We get as much value and significance out of nature and 
institutional life as we have corresponding tendencies. To 
the man who lacks the play of esthetic tendency and who 
is preoccupied with the primary and secondary instincts 
"sunset and evening star" are nothing, except perhaps a 
weather sign. In the words of Coleridge, 

O Lady, we receive but what we give, 
And in our life alone does nature live. 

And so with the institutional equipment of the race. Our 
religious tendencies determine our religion, not the oppo- 
site. If we lack the feeling toward the supernatural and 
the sense of dependence, religion is not for us. If we are 
lacking again in esthetic appreciation, it is very natural that 

Mind as Instinct 41 

we should deem art useless or worse and proceed to make 
bare the temples, or even destroy them as some would-be 
reformers did. As the difference in creeds and the dread 
of hell disappear, religious denominations will separate in 
their worship on the ground of the real psychic prefer- 
ences of individuals as regards the emphasis of the ethical, 
the mystical, the esthetic or the philosophical tendencies 
always with the possibility of course that the more 
primary tendencies of custom and loyalty may keep a man 
where he does not psychologically belong. Institutions 


are created by our tendencies, and they are properly selec- 
tive of us only as they make tendencies go off in us; 
though if they fail to select, they may eliminate and so 
produce artificial uniformity. 

That is as true of the state and family as of religion. 
The fundamental virtues which underlie social life, such 
as honesty, truthfulness and kindness, cannot be produced 
in people. The exciting of other tendencies, such as fear 
and gain, may produce counterfeit reactions for those men- 
tioned above, inhibiting the original tendencies. And some 
people live a respectable life that way, no doubt. But it is 
a great mistake to suppose that because the child at one 
stage of its development reacts largely on the basis of the 
primary instincts and shows no sense of truth, or honesty, 
or kindness, or beauty, that, therefore, these tendencies are 
produced at a later period. They are acquired no more 
than love is acquired as the nervous system matures, though 
an awkward regime of stimuli may indeed fail to set them 
off. Our bias for landscape painting instead of character 
sketches; Ingersoll's fondness for the babble of the brook 
and fear of Niagara ; our preference for the cathedral to 
the Quaker meeting house, in so far as preference is active ; 

42 Truth and Reality 

our enjoyment of lyric sweetness rather than the searching 
of tragedy, all these preferences are conditions or presup- 
positions of our experience ; and while they may be vio- 
lated or forced by the environment, cannot be produced 
by it. 

Thus dies the old controversy of empiricism vs. in- 
nate ideas. But not without each side having contributed 
its immortal say. It was a beautiful figure of Plato that 
of recollection from a previous existence. In the process 
of experience, especially that of dialectic cross-examina- 
tion, the soul becomes conscious of its past, of the results 
of previous existences. Especially are our ideals, which 
we bring to bear upon experience, the echoes of this long 
history. The fundamental truth remains, though we have 
changed our terminology and substituted race history for 
the dim preexistence of the individual soul and biological 
tendency for dormant Ideas not because we are wiser, 
but because it is more convenient. All other theories of 
innate ideas are but the reverberations of Plato. And with 
them all we must agree that, unless the individual brought 
a constitution to experience, it would be but a squashy, 
unorganized affair. With the empiricists, on the other 
hand, we must own that the content of experience, the 
definiteness and meaning of instinct, can only come as the 
individual strives to meet the specific situations of the 
environment. There are no innate ideas. It is the form 
of experience which is predetermined. The genetic story 
of this connective tissue we shall try to tell in the next 
chapter. 1 

1 1 take pleasure in acknowledging my indebtedness to other workers in 
this field, especially Principal C. Lloyd Morgan and Professor James Mark 
Baldwin, who by their splendid works have directed me into this field of 



IN examining the categories of intelligence, we shall 
.. adopt the genetic method. We shall try to ascertain what 
i^the presuppositions of experience are at each stage of de- 
-. 'Velopment. In this attempt, Kant must be recognized as 

v. our great precursor. 1 Indeed, the " Critique of Pure Rea- p| 
jLfSon " is a great work, viewed as genetic psychology. We 

J**^ ^rf 

cannot, however, any longer use the term reason to include 
the whole range of intellectual development. We shall 
therefore substitute the term intelligence, which means ca- 
^pacity to learn from experience. We must also, in order to 
get Kant's real working categories, ignore the curiously 
tacked-on tables of formal logic, and take his working 
^"categories as they appear in the body of the Critique. 
* ^Finally, while in any such effort as this we must own our 




Indebtedness to Kant, we must not forget to recognize the 
splendid work done by recent genetic psychology. 

In order to discuss the categories of intelligence, we 
Tmust recognize the various levels of intellectual develop- 
>ment. And while our nomenclature must be different, and 
>ur treatment still more different, these levels coincide, as 
matter of fact, with those of Kant's great work. 
We must also recognize at the outset the conative char- 
cter of intelligence, so admirably brought out by Professor 

*p l That Kant was a thorough evolutionist, not only in his theory of the 
stellar world, but also as regards the development of life and thought, has 
been shown by Dr. Paul Carus in his volume, ' Kant and Spencer." 

44 Truth and Reality 

Stout. Life is fundamentally impulsive. It consists of 
certain tendencies, which strive for fulfillment. It is the 
nature of impulse to persist with varied effort, until the 
tendency is realized. The complexity of impulse, and the 
efficiency of the adaptation to the varying conditions which 
it must meet, grow very much greater with the increase in 
the complexity of intelligence. But throughout this devel- 
opment, the same fundamental impulsive character persists. 
And intelligence remains an instrument, however elaborate, 
for fulfilling the demands of the will, its need for work and 
for play. 

I. The Perceptual Level of Intelligence 

On the perceptual level of intelligence even, we must 
recognize certain biological presuppositions as fundamental. 
First of all, Kant is right that we presuppose certain space 
coordinations, which are not derived from external experi- 
ence. This does not mean that we can take for granted 
the postulates of Euclidean geometry. But it seems clear 
now that we do not learn our space reactions by making a 
map, visual or tactual, before making the reactions. On 
the contrary, we inherit certain tendencies to reaction 
which are brought into play by the stimuli of the organism ; 
and by continuous trials and the elimination of unsuccessful 
movements, these reactions become definite. The child 
responds to the rhythms of music with certain rhythmic 
movements of its own not because it has previously learned 
those movements ; but because it is biologically so consti- 
tuted that it cannot help responding, any more than a kitten 
can help running after the moving string. To show how 
largely the coordinations are biological, I will quote from 

TJie Categories of Intelligence 45 

C. Lloyd Morgan : * " I took a young pheasant, which had 
been hatched sometime in the night, from the incubator 
drawer at nine o'clock in the morning. He was very un- 
steady on his legs, so I held him in my hands and tried to 
induce him to peck at a piece of egg yolk, held in a pair 
of forceps. He did not do so, but he followed, with his 
head, every movement of the object in a narrow circle 
about two inches in front of his beak. Simple as the action 
seems, it shows a striking example of congenital, coordi- 
nated movements accurately related to movement in the 
visual' field, the whole performed without any possibility 
of learning or practice and in less than half an hour after 
the bird had first seen the light." 

In human development, these spatial coordinations are 
of course very imperfect at birth, but even so it is true that 
the responses are the results of the growth series of the 
organism which is made definite in the try-out in connection 
with the actual situations. Even the presuppositions which 
lie at the basis of geometry may be said to be implied in 
this biological constitution of perceptual experience. The 
straight line is not a generalization from cases of experience, 
but is a presupposition which the organism brings with it 
to its consciously constructed efforts and which must there- 
fore be part of the organic tendencies of the individual, 
rather than be credited to the learning process. 

If it is true that we bring a certain organization to ex- 
perience, even on the lowest level, as regards space co- 
ordination, it is likewise true that we must bring an original 
adjustment as regards the sense of time. We do not learn 
the sense of duration, any more than we learn the funda- 
mental space adjustments. The question may well be 

1 Stout, " Manual of Psychology," p. 253. 

46 Truth and Reality 

raised, whether we can have a sense of time before we 
have memory. It is probably true that we cannot have a 
definite consciousness of before and after, before we have 
the passing series of ideas. 

But the conditions for a consciousness of duration cer- 
tainly exist before we have memory. Of this we have some 
intimation in our own experience. We may have a cumu- 
lative sense of meaning without reference to ideas, as in 
the consciousness of the continuity of a melody. Unless 
the earlier tone sensations actually persisted in conscious- 
ness, we could not have the cumulative realization of a 
melody, of a tonal whole. In pathological cases we can find 
numerous illustrations of a consciousness of time, without 
ideas being present. In my own awakening from a light- 
ning stroke, I had a consciousness of the time elapsed dur- 
ing the vague perceptual state as soon as I began to 
realize the situation, even though I had had no ideas in the 
meantime. In awakening from seemingly dreamless sleep, 
we have a consciousness of an interval having elapsed, and 
with some training the organism seems to be able to keep 
accurate account of time, without reference to intervening 
ideational experience. 

Not only do we have a basis for the consciousness of 
duration, but we have also a provision for the measure of 
duration on the perceptual level. Some of our impulses are 
of a rhythmic character. Such is, for example, the impulse 
for food. We can see, therefore, how such impulses can 
divide the life of perception into certain fairly definite 
longer periods, not to mention the shorter periods marked 
by the organic rhythms against the perceptual background. 
So that we have present, not only a sense of duration, but 
certain time wholes, such as we can best realize perhaps 

The Categories of Intelligence 47 

by comparison with our esthetic time wholes in the case of 

While we recognize the sense of time as a fundamental 
category of experience, we must not, of course, suppose that 
our modern chronological measurements, any more than 
our Euclidean Geometry, is part of the original equipment 
of the organism. What the organism possesses is a certain 
time orientation, as it possesses a certain space orientation, 
which is made definite in the course of experience. 

We have recognized so far two categories on the per- 
ceptuarievel. We must add a third, namely, habit. The 
organism is so constituted that even on the perceptual 
level it can profit by experience. Learning by habit is a 
very much slower process than learning by means of 
ideas. But it is also a much surer process. We are 
familiar with the importance of habit in our own expe- 
rience. In order to acquire any delicate adjustments on 
the part of the organism, we must try over and over again, 
the futile efforts being passed over, the more successful 
efforts being emphasized by attention, until finally the 
accurate movements become part of our nervous equip- 
ment. This can be illustrated in any game of skill, as in 
playing tennis. The lower animals, even the unicellular 
organisms, we now know, are capable of profiting by repe- 
tition, in fixing certain useful adaptations in the way of 
conduct. The curve of habit is a gradual one, fewer unsuc- 
cessful efforts appearing in the course of repetition, but 
with no sharp break in the process such as we find when 
the action is pictured in a memory idea. When a horse 
wants to stop at a place where he has stopped once before 
or returns by the same road he has only once gone, that is 
associative memory and not habit. 

48 Truth and Reality 

Another category which we must recognize on the per- 
ceptual level is that of imitation, or the tendency of the 
organism to repeat the conduct of its environment. The 
importance of this tendency in the learning process of 
the lower animals cannot be overemphasized. A large 
amount of the adjustment, which in the past has been 
credited to instinct, must now be credited to tradition and 
imitation. In this way, a young animal learns to profit by 
the hard-earned experience of its predecessors and thus to 
make its indefinite instincts more adapted to the specific 
demands of the environment. In a similarly imitative 
manner the child comes to master the mechanism of 
language, and thus to prepare itself for the functions of 
the higher stages of mental development. A child does 
not have an idea of language first, or a picture of the 
movements which it is going to make ; given such stimuli, 
it cannot help responding, or attempting to respond, in 
such a way. 

2. The Level of Reproductive Imagination 

On the level of reproductive imagination we recognize a 
still greater economy in the way of procedure. We have 
seen that habit is at best a slow and stereotyped process 
of adjustment. A memory image which furnishes at one 
stroke a picture of the concrete situation and its adjust- 
ment is a short cut compared to habit. The image may be 
compared, as Bergson says, to the cinematograph copy. 
It records, in a simultaneous picture, the successive acts of 
attention which were involved in the original adjustment, 
leaving out such details as were irrelevant to attention and 
being therefore more sketchy than the perceptual situa- 

The Categories of Intelligence 49 

The moving pictures of the reproductive imagination 
presuppose certain tendencies or laws which are part of 
our mental constitution and are not learned by experience. 
They may therefore, in Kantian phrase, be termed a priori. 
We must recognize three categories of reproductive imagi- 
nation ; namely, contiguity, similarity and set. 

When we attend to various items of experience as part 
of one space and time setting, they come to form one con- 
text or part of one disposition, in such a manner that after- 
wards, when one item is brought into play, it will tend to 
reinstate the other items also. What particular item shall 
be brought up at any one time, other things being the 
same, will, of course, depend upon the strength of the 
habit, which, in turn, is conditioned by the number of 
repetitions, or by the vividness of any one excitement, or by 
the recency of the occurrence. The events of our mental 
life, inasmuch as they must run through attention, will be 
found to be strung upon this law of contiguity of interest. 

The law of contiguity, however, is not the only method 
by means of which the facts are strung in our mental 
life. There is also a tendency to pass from one fact to 
another and to string them together in new ways by reason 
of similars, whether the similarity be one of quality, or rela- 
tion, or an identical word. Take a case of blue sky sug- 
gesting the blue sea. We are taking for granted here that 
the two have not been experienced together, for then it 
would only be a case of contiguity. When blue sky, how- 
ever, suggests blue sea without their being part of a previ- 
ous context of interest, we have a new pivot for recall. 
What happens in this case ? Not habit, because there has 
been no habit as between these processes. The attention 
to the identity of the blue quality becomes a new linkage. 

5O Truth and Reality 

A new connection has thus arisen as a result of conscious- 
ness, which affords a bond not made before. This con- 
sciousness of a part belonging to two contexts by virtue of 
the identity of some elements within them is entirely dif- 
ferent from the contiguity relation. There is no contiguity 
until after attention has made the identification, after the 
connection has once been made; that is, after the fact. 

In order to understand either the operation by contiguity 
or by similarity, it is necessary to add another category, 
that of set. As a matter of fact neither contiguity nor sim- 
ilarity operates mechanically. They are steered in either 
case by the dominant interest or total impulse at the time. 
The mind operates somewhat like the switch system of a 
railway. When one switch is open, as the result of inter- 
est, the other switches will tend, more or less, to be closed, 
though in the case of some minds it seems to be a case of 
continual running off into the other directions, and run- 
ning back again. The total train of association, however, 
is dominated by this selective disposition of which I have 
spoken as set. Take it in the case of contiguity : while 
many facts have been attended to together, and even 
though the mechanical habit should be as favorable in one 
direction as in the other, the tendency will be to run the 
train of associations in accordance with the interest or 
affective tone at the time. 

In recall by similars, the category of set becomes still 
more obvious. The old contiguities are traversed in all 
sorts of new ways, because of the dominant disposition at 
the time. The set may be a practical end to be accom- 
plished, a certain emotional tone at the time or a fascinat- 
ing image which for the time being holds the field. But 
in any case the mind does not act merely from part to 

The Categories of Intelligence 5 1 

part, but the preceding events and the present context of 
association and emotion must be taken into account in un- 
derstanding the course of ideas. In reproductive imagina- 
tion this interest is impulsive and emotional, is not organized, 
and soon spends itself, and gives place to another impulse 
or emotion. Hence the constellations of ideas which hang 
together by means of these individual impulses form largely 
independent clusters, except as shot through now and then 
by the consciousness of similars. It is not until the reflec- 
tive level, however, that we have an indefinitely sustained 


set or organized interest. 

3. The Level of Empirical Generalization 

If the memory image is an economic device in the ad- 
justment of the organism, a still greater economy is effected 
when we come to the level of thought. By means of rea- 
soning we can free ourselves from the slavery to the con- 
crete situation, by substituting for the total situation certain 
characters or relations which are significant for the type of 
adjustment in question. Thus we can, not merely repeat 
adjustments once gone through as in the case of memory, 
but meet new situations on the basis of the characteristic 
identities which we have abstracted from experience. On 
this level of generalization, we must take account of four 
different categories or forms of synthesis. There is the 
synthesis of quantity, the synthesis of quality, the synthesis 
of cause and effect and the synthesis of individual inter- 
penetration or substance. 

Let us speak first of the synthesis of quantity. Experi- 
ence is such that we can recognize the characteristic of 
more or less in comparing its processes. On the basis of 
this distinction we can apply our conventional units to our 

52 Truth and Reality 

space, time and energetic relations, and spread our facts 
out into series. It is unnecessary to say that the category 
of quantity has nothing to do with the classification of 
propositions in formal logic, though the identity of the 
word in the two cases seems to have confused Kant. 1 
Nor can we agree with Kant that quantity, as we take it 
in experience, is an aggregate of previously given parts. 2 
We do not synthesize an infinite number of positions in the 
drawing of the line. As a matter of fact we would have 
to synthesize infinities of an infinite number of Machtig- 
keiten. And then we would miss the real character which 
makes quantity continuous. Infinite divisibility is a purely 
conceptual and hypothetical affair. We do not make any 
such synthesis psychologically. 

Once having arrived at a unit of measure we have a great 
advantage in the description of the world of processes. 
We can take facts over again and compare them ; we can 
make our own conduct definite with reference to them 
on the basis of this quantitative spreading out of facts of 
experience. With such accuracy of description we have 
the advent of science. And all the facts of experience lend 
themselves to this quantitative way of taking them. They 
are capable of being taken as more or less, if not exten- 
sively, at least intensively. * 

Besides spreading the facts out into quantitative series, 
we can spread them out on the basis of their degree of 
difference as regards their qualities. Thus we spread out 
our color series, our tonal series, our number series, etc. 
The number series, which must be taken fundamentally as 

The Categories of Intelligence 53 

an order series, is the most important of all, as it furnishes 
the hierarchy of values which we must presuppose in all of 
our measurements. It is not true that quantitative com- 
parison is more fundamental than qualitative. Difference 
in qualities is just as important in the adjustment of the 
organism as the consciousness of more or less. And 
spreading tones out into series of octaves and colors into 
their respective color dimensions cannot be reduced to 
quantitative comparison, whether intensive or extensive. 
Nor can we make quantity a mere result of quality. Facts 
can be taken as more or less in experience, as differing in 
extensity or at least in intensity, independently of variation 
of quality. We cannot, finally, regard qualities as varying 
in infinitesimal degrees to zero, as Kant supposes. 1 Such 
variation is a purely conceptual affair. Perceptual qualities 
have a finite threshold and vary by finite increments, 
whether intensively or in kind. ^ 

Another method of synthesis is that of causality. It 
was Hume that showed that when facts follow each other 
according to invariable antecedents and consequents, we 
come to regard them as causally connected ; in fact, cause 
and effect merely mean that facts are definitely predictable 
under certain conditions. There is nothing hidden or 
mysterious about causality. The constraint, however, can- 
not lie merely in subjective habit or even in a category of 
causality. The constraint must lie finally in the processes 
of which we take account The necessity which we feel in 
regard to certain sequences is in part due to mental consti- 
tution, to be sure, but on the one hand, it could only be 
evoked by the conditions of antecedents and consequents 
on the part of the content ; on the other, the necessity of 
1 Op. dt., p. 138. 

54 Truth and Reality 

the content relation must prove itself independent of the 
subjective feeling. The latter has often attached itself to 
the wrong content and must be corrected in the course of 
experience. The method of agreement, therefore, must be 
supplemented by the method of difference in some form. 
Kant himself recognized that the particular causal series 
must be ascertained from experience and cannot be read 
off a priori. 

We cannot recognize reciprocity as a distinct category, 
on the same level as causality, as Kant does. Reciprocity 
is merely causality read both ways. It is double causality. 
The best illustration is that of gravity, where one mass does 
not merely pull the other, but each body responds to gravi- 
tational influence according to the mass and inversely as 
the square of the distance. The same would be true of 
any other causal relation. Each factor in the causal rela- 
tion contributes to the result. Reciprocity is merely testi- 
mony to the fact that the universe has a plural character 
consists of many centers of energy. If such were not the 
case, there .would be no causality at all. Causality in a 

. ' - < % , , . .~ J 

monistic world has no significance. 

Finally, a fourth method of synthesis is that of individual 
interpenetration. In the case of causality, the characteris- 
tics appear in a sequence, according to the successive condi- 
tions which set them off. In the category of substance or 
individuality, the characteristics must be conceived as co- 
existing and interpenetrating. They exist in the service of 
one impulse or end. Whether different characters can so 
interpenetrate we cannot here argue. We must merely 
insist that if they do so coexist, if they must be taken in 
such a manner in the procedure of experience, then they 
can coexist and interpenetrate. 

The Categories of Intelligence 55 

Individual synthesis takes two forms in the procedure of 
experience. We distinguish between individual things and 
individual selves. Individual things are such as they must 
be taken in their external relations. They have no inward- 
ness of meaning and value. Individual selves must be 
recognized as having a meaning of their own. But the 
method of synthesis is the same in either case. In either 
case we have the interpenetration of qualities. In either 
case the diversity of characters is unified by its being 
taken as expressing one impulse or fulfilling one purpose. 


4. The Level of Idealization 

In the first place, it may be well to define what we 
understand by ideal synthesis. We can do no better than 
to state the admirable definition of Baldwin : " Ideals are 
the forms which we feel our conceptions would take if we 
were able to realize in them a satisfying degree of unity, 
harmony, significance and universality." 1 Four characters 
are involved in ideal synthesis. First we demand a unity 
of parts within a whole. This means that the various facts 
must be capable of being understood as expressing one 
idea. In the second place, there must be harmony ; that 
is, the parts within the whole must be seen to support or 
reenforce each other. Thirdly, there must be clearness 
and distinctness or simplicity of relationships. That is, 
we must be able to pass with ease or fluency from one 
point to another. And fourthly, the ideal synthesis must 
be capable of social sharing or universality. We cannot 
here follow these requirements for each field of ideal syn- 
thesis, such as the esthetic, ethical, etc. Each field is limited 

1 Baldwin, "Feeling and Will," p. 202. 


56 Truth and Reality 

by its own content and its peculiar constitution, whether 
it be the satisfaction of the requirements of the intellect, 
or the requirements of feeling in its specific forms of 
realization, or the requirements of the will in its moral 
endeavor, or the requirements which our total nature sets 
for the unification and conservation of values. But here 
our concern is with the ideal of intelligence alone. Can 
the universe of facts with which intelligence deals be said 
to possess these characteristics, so far as knowledge is con- 
cerned ? We cannot say as yet. For us, as finites, a com- 
plete knowledge is an ideal. In the meantime, we must 
live by faith. But if we did possess such a knowledge, 
the ideal would require that it possess unity of principle, 
that is, the facts would be seen to follow according to a 
certain identity which could be described. There must 
further be harmony, or mutual support of parts. Facts 
would lean on ideas, and ideas on facts, without break in 
the adjustment or the transitions. The relations would 
further be seen to be clear and distinct ; that is, every fact 
would be definable by means of a few finite principles. 
And such a synthesis would finally be universal ; that is, 
it would everywhere compel the social agreement of all 
rational beings. While such an ideal synthesis lies beyond 
our experience, we cannot say it is impossible. On the 
contrary, we must have explicit faith in its realization. It 
is the passion for such unity which furnishes the real motive 
of all ef our scientific endeavor. In the meantime we can 
work for it and approximate to it. With Kant we would 
agree, " These ideals, though they cannot claim objective 
reality (existence), are not therefore to be considered as 
mere chimeras, but supply reason with an indispensable 
standard, because it requires the concept of that which is 

The Categories of Intelligence 57 

perfect of its kind, in order to estimate and measure by it 
the degrees and the number of the defects in the imperfect 
. . . This is the case with the ideal of reason, which must 
always rest on definite concepts, and serve as a rule and 
model whether for imitation or criticism." * 

What the ideal of reason or the philosophic conscious- 
ness adds to our scientific work of generalization is a feel- 
ing for wholeness within the fragmentary generalizations 
of our experience. This is more or less implicitly present 
in all our sorting of experience, even if not brought into 
definite'consciousness. It always sets the implied goal of 
our endeavor. Now this feeling for wholeness takes a 
fourfold form as expressed in terms of the content of our 
expeTience. It becomes the demand for the unity of our 
inner experience or the ego ; the demand for the unity of 
our outer experience or nature ; the demand for the unity 
of our social experience, our fellow world, or history; and 
finally, the demand for unity in the totality of being or the 

In the case of these ideal wholes, we must recognize 
with Kant that they have no relevance except as applied 
to reality as experienced. They are tendencies or demands 
on the part of our mental constitution, in dealing with its 
objects. Kant is right, too, as regards the human charac- 
ter of this conceptual construction. We cannot say that 
there are not beings in the universe differently organized 
from ourselves, for which such ideals would have no rele- 
vance. In fact, we are pretty certain that such ideals are 
not present in animals limited to the planes of perception 
and reproductive imagination. Whether, however, as Kant 
suggests, there are beings superior to ourselves, that have 

1 Max Muller's translation of the "Critique of Pure Reason," p. 461. 

58 Truth and Reality 

a higher mode of intuition, lying outside our methods of 
synthesis, it is idle to inquire. We, at any rate, must deal 
with truth as the goal of the realization of such capacities 
as we have as human. We must part company with Kant 
when he assumes that reality by being experienced is 
thereby "faked," subjectively encrusted, in such a way 
that we are prevented from knowing things as they are. 
We must, on the contrary, believe that reality is more of the 
same kind of thing which we are grasping in a fragmentary 
way in our actual human experience. A thing in itself 
outside of experience can solve no problems and can be of 
no possible interest to us. It is not merely problematic, 
but it is due to a false abstraction the supposition that 
things can exist by themselves without making differences 
to other individuals. We must hold that it is precisely 
through the differences that individuals make in definite 
contexts that they can be known. And they are precisely 
such as we must take them, in such contexts. 

Once we frankly and thoroughly apply the pragmatic 
method to the taking of experience, we can avoid the pit- 
falls into which Kant fell on account of his false distinction 
between reality as experienced and things in themselves. 
Take, in the first place, the ideal synthesisjaf .inner ^experi- 
ence, or the ego. We must hold here that "the soul is 
substance," 1 in so far as we can recognize constancy in 
the series of its processes, and predict its conduct. This 
is the only practical significance of substance. We must 
hold, secondly, that the soul is "as regards its quality 
simple " in so far as we can take it as such, that is, in so far 
as one idea or purpose can be seen to run through it. This 
does not prevent its owning a complexity of processes; 
1 Compare op. cit., p. 281, " Paralogisms of Pure Reason." 

The Categories of Intelligence 59 

and both in ordinary life and in pathological cases we know 
that the self may be far from being systematically unified. 
In ordinary life, the self may hang together merely by con- 
tiguity of interest; and in pathological cases, even this ex- 
ternal thread may be broken. As regards the numerical 
identity of the soul at different times, this again can only 
have pragmatic meaning, that is, as a series of processes 
realizing a unique will throughout the shifting fringes, and 
thus distinguishable from other self histories. If we look 
for an identical block of being, certainly there is nothing 
in our experience to warrant assuming any such numerical 
identity. The soul is numerically distinct, because it can 
be distinguished from other souls with their streams of 
processes. Lastly we can agree with Kant that the soul 
"is in relation to possible objects of space." With Kant 
we would adopt empirical realism. In his own words, " all 
external perception proves immediately something real in 
space or rather is that real itself," 1 though without Kant's 
implication of the shadow of a thing in itself in the back- 

In our finite experience, we must hold that the unity of 
the self is a goal to be accomplished, rather than a finished 
fact. We must substitute for the block unity of a static 
conception of the soul the dynamic unity of a conative 
direction or purpose to be realized, which makes the parts 
hang together by virtue of this realization. This concep- 
tion of unity differs from that of pure associationism, 
which regards the self as a mere collection of static 
ideas without any internal cement which binds those 
bits together. On the other hand, this view differs from 
the old soul theory, which evidently Kant had in mind, of 
1 op. fit., pp. 304 fi. 

6o Truth and Reality 

a simple, identical, static entity which must be added to the 
successive processes of consciousness. Such an entity, it is 
easy to see, is pragmatically useless. The only unity which 
can be of pragmatic value must be the dynamic coherency 
and direction of the successive states within an idea or pur- 
pose. Thus we dodge the formidable so-called "paralo- 
gisms " of pure reason, which are only Kantian scarecrows. 
If, again, we take up the ideal synthesis of outer^expe- 
rience or nature, we find the pragmatic method equally 
clarifying. Here, too, we must be satisfied to take reality 
piecemeal and for what it is in experience. And thus we 
shall steer clear of the Kantian antinomies. 1 Nature can 
be taken as a series of conditions just in so far as it is con- 
venient so to take it. We are always concerned with 
special problems in dealing with our world. Our interest in 
nature has to do with the prediction and control of certain 
practical situations, not with nature in the abstract ; and 
we must trace these conditions just in so far as the needs of 
prediction require. Absolute completeness of conditions is 
a matter of theoretical abstraction. Space and time, as 
quantitative series, are merely our ideal tools for dealing 
with the world of experience, as Kant has truly shown. 
Following them out to infinity will be at best a tiresome 
play, on the part of the faculty of ideal construction, and 
could have nothing to do with reality. Whether reality is 
infinite in time and space cannot be settled a priori, but 
must be determined with reference to the needs of actual 
experience. And here the extent of reality, in either 
space or time, is only of interest in so far as it helps us to 
describe and orient ourselves within the world with which 
we must deal. 

1 Compare op. '/., p. 344. 

The Categories of Intelligence 61 

Since we cannot conceive change to have originated 
from the unchanging, we can theoretically extend our 
ideal construction of time indefinitely back. The extent 
of space has interest for us only in determining the rela- 
tions of energies in space. And these relations may be 
finite, whether space itself is infinite or not. 

When we come to the question of the divisibility of the 
objects of our outer experience, here again we must pro- 
ceed pragmatically. Our mathematical quantities are in- 
deed infinitely divisible by definition. Not so the empirical 
world. * This is only as divisible as we can take it for the 
purposes of conduct. Whatever may be decided as to the 
existence of atoms and electrons, there certainly is no 
evidence of infinite divisibility. 

If we take, again, the question of origination, or causal- 
ity versus freedom, the pragmatic way of taking reality 
recognizes, on the one hand, that there are certain constan- 
cies or identities in our world of experience, otherwise we 
could not take our objects twice ; we could not have the 
same meaning over again. We could have no prediction, 
and therefore no science. On the other hand, there seems 
to be a certain amount of novelty; of new accretion to 
reality, at least in certain spots. So it seems to our finite 
experience, at any rate. What we must modestly do in 
dealing with facts, is, to render unto Caesar that which is 
Caesar's, and take reality as we find it. 

This is equally true as regards the problem of necessity 
and contingency. There can be, so far as we can see, no 
isolated, indifferent facts. The various centers or energies 
must hang together within certain contexts. The only con- 
text which is theoretically self-existing and self-explanatory 
is the total dynamic whole of reality. This does not mean, 

62 Truth and Reality 

however, that either the whole or the parts are absolutely 
fixed or ready made ; that reality in the making might not 
have been otherwise. We are dealing here with ideals 
which we must try on so far as they will work. Thus the 
Kantian antinomies as regards our attempted synthesis of 
nature disappear with the pragmatic or instrumental view 
of truth, on the one hand, and the banishing of the fictitious 
things in themselves on the other. 

Taking up, in the third place, the demand for an ideal 
unitjLof j)ur social experience or history, here too we must 
be satisfied with this same pragmatic method of procedure. 
Empirically viewed, there seems to be no such thing as 
history. There are rather various histories, individual and 
national, which sometimes overlap and sometimes fail to 
do so. If there is to be an ideal whole of history, there- 
fore, we cannot look for it in the past, with its many more 
or less separate streams of civilization ; but we must look 
for it in the future. Such unity of common sympathy and 
common understanding seems to be more, at any rate, than 
a dream. So far as human life on earth is concerned, it 
is being swept more and more into the whirlpool of inter- 
national agitation, commerce and education. And it seems 
likely, therefore, that in the try-out of various ideals, now 
competing for supremacy, certain common standards of 
conduct will result. 

The unity of history, like the unity of the individual 
self, means the convergence towards a common ideal. It 
means the thread of an identical will or purpose, running 
through the many individual and national histories with 
their motley events. Such unity may provisionally be 
communicated to the larger masses of individuals and na- 
tions, by the imitation of a great personality, which thus 

The Categories of Intelligence 63 

comes to set his stamp upon events. In the long run, 
however, ideals, whether personal or impersonal, must be 
measured by their capacjty_tojan.ify and satisfy the com- 
plex demands of human wills. Thus we can understand 
the historic life, when we can follow the transitions of 
experience through the identical ideals or purposes on 
which the events converge. 

We have discussed so far three forms, which our ideal 
feeling for wholeness takes in its realization in experience, 
namely, the realization of a whole of our inner life, or the 
unitary' self ; the realization of a whole of our outer world, 
or the systematic unity of nature ; and the realization of a 
whole in our fellow world, or the systematic unity of 
history. We must still take another step. Our mental 
constitution is such that we could not rest content with 
these forms of ideal unity, standing side by side. We de- 
mand a still more comprehensive form ; namely, the com- 
plete synthesis of all experience, or the absolute. With 
Kant, I would insist that such a unity is an ideal of our 
reason, a regulative principle in the unification of our 
experience. It is a f|ih that, somehow, the universe as a 
whole hangs together; that we can pass directly, or by 
means of intermediaries, from one part of our world to an- 
other without break. As such an ideal, or law of totality, 
the concept of the absolute has a legitimate function in 
experience. In other words, the ideal of knowledge is 
that of a fully organized, systematic unity of all facts of 

We have no_right, however, to_ hyppstatize such a unity 
of experience into an objective existence. Kant has done 
immortal service in showing that no a priori proof of the 
existence of such a unity of experience, including and con- 

64 Truth and Reality 

stituting reality as a whole, is possible. The traditional 
proofs of such an absolutely necessary experience are 
inconclusive, if not question begging. We can of course 
have the idea of such a being. There is nothing inconsist- 
ent in the concept of the absolute. We can therefore 
think of it as having existence, but no thinking of ours 
can constitute such an existence. This must be proven, 
if at all, ray-ott^success in using the hypothesis in meeting 
the actual needs of experience. It cannot be proven a 

Finally, the concept of Gq, and the proof for the exist- 
ence of God, need have nothing to do with such an as- 
sumption in regard to the totality of being. In any case, 
there is no reason why we should worship existence as a 
whole. Our faith in the moral law, and in its being a valid 
expression of our universe, may lead us, as it led Kant, to 
the recognition of a personal finite consciousness who em- 
bodies in an effective way our moral demands. But this 
has nothing to do with the conception of the totality of 

Our feeling for beauty, our striving for order and unity 
must indicate that the universe cannot at any rate be 
foreign or hostile to such demands, for we are part of the 
universe ; and our ideal demands are the last word of its 
long, groping and struggling evolutionary history. 




IN discussing the thought process, I wish first of all to 
differentiate thought from other types of meaning ; in the 
second place, I want to show the relation of thought to 
language ; in the third place, I want to make some com- 
ments on the psychological investigations of thought ; and 
in the fourth place, I shall try to define the thought attitude 

In the first place, in discussing the thought process, we 
must be careful to differentiate thought from the simpler, 
prelogical stages in the development of meaning, as well 
as from other types of organized meaning. Not all con- 
sciousness of the meaning types can be identified with judg- 
ment, if by judgment we mean being awake or actively 
controlling the stream of consciousness. Already on the 
perceptual level we have cumulating meaning. The series 
of impressions is unified by the impulsive interest. They 
overlap as warm, living sensations, as the tones of the 
melody, and are cemented into a complex affective disposi- 
tion. If that is true on the perceptual level, it is still more 
obvious on the level of associative memory. Here the 
idea gets its significant coloring from the suggested con- 
text of contiguity or similarity. Yet so long as the control 
of the train of images is impulsive merely, we cannot call 


68 Truth and Reality 

the suggestiveness of context a case of judgment. We 
must recognize contexts, perceptual and ideational, built by 
prelogical interest and ready made when we wake up to 

Not only does unification into persistent content-clusters, 
in the way of sensory complication and association of 
images, take place on the impulsive level of development. 
Discrimination, too, begins on the prelogical level. It may 
be ^voluntary. Take Martineau's familiar illustration of 
the billiard balls. The child's attention singles out the 
moving billiard ball from its context. When a ball of an- 
other color is exchanged for the former, attention may 
detach the quality of color ; and so with the form and other 
properties. Having had experience with a bitter-tasting 
fluid in a bottle, the child turns its head away from the 
medicine. In the confusion of odors, the faithful dog 
singles out the trail of the master. But these discrimina- 
tions are quite involuntary and cannot, in any true sense, 
be termed judgments. When the judging process proper 
begins, it already possesses, as a result of involuntary dis- 
crimination and abstraction, a wealth not only of concrete 
objects, but also of abstract qualities and relations. This 
must be kept in mind when we come to define the nature 
of the judging process. Not all abstractions are concepts ; 
and acting upon an abstraction does not necessarily imply 
a judgment. The dog identifies the tramp type, the duck 
identifies the watery kind of thing, but not by judgment. 

Another caution, which must be remembered, is that the 
child receives the benefit of a great deal of thinking, on 
the part of society, which has passed into convention and 
custom. We are born into a world of certain thought- 
fashions, as into fashions of clothes and manners. We 

The Truth Process 69 

imitate the conventional attitudes about us as regards 
science, and politics, and other important adjustments 
to contemporary life. We also imitate the customs, which 
have been handed down to us from time immemorial, 
and which, unlike our laws and science, do not appear to 
be man-made, though they are themselves the survivals 
of forgotten inventions. Whether our imitation is due to 
contemporary prestige, or to the prestige conferred by 
time and ancestral association, in either case we must not 
mistake such adjustments for thinking, however much 
thinking may have been involved originally in formulating 
those social axioms which we are now taking for granted. 
The result of such imitation is that society has the appear- 
ance of doing a great cfeal more thinking than it does. We 
speak glibly about evolution, and gravitation, and other 
fundamental doctrines, without knowing as a rule the 
reasons upon which they are based. We take them because 
they are the thing. They are part of our social atmosphere. 
As a matter of fact, we do but little thinking, and that 
usually about only a small part of experience. The rest 
we take on authority and prestige. 

Even the adaptation of means to ends need not involve 
thought. It may be due to instinct or ordinary association. 
We ought in justice to apply the same criterion to human 
conduct as we do to that of animals in general. If we do, 
however, it is likely to play havoc with our cut-and-dried 
logical schemes. We will find that with us, as with the 
animals below us, the greater part of the conduct, which 
has the appearance of being intelligent, is due to habit and 
the imitation of tradition. In the case of human conduct, 
as in the case of animals, the criterion of thinking must be 
the ability to adapt one's self to a novel situation on the basis 

/o Truth and Reality 

of identical characters, which we select from the concrete 
complex and substitute for it. Thinking is a form of voli- 
tional conduct, which asks the why and whither ; which 
implies reasons or relations to a context ; and which termi- 
nates expressly or impliedly in a definition; This is such 
a situation as can be met on the basis of such an identical 
character as ascertained through previous experience. 
Thinking always means an active singling out of a relevant 
character a quality or relation. It is the conscious, 
active control of a situation on the basis of a selected con- 
tent, whether that situation be associative or perceptual, 
inner or outer, and however much it may differ in other 
respects from the original situation. 

We have tried to differentiate thought from the more 
primitive stages of cumulative meaning, such as learning 
by habit and association. Thought, while utilizing the per- 
ceptual and associative stages of meaning, puts a new 
stamp upon them. It differs from these by involving 
organized control of the perceptual and associative stream 
of processes ; by the deliberate singling out of a relevant 
character from the concrete situation and the conscious 
substituting of this for the whole. It thus enables us to 
meet new situations on the basis of identical characteristics, 
where habit and memory are limited to concrete repetition. 
The Indian of the story, once having had the taste of roast 
pig from the burning of his wigwam, proceeds to burn the 
wigwam every time he wants roast pig, while reason would 
enable him to abstract the essential relation and proceed on 
the basis of it. -w^ ^ ^ tfO- ecov^w^ rt tv^fiww . 

While thought thus enables us to economize greatly the 
life of habit and memory, it must not be forgotten that in 
turn thought presupposes these more concrete forms of 

The Truth Process 71 

unity in order to do its work. Complication and associa- 
tion furnish thought, on the one hand, the storehouse from 
which it can draw in its search for relevant characteristics. 
The peculiar set of thought can only suggest the appro- 
priate characteristics, when these are already strung by 
contiguities and similarities within the network of experi- 
ence. The thought interest selects rather than -makes the 
significant relations. It runs through and intersects the 
previous concrete unities in all sorts of ways, guided by its 
dominant tendency. On the other hand, thought could 
not arrive at its end, identify its proper objects, unless 
the concrete unities were suggested on the basis of thought's 
abstractions. It is the merit of these abstractions that they 
lead us to the concrete situations which we must meet 
And this concrete context must be supplied by perceptual 
complication and memory. To fail to see this relation of 
thought to the more primitive unities is to fail to understand 
thought's proper function in experience, which is to termi- 
nate in the concrete situation. The value of our theory of 
eclipses is to enable us to meet concrete eclipses. The 
value of the search for the forgotten name is to identify a 
concrete individual. 

While we must differentiate thought from the simpler 
unities of experience, we must also distinguish it from other 
forms of ideal synthesis, which, like thought, involve ideal 
construction and organization by purpose, such as esthetic 
wholes. It has sometimes been argued that the esthetic 
unity, with its fluent and harmonious synthesis of parts, is 
the goal of the thought process. Whether esthetic unity is 
a higher form of unity than thought unity is not a point for 
discussion here. In any case, we must hold that it is differ- 
ent. We have seen that thought involves the conscious- 

72 Truth and Reality 

ness of active analysis or control of the situation. The 
previous adjustment is somehow upset, and we must 
meet the situation in a new way. This means unrest 
until the problem is solved, until the curiosity is satis- 
fied. While there is suggestion of unity in obedience 
to a purpose, this is only gotten by hesitation and the 
pondering of alternatives. The esthetic consciousness is 
fundamentally different. Esthetic unity is spontaneously 
suggested to the spectator. It holds us instead of our 
holding it. In the immediate suggestion of ideal fluency 
and fitness, it is at the other extreme from thought. If the 
esthetic object puzzles the spectator, if it requires analysis 
in order to be understood, if it suggests improvement or 
readjustment, it has largely nullified its claim to esthetic 
value. It must be capable of immediate appreciation, 
without previous understanding. In its harmonious play 
of parts, in the ease of transition from content to content, 
in the involuntary, clear and distinct suggestion of the 
idea or universal, lie its spontaneous enjoyment and its 
title to being art. Mere technic, mere elaborate and 
puzzling detail, must be evaluated from some other point 
of view than that of art. 


Perhaps the greatest source of confusion in regard to the 
thought process is due to language. It is true that lan- 
guage is by far the most important tool in the service of 
thought, and that thought could progress but to a rudi- 
mentary extent, if it were not for language. Language is 
to thought a sort of sixth sense. By its artificial symbols 
and its network of relations, by " winged words," it enables 
thought to intuit immediately its own past mind and the 

The Truth Process 73 

expressed mind of others. But it is not true, either from 
the point of view of race history or of individual history, 
that language and thought necessarily go together. In the 
first place, we are now agreed that there can be thought 
without language. Other forms of symbolism, perceptual 
or ideal, may serve the instrumental needs of thought. 
We do not always formulate our thinking into words. If 
we look at the development of language again, either from 
the point of view of the evolution of the race or of the indi- 
vidual, we must recognize that language runs parallel to the 
whole story of mental development and is by no means 
limited to the level of thought development. Phyloge- 
netically, language begins on the perceptual level, both as 
regards emotional and descriptive signs. Animals, which 
certainly show no signs of thought and may not even in- 
dicate the presence of images, still make themselves known 
to each other, and elicit certain types of conduct by means 
of certain sounds and gestures. On the level of associative 
memory, greater complexity of such signs would naturally 
manifest itself. But it is with analysis and abstraction, or 
on the level of thought and its inventiveness, that artificial 
language is first formed with its immense variety of sym- 
bolism. Where such inventiveness enters in, you do, of 
course, satisfy the criterion of thought. The greater 
number of human beings, however, get the inventions of 
language, as they get other inventions, viz., second hand. 
When thus imitated, language, no more than the use of 
any other ready-made invention, implies thinking. 

If we look at the matter, again, from the point of view 
of individual history or ontogenetically, we know that a 
child imitates language, as it imitates the other gestures 
and conduct about it, without question or deliberation. It 

74 Truth and Reality 

simply cannot help trying to perform the movements and 
expressions of those immediately about it. It is only later 
in life, if at all, that the net results of human development, 
as crystallized in words, come to signify thinking to the 
individual. Language, in other words, starts as one per- 
ceptual form of reaction. It develops into one kind of 
memory picture and establishes connection with other 
pictures and actions by the laws of association, though its 
greater economy tends to make it supplant the more con- 
crete forms of associative pictures. Language may stand 
for all sorts of mental states. It may be the name of a 
perceptual complication, such as a tree or a stone. It may 
stand for a concrete image. It may symbolize an abstract 
relation or quality. But one thing is sure, we cannot take 
language as the synonym of thought. Even propositions, 
though they symbolize judgment on the part of some one, 
certainly are not judgments as they are found in the logic 
books, or in our school primers. Such propositions as : Is 
the dog white ? Yes, the dog is white, and other equally 
solemn ones, probably did not convey judgments to the 
youthful seeker after wisdom of the primary grade ; nor 
do the conventional propositions of the logic books, such 
as : All men are mortal ; Socrates is a man ; therefore, Soc- 
rates is mortal, convey much of the significance of the 
thought process to the average college sophomore. This 
significance can only be seen when we abandon our abstract 
formalism and return to the function of language in the 
active, living thought situation, with its problems, its reso- 
lution into a definite plan of procedure and its systematic 
reasons. Then we see that it is first through observing the 
characteristics of such men as Socrates that we see what 
holds for their kind ; and afterwards all we have to do is 

The Truth Process 75 

to identify the individual's kind in order to determine 
expectancy as regards mortality or other characters. 

Language, moreover, like all tools, has its limitations. 
It must resort to all sorts of makeshifts to symbolize the com- 
plexity of thought. It must stereotype into static pictures 
thought's transitive relations. It gives the appearance of 
juxtapositions of subjects and copulas and predicates. It 
makes relations and qualities appear as entities or sub- 
stances. It gives to individuals an isolation and fixity 
which foreign to the real world of fluent transitions. 
No wonder this makes thought appear a hopeless mass of 
chopped-up abstractions to one who has not grasped the 
instrumental significance of language. To one who has 
grasped this, language becomes a marvelous framework or 
system of pegs for recording, communicating and fixating 
the relative constancies of our fluent inner meanings. 

Nominalism, by confusing thought with language re- 
ducing concepts to mere terms, judgments to the separation 
or juxtaposition of terms, and reasoning to the juxtaposition 
of propositions makes thought seem artificial and arbi- 
trary. With Bergson it makes thought a series of static pic- 
tures, like the photographs of the cinematograph, but in no 
respect imitating reality. Nominalism first makes a carica- 
ture of thought and then pronounces it impossible, as it 
certainly is on nominalist principles. What nominalism 
forgets is that the symbols need in no wise resemble the 
realities they stand for. The bill of fare isn't at all like the 
things it stands for, and yet it may be a very accurate and 
useful bill of fare. Were thought as arbitrary as nomi- 
nalism makes it, we cannot see of what use it could possibly 
be in meeting reality. 

We must also bear in mind that conveying thought is 

76 Truth and Reality 

only part, and a comparatively small part, of the function 
of language. Words serve the purpose of calling up trains 
of concrete images and awakening emotional attitudes 
more often than of conveying thought. The figure, to cru- 
cify on a cross of gold, served some years ago to stampede 
a whole political convention, yet what the words conveyed 
was not thought, but imagery suffused with religious emo- 
tion. The cry of the full dinner pail once won a presi- 
dential election, but its appeal was to the stomach not to 
reason. Some words are simply charged with emotional en- 
thusiasm and impulsive energy, such as the words, Liberty, 
Fraternity and Equality, in the days of the French Revolu- 
tion. Even in the acceptance of certain philosophical 
theories such as the Absolute, or the Unknowable, or 
idealism or realism, or Christian Science, the convincing- 
ness may not be due to thought, which is generally hard 
to find and which itself is apt to consist in reasons trumped 
up after the fact. The conviction is apt to rest upon the 
play of imagination, with the suggested emotions, which 
the words call forth. Hence, too, the theological convinc- 
ingness of such terms as Unitarian or trinitarian to masses 
of people who have no inkling of their philosophical signi- 
ficance. The vitality of language lies precisely in its be- 
ing woven into the whole tissue of life imaginative and 
emotional, as well as intellectual. 


If we take up again the psychological analysis of thought, 
this has been scarcely more satisfactory than the lexico- 
graphical account of the old formal logic. There has been, 
in the first place, a very vague consciousness as to what 
thought is. In a large number of the experimental in- 

The Truth Process 77 

stances reported, such as, London is to England as Paris 
is to , it is not necessary to assume anything but passive 
association in furnishing the answer. It is extremely 
difficult to determine, under the artificial conditions of the 
laboratory, whether one is dealing with a genuine case of 
thought consciousness or not. There is no a priori way 
of telling whether a certain group of symbols or a certain 
situation means a real thought process to the individual 
subject or not. It might again be a case of thought con- 
sciousness, on the part of the operator who devises the 
situation, but merely a matter of habitual association on 
the part of the subject There is no way of determining 
in the abstract when you have a genuine case of thought, 
a real judgment. This can only be done with reference to 
the situation which the will strives to meet. A statement 
which symbolizes thought with one, may symbolize merely 
conventional imitation with another. 

An introspective account at best brings out primarily the 
training and methods of thought of the introspecting indi- 
vidual. Hegel gives us the typical introspective Account 
in his Logic. Here the category of being suggests with 
subjective necessity the category of non-being; and this in 
turn the category of becoming, each category leading into 
the other until the circle is complete. But the implications 
and stages which he feels to be so binding in this subjec- 
tive dialectic are chiefly interesting as throwing light on 
Hegel's own mind. His transitions have not proved co- 
ercive even over those who, in the main, adopt Hegel's 
results. They certainly throw no light on the prelogical 
stages of mind. All the way from Being to the Absolute 
Idea, we move within the universe of abstract thought. 
That one steeped in a scheme of logic should find such 

78 Truth and Reality 

a scheme implied in his own thinking, whether in formal 
or experimental introspection, throws considerable light 
upon the nature of the process of imitation, but not upon 
the process of judgment. 

While again it is true that thinking terminates in types 
of conduct the ability to meet a diversity of situations in 
a similar way it is not true that wherever we find types 
of conduct, there, also, we have judgment. Here again we 
must be careful not to stop with a vague genus, but also 
to furnish the specific differentia. We must define the 
kind of type or reflective conduct as distinct from other 
types. Instincts and impulses also prescribe types 
vague, general types. There are three such broad types 
of conduct even in the lowest animals things to appro- 
priate, things to get away from, stimuli to reproduction. 
In the higher grades of animal life, these instinctive types 
of conduct spontaneous reactions to certain kinds of 
stimuli become much more numerous. It is by the ex- 
amination of conduct the conduct of animals, of the de- 
veloping child, of the grown man not by mere introspec- 
tion, that we can learn to differentiate definitely the per- 
ceptual stage of conduct, with its trial and error method 
of elimination and habit, from the memory stage with its 
short cuts for the concrete reproduction of situations ; and 
distinguish definitely both of these from the stage of active 
analysis and synthesis that of judgment. Each stage 
implies its own type of conduct; has its own character- 
istics. The suggestion of typical response differs with 
each stage. The sight of the mouse suggests the typical 
movement of the cat, the meeting of a friend prompts the 
proper reaction on the part of the man, the request of the 
stranger suggests examining his credentials. But it is only 

The Truth Process 79 

on the last stage that we have consciously defined types or 

Language fixes the more important thought attitudes, but 
it is too abstract and stereotyped to fix all. Out of those 
again that language has fixed, logic selects certain ones 
which are most convenient in studying the form of thought, 
viz. , the categorical types. The syllogism is such a linguis- 
tic device, not for showing how people do think, though 
sometimes as a result of imitation thought may flow that 
way, but for exhibiting those identities which make think- 
ing valid. 

In the second place, the psychologist's analysis has been 
largely irrelevant to the real problem of thought. That is 
true especially of the controversy as to whether there is im- 
ageless thought, which has been so prominent of late. 
There doubtless are present some substantive contents 
images, verbal or concrete, or at least certain kinesthetic 
sensations in the head and perhaps elsewhere. There can 
be no doubt in my case as to the kinesthetic sensations. 
I would not call them images in my case, as they are defi- 
nitely located as tensions in the eyes, the facial muscles, 
about the nose and forehead, and in the throat. To find a 
case in the midst of the complexity of our mental life, with 
its mass of intra- and extra-organic sensations, of a pure ab- 
stract consciousness of thought transition, with all other con- 
tents psychologically eliminated, probably is more than the 
boasted laboratory method is likely to accomplish. 

One reason for the controversy as regards imageless 
thought is probably the failure to distinguish between two 
kinds of thought attitude one where the end or focal idea 
is more or less vaguely present, but where the context or 
means is to be made explicit in terms of this end ; the other, 

8o Truth and Reality 

where we start with the consciousness of a more or less vague 
context, or means, but are trying lo define a substantive 
content, the end. The former case can be illustrated by 
any attempt to meet a perceptual or ideal situation, where 
the manipulating of a given situation is the point in ques- 
tion. A door will not open, and so we must cast about for 
means ; we must analyze the situation, to discover the real 
relation involved, in order to proceed with our conduct. But 
all the while, there is present in the perceptual focus of 
attention the substantive content, the perceptual door. 
The second case might be illustrated by the forgotten name. 
The actual object, the name, is the very thing that won't 
come ; and so the will in seeking it must set to work 
through the various associative tendencies of its fringe to 
bring it into definite consciousness. Now in each of these 
two cases, substantive imagery plays a very different part. 
In the former case, a substantive picture occupies the fore- 
ground of consciousness all the while. In the latter case, 
the flights, the transitions or tensions, are the prominent 
part of our consciousness. In the former case, the pic- 
ture or image seems to constitute the end, or at any rate to 
be a part of it. In the latter case, the imagery, in so far as 
it is present, seems largely instrumental, if not concomitant 
merely, to the train of thought. Those who maintain im- 
ageless thought seem to have in mind cases where transition 
stuff, sensory and affective, forms thought's only instru- 
mental basis. 

Take again the case of language. We may attend to 
the words as conveying the thought and be conscious of 
the niceties of the style thus involved ; or we may be ab- 
sorbed in the conative tendency itself, the transitive flight 
of thought ; and typography and style then drop into the 

The Truth Process 8 1 

fringe. In the latter case, again, the stopping of the atti- 
tude, in order to introspect it, may throw into prominence 
scenery which was merely concomitant before, conscious- 
ness being changed from interest in the objective attitude 
to interest in the accessories. No doubt the form of the 
page and the size of the print and the surroundings made a 
difference, but these again may have been merely concomi- 
tant to the conative activity. In any case, the perceptual or 
ideational pictures do not constitute the thought attitude, as 
the representative theory of thought would have us believe. 
They are instruments in its service, the perching places of 
its flight. But the flight is the thing. 


The thought attitude proper means, first of all, the active 
leading or control of the flow of processes by a conscious, 
organized conative purpose. It is in this selective leading, 
rather than in the type of imagery found, whether rele- 
vant or irrelevant to the process, that the essence of thought 
is to be found. To this concrete or verbal imagery, kin- 
esthetic sensations, etc., are incidental. The controversy as 
regards imageless thought, if it has served no other purpose, 
has at least brought out the difference as regards the promi- 
nence and types of imagery in connection with the thought 
process. It is evident that the imagery and the concomitant 
sensations may differ widely in different individuals. But 
the thought process itself can be taken as the same, in so far 
as it points to and terminates in the same aspect of the situa- 
tion selected ; in so far as it leads to the same conduct. 
What must be emphasized is that it is the conative leading 
which constitutes the core of thought, not the imagery. 

This leading, this sustained attention, this control of the 


82 Truth and Reality 

stream of processes by an idea, may or may not involve 
the consciousness of the feeling of effort. Whether this 
feeling is present or not in a noticeable way depends upon 
the degree in which we are baffled, upon the fascination of 
the situation in question. We may ourselves set the puzzle. 
Our whole attention may be absorbed in the search for 
means, and while there is hesitation and analysis, our con- 
sciousness may be entirely on the content and not on our 
subjective attitude, with its motor symptoms. What, in any 
case, constitutes the activity is not the feeling of effort, which 
is a mere reflex of its going on, but the sustained attention, 
with its weighing of alternatives, its passing in survey of 
the various tendencies or aspects of the situation, its try- 
out of various suggestions in order to hit upon the relevant 
characteristics or relations so that this specific type of con- 
duct may go on. 

Thought, we see, therefore, is a volitional process. It 
has its roots, like the other activities of our conscious life, 
in our impulsive and emotional nature. It is positive and 
not merely negative not the mere absence of doubt, but 
the realization of a specific will. It may start in the prac- 
tical necessities of life the break-down of the conventional 
and habitual as regards practical adjustment. It may start 
in baffled curiosity, stimulated by the unusual. In any 
case, it means a fresh resolution of the situation involved, 
whether perceptual or ideal. It means getting at the 
character of reality so far as this special purpose is con- 

We cannot divorce thought from the deeper will. We 
cannot draw a sharp line between reason and instinct. 
Thought is not the mere encrustation on the stream of life, 
irrelevant to its inner nature. It is not the subconscious, 

The Truth Process 83 

wedged into the artificial vice of the brain. Thought is 
rooted in instinct and finds its fulfillment in realizing the 
demands of instinct, the meaning of which it reveals. 
Thought is a living, moving will, a will which has set itself 
a definite conscious goal the regulation of its intent with 
reference to the nature of the environment. It is will, awake 
as to its direction. Instinct bequeaths to thought certain 
tendencies or demands, among them the theoretical demands 
which we shall examine later. Thought bequeaths to in- 
stinct the definiteness of articulate and self-conscious 
purpose, instead of vague groping impulse. All the while, 
however, this vaguer life is in the fringe of thought. It 
furnishes in large part the motive of thought, while in turn 
lighted up and guided as to its direction. Thought is not 
the mere focus, but the total set or determination, which 
selects and guides. The value of the subconscious lies in 
its contributing to this determination. Its reward lies in 
its own illumination. 

If we were to contrast reason and instinct, we should 
say that it is instinct which is stereotyped and predictable. 
Creativeness lies not in the direction of animal vagueness, 
but in the direction of reason. It is thought which sets 
us free from the slavery to the past. And while thought 
sometimes proceeds intuitively, omitting formal steps and 
intermediaries, even here the fruits of thought usually imply 
the longer and more laborious processes gone through pre- 
viously ; and in any case the intuitive insight would not come 
except for the set of thought. Furthermore, if it comes like 
a gift, it must, like the Greeks, be tested before it can be 
fully trusted. The wisdom of the subconscious is the gift 
of previous thoughtfulness. Its authoritativeness must lie 
in its ability to meet the demands of experience. 

84 Truth and Reality 

Accompanying this state of deliberation, this weighing 
of hypothesis, this casting about for means, there is the 
consciousness of motor suspense or tension. The various 
tendencies to action block each other for the time being. 
There is the consciousness of uncertainty or doubt, the 
attitude of waiting. The idea of proceeding in one direc- 
tion, with its impulsive tendency, is blocked by the idea, 
immediately brought forward, of proceeding in another 
direction. This state of oscillation or permeability may 
itself, as in the Hamlet type, form a cast of thought, pre- 
venting action, unless broken through by cumulative impulse 
or a higher resolution of thought. 

Thought, further, involves a feeling of fitness when the 
idea terminates in its intended facts, when our intent is 
verified and our conduct again proceeds. This means, of 
course, a feeling of unfitness, when our intent fails to tally 
with the facts and when, therefore, either the idea or the 
reality intended must be altered in order to bring about the 
agreement. Excepting in cases where our will makes the 
idea come true, as in some cases of muscular and other 
bodily adjustments amenable to the will, our idea must 
respect the facts and terminate in them. When we have 
such a feeling of fulfillment, of fluency or ease in the res- 
olution of the thought situation, we have the sentiment of 
rationality. And this can only be disturbed, in the par- 
ticular case, when there is a fresh discord between idea 
and facts and a call for a fresh resolution of the situation, 
for an assimilation of new data. 

Finally, the thought process is a unique form of activity. 
It cannot be resolved into more of perceptual assimilation 
or of passive association, any more than sustained or active 
attention can be resolved into the jerky, impulsive type. 

The Truth Process 85 

Thought must, of course, work through the machinery of 
association. It is itself one type of the associative working 
of mind, both as regards recall and as regards assimilation 
of new data. What is unique about thought is its intent, 
its set, its activity. And this intent is to discover the lead- 
ing or agreement in the variety of facts and tendencies ; to 
produce point for point correspondence between the intent 
and its specific facts not with the object in general but 
the object in so far as it is intended. The formula of gravi- 
tation does not correspond point for point with the bodies 
in space' their growth and life history. It only corre- 
sponds with them in so far as they are falling matter. 

We see now how artificial is the tripartite division of 
mind into ideation, feeling and will. The truth process 
involves all of these. It is the realization of an idea, 
selected and fixated by the will, which has a definite 
hedonic value, as the process fails or succeeds of realiza- 
tion. The truth process is self-realization the whole self 
striving to realize a definite end the will to know. 


IN this chapter I wish to sketch briefly the various stages 
of the truth process. We realize now that thought is a liv- 
ing, unitary, self-defining activity. It knows of no such cut- 
and-dried divisions as words and propositions. These are 
its instruments, not its constituents. It flows over the nar- 
row and arbitrary limits of our schemes of formal logic. It is 
ever alive and active, selective of the relevant features of 
the situation, prospective with questioning, retrospective 
with searching for means. It is a matrix of relations, 
reaching forward and backward and throbbing with will 
not the pale ghost of the formal proposition or syllogism, 
which, however important for the effectiveness of thought's 
procedure, are only its artificial tools. 

The real core of this thought activity is the act of judg- 
ment And judgment, we have seen, means the active as- 
similation of a datum in terms of a context ; and, in turn, 
the making definite of the context in terms of the datum. 
Since Spencer we have come to regard thought, not as an 
idle picture show, or marshaling of formal propositions, as 
in text-books on logic, but as a functional adjustment to a 
larger whole. The environment of thought need not neces- 
sarily be that of biological survival, though that was the ab- 
sorbing interest in the early development of thought. 
Thought may be an adjustment to an ideal context, as in 
the working out of a geometrical problem. But thought 
always involves a problem and its solution. It always exists 


The Morphology of Truth 87 

for a purpose which is to be defined and made effective. 
There is no thinking in the abstract, however much thought 
may utilize abstractions. What the specific context which is 
to be defined is, depends upon our whole volitional attitude 
for the time being, for all real thinking is live thinking, 
throbs with desire and emotion. The context may be the 
whole of things, as in metaphysics. It may be chemical, it 
may be domestic, according to the dominant interest at the 
time. We must, in any case, understand judgment in rela- 
tion to the matrix of experience and life as a whole. 

The morphology of thought is the morphology of judg- 
ment. The thought process is fundamentally a judging 
process a process of being actively attentive, of being 
awake with reference to the situation which we must meet. 
We shall see that a judgment is not an act distinct from 
the more elaborate processes of thought. The whole pro- 
cess of thought, even when most elaborate, is an expansion 
and making definite of a judgment. Our thinking, in 
other words, is not chopped up into parts, but every devel- 
oped thought runs the whole gamut of the scale of judg- 
ment and inference. Our thinking is always of reasons, 
of relations to our former experience all in the service of 
the situation which we must meet ; and the upshot of our 
thinking is always some sort of a concept or definition, 
which enables us ever afterwards, in so far as it proves true, 
to meet a similar situation at sight. 

We have seen that judgment, in the case of the individ- 
ual, rests on a background of habit and imitation, which 
furnishes the mind with a stock of adjustments, biological 
and ideal, ready-made. This is the affirmative background 
of judgment. Those who have insisted that the affirma- 
tive judgment is prior to the negative, have neglected to 

88 Truth and Reality 

analyze the real thought situation. They have assumed 
that, because certain attitudes or adjustments are presup- 
posed ; because, for example, we have a stock of conven- 
tional propositions, therefore we start with affirmative 
judgments. Taking these cold-storage propositions as 
judgments, they have insisted that the affirmative judgment 
comes first, and that the negative judgment is secondary 
an affirmative judgment of the second degree. They have 
imagined that the judging process starts as a passive repe- 
tition of impressions, and since there can be no impressions 
corresponding to the negative judgment, they have assumed 
that the affirmative judgment must be earlier. But we have 
seen that we think only in the face of a problem, in response 
to the demands of a situation, whether posited by the will 
to think, or whether it is forced by the practical necessities 
of life. There is a thwarting somehow of the on-going 
activity, the stream of processes is interrupted with a call 
for fresh adjustment, now in the interest of practical life, 
now to set at rest theoretical curiosity. We must rule out, 
therefore, from the scope of judgment such verbal expres- 
sions as are merely a suggestion of the perceptual or asso- 
ciative situation on the part of the spectator. The so-called 
impersonal judgments, for example, are usually not judg- 
ments at all. They may be merely the result of verbal 
associations. When a child points out of doors toward the 
snow storm and says, " Snow," this may merely mean that 
the perceptual situation, by contiguous association, sug- 
gested the word, "snow." We have judgment only when 
attention attempts actively to analyze and control a novel 
situation. Where such analysis and control is lacking, we 
must resolve the mental situation into the proper lower 
complexes of experience. 

The Morphology of Truth 89 

This being the case, we must, contrary to logical tradi- 
tion, hold that the negative judgment is the earliest form 
of judgment. We wake with a shock, and that shock 
means no. " It won't work." " It is not as expected." 
"I am baffled." "This is different from the usual." 
Such, if words were used, would be the equivalents of 
the first thought orientation. Our first consciousness, in 
the breakdown of the old habits or customary forms of 
adjustment, is a consciousness of no. We would never 
wake with a yes, though we may, once we are awake, 
sustain it for an indefinite period in an organized con- 
sciousness. In thought, at least, the consciousness of non- 
being precedes being. What blinds us to this fact is that, 
as a rule, the judging consciousness presupposes the cus- 
tomary or habitual our conventionalized or cold-storage 
judgments, which have lost their thought significance. 

The thought process, as such at any rate, does not start 
with the categorical judgment. This is rather the perch- 
ing place of thought after its zig-zag flight of deliberation. 
Once life is organized, thought itself may be interrupted in 
this wise ; may break down in the face of new facts. In 
such a case, it is indeed true that the negative judgment 
is the denial of a previous affirmative judgment in our 
own stream of consciousness, though in this case we must 
be careful to distinguish between the bona fide judgment 
of the individual, and such beliefs and hypotheses as he 
accepts merely on the authority of others. The negative 
judgment, in developing thought, may also be the denial 
of a judgment or a question raised by some one else ; but 
more often, it is a waking up from the habitual and con- 
ventional, into which it is so economic and so easy to fall. 
Thinking is a strenuous form of life ; and unless we learn 

90 Truth and Reality 

to take an athletic enjoyment in it, we soon drop out 

We must distinguish the problem of the psychological 
priority of judgment from that of its logical significance. 
Is the affirmative judgment logically prior to the negative? 
We must answer that the two types are merely comple- 
mentary aspects of a self-defining process, and that the 
question of priority here is idle. Judgment means recog- 
nizing the differences as well as the likenesses of the 
contents selected. All relation is differentiation. All de- 
termination is limitation. In a world of pure identity, 
thinking would not be heard of. We string our facts, by 
their differences as well as their identities, into classes 
and series. We spread them out into a system. It is 
Hegel's immortal merit that he recognized that Negativi- 
tat, significant denial, is the indispensable backbone of all 
systematic thought. Except for this, all of our data would 
be swamped in an undistinguishable night where all cows 
are gray. Denial and affirmation are equally essential to 
the going on of the developed thought process. In system- 
atic definition, recognizing differences and their degrees 
becomes as important as recognizing likenesses and their 
degrees; the negative judgment as important as the affirm- 
ative. All negation, moreover, is with reference to a con- 
text, and so implies affirmation within a system. So, in 
turn, affirmation implies negation. As in the beginning of 
the thought process, the new thought consciousness negates 
the abstractness of previous habit and convention, so in 
the sustained thought process the larger synthesis negates 
the abstract, inadequate, previous generalization. 

This does not mean that the psychological moment, 
which affirms or denies, recognizes the full implication 

The Morphology of Truth 91 

of the implied affirmation or denial within the system. 
The moment which affirms may not be psychologically 
aware of the implied denial ; and the moment which de- 
nies may not be conscious of the implied affirmation. In 
the stream of thought, it may require another moment, 
individual or social a critical moment as superimposed 
upon the constructive to see the full logical implication 
of the will attitude as stated. This, however, is a question 
for psychological introspection to settle. 

Because, within a significant system, all affirmation 
means exclusion and negation, the limiting of the field 
of the possible more and more to the actual, it has been 
maintained that the judging process is fundamentally neg- 
ative, and that thought proceeds by the mere destruction 
of possibilities. While negation, however, is fundamental 
in the thought process, we cannot disregard the positive 
consciousness of the process, the seizing upon the iden- 
tities and constancies in the midst of the variety and flux 
of the process ; for without the sustained interest of a pur- 
pose which dominates the process, which selects and re- 
jects, without the consciousness of the fulfillment of the 
idea, which is present and leading throughout the process, 
denial would be as impossible as affirmation. This sus- 
tained and positive leading, the negative theory of judg- 
ment fails to take into account. 

The question may yet be raised, as to whether the atti- 
tude of the mind which we have called the no conscious- 
ness, has objective significance, expresses a movement of 
reality, and not merely a subjective movement of thought. 
Both positions have been taken in the history of thought. 
Which position one adopts will necessarily depend on 
one's theory of reality and one's conception of the place 

92 Truth and Reality 

of thought in the final scheme of things. The mystics 
who look for reality beyond thought, the pure empiricists 
who look for reality in sensations, and the materialists who 
regard reality as extra-mental these all join hands in 
holding that thought is merely instrumental, and that re- 
ality is something different from thought, whether lower or 
higher. As the judging process itself becomes subjective 
in such theories, the negative judgment, as such, would of 
course have nothing corresponding to it in the real world. 
But on such a view, the affirmative judgment, as little as 
the negative, can be regarded as imitating reality. 

If, on the other hand, we regard reality, with the 
absolute idealist, as awake at every movement and at 
every point, a complete self-conscious system of 
experience, then the process of negation cannot help 
being regarded as of ultimate significance. The move- 
ment of reality and the movement of thought become 
identical in such a world. We think God's thoughts after 
him. Our finite experience imitates point for point the 
absolute experience. If, however, we do not choose to 
dogmatize about reality as a whole, but modestly take it as 
it appears in our finite experience, as thinking where we 
must acknowledge it as thinking ; as non-reflective where 
we must so adjust ourselves to it, in that case we must 
hold that negation is an objective and essential factor, 
whenever we take account of thought as our object, 
wherever we deal with a systematic process. And that 
reality thinks in spots we have absolute evidence of in our 
thinking, if we raise the question at all. 

We have dwelt at such length upon the negative aspect 
of the judging process, because it reveals the fundamental 
unity of the thought moments throughout the process of 

The Morphology of Truth 93 

judgment. It is not the only aspect. With it, there must 
go the consciousness of direction, the attempt to realize a 
purpose or set, however tentative for the time being. 
Without the consciousness of a problem, there could be no 
process of thought. The no consciousness with its sense 
of being baffled is followed by the casting about for means, 
the active analysis of the situation on the basis of a guess 
or hypothesis. We might call this second stage in the 
development of the judging process, the hypothetical 
stage. We try out various alternatives on the basis of our 
tentative guesses, which are continually being modified as 
our efforts lead toward failure or success, as thought 
becomes warm in its search for its object. 

In using the adjective, hypothetical, to indicate this trial 
stage of the judging process, we must remember that in 
traditional logic the use of this term has been decidedly 
ambiguous. It has sometimes been used to indicate doubt, 
and the effort at rearrangement in the case of such doubt, 
the passing from one equilibrium to another within the 
process of thought. In this case it stands for the supposi- 
Jftious or tentative aspect of the thought process, to which 
we have already referred. But the term hypothetical, has 
also been used to indicate the relation of ground and con- 
sequence. And by virtue of this use the hypothetical type 
of judgment has become indistinguishable from the cate- 
gorical. Of this latter use we shall speak later. 

The trial stage in the thought process may take a more 
systematic form where knowledge is already organized in 
the given direction the form of a disjunction of alter- 
natives, of an exclusive and exhaustive survey of possi- 
bilities, as made possible in advanced science. This, 
however, is only an enlargement or a further making 

94 Truth and Reality 

explicit of the hypothetical or trial stage, which we have 
already noticed. It is a recognition of the complexity of 
the ideal situation. As thought becomes organized, we 
can economize, through our ideal schematization, the 
process of actual try-out. This assures greater efficiency 
of result. By analyzing the various suggested alternatives, 
we are more likely to discover the relevant leading for 
pursuing our search; and, moreover, the destruction of 
alternatives becomes, with such organization, itself fruitful, 
not only in narrowing the domain of search, but in indicat- 
ing the direction of the quarry that is hunted. This does 
not mean that we calculate planets into existence, as has 
sometimes been stated. It means that we can pursue the 
simplest and likeliest possibilities first. 

The provisional result which is attained at any one time, 
and which suggests belief and conduct, constitutes the 
categorical stage of the judging process. The process of 
thought is circular. It starts, we have seen, with nega- 
tion, or the need for fresh adjustment, whether as a result 
of practical necessities or baffled curiosity. It proceeds 
through the trial stage of ideal construction and verification, 
which flows out in advanced knowledge into the disjunc- 
tive schematization of alternatives. And its perching 
place, after the long or short flight, is the adopting of a 
provisional scheme for conduct. The self adjusts itself as 
best it can to the new situation, thus analyzed and made 
its own. The end of thought is a consciously adopted 
type of conduct. The judging process terminates in a 
method of control or plan of procedure, physical or 

This version of the thought process gives us an intelli- 
gent idea of the place of the concept. The concept is 

The Morphology of Truth 95 

the completed form of the categorical judgment at any stage 
of the history of thought a conscious definition, a definite 
program of action. There has been no end of confusion 
as to the place of the concept in the treatment of thought 
in the past. Sometimes the concept has been identified 
with a substantive word or term. Sometimes it has been 
identified with the class term ; and the judgment has itself 
been regarded as a comparison or subordination of class 
terms. Sometimes the concept has been indentified with 
any abstraction on the part of thought or previous to 
thought, in the way of quality or relation. It is safe to 
say that the pragmatic significance of the concept in 
modern logic has been practically nil. We must go back 
to Socrates, the inventor of the concept, for its true signifi- 
cance. And to Socrates the concept means a definition, 
with its proximate genus and differentia. The concept 
thus becomes not the beginning of the thought process, 
but its terminus the description and identification of the 
situation for future conduct. The concept is the making 
definite of the fringe, of the tentative leading. The pro- 
spective tendency finds its determination through the data 
which it must meet. The centrifugal intent has reached 
its circumference and reflects on itself. This does not 
mean that the concept cannot grow. On the contrary, it 
is made increasingly definite in the progress of experience. 
It means that provisionally at least, as a halting place in 
the march of thought, we have arrived at a plan for further 
procedure. If figures were not misleading, we might liken 
the thought process to a spiral, rather than a circle, for 
thought keeps turning upon itself as enriched by further 

The categorical judgment, in turn, just because it is the 

96 Truth and Reality 

settlement of a case for the time being, is apt to become a 
rule of thumb, a creed or formula, and to be imitated un- 
questioningly. It then ceases to be a judgment, and be- 
comes convention thought stereotyped into social habit. 
From this, owing to the complexity and changing condi- 
tions of life, a fresh outbreak, a new adaptation, is likely 
to follow with the same process of denial, hypothesis and 
affirmation, and with a new working concept resulting. 
This stereotyped or cold-storage judgment, however, into 
which the mind so easily lapses, is not to be taken as de- 
duction, as contrasted with induction. It is not judgment 
at all, for judgment means being awake, being actively in- 
terested in the situation. The cold-storage judgment is 
merely a substitute for thought. The deductive judgment 
is no more habitual than the inductive. We may meet a 
novel situation either deductively or inductively, according 
to the mind's store of experience. In either case we are 
awake; in either case we substitute for the concrete in- 
stances a universal or type. On the other hand, habit 
may take the place of induction as well as deduction, as 
thought arrives at a new equilibrium. Even animals some- 
times proceed as though they had made an induction, 
though acting from mere instinct or habit. 

The only way we can have a strictly universal categori- 
cal judgment, is by isolation and abstraction of character- 
istics. It is in this way that science proceeds in establishing 
its so-called laws. Generalization, so long as we proceed 
by enumeration of instances, must always be of a purely 
tentative character, a merely probable and uncertain guide. 
Truth must go beneath the mere variety of instances to 
the singling out of the constant characteristics which en- 
able us to predict for the future, however necessary it may 

The Morphology of Truth 97 

be under our limitations to act on incomplete knowledge. 
There is strictly no such thing as a concrete universal. We 
always buy universality at the expense of breaking up the 
concrete fullness of reality, and dealing with certain par- 
tial aspects. Our definitions are always for a purpose, 
and necessarily leave out the many other ways of taking 
reality, which, with another conative set, become essential. 
We neglect beauty when our interest is in weight, but so 
can we neglect weight when our interest is in beauty. Our 
selected universals or laws are justified, if we thus can dip 
into the concrete stream of experience and meet its situa- 
tions. The statement, all men are mortal, is not a census 
of all men, which would be impossible, men being an indefi- 
nite quantity. It is a prediction based upon certain ab- 
stract considerations as regards organic structure, nutrition, 
wear and tear, excretion, etc. At any rate, only as based 
upon such considerations would a universal judgment be 
justified. As a scientific judgment, it stands on the same 
ground as, all bodies gravitate, which also pertains to a 
selected characteristic of bodies. Concrete statements, 
based upon mere customary conjunction, would have to be 
treated on the basis of probability. And while the psycho- 
logical probability would be very strong, in the absence of 
a negative instance, still no universal prediction could be 
based upon such conjunction. In the disjunctive judgment 
of chance, the disjunction itself is based upon analysis and 
abstraction of a certain constitution of the object ; and so 
here we have a case of real judgment, however impossible 
concrete prediction of the particular instance may be. 

It has sometimes been stated that all our universal judg- 
ments are hypothetical. This, we have already seen, is 
due to an ambiguity of language. We can always state 

98 Truth and Reality 

the ground and consequence, the abstracted characteristics 
and our expectations founded upon them, in hypothetical 
form. But this does not mean that our knowledge is in 
this respect tentative or uncertain. So stating it is merely 
a trick of language. It is precisely in dealing with these 
abstract characters that we can make definite universal 
statements about reality. Wherever these characters re- 
peat themselves, we can expect the same consequences to 
follow, whether in geometry or in chemistry. Where we 
fail to discover such identities, we must be satisfied with 
particular judgments and probabilities. 

It must be clear now that the process of truth is a pro- 
cess of judging. The rest is machinery in the service of 
the active interest which dominates consciousness for the 
time being. On the other hand, it must be clear that there 
is no such thing in thought as a bare, isolated judgment. 
Judgment is always a process, with beginning, middle and 
end, the developing of a drama of determinate interest. 
The traditional names of judgment we have found to be 
mere stages, artificially isolated from this concrete process. 
Judgment, inference and concept again are not different 
activities. Inference is merely the expansion of the judg- 
ment into its reasons, machinery in its realization. And 
the concept is the provisional halting place of the judging 
process. What thought really means is identification. 
We identify Socrates as*a man, if this is really a judgment ; 
and then we proceed to act toward him accordingly. Better, 
if we had lived in Athens in 399 B.C., we would have iden- 
tified a certain man as Socrates, and then proceeded to 
condemn or apotheosize him. We fail to identify radium 
as one of the elements, already labeled, and then proceed to 
find a new element by experiment and isolation. We iden- 

The Morphology of Truth 99 

tify the individual situation as belonging to a type ; and 
then we adjust ourselves to it accordingly. The reduction 
of life to types is the purpose of thought in social life, 
in nature, in the world of ideals. This achieved, thought 
proceeds with fluency until the type itself is questioned. 

Induction and deduction have sometimes been emphasized 
as distinct forms of thought, induction proceeding from the 
particular to the universal, while deduction is supposed to 
proceed from the universal to the particular. We can no 
longer acquiesce in such a definition of induction and de- 
duction. The thought process, in either case, is essentially 
the same the defining of a particular in terms of a con- 
text or the making definite of a context in terms of a 
specific situation. In either case we must schematize : we 
must see the part in relation to the whole. The difference 
between induction and deduction does not lie in the ab- 
sence or presence of the universal, but rather in our belief 
attitude as regards the universal. In induction this belief 
attitude is tentative, looking forward for verification. The 
evidence is felt not to be all in, though the generalization 
is by no means baseless, but is founded on analogy and 
observed identities in experience. In the deductive atti- 
tude, again, the feeling is of the evidence being in, of 
definite action now being possible. The attitude is retro- 
spective as regards confirmation, but prospective as re- 
gards conduct or the fulfillment of the specific conative 
tendency. In deduction, we identify the situation as be- 
longing to a type, and proceed to act accordingly. In in- 
duction, we suggest the type to which the situation may 
belong, and proceed to try out our suggestion. Psycholog- 
ically, we may say that the consciousness is the reversal 
of that stated in traditional logic. In deduction we have 

ioo Truth and Reality 

the consciousness of going from the particular to the 
implied universal, while in induction we suggest a universal 
for the particular, i.e., the emphasis in deduction is on the 
new instance, in induction on the new universal. In either 
case, we confront a novel situation in terms of a universal 
or type. If in induction we may be mistaken as to the 
guiding universal, so in deduction we may be mistaken in 
identifying the new instance with a well-known type. 
Both attitudes must be open to revision in further experi- 
ence. Only as this active consciousness of relation to a 
context, with its reasons, is maintained, do we have thought 
at all. And this is equally characteristic of deduction as 
of induction. 

As the real problem of thought is the identifying of an 
instance as belonging to a type, so the real and only re- 
quirement of thought is what logic has called distribution 
the distinct isolation in thought, if not physically, of the 
relevant character from the complex situations in which we 
find it. This is the discovery of the middle term. And 
this is equally important in concrete induction, where we 
deal with perceptions, as in formal deduction, where our 
facts are ready-made propositions. In each case, logic 
has laid down certain technical rules or precautions for 
distinguishing this middle term. In formal logic, we 
have an organized technic called the syllogism, with its 
canons for testing this identity as implied in the linguistic 
form of the argument. We must make sure that we have 
real identity of content and that we take this identity in no 
other way than as indicated in the data the propositions 
which we have set ourselves to analyze. In the case of 
concrete induction, we have found that we cannot establish 
a thread of identity in the many instances by merely taking 

The Morphology of Truth 101 

account of agreement. We must also take into account 
the negative instances, through supplementing the method 
of agreement with the method of difference, the combined 
method of agreement and difference, the method of concomi- 
tant variation, and the various statistical methods which 
we must use in dealing with the more complex masses of 
facts. But everywhere the object of this technic is the 
distributing of the middle term, >., making the identity or 
universal clear and distinct. This is the only requirement 
of thought. This does not mean that we talk syllogisms, 
or consciously think in the forms of the syllogism. This 
is only the diagram or schema for exhibiting the relations 
as implied in thinking. The order of the premises in the 
syllogism is due to our convenience for exhibiting these 
relations and need not coincide with the order in actual 
thinking. Moreover, in actual thought, we seldom express 
the full implications of our reasoning. Ordinarily certain 
general assumptions remain unstated as obvious for the 
particular procedure. And ordinarily we need not stop to 
draw the formal conclusion. It has been said that the con- 
clusion overshadows psychologically the premises. This is 
not generally true. The pivot of our thinking is the so- 
called minor premise, the identification of the new situation 
with a type. Newton identifies the falling moon with the 
generalizations already attained by Galileo as regards fall- 
ing terrestrial bodies. But probably the tentative conduct 
in the way of equations followed immediately upon the 
suggested identification of the type. The cashier at the 
window identifies his customer as belonging to a type, and 
regulates his conduct accordingly without formulating the 
major premise or conclusion. The policeman identifies a 
certain man as a dangerous criminal and proceeds to arrest 

IO2 Truth and Reality 

him. He does not argue in full : All criminals should be 
arrested ; this man is a criminal, therefore he should be 
arrested. Action takes the place of the formal conclusion, 
and the major premise is taken for granted. 

While this is true, while the identification of a type is 
the essential aspect of reasoning, we can, whenever we so 
choose, supply the larger context presupposed in the argu- 
ment ; and we can also draw the conclusion which is implied 
in our procedure. The cases in which it has been main- 
tained that the syllogism is not applicable such cases as 
involve space and time relations and quantitative compari- 
son will be found to be cases where the major premise 
has not been stated. Certain presuppositions, as regards 
the nature of space relations and time relations and of 
the abstract postulates of quantitative comparison, are as 
a matter of fact implied in our judgment, and can be made 
explicit, though it is generally superfluous to do so. All 
arguments, inductive and deductive, in so far as resolvable 
into language, are statable in the syllogistic form, if we 
care so to state them. In any case, we get out of the 
syllogism only what we put in ; and if we put in probabil- 
ity, we can draw only probability. 

It has been stated by recent psychology * that the truth 
of a proposition rests upon its being believed, that the ul- 
timate test of truth is that some one believes, and that the 
task of assuring the truth of a statement is the task of 
making the individuals concerned believe the proposition 
that one is endeavoring to establish. This confusion of 
the basis of belief with the basis of validity seems a re- 
gretable result of the patronizing manner with which recent 

1 This is the impression I get from a thoughtful book by Professor Pillsbury, 
"The Psychology of Reasoning." See especially pp. 205 and 231. 

The Morphology of Truth 103 

psychology has treated elementary logic. Since Aristotle, 
formal logic, for which contemporary psychology has 
such contempt, not only has recognized the difference be- 
tween being believed and being valid, but has reduced to 
technic the various fallacies which are due to belief. 
Such reasons for false belief may lie in lack of sagacity 
in discerning the relevant middle term ; in the confusion 
due to the ambiguity of language, which sometimes gives 
us the identity of a word instead of identity of content ; 
in the bias of our training as a result of past prejudices 
and traditions ; in our own emotions and temperament ; in 
faulty observations, such as the emphasis of the affirma- 
tive instances, and the neglect of the negative ; in the dis- 
traction of the attention from the real issue by a mass of 
verbiage and irrational appeal ; in the substitution of mere 
psychological sequence for causal connection, etc., etc. It is 
true that truth coerces belief ; but it is far from true that 
belief, however strong for the time being, can make things 
so, unless belief itself creates its own facts. 

There need be no relation between the grounds of belief 
and the grounds of truth. Belief looks backward to the 
past, to our temperamental and social heritage, our psy- 
chological associations, to custom and habit. Truth looks 
forward to consequences, to correspondences, to conduct. 
Whatever our beliefs may be, that is true which terminates 
in the intended facts. Hence the dogmatism of faith, on 
the one hand, and the necessary open-mindedness, humility 
and tolerance of the real truth seeker, on the other. How- 
ever prone belief is to close the accounts, the investigator 
knows that the full truth lies in the future and that he 
must take as provisional his fragmentary insight. 


LOCKE, in classifying the operations of the mind with ref- 
erence to its content, has shown that three different types 
of activity are involved the activity of compounding, which 
gives us our various complex ideas, including substances ; 
the activity of relating, which arranges our contents side by 
side and observes their likenesses and differences, as well as 
other relations ; and the activity of separating which gives us 
our abstract ideas, which are so important for descriptive 
purposes. Now Locke rightly points out that the process 
of truth has to do with the second type of activity. It is a 
process of relating, or as he himself puts it : " Knowledge 
seems to me to be nothing but the perception of connection 
and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of 
our ideas." 1 This agreement according to Locke is four- 
fold. It concerns identity or diversity, which means, " to 
know each what it is, and thereby also to perceive their 
difference, and that one is not another." It concerns re- 
lations, in a limited sense, viz., " in several ways the mind 
takes of comparing" its ideas. It concerns further the co- 
existence of ideas in the same subject, or that one idea 
always accompanies or is joined with certain other ideas. 
And it concerns lastly the agreeing of any idea with actual 
or real existence. " Thus blue is not yellow, is of identity. 
Two triangles upon equal bases between two parallels are 

1 " An Essay concerning Human Understanding," Bk. IV, Ch. I, 2. 


The Content of Truth 105 

equal, is of relation. Iron is susceptible of magnetic im- 
pressions, is of coexistence. God is, is of real existence." * 
Locke realizes, however, that all these cases of agreement 
are merely different relations between the contents of our 
experience, and defines actual knowledge, as opposed to 
what he calls "habitual," or what James would call "cold- 
storage," knowledge, as "the present view, the mind has 
of the agreement or disagreement of any of its ideas, or of 
the relation they have one to another." 

Locke's whole scheme of knowledge is beautifully worked 
out on the basis of this theory of relations. " The degrees 
of our knowledge," for example, depend upon our mode of 
discerning these relations of the contents of experience. 
The mind may immediately intuit the agreement or dis- 
agreement of two ideas, without the intervention of any 
other, which is the most certain kind of knowledge. As 
Locke puts it: "This part of knowledge is irresistible, 
and, like bright sunshine, forces itself immediately to be 
perceived, as soon as ever the mind turns its view that 
way." 2 Moreover, "it is on this intuition that depends all 
the certainty and evidence of all our knowledge," for " this 
intuition is necessary in all the connections of intermediate 
ideas." Less certain is demonstrative knowledge, "where 
the mind perceives the agreement or disagreement of ideas, 
not immediately," but by the intervention of other ideas, as 
in the case of the equality of the three angles of a triangle 
to two right angles. 3 Least certain is sensitive knowledge 
which has to do with the "perception of the mind employed 
about the particular existence of finite beings about us." 
When again he takes up " the extent of our knowledge," he 
easily makes clear that knowledge can extend no farther 
1 /</., 7. 3 Ibid., Ch. II, i. Ibid. t 2. 

io6 Truth and Reality 

than we have ideas and can perceive the agreement or 
disagreement of such ideas. 1 When further he takes up 
" the reality of our knowledge," he shows with the same 
clearness that our knowledge is real just in so far as our 
ideas terminate in the intended facts, whether those be our 
own complex ideas, or our immediate experiences of things. 2 
While our knowledge of real substances is limited, yet here 
too " our complex ideas of them must be such, and such 
only, as are made up of such simple ones, as have been 
discovered to coexist in Nature." In any case, "whatever 
ideas we have, the agreement they finally have with others 
will still be knowledge." 

Speaking now in terms of judgment, we must hold that 
the judging process cannot be stated in terms of attitude 
alone. We must also take into account the relations of 
the content. The judgment, in other words, involves two 
things. It involves, on the side of the will, a specific atti- 
tude or set. It involves, on the side of the content, cer- 
tain relations which the judging process must imitate. It 
is impossible to define judgment, either purely in terms of 
attitude, on the one hand, or merely in terms of content 
on the other. This has been the mistake in many of the 
past theories of judgment. Judgment is a certain set 
towards certain content relations. We are here concerned, 
however, not with the set, but with the relational content 
of the judging process. If judgment subjectively means 
being awake, sustained attention, we must also define the 
nature of its content. Awake about what? Sustained 
attention to what ? It is being awake with reference to 
specific content relations or content complexity, which it 

1 " An Essay concerning Human Understanding," Bk. IV, Ch. Ill, 2. 
* Ibid., Ch. IV. 

The Content of Truth 107 

aims to copy, that makes judgments true or false, and which 
distinguishes judgment from the mere association of ideas. 
"The judgment," as Russell puts it, "is true when there is 
such a complex, and false when there is not." 1 Or, as 
Locke long ago put it : " Truth, then, seems to me, in the 
proper import of the word, to signify nothing but the join- 
ing or separating of signs, as the things signified by them 
do agree or disagree one with another." 2 

Before treating of the epistemological significance of the 
relational consciousness, I wish to say a few words as regards 
the psychological analysis of the problem. Are there, on 
the side of consciousness, feelings of relation of a unique 
kind ? Or are these feelings of relations reducible to sen- 
sations ? Is our consciousness of likeness and difference, 
of side by side, of before and after, of cause and effect, of 
significant meaning, reducible to mere sensations in the head 
or throat ? Is the consciousness of the activity of thought, 
in short, reducible to kinesthetic images and sensations ? 

It seems to me that those who analyze relational con- 
sciousness into kinesthetic images and sensations confuse 
the physiological concomitants and their sensations with the 
nature of the thought process itself. The sensations and 
images do not constitute the intent the sense of fitness, 
the fringe of meaning of the thought process, whether 
such sensations are present or not. We cannot interpolate 
them into the thought process. They vary independently 
of the intent, all the way from focal prominence to zero. 
They may exist in all sorts of forms, when they are present, 
without relevance to the on-going of the thought process. 
It seems to me as if Titchener and others had made the 

1 Russell, " Philosophical Essays,' p. 184. 

* Locke, " An Essay concerning Human Understanding," Bk. IV, Ch. V, 3. 

io8 Truth and Reality 

same mistake with regard to our feelings of relation that 
James made in regard to mental activity in general. They 
have substituted physiological symptoms, with their con- 
comitant sensations, for the nature of the process with its 
definite consciousness of direction. 

In a similar manner, we cannot define this intent of 
thought in terms of a static context of ideas and sensa- 
tions. Rather, it is a dynamic will, with its definite set, 
controlling and selecting relevant contents, which gives the 
process this unique feeling for fitness, this sense of wel- 
come or rejection, this sense of meaning. This dynamic 
leading, corresponding to the whole movement of thought, 
the structural psychologist, with his abstract atomism, has 
lost sight of. To me, at any rate, the thought-set or intent 
is a unique fact, a specific content not reducible to sensa- 
tions. It makes a difference whether sensations are the 
contents of thought or merely the symptoms or concomi- 
tants of thought. The kinesthetic images and sensations 
seem to me to be the latter. 

If we address ourselves now to the epistemological sig- 
nificance of the relational content of consciousness, we must 
face the question whether these relations are to be taken 
as internal relations or external relations. Do the rela- 
tions depend upon the nature of their terms being, there- 
fore, uniquely determined within a total inclusive system of 
significance ; or are relations external to the natures of the 
terms, and can other terms be substituted without chang- 
ing the relations and vice versa ? As Russell defines exter- 
nal relations : " The term A may have a relation to a term 
B, without there being any constituent of A, corresponding 
to this relation." 1 This problem of internal and external 

l jeur. Phil. Psych, and Sri. Mcth., Vol. VIII, p. 159. 

The Content of Truth 109 

relations may be taken in two ways. It may be taken as 
having to do with objective or content relations, or it may 
be taken as having to do with the relation of knower to 
known. The problem in either case is the same : Is the 
content uniquely determined by its context, or can it be 
taken as figuring indifferently in a number of contexts? 
Can any part of experience be exchanged, or does it adhere 
to its context in such a way that it alone can fulfill the 
demands of the specific whole ? 

Both of these positions have been taken and worked out 
to their extreme consequences. Absolute idealism insists 
upon internal relations, neo-realism upon external relations. 
According to absolute idealism, every fact belongs to a 
system, its nature implies the system. We cannot under- 
stand any part of the universe, root and all, without 
following out its implications in the whole, nor can we under- 
stand the whole, except in terms of its interwoven parts. 
It is only the abstract symbols, such as we use in mathe- 
matics or language, which are exchangeable. The real 
contents themselves are uniquely determined. As put by 
Royce : l " There is an absolute experience for which the 
conception of an absolute reality, that is, the conception of 
a system of ideal truth, is fulfilled by the very contents 
that get presented to this Experience. This absolute ex- 
perience is related to our experience as an Organic Whole 
to its own fragments. It is an experience which finds ful- 
filled all that the completest thought can rationally conceive 
as genuinely possible. Herein lies its definition as an Ab- 
solute. For the Absolute Experience as for ours, there 
are data, contents, facts. But these data, these contents, 
express, for the Absolute Experience, its own meaning, its 

1 " The Conception of God," pp. 43-44. 

no Truth and Reality 

thought, its ideas. Contents beyond these that it possesses, 
the Absolute Experience knows to be, in genuine truth, im- 
possible. Hence its contents are indeed particular, a 
selection from the world of bare or merely conceptual pos- 
sibilities, but they form a self-determined whole, than 
which nothing completer, more organic, more fulfilling, 
more transparent, or more complete in meaning, is con- 
cretely or genuinely possible. On the other hand, these 
contents are not foreign to those of our finite experience, 
but are inclusive of them in the unity of one life." The 
same position has been stated by Joachim, bringing out 
its negative as well as its positive implication. 1 " Truth, we 
said, was the systematic coherence which characterized a 
significant whole. And we proceeded to identify a signifi- 
cant whole with ' an organized individual experience, self- 
fulfilling and self -fulfilled.' Now there can be one and only 
one such experience: or only one significant whole, the 
significance of which is self-contained in the sense required. 
For it is absolute self-fulfillment, absolutely self-contained 
significance, that is postulated ; and nothing short of abso- 
lute individuality nothing short of the completely whole 
experience can satisfy this postulate. And human 
knowledge not merely my knowledge or yours, but the 
best and fullest knowledge in the world at any stage of its 
development is clearly not a significant whole in this 
ideally complete sense. Hence the truth, which our sketch 
described, is from the point of view of human intelli- 
gence an Ideal, and an Ideal which can never as such, 
or in its completeness, be actual as human experience." 

If we state the problem from the subjective point of 
view the reading of the universe in terms of the impli- 

lM The Nature of Truth," Oxford, 1906, p. 78. 

The Content of Truth III 

cation of our own subjective meaning knowing reality 
becomes merely a question of knowing what we mean. 
The difference between internal and external, from the 
point of view of epistemological idealism, is purely a 
relative one. What seems external is merely so because 
of our failure to know our own real meaning. Our mean- 
ing, in other words, is part of a systematic whole, reveals 
this whole point for point, if we only become completely 
conscious of our own meaning. Knowledge is thus the 
passing from a confused consciousness to a clear and dis- 
tinct* consciousness of our own experience. The finite 
self, like Leibniz's monad, in knowing itself, knows the 
universe. It matters not, then, where you start, whether 
you start with your subjective meaning, or some one else's 
meaning, or with a fragment of nature; the dialectic 
of experience will bring you face to face with the com- 
pletely organized and self-revealing experience of the uni- 

If you object to the monotony and lack of variety and 
contingency in such an idealistic world, the absolute 
idealist has no difficulty in pointing you to types of ideal 
universes which present all the elements of fascination 
and discovery that thought could ask. Take for example 
the ideal universe of number. While it is true that every 
part of the number system, rational or irrational, is deter- 
mined by the concept of number, it is also true that in this 
ideal constitution, the particular numbers possess their own 
unique and individual significance which cannot be read 
off a priori, but must be ascertained by actual discov- 
ery in the course of experience. Here individuality and 
contingency exist as aspects within the self-consistent 
and determined whole of thought. And what is true of 

112 Truth and Reality 

number, in the small, is true of the entire universe, or reality 
in the large. 

Now, in the first place, there is nothing contradictory in 
such a conception of internal relations. We are familiar 
with such internal relations, involving the nature of the 
parts, in every teleological whole ; and that there are such 
significant wholes, we all must admit. In a logical system, 
for example, such as geometry, the parts clearly depend 
upon the sort of whole which we have postulated. One 
part of the syllogism points to the rest, and we can re- 
construct the other parts from it. A fragment of a statue 
or other work of art, points to a completion which we can 
at least schematically indicate, even though filling out the 
complete context involves other unique relations which can- 
not be construed a priori. The Winged Victory plainly in- 
dicates its fragmentary character to the imagination, even 
though no artist dares complete the actual marble. The 
femur of an extinct species indicates to the paleontologist 
the general structure of the animal in question. Words in 
discourse cannot be shuffled at random. The word belongs 
in its context. If we cannot conceive internal relations, 
the interpenetration of parts in the fulfillment of a pur- 
pose, all teleological constructions become impossible. It 
is not true within a teleological whole that parts can be 
exchanged indifferently to their relations. You cannot sub- 
stitute the head for the hand within an organism, or the 
beginning for the end of the drama. The parts plainly indi- 
cate that they belong together and are uniquely determined 
by their relations to the whole. 

The relation of whole and part comes to seem contra- 
dictory only when we verbalize the relations, and substitute 
our intellectual abstractions for the specific fulfillment of 

The Content of Truth 113 

the will with which we started. We must always remem- 
ber that thought is not another compartment of expe- 
rience, distinct from will, but thought is will articulated, 
awake as to its intent and organization; and our being 
awake as to the completeness of the fulfillment of the will, 
in its complexity of parts, as in the tonal unity of a melody, 
does not disrupt the whole or make it the less a whole. 
Nor does it follow because the parts of the whole have 
internal relations, that they are exhausted in these relations. 
The parts have individuality, too. The tone has its in- 
dividual character, though it blends into a larger melody. 
Each number is an individual as well as a member of a 
system. The judgment while it is part of the argument 
also has reality as judgment. In all such teleological cases, 
it is plain that the part implies the whole, and the whole 
implies the part. This implication does not mean mere 
numerical taking or spatial juxtaposition. Rather it is 
the fulfillment of a specific, self-realizing will. Neither 
parts nor whole exist as such, except as the embodiment or 
positing of a will. It is the will which frames wholes and 
which demarcates parts within wholes according to its 
interest and emphasis. We may regard the part as a func- 
tion of the system or the system as the unity of parts. But 
this is merely a question of the limitation of our attention. 
Neither exists except as the embodiment of a unique will. 
Neither parts nor wholes exist as pure abstractions which 
are quantitatively comparable. 

If we assume, on the other hand, that the teleological 
relation of whole and part is contradictory, and if truth 
necessarily implies such internal relationship, this objection 
would destroy not only the idealistic theory of truth, but 
all possibility of truth. For whatever may be the relation 

114 Truth and Reality 

of truth to its object, truth itself as a system of judgments 
is a teleological unity of parts. But the supposed truth 
that all truth is contradictory, is self-refuting and does not 
prove the impossibility of truth, but the absurdity of a cer- 
tain theory of truth. I do not see a priori why a context 
cannot be systematically conscious of itself without contra- 
diction ; or why we should not logically take account of, 
as well as appreciate, any teleological whole its internal 
relations, its fitness of parts, its significant unity. And 
there is no need of supposing that this taking over of the 
relations in individual consciousness in any wise disrupts 
the unity or makes the context contradictory. Whenever 
internal unity exists, whether esthetic or ethical or logical, 
there thought can as truly trace this unity from part to 
part. A work of art can be understood as well as appre- 
ciated. It is constructed according to certain principles, 
which can be grasped a posteriori at any rate, as we always 
have to grasp the concrete, however different the attitude 
of understanding is from that of appreciation. What we 
grasp in taking account of the unity of the object is not 
the attitude, but the character of the content. The attitude 
of the spectator does not make the unity in art any more 
than in science. The unity in either case must be implied 
in the content as well as apprehended by the will. 

- f 

What halve realism has had in mind, doubtless, is that we 
can abstract contents from their contexts, the qualities from 
the thing, the relations from the parts. Having thus ab- 
stracted them, we can regard them as independent entities 
and treat the relations as external and indifferent to the 
terms and the terms to the relations. But however conven- 
ient such abstractions may be for certain descriptive and 
practical purposes, qualities and relations only exist as taken 

The Content of Truth 115 

in contexts. And in significant contexts, contents and re- 
lations no longer stand out as separate entities, but the 
contents themselves suggest the ideal relations. The con- 
tents have their own significance as molded by the will into 
ideal unity. The distinction between contents and rela- 
tions becomes here a merely relative one, one of psycho- 
logical emphasis. 

It has been urged that as regards religious objects we 
have a different case, and that here, at any rate, the unity 
is merely subjective. But this again is due to confusion in 
the use of terms. The unity of the religious content is no 
more subjective in the sense of being due to our apprehend- 
ing it, to our understanding or appreciating it, than the 
unity of the scientific or esthetic object. The content of 
the religious experience is clearly organized. It points to a 
unity of its own, it fulfills a will. It is true that the belief 
in the objective reality of this unity involves an element of 
risk, not involved in the finite perceptual object, but this is 
another story and must be tested in its own way. The 
Homeric Zeus may have no objective existence, indepen- 
dent of our finite minds, yet he possesses, for all that, unity 
of content, independent of our individual apprehension. 

It has been maintained, as against absolute idealism, that 
absolute truth is unattainable, and even some champions 
of absolute idealism have admitted this paradox. But in 
any case this objection cannot be aimed exclusively at abso- 
lute idealism. It would be as much of an objection against 
any other theory of the universe, for truth always aims at 
completeness. As a matter of fact such an objection is 
more dogmatic than real. We cannot say a priori that 
complete truth is unattainable. The play upon the phrase 
infinite truth is merely a rhetorical way of expressing our 

n6 Truth and Reality 

aiming at complete truth. This is the implied end of all 
research, whether metaphysical or scientific. 

To disprove the idealistic assumption of a completely 
organized truth by the counter assumption that there are 
independent parts of truth is merely begging the question. 
No one disputes that part-truths are true for a partial pur- 
pose. For ordinary purposes we can take 2 + 2 = 4 as an 
independent system, ignoring its larger implications. But 
is there not implied, after all, a larger system a constitu- 
tion of number of which this equation is a part, and to which 
it owes its existence ? And does not number in turn imply 
a certain constitution of thought ? This again may imply 
a certain constitution of reality as a whole without a pri- 
ori contradiction. Is not the separateness of the system 
2 + 2 = 4 due primarily to our limitations of attention ? 

So far, finally, as the question regarding the possibility 
of error is concerned, error implies at least a definite 
epistemological universe, whether this must be taken as 
existential or not. In a world of mere chance, error would 
be as meaningless as truth. Each implies certain postu- 
lates, a definite constitution. True, it is difficult, on the 
theory of absolute idealism, to understand the game of the 
universe, as a thinking animal, as a result of which our finite 
blindness and liability to error become a part of the scheme 
of the universe. But, on the other hand, it is not clear why 
partial knowledge would be more false on such a theory 
than with reference to any ideal of complete truth, whether 
now existing or to be progressively realized. The ontolog- 
ical existence of the ideal does not affect the problem of 
consistency. An ideal of truth, which insists upon the im- 
possibility of truth, is the most irrational theory of all. 
Truth must believe in itself, in its possibility. And the 


T}u Content of Truth 117 

belief in complete truth implies a belief in the teleological 
unity of the universe, in some manner, and so postulates in- 
ternal relations. In the meantime these ideals about the 
universe as a whole are over-beliefs, however important may 
be their regulative value. Practically we have truths par- 
tial generalizations about our world. These eventually are 
taken up into larger systems, coordinated with larger masses 
of facts. And through these readjustments, the significance 
of the contents changes even though the part-contents, of 
which t we have previously taken account, are retained as 
contents in this larger synthesis. The part-relations of 
earth and sun as indicated by ordinary perception still exist 
in the Copernican theory, but their significance their truth 
has been greatly altered in the larger correlation of ex- 
perience. It is \\\Q part-content the object aimed at not 
the part-significance, which remains the same throughout 
the truth-process. Suppose a dog to undergo a surgical 
operation, such as having a tooth filled. To the dog the 
pain suggests nothing but violence and defence. To the 
dentist it suggests professional profit. To the owner, it 
means a happier and longer future for a pet dog. The dog's 
and the master's consciousness each have to do with the 
same presented content, but the significance is different. 
The dog's significance is false, while the master's is true. 
The situation here has only one true context, so far as that 
specific significance is concerned, And this may be true 
of every content. Theoretically, at any rate, the idealistic 
world presents no contradictions. The difficulties on which 
it founders, if it does founder, are difficulties of fact, not of 
a priori consistency. 

While I cannot hold that there is anything contradictory 
in internal relations or in the conception of a significant 

n8 Truth and Reality 

whole, I do not think it is proven that reality all together 
is such a whole. So far as we, finites, are concerned, it 
seems clear that some relations are of an external type, that 
is, that they are not grounded in the natures of their terms ; 
but that they can be taken in other relations without preju- 
dice to their character. Our abstract symbols can be taken 
over and over again, and so can any abstract relations, or 
qualities. Our serial time and space relations, our quanti- 
tative comparisons, our categories of likeness and differ- 
ence do not, as subjective ways of taking our facts, in 
anywise alter the facts concerned. That you follow another 
man by the clock, that you happen to stand next him in the 
street, that you happen to have a similar nose, that you 
happen to be a head taller all this so far as we can see 
may be quite accidental to your own character. Any crea- 
ture of logical definition can be taken over again in differ- 
ent contexts. One equation can be substituted for another : 
2 + 2 = 3 + 1 so far as the abstract requirements of quan- 
tity are concerned. 

It is quite another matter, however, to say that all re- 
lations are external, that they are never grounded in their 
terms. Such a statement, in our finite experience, is at 
least as halting as the assumption that all relations are in- 
ternal. Here we must, owing to our limitations, proceed 
pragmatically, and take experience at its face value. And 
while part of our experience seems to hang together, in 
this external and additive way, other parts again exhibit 
unmistakable evidence of the intimacy of purposive over- 
lapping and interpenetration. Nor is this true merely of 
significant relations. Causal relations, too, imply certain 
natures on the part of the terms involved. Causality can- 
not be regarded as a mere accidental and external conjunc- 

The Content of Truth 119 

tion of indifferent facts, as Hume would have us believe. It 
depends not merely upon sequence, if such can be discerned, 
but primarily upon the nature of the processes involved. 
So much is this the case that Leibniz defined causality en- 
tirely in terms of the natures of the monads, and denied the 
efficacy of external relations. 

Nor can we get around the problem of internal and ex- 
ternal relations by insisting upon the diaphanous character 
of consciousness, for internal relations are as much content 
relations as are external, and so are not constituted by the 
individual's awareness of them. To be sure, internal re- 
lations, such as truth, imply mind for their existence, or at 
least the possibility of mind, for if the whole world should 
be asleep, this would destroy the reality of internal rela- 
tions, unless there were an awakening to consciousness 
again. We do not, however, create the relations of geom- 
etry any more than the relations of the milky way by our 
awareness of them. 

So far as our finite experience goes, therefore, we must 
take the Universe as in part implying internal relations or 
relations of teleological significance ; in part as being ca- 
pable of being taken in terms of external relations, or at any 
rate external to our finite and fragmentary purposes. So 
far as our cognitive interest is concerned, at least, the 
larger part of our universe seems to be unaffected, as regards 
its character, by our taking it. This is not true, however, 
even here, where our attitude influences the reality of the 
facts, as in those conditions which depend upon our 
volitional set. The advantage of pragmatism is that, in 
the largeness of our ignorance, we can take the universe 
as we find it and proceed from part to part by such frag- 
mentary leadings as our finite thought is capable of. And 

I2O Truth and Reality 

in our present incomplete state of knowledge, at any rate, 
the pluralistic way of taking reality has decided advantages. 
Objects, except in those limited cases which are altered by 
our will, seem indifferent or neutral so far as our cognitive 
attitude is concerned, whatever internal relations they may 
imply as regards their own content. 

The controversy as regards relations involves fundamen- 
tally the whole conception of the relation of truth to reality, 
and with this we must deal more fully elsewhere. We 
must point out, however, here that truth is not foreign 
to reality, not an accidental addition to reality, not a mere 
tool of the will. Intelligence, we have seen, is not opposed 
to instinct or intuition : it is our instinctive, intuitive life 
made definite. Instinct is vague and inchoate, and requires 
memory and reason in order to do its work, to complete 
its insight, to reveal to itself what it means. Intelligence 
adds definiteness to instinct. Symbols, whether language 
or concrete imagery, are merely instruments in the service 
of thought, to attain to this definiteness of meaning and 
conduct. While instinct strives to realize itself at random, 
intelligence means realization in accordance with the spe- 
cific character of the environment the molding of our 
theory upon the anatomy of reality. Intelligence is rooted 
in the demands of instinct, and instinct becomes organized 
and significant in intelligence. It becomes realized. For 
truth is always of the real, bone of its bone, flesh of its 
flesh. It aims at specific reality, at individual fulfillment. 
It is positive, and not merely negative. It is identification 
and organization and not mere absence of doubt. In this 
identifying and conceptualizing, we must indeed select and 
omit, but what we select is content of reality. 

The eternal and abstract essences, which have occupied 

The Content of Truth 121 

so prominent a place in the history of thought, have no 
existence in our world except as creatures of thought. We 
can abstract our geometric relations, our qualitative charac- 
ters, our symbolic entities, and deal with them as such. 
Thus abstracted from the matrix of experience, they be- 
come indeed eternal and changeless, but they exist only 
within our abstract purposes. Materialistic and spirtualistic 
atoms alike are the result of this activity of abstraction. 
And since the facts of reality are themselves, as we find 
them, parts of the concrete world of interpenetrating and 
flowing processes, our atomic entities must be decomposed 
into prime atoms or qualities, or whatever aspect may 
interest the spectator in his attempt to describe and predict 
reality. But their indifference and independence exist 
only for the abstract purposes of the will, and in the service 
of its demands. 

Does truth preexist ? Does thought find truth or create 
truth ? To us it seems that thought creates truth, in the 
sense of a significant system, rather than finds it. Truth 
seems to be the outcome of thought's activity in tracing 
relations, in identifying constancies amidst the flux. But 
even from our finite point of view we must grant at least a 
preexistent fitness for truth. Our world of objects and 
our categories of intelligence have evolved together; or 
rather the latter have evolved in the service of the former. 
The real world, therefore, cannot be wholly indifferent to 
our intellectual demands. There are not two sets of re- 
lations, existing in different worlds : the arbitrary relations 
forced upon the world by thought on the one hand and the 
unknowable relations existing in things on the other. But 
thought is at home in the world ; is the outcome of its 
process; the revelation in part at least of its inner story. 

122 Truth and Reality 

Whether the story of the universe as a whole is itself a 
story of experience must be determined through the success 
of realizing our metaphysical and religious demands on 
that basis. We at any rate come about our universals post 
rent as extracted from the real world, whether they exist 
ante rem or not. 



THE pragmatic movement has emphasized practically 
altogether \\\Q function of truth in relation to life as a whole. 
The function of truth is to regulate conduct ; and truth, 
therefore, is valid when it flows into its anticipated con- 
sequences. These consequences are further experiences. 
Epistemologically truth rests on experience ; and expe- 
rience, as one moment of individual consciousness, rests on 
more experience, the present moment becoming confluent 
with the new moments in the ever expanding restless 
stream. The flow of this stream has its direction deter- 
mined by the past and present tendencies, but it also has its 
own individuality, as the old elements flow into the new 
situations, whether chemical or psychological. 

What should be made clear, however, is that pragmatism 
is a theory of the function of truth, and does not deal with 
the whole problem. By emphasizing this we may be able 
to attract attention to the far larger and more complicated 
problem of the form of truth. To be sure, even in dealing 
with the problem of function, pragmatism has been inclined 
to limit itself to the biological function of truth truth as 
a factor in the adjustment to the perceptual environment, 
or a tool for dealing with perceptual situations. Pragma- 
tism has been inclined to neglect the sporting interest in 
truth truth as setting its own problems, choosing its own 
constitution, and thus elaborating its logical consequences 


124 Truth and Reality 

to harmonize with its posited world. But this, while it 
alters our conception of the scope of truth, does not funda- 
mentally alter our conception of its function, which still 
remains to regulate conduct the conduct of the under- 
standing as well as the adaptation to a perceptual environ- 

But granting that thought comes to light in the stress 
and strain of experience whether forced upon us by the 
environment or posited as the logical play-ground of the 
will there remains the problem of the nature of thought 
itself. Is the form of thought originated by the practical 
situation the consciousness of difficulty or disorganiza- 
tion out of which it arises? In the case of generating 
electricity by friction, say by two sticks of wood, we are 
setting free a preexistent energy, the nature of which we 
must respect; and the friction simply furnishes a condition 
for its manifestation. Is it so with thought ? Or is thought 
created outright by doubt ? Does it really grow out of the 
infra-logical antecedents ? In that case, is the form, too 
the laws of thought created ? Are they set by the will as 
its temporal conventions, or must they be acknowledged by 
the will as eternal ? In the former case, are they just what 
the individual posits them as being, or are they universal ? 
But, if without conventional agreement we find ourselves 
acknowledging these laws whenever we think, they would 
seem to be independent of the will and have a preexistent 
character. In Plato's terminology, they would seem to be 
" recollected ' ' rather than created in our coming to conscious- 
ness of them. The laws of thought would seem to be 
discovered through their use in experience, rather than 

If we look forward to the end of thought, instead of 

The Postulates of Truth 125 

backward to its origin, is thought simply a tool to an alogical 
end ? Or does thought enter into the end of life as an 
intrinsic factor not as a scaffolding merely for a higher 
stage of mystic immediacy or biological activity, but as the 
law of the process of life ? What relation does thought, 
with its postulate, bear to life as a whole? Such, and 
many other questions, still remain, after we have agreed 
upon the regulative function of thought in experience. To 
ignore the structural aspect of thought means a very in- 
vertebrate theory of knowledge. 

One thing is certain, that the teleological value of thought 
cannot be understood apart from its correctness, its tech- 
nique. The syllogism, with its rules, is a valuable machine 
for abstracting and investigating valid thought relations, in 
spite of the contumely heaped upon it What is true of 
the syllogism, as a device for ascertaining formal relations, 
is true likewise of the so-called inductive canons for as- 
certaining causal relations amongst facts. The practicality 
of our thinking about perceptual situations lies in its being 
correct thinking, and Mill's canons are an important device 
for such procedure. If it is true that the procedure explains 
the value of the device, it is also true that the procedure is 
made possible by its being a correct device. 

Are these rules arbitrary ? The rules of athletics are not 
arbitrary, though they may seem so to the spectator. They 
are the result of studying the laws governing both the con- 
stitution of the players and the appreciation of the spec- 
tators, so as to produce, on the whole, the best result for 
player and spectator alike. The conditions governing the 
game may be said to preexist in human nature and to be bind- 
ing if you choose to play the game and to play it effectively. 
So with the laws of thought. The question, then, arises : 

126 Truth and Reality 

What are those laws of thought which in all our reflective 
procedure we must respect ? And what is the basis of their 
authority ? To begin with the first question : What postu- 
lates are implied in all thinking and condition its procedure ? 
I shall try to show that there are four presuppositions or 
laws which are implied in all our knowing, viz. : the law of 
consistency; the law of totality; the subject-object form, or 
the law that knowledge must be representative ; and the 
law of finitude. The use of these terms will become clear, 
I trust, in the discussion. 

i. The Law of Consistency 

First of all it will be generally agreed that we presuppose 
consistency. Under the law of consistency I include what 
are usually termed two laws the law of identity and the 
law of contradiction. It requires no proof to show that 
these are merely different emphases of the same meaning. 
If we use the old formula, A is A, to symbolize the so-called 
law of identity, the law of contradiction simply brings out 
the implication that if A must be taken as A, if black must 
be taken as black and Socrates as Socrates, throughout the 
logical procedure, A cannot also be taken in the same sense 
as not- A. This is true, but it is an implication rather than 
an independent law. Fortunately, the concept of consist- 
ency comprises both of these implications, viz. : that for 
purposes of thought we must be able to take A as A, and 
that if we must thus take it, we cannot take it as not- A 

But the term consistency has a further advantage. It 
not only comprehends both of the old formulas, but it also 
brings out what they failed to do, namely, that it is identity 
within a variety of individuals and changes with which we 
are concerned. Truth would be meaningless within an 


The Postulates of Truth 127 

abstract world in which A is bare A. It is the constancy 
of A, as making possible description and prediction, that 
makes truth mean something. The law of consistency 
means that in the variety of experienced facts and changes, 
there must be a certain constancy of content, if we are to 
make any predicates about our world. Unless we can take 
our abstract meanings, qualities, relations, or whatever we 
may be actively interested in, as the same, in spite of flux, 
we can make no judgments or inferences. This means, 
formally expressed, that we must take A as A throughout 
our logical procedure, and that we cannot take A as not-^4, 
if we would reason about the meanings or things of our 
experience. This implies that, for logical purposes at least, 
there are such recognizable identities as furnish leadings or 
threads to the plurality and flux of experience. 

Identity in the variety of situations, empirical or formal, 
must always be taken as identity for a purpose, in order to 
be concerned with truth. Mere repetition per se would 
have no significance for truth. Animals, too, have to 
adjust themselves to a world of uniformities; and they 
develop instincts and habits, but no truth. It must be 
identity as leading to identification ; and this means that 
the situations may, in other respects, be quite diverse. In 
fact, here lies the significance of the identification in tak- 
ing the somehow different as identical for the purpose. 
4 = 2 + 2 for the purpose. The Jones of to-day, however 
outwardly changed from the Jones of your school-days, is 
still the same in fundamental characteristics, and merits 
the same loyalty and friendship. 

We can see that nominalism, in the bald sense of absolute 
disparateness, would make truth impossible. In such a 
world there could be no concepts and no inference, as each 

1 "^ 

^-^tV>v. Q 

. 4 YWr T 

128 Truth and Reality 

particular content must be taken as unique. Nor is it 
necessary to go to the opposite extreme, and speak of 
universals or identities as existing prior to the instances, 
and these as differentiations of this identity, as even Bosan- 
quet does. This makes knowledge quite as impossible as 
does pure nominalism, for it is, absurd to suppose that from 
identity any instances could be differentiated. It is enough 
for truth that certain characteristics can be taken as the 
same in various individuals or groups, and that this makes it 
possible to say something about the conduct of these individ- 
uals or groups so far as these characteristics are concerned. 

Nor is a purely dynamic nominalism any more possible. 
To be sure, truth deals with a world of change. But 
change need not be chance or absolute discontinuity of 
process. In so far as such is the case, truth of course is 
impossible. Change may be circular, or practically so; 
and it is a world with a certain uniformity of characteristics, 
however much it may change, with which truth must deal. 
It is only in so far as our world of experience can be taken 
as constant, that we can have science, though of course such 
a statement would be meaningless if we did not deal with a 
world of change. 

The law of consistency always has to do with meanings. 
The meanings may be abstract or hypothetical merely, 
and our interest may be in their formal relations. Or the 
meanings may refer to qualities and relations in concrete 
experience, and so may be concerned with existence. But 
in any case the law of consistency refers to the identity of 
meaning, and holds that, from an identical content, identical 
consequences must follow ; so that if certain consequences 
follow from M in the case of P, the same consequences 
must follow from M in the case of 5. 

The Postulates of Truth 129 

The law of consistency applied to the concrete mean- 
ings of experience qualities, relations, or whatever they 
may be means that you cannot take the same fact as 
A and not-A A thing cannot be taken as having the 
quality of A and the quality of not- A, white and not-white, 
in the same respect. It does not deal with the question 
whether a thing can have the quality A and not-^4 in the 
same respect. The law of identity is forced upon us irre- 
spective of the object, though inasmuch as reality is for us 
what it must be taken as, in the procedure of experience, 
we naturally extend the law of our thinking to things as 
well. In this there can be no harm, if we know what we 
are doing and are not postulating some occult harmony to 
cover up our previous dualism of thought and things, cre- 
ated by our own assumptions. One thing is certain, the 
world of experienced things is to some extent describable, 
and so must have some degree of identity. 

That A is not not-A, that sour is not sweet or any other 
quality within the universe of taste, involves no contradic- 
tion. They can still hang together within one system. In 
fact there can be no system, if there is not difference. Being 
and not-being, as pure abstractions, do not imply each other. 
They are exclusive. But as pure abstractions they are 
also indistinguishable. They can have meaning only 
within a context. And when we really develop their 
meaning, instead of bandying terms, we find that they 
hang together by their edges that we cannot define one 
without implying the other within a system of meaning 
which posits them as aspects of itself. Bradley would 
argue that, since A cannot possibly be not-A, therefore 
they cannot be related in any manner. For suppose they 
were like in any way. Then in so far they must be 

130 Truth and Reality 

identical or partake of a common term. This leads to an 
infinite regress. But what is this but playing with terms ? 
Of course, if A and not-A be made exclusive by definition, 
they cannot belong together. But that does not prevent our 
actual A and B, as experienced, from belonging together 
within a system, though perhaps not always one of logical 
implication, as Hegel thought. Experience is not chopped 
up with a hatchet, not made up of isolated abstractions. As 
immediate, the qualities of experience are unique. But as 
immediate they are neither here nor there, neither this nor 
that, neither more nor less not truth. It is because these 
facts are capable of being sorted into series and classes, 
on the basis of degree or kind, that we have science. And 
this distinguishing of degrees or kinds, identities or differ- 
ences in the world of individual facts, does not seem to 
disrupt. It contradicts neither their existential nor their 
appreciative unity. 

Two aspects are involved in the concept of consistency, 
as I am using it: First, that terms must have an identical 
meaning, must be taken as the same throughout the argu- 
ment. Otherwise we shall not be talking about the same 
thing, and so shall be guilty of the fallacy of four terms. 
This use of the term consistency is closely bound up with 
the other aspect : namely, that from identical characteristics 
follow identical consequences, whether we deal with rela- 
tions or qualities, or whatever the selected content may be, 
and whether the individual wujtsBe the same, or we be 
dealing with new groups of facts. A case of this would 
be Euclid's postulate: "Things equal to the same thing 
are equal to each other." Stated in a more generic form: 
If any individuals or groups of individuals are identical in 
some respect, they can be exchanged so far as that charac- 

The Postulates of Truth 131 

teristic is concerned. This is equally involved in deductive 
and inductive inferences. What we must be careful about 
in each case is to isolate or distribute the identity, to see 
not merely that there is identity in the situations dealt 
with, but that it is significant or relevant identity identity 
in the same respect, i.e., that it pertains to the conse- 
quences which we try to deduce. This is reduced to a tech- 
nique in the syllogism by rules such as, the middle term 
must be distributed at least once, no term must be distributed 
in the conclusion which is not distributed in the premises, 
there must not be more than three terms, and both premises 
cannot be particular or negative. As regards causal re- 
lations the technique of discovering this identity has been 
systematized in Mill's canons, the ideal of which is the 
method of difference, which means precisely a distributed 
identity. We thus proceed to sort our facts into classes 
and series with determinate characteristics and predicta- 
bility. The success may be varied, and even with cumula- 
tive cooperation and specialization, must necessarily be slow, 
considering the complexity of our world. Sometimes the 
result of scientific investigation is simplification of hy- 
pothesis, as in reducing magnetism and light to electricity. 
Again, new and unforeseen data come to our ken, necessi- 
tating fresh assorting, as in the recent discovery of the radio- 
active elements. But the progress of science, physical and 
psychological, is evidence to how great an extent the world 
of our experience lends itself to conceptual manipulation. 
A great deal has been said justly against substituting 
mere analogy for proof, as the human mind in its laziness 
so often does. This must not blind us to the fact, how- 
ever, that we must proceed by analogy the seeming 
identity in the new set of facts with situations that we 

132 Truth and Reality 

have tabulated and learned to meet in past experience. 
Newton's theory of gravitation, Darwin's theory of the 
origin of species, are splendid instances of framing hypothe- 
ses on the basis of analogy and with successful outcome. 
We must be careful, however, to make certain, by obser- 
vation and experiment, that the likeness is relevant like- 
ness that the consequences which we try to predict 
follow from the identical characters which we have se- 
lected. Two men may be identical in being tall or black 
or Italian, but it does not follow that you can predict from 
one to the other as regards reliability, though that is the 
way we often implicitly proceed. 

As the law of consistency means that an object of expe- 
rience must be taken as the same (quality or relation) in 
the same respect ; or, expressing it negatively, that an ob- 
ject cannot have different predicates in the same respect, 
-"this will be seen to include what Lotze has called " the 
disjunctive law of thought," a species of which, in the case 
of only two alternatives, would be the so-called law of ex- 
cluded middle. To use a concrete instance : A rose a priori 
may be qualified by any one of a number of colors, but as 
a matter of fact it can be taken only as having one color 
in the same respect. And if it possesses one, for example, 
red, it cannot possess any of the other colors at that point. 
Whether you artificially dichotomize your universe of color 
as red and not-red for the purpose, or state the actual dis- 
junction of alternatives possible, the result is the same. 
An object cannot both be taken as having a quality and 
as having a different quality in the same respect. The 
" disjunctive law " is hardly even a corollary. It is rather 
the explicit statement of the law of consistency, as pre- 
viously used. 

The Postulates of Truth 133 

If the traditional laws must be regarded as different em- 
phases at most of the same principle, they have their mean- 
ing, nevertheless, as psychological stages in making explicit 
the law of consistency. From this point of view the con- 
sciousness that A must be taken as A, in a universe of dis- 
course, is less distinct than the consciousness that A 
cannot be taken as not-A. But the full significance of 
the law of consistency is expressed in the "disjunctive 
law," viz., that our universe of discourse must be capable 
of suqh disjunction that A can be distinguished from B 
and every other possible predicate in the same respect 
only one of which can be taken as qualifying the subject 
and thus be predicated in distinction from the rest. 

As corollaries or implications of the law of consistency, 
we would have the axiom that what can be predicated, 
whether affirmed or denied, of a kind can also be predi- 
cated of that kind's kind, which is so vital in all our de- 
ductive procedure. And also that what is true of one 
group of facts is true of another group, if the practical 
consequences follow from characteristics which the groups 
have in common. And thus we can extend our knowledge 
by analogy to new cases and test its application there. 

2. The Law of Totality 

But though we are able thus to establish kinds or sys- 
tems of fact, with their definite connections and predicta- 
bility in suo genere, the question still remains whether these 
systems cohere into a whole, hang together as kinds, or 
whether perhaps our world is made up of disparate or par- 
allel systems, whether two or infinite in number. Now to 
be knowable it will be seen that somehow the various 
systems must hang together at least with our cognitive 

134 Truth and Reality 

purposes. We must have systematic connection in the large 
{in dem Grossen), as well as unique determination within 
the one kind of series (in dem Kleinen). Taking num- 
ber as one illustration, not only must the various series, 
finite and transfinite, be self-consistent, but we also demand 
that they shall form a complete whole. Now this postu- 
late of systematic connection in the large, I would call the 
law of totality. 

This is broader than Leibniz's law of sufficient reason : 
Nothing happens without a reason why it should be so 
rather than otherwise. The law of totality does not em- 
phasize teleological connection as over against causal, as has 
generally been the use of the law of sufficient reason. It 
merely emphasizes that facts do not exist as isolated indi- 
viduals or isolated groups in our experience, but belong 
with other facts ; that reality, as we know it, hangs to- 
gether by its edges, so that we can pass from one fact to 
another, either directly or by intermediaries ; and that only 
so can we know it. It does not mean that every fact makes 
a difference to every other ; that our fancies alter our gravi- 
tational relations to the Milky Way. This would be im- 
possible to show. On the contrary, we know that some 
facts seem to make no direct difference to a given group 
of other facts ; and some make a certain kind of difference 
only under certain conditions of intensity or complexity. 
It makes no difference to a color in what part of a space 
or time series it is located, whether perceived yesterday or 
to-day, here or in China, given the same concrete setting. 
But the number of vibrations per second do make a dif- 
ference. Even here, however, on account of the struc- 
tural conditions, a certain intensity of vibration is required 
to perceive light at all, and a certain number of vibrations 

The Postulates of Truth 135 

per second must be added to perceive another kind of light. 
Experience, as we can take account of it, does not proceed 
by infinitesimal transitions, but by finite drops or bucket . 
fulls. The law means that facts possess such uniformities 
or similarities that we can pass from one to another, under 
determinate conditions, if not immediately, through a series 
of intermediaries. If my thought does not directly affect 
other bodies in space, it may do so indirectly through the 
difference it makes to my own body. But, by some edges, 
some common attribute, all the parts of our world hang 
together. Mind must make a difference, under determinate 
conditions, to mind, and body to body, and mind to body 
and body to mind, in so far as they are parts of our ex- 
perience and known by our experience. 

The constitution of the human mind makes the causal 
category a pervasive one. To know our world means that 
its various objects can make a difference either directly or 
indirectly to our minds. This, in the case of the physical 
world, means a causal difference. To speak of physical 
changes as parallel to thought would mean that the mind 
can take account of objective existences that make no differ- 
ence to it, which is absurd. That our ideally posited world 
of objects makes a difference to our purposes requires no 
elucidation. Thus widely interpreted, the law of totality 
means that the world with which knowledge is concerned 
cannot exist in compartments. It is a command to look 
for connection. In a certain sense it may be taken as 
equivalent to Spinoza's conception of substance, without 
assuming a priori that "the order and connection of ideas 
is the same as the order and connection of things." We 
have to do here only with things as experienced. We might, 
however, agree to Spinoza's axiom that "things which 

136 Truth and Reality 

have nothing in common cannot be understood, the one 
by means of the other ; the conception of one does not in- 
volve the conception of the other " meaning by " in com- 
mon " merely that the things must be capable of making a 
difference to each other under certain conditions, and 
especially, directly or indirectly, to our cognitive pur- 
poses. We cannot know universes split off from our 
own, if such were existentially possible. 

In spite, however, of Spinoza's insistence upon the 
unity of the one substance, he left us two disparate parallel 
systems which can make no difference to each other, have 
no common attribute the world of thought and the world 
of extension. Our concern here is not with the meta- 
physical possibility of such a conception. But for episte- 
mological purposes, we must assume not merely that the 
universe can be sorted into kinds, but that these kinds 
somehow hang together, that one part of our experience 
coheres with another part, either directly or by means of 
intermediaries. Only in such a world would social objects 
be possible. Facts thus have not merely a unique deter- 
mination within their own special system, but have a uni- 
versal reference, cohering as a whole. And this is what I 
mean by the law of totality. 

And how do they cohere ? I can conceive of only two 
ways : either as cause and effect, or as means within a pur- 
pose, logical, ethical, or esthetic. And it is not necessary 
for epistemological purposes, whether it is for metaphys- 
ical or not, to reduce these to one. It is not enough that 
facts are together in one space and one time. They might 
be thus together and yet exist in compartments. Space 
and time do not unify. On the contrary the same presup- 
position of totality applies to our space and time systems. 

The Postulates of Truth 137 

We assume the unity of space on the basis of the law of 
totality, i.e., because we believe that our universe of facts, 
spread out in space, hangs together. And so with the 
unity of our social time construction or history. Empiri- 
cally we do come upon functionally dissociated time series 
in experience, as in automatic writing and trance, but they 
are cognitive realities only when connection is established 
for some subject. Facts must run into each other some 
way, causally or Ideologically, to make the unity required 
for cognitive purposes. And as all teleological unities are 
also psychological events, therefore all facts must in the 
last analysis be causally conceived, according to some 
definite relationship, as objects of knowledge. 

Nor does the law of totality mean merely that the facts 
of experience are a collection of such a kind that we can 
use connective symbols as and or with or on, etc. ; not 
merely that we are conscious of the facts together, which 
we are only to a small extent, but that facts make a dif- 
ference to some other facts, become confluent with some 
other parts of experience, in a systematic way. If know- 
able, they are not merely lumped as ands and withs, but 
strung with identities which we can disentangle either 
causally or ideologically. This we postulate at the very 
outset of logical investigation. Only in this way are con- 
sequences predictable, formally or materially. Whether 
the laws of thought are coercive over things or not, they 
hold for our experience of things, actual and possible. And 
that is all that is logically important. The form of experi- 
ence at any rate is predetermined. 

Because we must assume that facts, in order to be known, 
must be capable of making a difference to other facts and 
so, either mediately or immediately, to our powers of know- 

138 Truth and Reality 

ing, it does not follow that we must assume that facts, in 
advance of being known, must be strung on the unity of 
thought. Facts in order to become known must be strung 
upon our hypotheses, become a part of our purposes, but 
that does not prove that they can only exist as thus strung. 
It is through such stringing that facts come to have their 
significance for our human experience, but that does not 
prove that they then begin to exist or that thus they must 
exist in a larger mind. Facts satisfy the law of totality 
when they are capable of making some difference to our 
purposes under definable conditions. This is quite dif- 
ferent from holding that, because^ we can string things on 
our unity of apperception, therefore they must already be 
part of a transcendental unity of thought. 

3. The Law of Duality, or the Presupposition of the Sub- 
ject-object Relation 

This is involved in all thinking ; and the attempt to state 
the subject as object or vice versa, for thought purposes, 
gives rise to a paradoxical infinite which is not a progress 
toward a limit, but which simply means that you cannot 
transcend the subject-object relation while you remain 
within the concept of thought. This paradoxical answer 
resembles the one you get in number when you ask what 
number is less than the least conceivable fraction. To 
which the answer is : zero, which is not a number at all, 
and so beyond the series of fractions. The difference is 
that the conception of an infinite series in the case of 
number has a warrant in the progress toward a limit, which 
is not the case in the subject-object relation. Here nothing 
is gained by the repetition, once you have grasped the law 

that in every judgment, including the reflection upon itself, 
^ vJU-Lflu^-X- V>\wtXl ^*- *^M 

TV U^ \ 



The Postulates of Truth 139 

the subject-object relation is involved. You do not get 
a thought, at infinity, which is neither subject nor object. 

A good deal has been said about the self-representative 
character of thought and its supposedly implied infinite. 
Now, it is quite true that the proposition, no subject with- 
out an object, as a law of thought, must be self -applicable, 
i.e., the judgment, as regards the subject-object relation 
of thought, itself involves the subject-object relation. Like 
all true presuppositions of thought, the subject-object pre- 
suppqsition is circular. Thought activity always means 
the discovery of the relation of a selected content to a 
system ; and to this the reflection upon the subject-object 
character is no exception. We simply become conscious 
of the fact that the self -representative judgment is an in- 
stance of the universally representative character of thought 
and differs in no wise, so far as the application of this law 
is concerned, from any other judgment. 

Now, thanks to language, this representative statement, 
whether self-representative or other-representative, can be 
repeated upon itself to infinity. And this, no doubt, has 
its own value as a logical sport, whether in the philosophy 
of number or in other speculations ; but it does not in any- 
wise clarify the nature of thought. For purposes of episte- 
mology, the self -representative character of thought simply 
means that the subject-object relation as a presupposition 
of thought is self-applicable. It certainly does not prove 
that truth is an infinite series. 

Neither does the universality of the subject-object relation 
in all our thinking prove that it must hold universally for 
existence ; that because we cannot think an object without 
a subject, therefore all thinkable reality must be involved 
in the circle of this subject-object relation ; ergo : all reality 

140 Truth and Reality 

must be a spiritual or reflective unity. This has been a 
favorite argument for idealism and is certainly a short 
cut. But is it valid ? We must remember that the subject- 
object presupposition only holds for our thinking of reality. 
It can only be a presupposition therefore for reality which 
thinks. Our reflecting upon the stone does not necessarily 
make the stone reflective, and so does not necessarily sweep 
the real stone within the subject-object circle of our thought, 
in the sense of its existence being conditioned by its being 
known. What parts of reality think and what do not think 
must be decided upon evidence, and not by any a priori 
epistemological presuppositions. All we can show is that 
these must hold for thinking beings, that they are presup- 
posed in our thinking, and that our denial of them affirms 
them. But we cannot show a priori what beings are think- 
ing beings or that the universe as a whole is a thinking 

The relation of the referent to the referatum, of subject 
and object, in the judgment relation of the living thought 
process is different from the reference within a logical 
context, taken as abstracted from the real subject. This 
has often been lost sight of in the definition of the judg- 
ment. The meaning of the proposition, however complex 
its internal organization may be, only figures as a judgment, 
when it is taken up into the active thought context at the 
time. This active context of interest is the real subject or 
referent ; the proposition or ready-made judgment, as taken 
account of in formal logic, is in this relation the referatum. 
Not the proposition as interpreted by the cognitive moment, 
but the proposition as the vehicle of the active meaning at 
the time, is the symbol of the judgment. The cold-storage 
proposition was a judgment, but is now merely an object 

The Postulates of Truth 141 

of thought, comparable to any other object, such as gravi- 
tational relations in space. 

4. The Law of Finitude 

So far from thought being infinite in character, I shall 
try to show that thought or truth must always be finite. 
We have seen that thought is in nature relational ; that it 
universally means the active selecting and assimilating of 
a datum by an apperceptive system which does the select- 
ing and relating. Now both the content selected and the 
system within which it is to be related or defined must be 
finite in character. We must generalize from certain clear 
and distinct finite characteristics. I will use geometry, a 
purely formal science, to make my point clear. I quote 
from Russell regarding the determination of points and 
their relations : " Any two points determine a unique figure, 
called a straight line, and three in general determine a figure, 
the plane. Any four determine a corresponding figure of 
three dimensions, and for aught that appears to the contrary 
the same may be true of any number of points. But this 
process comes to an end, sooner or later, with some number 
of points which determine the whole of space. For if this 
were not the case, no number of relations of a point to a 
collection of given points could ever determine its relation 
to fresh points, and geometry would be impossible." 1 And 
again in speaking of dimensions : " The number of relations 
required must be finite, since an infinite number of dimen- 
sions would be practically impossible to determine." 2 

This law of finitude has been generalized for the whole 
field of mathematical science by so great, a mathematician 

\<W! G/Wv^ot *4- X 

1 " Foundations of Geometry," p. 152. 

142 Truth and Reality 

as D. Hilbert : " When we are engaged in investigating 
the foundations of a science, we must set up a system of 
axioms, which contains an exact and complete description 
of the relations subsisting between the elementary ideas of 
that science. The axioms so set up are at the same time 
the definitions of those elementary ideas ; and no statement 
within the realm of the science whose foundation we are 
testing is held to be correct, unless it can be deduced from 
those axioms by a finite number of logical steps." 1 

That we always base our concepts or laws upon the ex- 
amination of finite facts and their finite relations was defi- 
nitely recognized by Aristotle : " If the kinds of causes 
had been infinite in number, then also knowledge would 
have been impossible ; for we think we know, only when 
we have ascertained all the causes, but that which is in- 
finite by addition cannot be gone through in finite time." z 
And in the same connection he shows that even if there 
existed an infinite, the concept of the infinite could not be 
infinite. For the same reason both Plato and Aristotle 
recognized that there could be no truth of absolute flux or 
absolute chance. It is only flux that repeats itself under 
describable conditions, variety with finite characteristics, 
that can be reduced to science. 

To be sure the law may repeat itself in an endless num- 
ber of instances ; there may be no last term in the series. 
Such series abound in mathematics. But, in such cases, 
it is not the potential infinity of the steps which constitutes 
knowledge. Clearly, a generalization from enumeration 
would be a contradiction, if we assume infinite instances. 

1 Translation by Dr. Mary Winston Newson in the Bulletin of the American 
Mathematical Society, July, 1902. 

2 End of Ch. II, Bk. II, "Metaphysics," translation by Ross. 

The Postulates of Truth 143 

The concept of the series is based upon the fact that the 
steps repeat themselves according to certain finite charac- 
teristics or laws. It is this, the identical or universal ele- 
ment, with which truth is concerned, not with the repetition. 
In fact, once the law of the series has been discovered, the 
repetition becomes useless. You can then take the series 
as completed. There would be no virtue in repeating the 
series, i + \ + \, etc., after discovering its limiting term or 
its sum, whichever you may be interested in. An infinite 
number is contradictory, because + I is the nature of 
number. This law is based upon the number process as 
actually observed. The unpredictable character of number, 
outside of its general law, is well known, because in each 
case we must proceed by induction from individual in- 
stances and observe their relations. 

The infinite, in the case of thought, arises from not recog- 
nizing the presuppositions of thought ; for example, subject 
and object. The infinite reflective series does not solve the 
problem. It can only bring the presupposition involved to 
light. The infinite cannot then be regarded as of the nature 
of thought. It is merely a result of reflecting upon the 
nature of a reflective system. It is posited by thought as its 
logical sport. It has nothing to do with the laws or validity 
of thought. It shows that thought is dependent upon the 
larger will which sets the game. Knowing knowledge does 
not mean that we must know in advance of knowledge, but 
that we must analyze the presuppositions of knowledge. 
It is the circular character of the presuppositions of truth, 
looked at as abstract truth, that gives rise to the apparent 
infinity of truth. But the infinity is only apparent. That 
the law of identity or any other a priori postulate is episte- 
mologically circular is as clear at the outset as it would be 

144 Truth and Reality 

after endless repetitions. We need only become conscious 
of its a priori character as a presupposition of truth. To 
be sure, it applies to itself as a proposition and to the re- 
flection upon this application, etc., but nothing is gained by 
such a repetition. It is a disease of language. 

The infinity of Plato's Parmenides and of Bradley is a 
paradox created by definition by taking thought as ab- 
stractions, mutually exclusive, and then attempting to bring 
them together. In the infinite of the Parmenides, for ex- 
ample, you have no true limit, though there is no end to 
the series. If terms are like, they must partake of or be- 
long to the idea of absolute likeness ; but in this case the 
term must be like the idea and the idea like the term ; and 
this likeness must be due to their partaking in an idea of 
likeness and so on to infinity. Otherness would do as well 
as likeness. In fact any relation, taken as an abstraction, 
will illustrate how contradictory it becomes. Thus the one 
shows itself other than the other, etc. In Bradley, you 
have a similar infinite as regards qualities and relations. 
Here, too, there is no limit or progress in the series. If 
you start with disparate, independent qualities, then any 
relation which tries to relate them must have something in 
common with each of the terms; in that case it disrupts 
and must in turn be related, etc., ad infinitum. 1 But the 
infinite repetition offers no solution. It simply shows that 
such a definition of qualities makes relations impossible, 
which ought to be clear at the outset. 

In order to apply the conception of the infinite to knowl- 
edge in a significant way, it is necessary not only to show 
that, so far as knowledge is concerned, the dualism of sub- 
ject and object, of system and datum, is insuperable and, 

1 For a recent statement of Mr. Bradley's position, see Mind, October, 1909, 
p. 494 ff. 

The Postulates of Truth 145 

therefore, that no finite steps can solve it, but it is neces- 
sary to show that there is progress toward a limit and what 
this limit is. Now, in knowledge, the datum to be organ- 
ized may be considered as capable of greater and greater 
systematization, and thus growing smaller as outstanding 
raw material. But this does not prove that knowledge is 
infinite. Further, it is true that the limit of the thought 
process, its rationale, cannot be reached on the level of 
thought, for though all other data were organized, all other 
problems solved set by the nature of the content or by 
the free play of thought when the last surd has yielded 
up its enigma to the progressive system of knowledge, 
there remains the problem of thought itself. Thought 
makes itself the pure content of its own reflections. And 
here it discovers a limit beyond itself. For thought can- 
not answer the question : ' why thought ? ' Or why does 
thought have this constitution and no other ? Why this 
search for wholeness ? Or stating it in relational terms : 
Granting that we may be able to weave our relations into 
ever larger and more comprehensive relations, the minor 
classes into still larger classes, how can we define a system 
of relations which is not in turn relative to a larger system, 
a class which is not itself a class ? Here you come upon 
a limit of the process, which like the number zero or the 
zero of quantity lies outside the process itself, viz., in the 
purposive will which chooses to realize itself in this way, 
chooses this form of activity the will to think. But there 
is nothing to show that this zero lies at infinity. It is 
rather the purpose within which thought moves, the end 
for which it exists. Thought has reached the Canaan of 
its progress. But, like Moses of old, it cannot enter. This 
is the land of faith. 



IN this chapter I wish to discuss some proofs of the 
suggested postulates. I also want to show their place in 
the game of the will, and, at the end, offer some cautions 
as against some present tendencies. But after the long 
discussion of the last chapter, it may be well, lest we for- 
get, to restate first of all the fundamental presuppositions 
of thought as I understand them. 

By the law of consistency, I understand that our expe- 
rience of reality, whether we regard it from the point of 
view of meanings or of the objects intended, must possess 
such identities that we can take contents over again and 
so conceptualize our world, whether taken as individuals 
or as groups of individuals. Thus we can prepare for the 
future. It follows, of course, that if we must thus take ex- 
perience, we cannot take it otherwise in the same respect, 
and also that we must be thorough in our sorting, if we 
would have accurate prediction, i.e., our contents must be 
disjunctively arranged. By the law of totality, I mean that 
these concepts or attributes, these part definitions of our 
world, must be seen to hang together. The parts of reality 
must make such differences to each other, directly or in- 
directly, as to constitute a dynamic whole. Atomism and 
parallelism, with their hydra-headed forms, make the ideal 
of knowledge impossible at the very outset. Our thoughts 


The Postulates of Truth Continued 147 

must belong with things and things with each other in a 
dynamic context in order for science to be worth while. 

By the subject-object law, or the law of duality, I mean 
that thought presupposes the unique relation of an active 
or volitional referent, a prospective system of meanings, 
on the one hand, and a specific object, the referatum, 
which is selected by this cognitive purpose, on the other. 
The subject-object relation is distinct from other functional 
relations of referent and referatum through the volitional 
character of the referent. It is alive, it glows with inter- 
est. All other systems of relations, whatever their specific 
meaning may be, must be referred to this living subject in 
order to have systematic value. By thought being ' repre- 
sentative ' I mean only that the object, for purposes of truth, 
must be taken over into this systematic context of active 
experience. This is what happens in the process of judg- 
ment, the simplest form of which is symbolized in the 
proposition. The complete truth would be a systematic, 
personal experience the fulfillment of our living formal 
demands. Such an ideal is Hegel's absolute, which must 
be held valid as an epistemological ideal, whatever may be 
its claim to ontological existence. This claim I do not 
think it is the province of epistemology to settle. 

By the law of finitude, I understand that an object, in 
order to be known, must be capable of being described or 
identified by a finite number of marks or rules. This is 
true even of the concept of the infinite, which I agree is 
hypothetically possible. The infinite series is defined, how- 
ever, not by an enumeration of its instances, which is im- 
possible, but by a finite rule or law. In truth, as in our 
other ideals, we demand realization or completeness; and 
this is possible only if the object, however infinite in its 

148 Truth and Reality 

instances, submits to a finite law. If the universe itself is 
an infinite process with creative novelty, then truth is only 
in part realizable. That the universe is such is not a case 
for dogmatic assumption, but to be proven as other hy- 
potheses are proven. As a universe of absolute chance 
would make truth impossible, the attempt to prove the 
existence of such a universe would be contradictory. 

The law of finitude does not contradict the ideal of the 
completeness of truth. If the absolute should prove to be 
a valid metaphysical hypothesis, we must suppose that the 
canons which hold of our search for truth hold likewise 
for the absolute experience, including the law of finitude. 
For suppose that the absolute, instead of generalizing 
from finite relations, sees truth in terms of infinite relations, 
then our truth would bear no ratio to the absolute. With 
all our efforts at generalization, we should never approxi- 
mate any nearer. Our research would be futile and irrele- 
vant, and we should land in the dismal abyss of agnosticism 
as to even the problematic nature of truth, which of course 
must involve the existence and character of the absolute 
itself. In other words, truth would have entered upon the 
self-contradictory task of attempting to define the (by hy- 
pothesis) undefinable. In so far as we think of an absolute 
truth, we must think it as the completion of our demands, 
not as a violation of them. 

Coming now to the tests of our postulates, two tests have 
been proposed : (a) Do these laws presuppose themselves ? 
(b) Are they presupposed by their own denial ? (a) Do 
they presuppose themselves ? Take the law of consistency 
could we deal with the meaning of consistency unless 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 149 

we could take it as the same ? Clearly not, as this is the 
only way in which we can define it or deal with it logically. 
If you take again the law of totality, here presupposing it- 
self would mean that as a proposition it coheres with other 
propositions of experience, thus indicating a systematic 
whole. And this is certainly assumed. It is also evident 
that these laws presuppose each other. The law of totality 
must have a consistent meaning, and the law of consistency 
must cohere with other propositions into a systematic 
whole. And this holds of the other postulates. So again 
with the subject-object relation. This is implied in itself. 
The judgment about the subject-object relation itself pre- 
supposes the subject-object relation. So do the proposi- 
tions concerning consistency and totality. Likewise must 
the proposition of finitude be self-applicable and applicable 
to the other postulates, including the propositions regard- 
ing identity, totality and the subject-object form. 

If you take again the second test, viz., that they must 
be presupposed by their own denial, this, too, is met by 
these laws. You cannot deny the law of consistency, and 
still have the proposition of consistency. You must define 
what you mean and stick to it for the purpose of the argu- 
ment. Again, you cannot deny the wholeness of human 
experience, the unity of our world of thought, because in 
that case you would make social understanding impossible ; 
and presumably you argue to be understood. It is not 
necessary to stop to show that each presupposition holds 
for the other that the denial of consistency, in regard to 
the proposition of totality, must imply it, and that the 
denial of the unity, or social character of our world, implies 
it, when you try to argue consistency. A denial again of 
the subject-object relation clearly presupposes it, for the 

150 Truth and Reality 

judgment of denial itself takes the subject-object form. 
And if you deny the law of finitude, you imply it, for the 
law of finitude means that you presuppose finite relations, 
and it can be shown that in denying the law of finitude, 
your judgment, as a matter of fact, involves finite relations. 

But it seems to me that only the argument, which proves 
that you cannot think at all without implying these pos- 
tulates, establishes a universal for their epistemological 
necessity. This you cannot get by showing that they are 
actually implied in any given judgments, for these are not 
exhaustive. The affirmative implication would only give 
you a particular result, not a universal. To establish a 
universal you must show, not only that the judgment 
selected implies the presuppositions in question, but that 
you cannot think, make any judgment whatsoever, without 
presupposing these postulates. That you show that they 
are as a matter of fact implied in their own prepositional 
statement, and that their denial implies them in the case 
of their own statement, would only prove a particular 
application. It is no more significant that they imply 
themselves or that their denial presupposes them in their 
own statement than to suppose that such is the case in 
regard to some other proposition. It would not prove 
that they must hold in the case of all propositions. 

To make them universal, we can do one of two things. 
We can assume them as conventions or we can show that, 
in the actual social procedure of thought, there can be no 
negative instance without making truth impossible, which 
would show that they must hold for all cases of truth. 
In the former case we can meet with no negative instance, 
because we have by definition forestalled any such instance, 
just as, when we posit a space of zero curvature, we can- 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 151 

not, for the purpose, meet with a case which is not of that 
character. But as thought is an actual constitution, we 
are not at liberty to posit at will. Rather, as in the case 
of number, must we discover what the ideal constitution of 
thought is. The second method, therefore, is the one we 
must choose. And here we must show, not only that the 
law holds in a particular instance, as in the case of its own 
statement, but that there can be no instance in which it 
does not hold. 

Now suppose any instance, n, in which the law in ques- 
tion does not hold. Take the law of consistency. Then 
in such a case truth is impossible. For in order for truth 
to be possible, it will be seen that we must be able to take 
our meaning as the same. Otherwise there can be no 
definition or argument. So in regard to any of the other 
laws. And the consciousness that there can be no truth, 
if the law does not hold, makes explicit the law. If it is 
objected that this is a circular process and not a proof, I 
would entirely agree. The process, however, brings out 
the implication, shows us the already implied necessity of 
the postulates for all our thinking. And this making ex- 
plicit what is implicit is all the demonstration of which the 
presuppositions of thought are capable. 

But does this mean that these presuppositions are also onto- 
logically necessary ? That they require no proof as regards 
their real validity, in the actual procedure of experience ? 
Our ability to acquire knowledge, to meet our world of 
facts on such a basis, must here be the guarantee and the 
only guarantee. And every partial success makes the law 
in so far valid, though a complete success alone could be 
a complete vindication. If truth is found to be actually 
possible, then, in so far, the presuppositions are onto- 

152 Truth and Reality 

logically valid. The mere assumption of ideality, totality, 
subject-object or finitude does not make them existentially 
valid. If we are to know, they must hold for our universe 
as experienced. While they are a priori and necessary 
postulates from the point of view of formal knowledge, 
from the point of view of reality they must be treated as 
hypotheses to be verified in the procedure of experience. 
It is not inconceivable that a world should exist in which 
the postulates of consistency, totality, subject-object and 
finitude would have no applicability. But it is also true that 
in such a world truth would be impossible. In this there is 
no contradiction, since it is from the point of view of a uni- 
verse where truth is admittedly possible that we make the 
judgment of the impossibility of truth in a world where its 
presuppositions do not hold. If you argue truth, you of 
course presuppose the possibility of truth. The best refu- 
tation of the skeptic who denies that there is agreement, 
etc., is the method of Socrates that we do understand each 
other. If there are wholly disparate worlds, they at least 
do not concern us. If the above postulates are formally 
true, you can easily conceive a world in which truth is not 
possible by dropping one or more of the postulates. 

But there can be no a priori valid metaphysical postulates. 
The only possible ontological necessities are the necessities 
of facts of the conditions which we must meet in realiz- 
ing our purposes, what reality must be taken as in order to 
satisfy the demands of the will. Such necessities, it must 
be admitted, are in large part hypothetical, owing to the 
fragmentariness of our knowledge. 

On the other hand, it is not conceivable that in a uni- 
verse where truth is admitted as an ontological fact, truth 
could also be looked upon as an accident an accidental 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 153 

variation of a biological process or any other accident. A 
universe in which truth exists must make it reasonable that 
truth can exist. There can be no evolutionary epistemol- 
ogy in the sense of biological chance. And the question 
of the validity of the above postulates is quite independent 
of any theory of biological evolution. 

Is there any difference as regards the primacy of these 
postulates, for example, the law of consistency and the law 
of totality ? Is the former self-evident in a sense the latter 
is not*? Is it possible in each case to conceive the oppo- 
site ? I believe it is. If it is possible to conceive a uni- 
verse existing in compartments, disparate systems, which 
do not touch each other at any point, so it is also possible 
to conceive a universe of flux in which there is no identity, 
and in which, therefore, no predication is possible. One is 
no more a fortunate circumstance than the other. 1 But 
while we can conceive such a world, we cannot conceive 
thought in such a world. It is also conceivable that a 
world of dreamy absorption or even of no experience might 
exist. In such a world there would be no subject-object 
relation, but neither would there be any thought. So a 
world of infinite dimensions is conceivable, but thought is 
not conceivable in such a world. 

There can be no priority as regards the presuppositions 
of thought. If there were, they would not be universal 
presuppositions. Each must hold for all thought, includ- 
ing itself as well as the other presuppositions. Each is 
circular in character or incapable of proof so far as episte- 
mology is concerned. It is this circular character of the 
form of truth which gives rise to the paradox which was 
already noted by Plato in the Theaetetus, viz., that a logical 

1 Contrast Lotze's treatment, " Logic" (English trans.), Vol. I, pp. 94-96. 

154 Truth and Reality 

definition of knowledge is impossible, because in defin- 
ing knowledge we cannot avoid using knowledge in the 
predicate, as when we use the definition suggested by 
" some one " that " knowledge is right opinion with rational 
definition or explanation." To have a right opinion and 
be able to give the reasons for it, which is the very essence 
of the syllogism, certainly seems a satisfactory definition of 
knowledge. And it took the genius of Plato to discover 
that this definition was really circular, for right opinion 
with explanation means " right opinion with knowledge of 
difference " ; and so we have presupposed the very thing 
we were to define the form of knowledge. This circular 
or self-applicable character of the definition of knowledge 
we have now come to accept. But we must also come to 
realize that this circular character is in no way remedied 
by an infinite series of hypothetical reflective acts, to the 
effect that we know that we know, and again, that we 
know that we know that we know, etc. Such a series 
solves nothing. It merely emphasizes the circular charac- 
ter of the form of thought. The truth of truth cannot be 
proved a priori. It can only be proved by its convenience 
in ministering to the will, which sets the game of thought. 


And now a word as regards the relation of the will to 
thought. For finite purposes it is convenient to regard 
the will as a larger genus than thought. While thought 
is the systematic activity of the will in its higher develop- 
ment, not all will is systematic, and in this sense is non-ra- 
tional. Its rationality, at any rate, is prospective, not actual. 
In our finite sphere there seems to be error, due to false 
assent or failure to assent to a supposed truth. Such must 

TJie Postulates of Truth Continued 155 

seem to the absolute idealist my failure to subscribe to his 
assumption that reality is an organic experience. If the 
logic is truly coercive, my failure to assent must be a cer- 
tain blindness on the part of the will. It is the old ques- 
tion whether virtue can be reduced to mere knowledge, or 
whether we must not also assume a certain willingness to 
accept the ideal, whether theoretical or practical. The 
will must furnish the goal and motive of thought. Else 
thought would move in a vacuum. If the will, however, 
chooses to think, it must do so in accordance with certain 
rules. It is this deliberation according to certain rules, 
whether the aim be merely formal agreement or also per- 
ceptual termination, which constitutes the difference be- 
tween thinking and volition in general. To the fully 
organized will, such thinking has become the normal activ- 
ity. The will, too, may divest itself of its practical, bio- 
logical interest and pursue science as a sport a game 
furnishing its own logical and esthetic satisfaction apart 
from its survival value. 

We may sum up the place of thought in the economy of 
life by saying that thought is an activity of the will, pre- 
determined as regards its form by certain presuppositions 
which are posited by the will to think. It is not the only 
activity of the will. The will may be instinctive in its ac- 
tivity, it may be perceptual, it may be guided by concrete 
images, it may dream. But when the will sets itself the 
task of thinking, whether for purposes of practical neces- 
sity or for the enjoyment afforded by the game of thinking 
itself, the will accepts or postulates certain norms, a con- 
stitution of thought. These it postulates in a very dif- 
ferent sense from n dimensional or negative curvature 
space, which it postulates simply from choice for the sake 

156 Truth and Reality 

of a particular thought activity. The laws of thought the 
will must postulate in order to think at all. The only way 
the will can choose not to be bound by the necessities of 
thought is not to think. The will sets itself the task of 
the conscious definition of its own purpose by means 
of concepts, and it wills to pursue this process in accord- 
ance with certain formal conditions, which it acknowledges 
as binding for the purpose, viz., the laws of thought. 
Plato's view in the Parmenides that we cannot know the 
absolute norms is mistaken. They are few and easily de- 
fined. Such norms are for thought, ideals, limits, faiths 
in the attainability of truth, but as such they provide a 
goal for our striving, and in a formal way at least, they 
must be the warp of our thinking. They are not gen- 
eralizations, but presupposed as conditions by all general- 

Does thought, then, transcend itself ? No, I should 
rather say, thought is transcended by the will or faith 
which sets it, and the demands of the constitution which 
it must meet. Faith sets the problem of truth the 
search for unity. Faith, too, promises the solution, sets 
the limit of the process, demands that there shall be form 
or unity. Otherwise thought would be an aimless play 
with contradictions. Thought, thus inspired, succeeds in 
approximations, pragmatic formulas, which are as good as 
true, even if approximations. But thought itself i.e., 
the process of judgment, conception and inference is 
machinery in the service of faith. Thought is relative 
relative to the realization of the will, its work and play 
relative, as every function must be, to life as a whole. 
This relativity of thought is shown whether we examine 
its subject-object form or its relational content. We can- 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 157 

not deal with thought as an abstraction without thought 
becoming paradoxical or circular. 

Thus to deal with thought as relative to life as a whole 
is not assuming that the universe is irrational. That must 
be determined by the outcome of thought, not by a priori 
prejudices. The very existence of the postulates of thought 
and the success thought has had in their application shows 
that the universe in part lends itself to thought's formula- 
tion. That it does so altogether is obviously a faith. 
Whether such a faith turns out to be absolutely true or 
not, we shall still hold to thought for its convenience in 
dealing with our world, for its part-truth, its prospective 
value. There are constancies which we can seize upon in 
the stream of experience and thus regulate our conduct. 
Nature not only favors thought as regards capacity and 
demand, but it puts a premium upon thought as regards 
survival. What reality must be taken as in the last analy- 
sis must be the outcome of the truth experiment. 

The impulse to think must not be looked upon as an ar- 
tificial appendage, tacked on to life without any relation to 
its fitness or needs. Rather it is a normal expression of 
life as it unfolds its growth series, as the sex instinct is a 
normal expression of life and its necessities, however early 
or late it may awaken. The universe is so constituted as 
to make through us such demands upon itself for the larg- 
est life. And that is all we know. That truth is possible 
and that truth is worth while is a faith prior to truth and 
justified by its consequences to the life process of which it 
is a part. The ego wills to think both because it is prac- 
tically useful and because it provides ideal sport but in 
willing to think it also wills to accept the formal conditions 
without which thinking would become impossible. The 

158 Truth and Reality 

will can refuse to think. In that case it can run riot as it 
pleases, determined by no law except the determinations 
of pleasure and pain. But if the will chooses to think, 
then it also chooses certain laws of procedure. Thought 
itself must accept its own existence and nature as a fact. 
It cannot transcend its own constitution a priori or as 

These postulates I hold, indeed, to be true for thinking, 
but thinking, while of a tissue with reality, is thin compared 
with the thickness of the process of life. We can, indeed, 
find our way from part to part, in time and space, by 
thought. It is convenient to think. And thinking is true 
to all it can hold. But it is a sieve, which part of reality 
necessarily runs through. " Ever not quite " must be the 
qualification of thinking as compared with the fullness of 
concrete reality. And the " not quite " is usually the big 
part and the thinking a mere edge. 


Lastly, I want to offer a caution or two : First it is well 
to remember, in spite of the mystical tendencies of to-day, 
that truth is an adjective of thinking and has no meaning 
outside of systematic judgment. We cannot speak of 
mystical appreciation, any more than of perceptual imme- 
diacy, as truth. Truth is always an active sorting of reality 
as experienced. This need not mean, however, a trans- 
muting of reality as first experienced. The sorting does 
not necessarily alter the qualities it sorts. If so, there is 
no way, mediate or immediate, to truth. 

In the second place, it is not fair to charge the thought 
process with the contradictions arising from our conceptual 
assumptions. Rather overhaul the assumptions. Men 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 159 

like Spencer and Bradley have charged thought with in- 
consistency and bankruptcy because of the ready-made 
assumptions with which they have started. It may be 
there are ways of conceiving space, time, etc., which are 
not contradictory. 

Thirdly, I cannot agree that thought is the only final 
way of evaluating life. " There is not only one way to 
the realm of the gods," to quote an old Viking poem. 
Esthetic appreciation furnishes another evaluation of life 
which cannot be reduced to terms of thought, and some 
who have grown weary of the arduous path of truth have 
decided to pitch their tents in the restful oasis of beauty. 
Others again have found in our sense of duty, in the urg- 
ing of conscience, the key which unlocks reality. Tem- 
perament, no doubt, has a great deal to do with our 
preference here. But what must not be lost sight of is 
that there are different ways of reaching the final signifi- 
cance of life ; and if we are not able to drive the triple team 
of values abreast, we must at least appreciate that our 
preference does not annul distinctions does not make es- 
thetic appreciation truth. The failure to distinguish these 
types of evaluation, or using thought loosely to stand for 
each and all indifferently, has been a serious weakness of 
Hegelianism. They may all be harmonious and comple- 
mentary in human nature as realized. Identical they can- 
not be. But while thought is not all of life, and must be 
understood in relation to life as a whole, it is the only way 
in which we can, in the last analysis, realize the truth of 
life, its scales of values. And we must be awake part of 
the time to estimate the significance of perception or of 
mystical appreciation. Whether we regard it more im- 
portant to be awake in order that we may sleep or to sleep 

160 Truth and Reality 

in order that we may be awake, is likely to be decided on 
the basis of temperament. Both sleeping and waking, ap- 
preciation and thought, in the end, must be estimated from 
their rhythmic place in life as a whole. Certainly the 
sleeping states, however blissful, have no truth except as 
taken up into the woof of the waking states. 

The main epistemological difficulty as between my ideal- 
istic colleagues and myself seems to be that I cannot ac- 
cept the ontological absolute as a postulate, but insist on 
proof. I admit that my incredulity here is due to my 
metaphysical leanings ; but I do not see any good reason, 
in any case, why we should assume a metaphysical theory 
as a condition of our search for truth. Ought not our 
method to be neutral enough so as not to prejudice the 
results of the search ? Is it not better to start with the 
common conciousness, with its dualism of thought and 
things, and to follow the dialectic of the thought process, 
as it attempts to master its more or less stubborn world ? 
This would seem to be Hegel's own procedure. If the 
necessities of the truth process should lead in the direction 
of an idealistic absolute, I hope I shall be honest enough 
to accept the implications without abandoning the truth. 
That I cannot do so now is due to no lack of respect for 
my idealistic colleagues, among whom I number my friend 
and teacher, Josiah Royce. Idealism certainly has made 
the only thorough-going attempt, up to date, to give a 
systematic account of experience. Its critics seem to have 
lived mostly on the weaknesses of idealism. 

I insist, however, that the hypothesis of the universe as 
an absolute experience cannot be settled a priori. It must 
come as a result of our success in applying our logical 
ideals. Certainly the universe is in part rational experi- 

The Postulates of Truth Continued 161 

ence, for human thinking is an intrinsic part of the uni- 
verse. In part, too, we have been successful in applying 
logical categories to the infra-human world. And in so 
far it cannot be regarded as irrational, whether it is non- 
rational or not. We find it convenient in any case to dis- 
tinguish, for purposes of conduct, between the thinking 
and the non-thinking world and to treat the latter as means 
to the former as end. I have faith in a higher conscious- 
ness than the human as the fulfilment of our fragmentary 
insight and " the final cause " of the evolutionary process. 
But I do not see any leading toward this mind in the infra- 
human world the world of the stone and the amoeba. I 
must rather seek it hi the supra-human reaches as the goal 
of our ideal striving. While mystical and esthetic intuition 
may seem to furnish some of us a very intimate acquaint- 
ance with such a world, I cannot see that such a faith 
exempts reason from dealing with it as an hypothesis and 
from testing it as any hypothesis is tested, through its suc- 
cess in simplifying and guiding experience. I do not deny 
the possibility of the idealistic absolute. There is certainly 
nothing contradictory in the conception of such a complete, 
systematic experience. On the contrary, it must always 
figure as .an epistemological ideal, even if not an ontologi- 
cal assumption. 




IN this chapter I wish to give a brief historic orientation 
of pragmatism. In later chapters I will take up the prag- 
matic criterion, as I understand it, more in detail. 

It is a long stretch historically from Protagoras to Wil- 
liam James. Yet critics have not been slow in pointing out 
the similarity between the doctrine of the founder of an- 
cient humanism and the pragmatic movement of to-day. In 
this the critics have spoken truer than they knew. For 
historical research has now made clear that Protagoras was 
no subjectivist, as was so long supposed, from a misinter- 
pretation of Plato, but a genuine empiricist. I agree in the 
main with Gomperz's results in his treatment of Protagoras. 1 
But I believe that these results, with proper interpretation, 
can be derived from Plato, especially the Theaetetus, which 
Gomperz discards. On the basis of this new interpretation 
of Protagoras, we may indeed adopt the first sentence of 
Protagoras's work on truth as a fair epitome of modern 
pragmatism : " Man is the measure of all things, of those 
which are that they are and of those which are not that 
they are not." Or to use Goethe's paraphrase : " We may 
watch nature, measure her, reckon her, weigh her, etc., as 
we will. It is yet but our measure and weight, since man 
is the measure of things." 

1 " Greek Thinkers," Vol. I, pp. 438-475. 

1 66 Truth and Reality 

It is a commonplace now that human nature must be the 
starting point for all our theories concerning reality. We 
can only speak of those things as existent that make a dif- 
ference to human nature, either directly as immediate ex- 
perience or indirectly as assumptions needed to account 
for such immediate experience as our perception with its 
microscopes and telescopes furnishes us. If things make 
no difference directly or indirectly, perceptually or con- 
ceptually, to human nature, they are mere fictions, belong 
in a world of centaurs and mermaids. At any rate we 
cannot say whether they are or are not. 

And what is true in regard to the existence of things 
holds equally in regard to their properties and values. 
These, too, must be regarded as included in Protagoras's 
thesis, for the doctrine of the functional relation of quali- 
ties and values to human nature is distinctly attributed to 
Protagoras in the dialogue by that name. The doctrine of 
the relativity of values Protagoras inherited from Heracli- 
tus, who showed that values depend upon the relation of 
the object to the specific will, whether that of ass, or ox, 
or fish, or hog, or surgeon. "Asses would rather have 
straw than gold." 1 Relativity of values to the will does 
not mean subjectivity of values. We can predict values 
for definite wills. We know what the ox and ass want, un- 
der definite conditions. We must judge the values and 
properties of things, as well as their existence, from the 
differences they make to human nature in varying contexts. 
Things are colored, extended, sweet or bitter ; they are 
pleasant or unpleasant, beautiful or ugly, because they be- 
long in a context with conscious human nature. Things 
or individuals have those properties that we must acknow- 
1 See Fragments 51-58, Burnet, "Early Greek Philosophers," p. 137. 

From Protagoras to William James 167 

ledge in order to adjust ourselves to our environment or 
realize our purposes. To speak of a property that makes 
no difference directly or indirectly to human nature, is to 
mistake fancy for reality. There is no property in the 
abstract, no good in general. In this Socrates and Pro- 
tagoras agree. 

So far modern pragmatism and Protagoras are at one. 
They are at one, too, in applying this criterion to all types 
of existence, physical or pyschological, natural or super- 
natural. Knowledge everywhere must be based upon 
evidence as furnished through human experience. " In re- 
spect to the gods," says Protagoras, " I am unable to know 
either that they are or that they are not, for there are many 
obstacles to such knowledge, above all, the obscurity of the 
matter and the life of man, in that it is so short." We 
must know the existence and properties of the supernatural 
as we know nature by evidence. To be sure, in our con- 
ception of experience as race experience we are able to eke 
out somewhat further the evidence that Protagoras found 
insufficient in individual experience. Individual experi- 
ence is supplemented by further historic experience in try- 
ing out the hypothesis. But human nature still remains 
the measure. 

We know, too, that what differences shall exist for us 
vary vastly with the efficiency of our tools, perceptual and 
conceptual. The rings of Saturn or the properties of 
radium make a difference to human nature only with 
improved tools, not only in the way of telescopes and micro- 
scopes, but in the way of scientific conceptions. Consider- 
ing the limitations of our powers of perception as compared 
with the complexity of the objects, this leaves sufficient 
room for scientific agnosticism. This agnosticism, how- 

1 68 Truth and Reality 

ever, is one of degree, not of kind. To the extent that we 
know the properties of things, we must believe that they 
are such as we must take them. To say, then, that all we 
know must be known from the difference it makes to human 
experience must be accepted as an evident, even if tauto- 
logical, truism. Tautology it seemed even to Aristotle. 
But, if it is logical tautology, it marks, both in ancient and 
modern times, decidedly a new psychological step in the 
development of human consciousness, a step so striking 
that its recent re-discovery has been well-nigh epoch- 


If human nature is to be taken as the starting point 
and measure, we must first of all define human nature. 
Here again the problem is old, and we must strive to learn 
from the past. Not to orient ourselves with reference to 
the past is to talk like drunken men or men suddenly awake. 
A great deal of confusion and misunderstanding could have 
been obviated in the recent pragmatic discussion and a 
great deal of energy economized on both sides, if those 
taking part in it had taken pains to read Plato's Theaetetus. 

If things exist and are what they are because of the 
differences they make to human nature, then what is hu- 
man nature or in what respect must they make a difference ? 
Protagoras in setting the new program, so revolutionary 
in philosophic investigation, failed, so far as we know, to 
define human nature. This failure has probably a twofold 
root. One root is the inadequacy of his psychological 
tools. Thought and perception were not as yet clearly 
differentiated. This we can see from the fragments of 
Empedocles. Thought and perception here alike depend 

From Protagoras to William James 169 

upon effluences and the action of like upon like. The 
concept has not yet been discovered. This is the immortal 
contribution of Socrates and Plato. It is this lack of dis- 
tinction that Plato feels when he says in the Theaetetus 
that " perception and sight and knowledge are supposed to 
be the same." 

But another, and still more significant reason, we find 
in the problem which Protagoras sets himself. We learn 
from Porphyry that Protagoras hi his great work on 
"Truth" directed his shafts against the Eleatics. 1 In other 
words, the bitter struggle of Protagoras, as of his modern 
successors, was with the intellectualists. Only the Eleatics 
were no milk-and-water intellectualists. They had the 
courage of their convictions. In Parmenides, the venerable 
founder of the school, they had their unequivocal platform : 
" For it is the same thing that can be thought and that 
can be." Thought coerces being. Zeno had riddled the 
world of perception with his brilliant dialectic, and Melissos 
had drawn the consequences of the logic of his predeces- 
sors : " Wherefore it ensueth that we neither see nor know 
the many." It was this arrogant confidence in a priori 
thought and contempt for sense that Protagoras set him- 
self to refute. 

We cannot wonder, then, that Protagoras seemed to his 
critics to neglect thought and to place a one-sided emphasis 
upon the immediate. Here again history has repeated 
itself. But it seems less of an omission when we remem- 
ber that there was no need of emphasizing the importance of 
thought so far as the Eleatic intellectualists were concerned. 
Knowledge, Protagoras insists, must proceed from evidence. 
It cannot be produced in vacua by means of mere logical 
i Gomperz, " Greek Thinkers," Vol. I, p. 450. 

170 Truth and Reality 

consistency. The criterion of reality must lie in the con- 
sequences in the way of immediate sense experience. 
Knowledge rests, in the last analysis, upon perception. 

For, with the key furnished by Porphyry, we can see 
the import of the quotations given by Plato in the Theae- 
tetus. The homo mensura tenet, which Plato quotes, 
means that if facts make a sensible difference to human 
nature, they must be existent, and must be what they seem 
to be, for the non-existent cannot make any difference to 
human nature. And again we read : " As Protagoras 
says : ' To myself I am judge of what is and what is not 
to me '" the most unsophisticated can trust his senses. 
No need of an Eleatic to tell us. And finally : " His 
words are: 'To whom a thing seems, that which seems 
is' "; or, in Hegel's phrase, "The essence must appear." 
Unless the real can appear in experience and be taken 
at its face value, not as a lying universe, science is im- 
possible. And in this appearance, so far as knowledge is 
concerned, human nature is a necessary reagent. Such 
seems to me the meaning of Protagoras. Such is the 
meaning of modern pragmatism. 

Perhaps the best commentary on Protagoras is his own 
countryman and contemporary, Empedocles, who, with a 
similar motive, was combating the Eleatics : " Go to now, 
consider with all thy powers in what way each thing is 
clear. Hold nothing that thou seest in greater credit than 
what thou hearest, nor value thy resounding ear above the 
clear instructions of thy tongue ; and do not withhold thy 
confidence in any of the other bodily parts by which there 
is an opening for understanding, but consider everything 
in the way it is clear." * Thus must we put nature upon 
1 Lines 20-24, Burnet's translation. 

From Protagoras to William James 171 

the rack. This is Empedocles' plea for sense evidence ; 
and his belief in the dependence of this sense evidence, 
both as to kind and to range, upon the conditions of the 
human body its substances and pores, did not make him 
a subjectivist. 

Plato's interest, in the Theaetetus, is not in Protagoras's 
own meaning, but in the psychological and logical conse- 
quences which seem to him to be involved quite unsus- 
pected, as he admits, by Protagoras himself and his 
disciples. Thus Plato hopes to point a moral to the 
subjectivism in his own day. To make short work of his 
opponents, Plato groups together several doctrines, the 
homo mensura doctrine of Protagoras, the later doctrine 
of Theaetetus that knowledge is perception and the flux 
theory of the later Heracliteans, all of which Plato gives 
the brand of relativism, thus producing confusion in the 
mind of his successors. And here, too, history has repeated 
itself in the hopeless jungle of doctrines to which the term 
pragmatism has been applied by its critics. 

Plato's interpretation of human nature, when he sets 
himself to " understand " Protagoras, is surprisingly indi- 
vidualistic. " Man " must mean " men." He then pro- 
ceeds to draw the consequences of such an individualistic 
interpretation. Protagoras, like the early Fichte, had 
failed to define his ego. He had not been forced like 
Kant, through a long discussion, to have recourse to " con- 
sciousness in general." It was simply natural for him, 
coming before the individualistic period, and with the 
spirit of the natural scientists still upon him, to assume hu- 
man nature to be one : or, as we learn from the dialogue 
" Protagoras," to regard man as primarily institutional. 

But man as man does not have perceptions. So Plato 

172 Truth and Reality 

argils. Seeming must always be individual seeming. So 
many men, so many seemings. If that is the case, the 
truth of the seeming is not guaranteed by the individual 
seemings, whether of man or of tadpole, but is the result 
of a constitution presupposed in the seemings and only to 
be arrived at by conceptual construction. 

If Protagoras failed to define man, he also failed, accord- 
ing to Plato, to define seeming. Scrutiny will show that 
not all immediate experience is to be equally trusted or to 
be regarded as equally valid. There are illusions of per- 
ception. Immediate perception, therefore, cannot be 
trusted indiscriminately as evidence of reality. So Plato 
makes the latter relativism do service against the common- 
sense theory of Protagoras. But pathological cases should 
not make us discredit perception altogether. In thinking, 
too, we have error fallacious and insane thinking. But 
should we, therefore, discredit all thinking ? Plato by his 
brilliant undiscriminating criticism of perception paves the 
way for skepticism altogether. While illusions mean a 
wrong assimilation of a present sense quality with a com- 
plex of sense qualities as experienced in the past, this does 
not prove that we have any other way of ascertaining the 
conjunctions of qualities except by sense-experience. 
Seeming must here correct seeming, through further ex- 
perience. Thought can only furnish a systematic method 
of procedure, not the actual conjunctions. 

Memory and expectancy, Plato further contends, point 
to a constitution which cannot be expressed in terms of 
immediate seeming. In so far as we imply these, we have 
transcended mere perception. But while this is true, are 
not memory and expectancy after all built upon seeming 
the re-occurrence of an identical content which suggests 

From Protagoras to William James 173 

its own previous context? And does not the value of 
memory lie in enabling us to draw upon the conjunctions 
of past seemings in order to meet future seemings ? 

If you take our feelings of value instead of our percep- 
tions, here too, Plato argues, we cannot speak of measure 
or validity, so long as we remain on the plane of mere im- 
mediacy. A dog-faced baboon has the same claim as Pro- 
tagoras so far as immediate feelings are concerned. But we 
must not forget that the r61e of thinking must He in finding 
and weighing the implied presuppositions in our immediate 
sense of values ; and that all it can give us, here too, is sys- 
tematic procedure. It does not create its data in the case 
of value any more than in the case of sense qualities. 

Thus Plato argues in his own matchless and one-sided 
way, that on the plane of immediacy there can be no ques- 
tion of truth or falsity. As seemings they equally exist 
The problem of validity arises only with conceptual defi- 
nition, systematic thinking. He must be a wise man that 
is to be the measure. Truth cannot be decided on the 
ground of seeming or duration, but on the ground of its 
rational coherency. If Plato shows at the end of the 
Theaetetus that his abstract definition of truth is circular, 
this confession of logical failure is inevitable, on the intel- 
lectualist basis, i.e., so long as we try to define truth in 
strictly formal terms. The difficulty can only be overcome 
when we state truth pragmatically ; that is to say, in terms 
of procedure or leading. 

The individualism which Plato falls into in criticizing 
Protagoras would make all knowledge impossible. It can 
be turned against thought as well as perception. Think- 
ing, as well as perception, must be the reaction of indi- 
vidual human nature. The individual errs in inference as 

1/4 Truth and Reality 

well as perceptual judgment. Individual thinking must 
be corrected, as must illusory perception, in the course of 
future experience, individual and social. In our finite ex- 
perience, knowledge is a piecemeal affair, and seeming 
must correct and supplement seeming. Absolute truth is 
for us a limit. Our faith must be a faith in the leading 
of the seemings, even though we never should arrive. 
Plato, in his new enthusiasm, exaggerated the concept, 
as much as Protagoras exaggerated perception. The con- 
cept is a splendid tool, but its value lies in its anticipation 
of reality as sensed and felt, as concrete and individual. 
Plato, the absolutist, by failing to recognize this fact plays 
into the hands of the skeptic. 

Plato sometimes narrowly escapes giving us the whole 
truth. In the Symposium and Phsedrus he arrives at the 
concept of beauty by discovering the common beauty in 
many instances, " going from one to two, and from two to 
all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, from 
fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions he ar- 
rives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows 
what the essence of beauty is." In other places he em- 
ploys the method of limits; and again that of mystical 
appreciation. But the beauties of earth, the immediate 
facts, are only stepping-stones, the first rungs of the Jacob's 
ladder which, once having ascended, the soul is satisfied 
and does not need to redescend to test the concept with 
reference to the facts. Even when it is forced to rede- 
scend, as in the case of rulers serving apprenticeship in 
the world of shadows, it is only to mark the deviations 
from the Idea, not to verify it. At least such seems Plato's 
attitude in the Republic, Symposium and Phaedo. 

What misled Plato, apart from his poetic bent of mind, 

From Protagoras to William James 175 

was his passionate interest in one group of concepts, viz., 
the normative concepts, which he confused with the class 
concepts, which he also regarded as Ideas. In the case of 
the normative ideals or limits, it does seem as though they 
must be primarily a priori only elicited by the midwife 
experience. For without our ideal demands or instincts 
for meaning and beauty, we would not seek for meaning, 
for unity, or for order within the chaotic world of the im- 
mediate. This formal interest came to dominate largely 
the ancient world through the influence of Plato and the 
new ethical and religious spirit of the age. 

In Protagoras and Plato we have the two poles of the 
problem of knowledge. It is the merit of Protagoras to 
have shown that there can be no knowledge without the 
evidence of immediate experience. What seems must be, 
or science is impossible. It is the merit of Plato to have 
shown that there can be no knowledge without system- 
atic thinking. '" Without concepts sensation is blind. Pro- 
tagoras may have over-emphasized the place of sense per- 
ception in investigation. Plato slighted the perpetual data 
and was inclined to let the mill of reason grind in vacua. 
Each developed his brilliant half-truth as a corrective to 
the prevailing tendency of the age, Protagoras in oppo- 
sition to the apriorism of the Eleatics, Plato against the 
immediatism of Aristippus. If they did not emphasize the 
other side, it was for the reason that it is not necessary to 
carry coals to Newcastle. By such zig-zag the history of 
thought progresses. 


It remained for modern science, in its brilliant history, 
to show the importance of both hypothesis and immediacy. 

176 Truth and Reality 

Data become science only when illuminated by thinking 
or hypothesis. Science is the constructive or systematic 
functioning of human nature, not mere perceptual conti- 
nuity with its environment. It is the purpose of science 
to construct or build out, on the basis of past experience, 
a conceptual network or differentiation of purposes to meet 
the variety of properties and changes in the environment. 
The equivalents furnished by our scientific system may 
be artificial enough, tools merely for our anticipation and 
mastery of the processes, as in the physical sciences ; or 
they may be of a piece with the world with which they 
deal, and lead to understanding and appreciation, as in 
social relations; but in any case our ideal construction 
must be verified with reference to the ongoing of experi- 

To be sure this building out of immediacy has been rec- 
ognized in natural science primarily. And here we have 
lagged behind the Greeks. The immediacy of perception, 
bound up with the specific energies of the senses, is the 
only immediacy adequately taken account of by modern 
science. The other type of immediacy, that of feeling and 
will-attitudes, involving physiologically, beside the specific 
cerebral tendencies, the more diffuse changes of the motor, 
sympathetic and vascular systems, has been largely ig- 
nored. Yet the values of objects must be regarded as 
equally significant with their properties. If the sense qual- 
ities are functional relations of human nature to its ob- 
jects, so also are values. Objects no more have qualities 
in the abstract than values, and by value I mean the satis- 
faction which objects can furnish to our will as contrasted 
with the sense differences which they can make. If the 
world of properties is capable of being taken in an orderly 

From Protagoras to William James 177 

way, so also is the world of values. And the later Sophists 
were quite right in saying that if one is subjective, so is 
the other. What we must recognize is that if, by means 
of hypothesis and experiment, we can build out the imme- 
diacy of sense qualities into an objective world, we can just 
as surely build out an objective world of worth from the 
immediacy of our longings and demands with their implied 
formal presuppositions. The immediacy of feeling, too, 
has cognitive significance and can be made to yield, with 
freedom and intelligence of development, an objective order 
of worth, as surely as natural science, out of the immedi- 
acy of sense, can build the order of nature. This has been 
and is being done in the esthetic and religious development 
of the race. The pragmatic method applies to religion as 
much as to science ; and though one life is too short to 
know much either about nature or the gods, the experience 
of the race must supplement and correct the experience of 
the individual. The solidarity of the race is presupposed 
in either case. 

We may define pragmatism as scientific method con- 
scious of its own procedure. The scientist has not always 
known what he was about. Sometimes he has emphasized 
the essentially innate nature of truth with Descartes and 
his followers. Sometimes he has demanded pure percep- 
tions and a tabula rasa. Even when he has furnished good 
canons of procedure, he has not always been awake to what 
he has been doing. Pragmatism is not the invention of a 
new method ; it does not furnish any new hypothesis ; but 
it insists that the scientific spirit of tentative hypothesis 
and verification shall dominate all our investigation, not 
only naturalistic , but philosophic as well. We must shear 
the luxuriance of imagination to fit the facts. Life must 

178 Truth and Reality 

be given to winged thought by touching the earth of evi- 
dence again. And unless the hypothesis, however ingen- 
ious, helps us to anticipate and control, or understand and 
appreciate the onrushing stream of human experience, it 
is not science but fiction, no matter how internally consist- 
ent it may be. The Newtonian equations, the religious 
beliefs, must terminate in the intended facts. Failing this, 
ideal construction must set to work afresh, until at least 
greater approximation is reached. An hypothesis, whether 
of atoms or morals, God or devil, is true because it works. 
We do not wonder over the disappointment at this lack 
of novelty in the pragmatic method. No doubt Dr. Paul 
Carus expresses a general feeling when he says : "If prag- 
matism, as commonly understood, were truly nothing but 
another name for ' scientific method,' it would not have 
anything new to offer." 1 But what the critic forgets is 
that pragmatism is the baptism of a new consciousness as 
to the meaning of science. It makes definite and articulate 
what was only implied before. Few great reformations 
have been original, to any great extent, in their intellectual 
content. Their originality has lain mostly in the simplicity 
and directness of their aim the clearness and inten- 
sity of their emphasis. And there is a good deal of differ- 
ence between the common talk of agreement, begotten 
between intellectual sleeping and waking, and the clear 
consciousness of what the agreement of an idea with its 
object means the termination or leading of an idea into 
its intended facts. It emphasizes negatively that there is 
no other criterion of validity beside conduct ; that mystical 
feeling, however subjectively satisfactory, must, in order to 
be proven true, submit to the test of the procedure of ex- 

1 Monist, October, 1910, p. 615. 

From Protagoras to William James 179 

perience ; and that no a priori conviction, no dogmatic 
insistence upon the inconceivability of the contrary, can 
have anything more than subjective significance, unless 
it terminates in the systematic experience of the individual 
and the race. They are no substitutes, in any case, for 
investigation and have, as feelings, attached to all sorts 
of ideas. We have but a single criterion of truth the 
procedure of experience. 

Does truth, as thus conceived, seem transient, provi- 
sional'and pluralistic ? This is only because we have become 
intellectually honest conscious of our poverty. Truth 
has just as much unity and constancy as its use in experi- 
ence indicates. Grand assumptions about it do not in- 
crease either its permanency or reality. Its permanency 
and adequacy to reality must be tested by our ability to take 
reality that way. Its leading, so far as effective, is not 
arbitrary but due to its seizing upon the real characteristics 
of its intended object, whether eternal or transient. 

If pragmatism is essentially the scientific spirit, there 
is always need of a renaissance of the pragmatic conscious- 
ness in science. The authority of great names the 
Archimedeses and Aristotles and Newtons ; the impressive- 
ness of tradition and technique, are too apt to overshadow 
the real, inductive spirit. We read facts out of court, or 
at least refuse to investigate, because the facts or alleged 
facts are supposed to be contrary to " laws," the only status 
of which is that of generalizations from facts. How great 
a r61e the a priori inconceivable, as we are pleased to 
call our intellectual prejudices, still plays in science ! If 
it is no longer the inconceivability of the antipodes, it 
is the inconceivability of action at a distance, the incon- 
ceivability of mind influencing body, etc. When shall we 

180 Truth and Reality 

learn that the best test of whether a fact can happen is 
whether it does happen and that it is the province of reason 
not to prescribe the conditions, but to discover the condi- 
tions under which events happen? If our intellectual 
models make our procedure impossible, we must revise the 
models. If this is difficult in science, how much more in 
religious and legal practice. What a reform in science, law 
and religion alike, if we once had the courage to drop hy- 
potheses which make no difference to our procedure. The 
value of conceptual technique is precisely to furnish such 
leading as will terminate in the facts. If it substitutes an 
abstract model for the facts, it should not be for the sake of 
hypostatizing the model, but for the sake of better antici- 
pating the facts. 


In its general emphasis, as well as in its thesis, modern 
pragmatism follows closely its ancient forbear. The scope 
of hypothesis or creative imagination has been largely neg- 
lected by modern pragmatists, as it was by Protagoras of 
old, and for similar polemic reasons. It is obviously so 
neglected in the thesis that truth consists in its conse- 
quences. It would be at least equally true to say that truth 
consists in hypothesis or in certain instinctive demands 
for unity and simplicity, for without either there could be 
no such thing as truth. We should be simply staring at 
things. We must not neglect the creative factor in knowl- 
edge the building out by constructive imagination, as 
prompted by certain fundamental instincts, beyond the im- 
mediate, beyond sensations and feelings. It is true that 
this building out must be supported in the end by evidence, 
by consequences of immediate experience, but it is also 

From Protagoras to William James 1 8 1 

true that without this building out of creative imagination, 
we would remain hopelessly swamped in the slush of sub- 
jectivism. On the other hand, mere hypothesis, while it 
may have its subjective value, cannot by itself give us ob- 
jective truth. It must be tested by evidence, as well as by 
the subjective satisfaction which it gives. And pragmatism 
has done well to insist upon this truth, as against the sub- 
jective imagination of such philosophies as Hegelianism. 

In two important respects modern pragmatism has the 
advantage over ancient. One is in its superior psycholog- 
ical tools. It has shown more clearly than before, espe- 
cially through William James, the teleological nature of 
the thought process, its connective value in the flow of 
experience, how ideas lean on facts and how facts are 
organized by means of ideas. 1 The other advantage of 
modern pragmatism is its evolutionary and racial con- 
sciousness. To a large extent it is the outgrowth of the 
Darwinian spirit. It is a theory of the survival of hypoth- 
eses those surviving which fit experience. But a theory 
of elimination, important as it is, cannot by itself account 
for knowledge, any more than the doctrine of the survival 
of the fittest can account for life. The variations them- 
selves must be understood through their structural con- 
tinuity with the past. In the case of knowledge this 
continuity becomes an instinctive or " physical heritage " in 
the form of certain demands, tendencies or needs. And it 
also becomes a psychological continuity or an imitative de- 
pendence upon the institutional life of the race, the " social 
heritage." The ideal variations or purposes must find their 
explanation in this twofold background, i.e., the biological 

1 In this connection should also be mentioned the important influence of 
Dewey's " Logical Studies" and Schiller's " Humanism." 

1 82 Truth and Reality 


tendencies as becoming conscious of themselves in attempt- 
ing to assimilate the social heritage, and use it in the ser- 
vice of the ever new problems of life. From this process 
emerge the new purposes, guesses or hypotheses. These 
ideal constructions or demands must be tried out with ref- 
erence to further experience ; and those will survive which 
afford an advantage in meeting the intended object. More 
than one hypothesis may work for the time being ; and at 
a certain stage of development a cruder hypothesis may 
work better than a conceptually more perfect one. The 
crude four elements of Empedocles seemed to work better 
for the time being than the ingenious hypothesis of Anax- 
agoras or even than the atomic theory of Democritus. 
The axiom of an eye for an eye and anthropomorphic gods 
worked better at a certain stage of development than the 
golden rule and spiritual theism. In the long run, how- 
ever, the workability of an hypothesis must mean corre- 
spondence with the reality which it intends the seizing 
upon its identities for the guidance of conduct. 

Beliefs, instinctive or articulate, are the grist which 
the pragmatic mill must grind or else grind itself. Human 
nature, conditioned as it is by its biological and social back- 
ground, constructs its belief-worlds to supplement its inner 
needs. It is this impulse to create belief-worlds which has 
made religion advance by ever new variations and elimina- 
tions from fetishism and nature-worship to ethical mono- 
theism; which has made science advance from the 
hypothesis of Thales that all is water, to our modern com- 
plex physical and chemical theories. These belief-worlds are 
not only thrown about us by ourselves, in our individual 
capacity, to be cozy in our world. They are first of all 
thrown about us by the race which wraps us snugly in the 

From Protagoras to William James 183 

swaddling clothes of its own making. Else we would all 
start naked, to cover ourselves with fig leaves. Every 
scientist would be a Thales. It is only in the course of indi- 
vidual experience, if at all, that we make the old thought- 
clothes correspond with the new individual preferences. 

Knowledge, we have seen, must mean the differences 
that stimuli make to reflective human nature. All ex- 
perience must be assessed from the reflective level must 
issue in articulate judgments, if we are to have truth. 
Perhaps we may, in the light of the preceding discussion, 
venture to offer the following tentative definition of truth. 
Truth consists in the differences which objects make to the 
reflective conduct of human nature, as in its evolutionary 
process it attempts to control and understand its world. 
This definition of truth recognizes the contribution of both 
the empiricists and rationalists, Protagoras and Plato. 
Both hypothesis and evidence, reflection and immediacy, 
are necessary to truth. It recognizes, moreover, the fini- 
tude of truth as an adjustment to an infinite process. 

Past misunderstandings, however, lead me to think that 
the pragmatic doctrine of truth needs more explicit defini- 
tion at two points. One has to do with the significance 
of the term conduct, the other has to do with the relation 
of pragmatism to nominalism. 

First a word as regards the significance of the term 
conduct. My own conception of pragmatism is that its 
definition of truth in terms of conduct is fundamental. In , 
this sense it is a "practical " theory of truth. It has to do 
with the procedure of thought, the control of our ideas in 
relation to an intended object. But here there has been 

184 Truth and Reality 

considerable confusion. The original use of the term prag- 
matism by C. S. Peirce had to do with laboratory conduct 
specifically the procedure in the experimental verification 
of an hypothesis. In James, Schiller and Dewey the em- 
phasis has been on biological conduct the attainment of 
certain goods on the part of the organism. No doubt truth 
is tested in part by our ability to control the environment 
for our specific purposes. But truth need not be practical 
or instrumental in this external sense. Its leading may 
be of a formal kind, as in mathematical procedure. Its 
aim, too, may be that of understanding and sympathy, 
rather than use, as in our striving to know other egos. I 
have used conduct in a wider sense including the con- 
duct of the understanding as well as biological conduct. 1 
Truth must be measured in terms of the reflective proce- 
dure of our entire human nature in realizing its tendencies, 
formal or practical. It still remains true, on this more in- 
clusive definition, that the truth of an idea consists in its 
leading, its ability to guide in the direction of its intended 
object, whether a chemical compound or an algebraic root. 
Thus taken, the term pragmatism will be true both to its 
Greek derivation and to all the requirements of logic. The 
rules which the will must acknowledge as governing this 
procedure of truth, I have discussed elsewhere. 2 

As regards the relation of pragmatism to nominalism, 
there has been considerable wobbling between the definition 
of truth in terms of leading on the one hand, and in terms 
of particulars on the other. I believe these to be incom- 
patible definitions. If truth consists in the sum of par- 
ticulars, there can be no leading. A photographic or 

1 See chapter X, pp. 187-189. 

2 See chapters VII and VIII. 

From Protagoras to William James 185 

cinematographic copy would be quite useless for purposes 
of conduct. Truth can never lie in the sum of particulars 
or their mere external association. Who wants to count the 
sand on the seashore or the leaves of the trees ? It would 
be quite worthless, even if not practically impossible. The 
leading is made possible by the thread of identity the 
ability to substitute certain constant characteristics for the 
motley world of facts and changes and thus to manipulate 
it in the service of our purposes. In the Litany of prag- 
matism let it be written : From the taint of mediaeval nom- 
inalism, deliver us. 1 With such an understanding as re- 
gards the meaning of pragmatism, it ought to proceed more 
efficiently on its career of simplifying and unlocking the 
problems of life, theoretical and practical. 

1 In this I am happy to find myself in agreement with my friend, Dr. 
Horace Meyer Kallen. See Jour. Phil. Psych, and Sci. Meth., "The Affilia- 
tions of Pragmatism," Vol. VI, pp. 657 and 658. 


THE confusion in regard to pragmatism by its critics on 
the one hand and the variety of doctrines included under 
that term by its defenders on the other hand, make it highly 
desirable for all concerned that there should be a definite 
understanding as to what pragmatism means. Failing such 
an understanding, the term pragmatism should be dropped 
out of the vocabulary of philosophy. This would be a pity, 
as the term short-hands a good deal of circumlocution arid 
has already been widely used. What place pragmatism 
shall ultimately come to have as regards various schools of 
epistemology or metaphysics, whether the old labels of 
idealist and realist, spiritualist and materialist, empiricist 
and apriorist, can still be retained, is of little consequence 
except to those who must set their house in order, provid- 
ing that pragmatism as a doctrine must be reckoned with. 

In the first place, pragmatism as a doctrine is so simple 
and so old as a matter of scientific procedure that it is im- 
possible to understand why so much dust should have been 
raised about it by its opponents. It is simply the applica- 
tion of the ordinary method of the scientific testing of 
an hypothesis to philosophic hypotheses as well. It is 
certainly high time that philosophy, in many respects the 
oldest of the sciences, should take on scientific definite- 
ness and severity or else regard itself as a department of 

1 86 

WJiat Pragmatism is and is Not 187 

Now pragmatism, as so often stated, holds that you can- 
not test the truth of an hypothesis or judgment indepen- 
dent of conduct. The truth of an idea or plan must be 
tested by the procedure to which it leads. You can, of 
course, insist with the mediaeval critics of astronomy that 
there must be seven planets because there are seven days 
in the week, etc., i.e., from the a priori fitness of things, 
but the curiosity upon which science is based always insists 
on trying the assumption ; and if experience indicates more 
planers, we revise the hypothesis to fit the facts. This is 
the " practical " testing of a doctrine in science. 

The testing of a doctrine in terms of conduct, or compar- 
ing the anticipated consequences with the consequences to 
which it leads in being carried out, need not always mean 
material consequences. There is a conduct of the under- 
standing as well as a conduct involving certain perceptual 
events as its outcome. The procedure may be entirely of 
a logical kind as in formal logic and pure mathematics. 
But here, too, the idea is true only as it terminates con- 
sistently in its intended result. The consequences must be 
shown to follow from the definitions and not from assump- 
tions or intuitions surreptitiously introduced in the course 
of the argument. The rules of logic, as the rules of ethics, 
have been adopted for their convenience in conduct. 

Common sense and intuition may short-hand our scien- 
tific methods, and are valuable in many cases, but they are 
not truth, in the scientific sense, until the conclusions thus 
arrived at are systematically tested in the actual procedure 
of experience. 

We sometimes have to choose between different rules or 
concepts. In this case we must ask ourselves what dif- 
ference will it make if I choose one rather than another 

1 88 Truth and Reality 

method of procedure. It may make no ultimate difference. 
The same problem can be solved by plain arithmetic or by 
algebra. Both solutions are equally true. Only habit and 
convenience, therefore, can decide between them. When 
two roads lead to the place to which I want to go, other 
things being equal, I take the most economic road. Es- 
thetic or other motives, however, may influence me, be- 
sides the mere desire of arriving, and so I may choose the 
longest route. And so in the choice of hypotheses. But 
in any case the hypothesis is verified only as it terminates 
in the intended result ; as its ideal consequences tally with 
the conditions which I have set myself to meet, whether 
purely logical or perceptual as well. 

Now I certainly have a right to profit by previous expe- 
rience, whether my own or that of others. I may have 
faith in a chart of the road already provided, without go- 
ing through the trouble of mapping the routes in that par- 
ticular neighborhood again. But this deductive truth rests 
no less on conduct ; and if it should fail, in the process of 
adjustment, to satisfy the demands of further conduct or 
experience, it must be revised, however venerable or dis- 
tinguished may be its ancestry. Truth about reality as a 
whole, or any part of it, however abstract, consists in the 
differences that reality makes to our reflective purposes in 
their historic realization. 

To ask, therefore, whether a statement is true is equiva- 
lent to asking: What must we take the selected object as, 
in the procedure of experience ? This is as true of the 
formula, 2 + 2 = 4, as of the proposition, Socrates is mor- 
tal. For some purposes taking two pounds twice is equiv- 
alent to taking four pounds once. This obviously is not 
always so. Taking two women one hundred pounds each 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 189 

is not equivalent to taking one woman two hundred pounds 
if the purpose be marriage. In the former case you 
will be thrown into jail for bigamy. The intuitional 
character of the formula is due to the fact that we have 
forgotten the concrete procedure, the beads, for example, 
that were used by the primary teacher to overcome our 
stolid incredulity. The only way that you can know that 
you know is by trying out your knowledge, and even then, 
owing to the finitude of our nature and the complexity of 
reality, our certainty is decidedly empirical. We no doubt 
confront the environment with all sorts of tendencies or 
categories, more numerous than Kant's table, but truth 
they are not, until they are reflectively tried out, in the 
procedure of experience. 

But is not truth agreement with reality ? the hard-headed 
critic always comes back. Yes, certainly, i.e., with the re- 
ality which we intend, which may be the constitution of 
number or of a chemical compound. We rarely ever aim 
at reality as a whole, any more than we aim at a bear as a 
whole when shooting at him. The subject of our judg- 
ments is almost always a selected part of reality, not real- 
ity in general. But the pragmatist doctrine, so far from 
denying that truth is agreement with its intended reality, 
has for its purpose to make explicit what we mean by 
such agreement. And what we mean is what science 
always has insisted, viz., that the consequences which 
follow from the hypothesis, or the constitution of the 
object as we have conceived it on the basis of past ex- 
perience, shall tally with the consequences in dealing with 
the object, or with further experience, formal or empirical, 
according to the problem set. There is no such thing as 
agreement in the abstract ; no way of finding out the truth 

icjo Truth and Reality 

of an idea by merely examining its eternal fitness in gen- 
eral. It must, in order to be true, fit its intended consti- 
tution, as Royce has so splendidly shown, and this can 
only be found out by observing the results of our experi- 
ment, by the tallying of our hypothesis with our syste- 
matic observations. The data thus caught, simplified and 
organized through the network of our concepts, which in 
turn have been progressively modified to meet the demands 
of the data, is what we mean by the laws of science. 
Whatever reality may be, science is a systematic sorting 
of experience in the realization of our interests. 

I suspect, however, that what has given rise to this long 
and confused controversy is not pragmatism as an episte- 
mological theory, but the various epistemological and meta- 
physical consequences which some of the " pragmatists " 
have arrived at, supposedly by the pragmatic criterion, and 
which have been included by them and their critics under 
the general heading of pragmatism. Of course, if you 
include any professed pragmatist's results under prag- 
matism, then you will have an indefinite number of 
pragmatisms with hopeless confusion of the epistemo- 
logical issue. 1 Just because a professed pragmatist, even 
William James, happens to hold a doctrine does not neces- 
sarily make it part of the theory of pragmatism. His 
philosophic results would have to be tested by the prag- 
matic criterion, quite irrespective of his having subscribed 
to it. Even the best people's conduct does not always 
agree with their ideals. And the pragmatic criterion is an 

1 Lovejoy's " Thirteen Pragmatisms " seem a petty allowance, when you con- 
sider the variety of human nature and the number of possible applications of 
the pragmatic method. But such analysis has been wholesome in exposing the 
confusions in the pragmatist camp and thus clarifying the main issue. See 
Jour. Phil. Psych, and Sci. Metk., Vol. V, Nos. I and 2. 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 191 

epistemological ideal, which we finites can, only by cumu- 
lative striving, if ultimately, realize. 

Let us see briefly now what pragmatism is not. In the 
first place pragmatism does not involve that the^ true and 
the useful always coincide. Such an a priori assumption 
about the universe is anything but pragmatic. Truth may, 
of course, turn out to be useful. I would not say with a 
German scientist that the best part of science is dass es gar 
nieht anwendbar ist. The utilitarian motive has often 
been important in the investigation of truth, sometimes on 
the part of the investigators, but more often in the material 
promotion of investigation. It is true, however, that the 
most important investigations in pure science, such as the 
beautiful researches in light and electricity, were carried 
on without reference to their utilitarian consequences by 
people inspired by a divine madness to discover the hidden 
harmony of things ; and their results were finally patented 
by people who reaped where they had not sown. But 
whether researches are useful or not, their usefulness does 
not make them true. On the whole we are doubtless bet- 
ter able to adjust ourselves to an environment because we 
know more about it, can respond to its characteristics, 
though in limited, pathological cases ignorance and decep- 
tion may be more useful than truth. But the statement 
that truth is, on the whole, useful is a conclusion and not 
a part of pragmatism as an epistemological criterion. 
Whether it is a legitimate pragmatic result, any one is free 
to test, where all hypotheses must be tested, in the proce- 
dure of experience. 

In the second place, pragmatism is not equivalent to hu- 
manism. No doubt it is true, so far as we are concerned, 
that reality must pass through human nature to be known. 

1 92 Truth and Reality 

We humans know reality by the differences it makes to 
our human, specific, reflective purposes in their attempt at 
realization. But it is not our being human that makes our 
hypotheses come true ; it is their tallying with the consti- 
tution of the object aimed at, as it appears in further 
experience. And there is nothing to show that this ex- 
perience, whether on its logical or perceptual side, is pe- 
culiarly human. The weight, or color, or size or position 
of a thing is not peculiarly human as distinct from other 
animals. A "dog-faced baboon," so far as we know, has 
the same sort of perceptions that we have, and is subject to 
the same laws of association. If a dog-faced baboon or a 
tadpole should construct hypotheses or their equivalents, 
they would have to be verified in the same pragmatic way as 
human hypotheses are. It matters not what sort of finite be- 
ing tries to arrive at truth, whether man, baboon, or angel, 
the test of truth, so far as we can see, would be the same. 
If what is intended is the statement that the nature of 
reality is made over in knowing it and that therefore we 
are limited to the charmed circle of experience, this, too, is 
an unpragmatic assumption. While it is a mere circle to 
say that we can know reality only as it appears in cogni- 
tive experience, or for what it must be taken as, it is a 
gratuitous assumption to insist that what reality is known- 
as, is contrary to what reality is, that the weights and 
distances and masses of things exist only as we humans 
take account of them. When we take account of them, 
they have meaning for us, but our taking account of the 
qualities of things at all is generally forced upon us by 
their existence, which we must meet in order properly to 
adjust ourselves. At least it is not pragmatism to decide 
a priori that things are not what they seem. 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 193 

May there not be cognitive beings superior to us hu- 
mans? Or are the humanists absolutely convinced that 
we humans are the only cognitive beings in the universe? 
That certainly is no part of the pragmatic theory of truth; 
but, even if true, it is not being human that makes a propo- 
sition true, but its termination in the intended facts. 

Is pragmatism, as a theory of truth, committed to the 
instrumental point of view as regards concepts ? Not in 
the sense that truth exists solely for the sake of satisfying 
certain demands extraneous to itself, for example the bi- 
ological end of adjustment. Truth sometimes finds its 
inspiration in such practical demands, but it sometimes 
finds its motive in scientific curiosity. In any case the 
test must be the same. Truth is always teleological, be- 
cause it exists for the sake of a relation to a larger whole, 
but this relation need not be instrumental in the narrow 
sense that truth is an extraneous tool, like a knife, to be 
judged by its mere success. False ideas may be tempora- 
rily successful. Truth as a matter of fact must always be 
imitative of its object to a certain extent. It can never be 
conventional in its content, however conventional our sym- 
bols may be. In the case of knowing a system of truth it 
must be imitative of the meaning of the object; in the case 
of thing-objects it must be imitative of certain qualities of 
the object. Inasmuch as our finite truth is not exhaustive, 
but always implies a more, a larger constitution to be in- 
vestigated, it must be regarded, in so far, as instrumental 
to its own completion, a means to its own more compre- 
hensive end. 

Can the pragmatic criterion be stated in terms of sat- 
isfaction ? That depends upon what sort of satisfaction 
we mean. No doubt the seeking for truth has its own 

194 Truth and Reality 

hedonic tone, according to its success or failure. The sat- 
isfaction, so far as the truth interest is concerned, is the 
tone accompanying the testing of the hypothesis in pro- 
cedure, so far as that special intent is concerned. But the 
truth satisfaction may run counter to any moral or es- 
thetic satisfaction in the particular case. It may con- 
sist in the discovery that the friend we had backed 
has involved us in financial failure, that the picture we 
had bought from the catalogue description is anything but 
beautiful. But we are no longer uncertain as regards the 
truth. Our restlessness, so far as that particular curiosity 
is concerned, has come to an end. And this satisfaction 
may sometimes be strong, even when the practical out- 
, come is against us. The rejected lover gets some peace 
of mind from knowing the truth as to his failure. But 
this is hardly the satisfaction of winning his suit. 

Is pragmatism realistic? Only so far as it intends a 
world beyond our finite cognitive purposes. The finite 
fragmentary intent must find its reality or correction in a 
larger whole. I do not know of any striving for truth 
which is not realistic in this sense. How could it be a 
striving for truth otherwise ? But obviously a criterion of 
truth must be unbiased at the outset as regards the episte- 
mological or metaphysical result of its application. The 
reality we seek to know may ultimately be more expe- 
rience yes, we must be willing to have it turn out to be 
an absolute unity of thought, if the procedure of truth 
leads that way. But pragmatism neither assumes at the 
outset that the object in order to make any difference to 
the cognitive purpose must itself be experience, nor does 
it assume a priori that reality cannot possibly be what it is 
known as being, because external to experience. What 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 195 

reality is, what differences it can make, is precisely to be 
found out. The constitution of the universe is idealistic 
or materialistic, monistic or pluralistic, according as we 
must take it, as the outcome of the pragmatic test. But 
we must all start with the same criterion, else there can 
be no discussion of truth. 

Truth is systematic meaning, systematic experience 
about the object. This meaning, in case we are striving 
to know other experience, must be identical with the con- 
tent of the object; but the qualities of an object which is 
not experience may become content for us through per- 
ception. In any case truth is our systematic percipi, as it 
is revealed in our specific procedure, whatever the meta- 
physical character of the object may turn out to be. We 
have no right to take for granted that what is to be known 
is more content, independent of our knowing, with which our 
preformed guess can be accidentally identical and so be 
called true in advance of verification. 

It is difficult for me to understand what is meant by un- 
verified truths unverified science, truths which no one 
knows to be true, for if anyone knows them to be true God, 
or man, or monkey, they have fulfilled the pragmatic test. 
They are seen to terminate or find their completion in the 
intended object. If a proposition has no systematic basis 
in experience, we speak of it as a mere guess. As that 
brilliant pragmatist, Xenophanes, puts it, "All are free to 
guess " and, " These are guesses something like the truth, 
. . . but by seeking they gradually find out what is better." 
In Xenophanes's time there was but little cumulated scien- 
tific observation. Hence he is naturally impressed with the 
guess character of his statements about the universe. 
When a supposition is based upon analogy and previous 

196 Truth and Reality 

scientific observation, we call it an hypothesis, but it is only 
as the hypothesis is fully tested in terms of the intended 
facts that we call it truth. Truth, therefore, so far as we 
finite seekers are concerned, is a limit which we are far 
from having realized. Whether we can realize it or not, 
only the historical outcome of the pragmatic test can prove. 
It is certainly unpragmatic to say in advance that truth is 
unrealizable. In the meantime we have our provisional 
" truths." 

I suppose the reason that some have insisted upon prop- 
ositions being true in advance of being tested is that in 
individual experience, especially in an advanced stage of 
science, we find a large body of social truths, which we can 
take, for practical purposes, as ready-made. We find that 
truths exist independent of our individual verification, and 
then some assume that they exist independent of all verifica- 
tion. Seeing the agreement of the hypothesis of gravitation 
with its intended facts, they insist that the hypothesis must 
be true in advance of the discovered agreement, as though 
truth could be a guess in vacuo. What they mean is 
that reality has a constitution in advance of our investiga- 
tions and that so far as our cognitive nature is concerned 
the qualities of reality are not created, but discovered. 
Whether they are created through our volitional nature, or 
exist independent of our act or positing, is a question which 
the application of the pragmatic method alone can deter- 
mine. But all this controversy about preexisting truths is 
a lexicographical one and would be over if we recognized 
the established philosophic usage, as old as Xenophanes, 
that truth is systematic meaning, corrected and completed in 
its intended reality. 

If we state truth thus, there can be no ultimate differ- 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 197 

ence between truth and the test of truth. A proposition is 
proven to be true because it terminates in its intended ob- 
ject, imitates this either as regards its inner content or as 
regards its qualities. But it is true for the same reason. 
What makes the test of truth seem something different from 
the truth itself is that in the process of verification the test 
seems external to the intent of thought. It seems to hap- 
pen to the idea in a more or less accidental way. But this 
is a superficial way of looking at the process of discovery. 
For the facts only happen to the intent of thought because 
we are seeking them, however much our meaning may have 
to be corrected in the process. The test is our further ex- 
perience about the object as selected by the intent. But 
the intent is not, taken by itself, the truth, any more than 
the consequences of further experience are the truth taken 
as external happenings. It is the intent as terminating in 
the selected facts which constitutes the truth. And this 
termination is the test of truth, or the intent as tested con- 
stitutes the truth. 

Is pragmatism a theory of empiricism as opposed to ra- 
tionalism and a priorism f No, pragmatism is not com- 
mitted to any a priori doctrine of the origin of ideas or 
their connection. It is not committed to Hume's associa- 
tion theory any more than to Plato's doctrine of recollection 
from previous existence. Pragmatism may be said to agree 
with rationalism in holding that truth has a formal side. 
An hypothesis or system must be internally consistent. 
But pragmatism insists that this is not sufficient : there 
must also be external agreement, or agreement of the hy- 
pothesis with its intended facts. As regards the other 
historic antithesis, that of empiricism and a priorism, prag- 
matism is equally non-committal It is a theory of the test 

198 Truth and Reality 

of truth, not of the origin of its categories or postulates. 
Whatever demands or tendencies are inherited, they must be 
consciously tried out in experience as regards their agree- 
ment with reality before they can be called true. The 
categories might originate by use-inheritance, by natural 
selection, by divine implanting, or by mystical intuition, so 
far as pragmatism as a theory of truth is concerned. The 
question is : Will they work in simplifying experience and 
meeting the character of the environment? The theory 
of their origin must itself be subjected to the pragmatic 

Is pragmatism at the outset committed to time and 
chance as the ultimate character of reality and, therefore, 
to the impossibility of any final truth ? This again is a 
theory to be tested by its pragmatic outcome. A priori, 
eternalism may be the outcome of pragmatism as well as 
dynamism ; or perhaps partly the one, partly the other. 
Because the discovery of truth is a temporal process, it 
does not follow that truth relations as discovered are tem- 
poral. The truth 2 + 2=4 ma y De eternal, however long 
was the evolution which led to its discovery. At any rate, 
there can be no such thing as pragmatic dogmatism. 

A professed pragmatist may of course hold any of these 
doctrines, and a large number of them, either as his individ- 
ual application of the pragmatic test or for other reasons. 
He may also, like myself, be an Episcopalian, a free-trader, 
etc. Do all the doctrines and practices of the Episcopal 
church become pragmatisms when a pragmatist belongs ? 
I have known pragmatists to drink beer, to attend dime 
theatres, and even to swear. Are all such practices with 
their implied damnable theories of life therefore pragma- 
tisms ? And do they also come under Scepticismus, as the 

What Pragmatism is and is Not 199 

German critics would say ? God forbid. It makes one's 
flesh fairly creep to think of all these uncanny associations 
these sins on the part of our clever young critics, com- 
mitted in the name of pragmatism. But are they not, 
after all, primarily sins against formal logic ? A is a free- 
trader. A is a pragmatist. Therefore all pragmatists are 
free-traders. That looks very much like an illicit minor 
in the third figure. It might also be treated as a fallacy 
of composition. It would seem as though the " intellec- 
tualists " ought to have a little respect for formal logic. 

If you say that in the above case pragmatism is not new 
at all, but as old as science, I would quite agree with you. 
No one more than the pragmatist has disavowed any in- 
tention at originality. It is better to be true than original. 
But the amount of dust raised seems to indicate that an 
old, implicit scientific procedure was but vaguely under- 
stood. If the result of this paper should be to convince 
my readers that they are all " pragmatists," then we shall 
have " peace on earth, good will to men " once more, than 
which no more blissful consummation could be desired, un- 
less it be strife. 



IN dealing with truth we are concerned, not with the 
imagery of the thought process, but with the consciousness 
of intent or direction. This is the essential aspect of the 
meaning, the imagery is a means or by-play. This sense 
of intent or direction is a unique content, not analyzable 
into mere images and their elements. If so, the meaning 
would be a subjective compound, as associationism has 
always maintained. The image, whether concrete or verbal, 
is a way of fixating or making definite the otherwise vague 
intent. How far imagery is indispensable to the meaning 
process is a matter for psychological analysis to determine. 
The focus of attention may be alternately now upon the 
intent and now upon the imagery in varying degrees ; and 
in some of the transitive flights of the process we may be 
so absorbed in the intent as to be oblivious of the imagery, 
while in other cases the focus may be just as surely some 
substantive bit of imagery which symbolizes the meaning. 
Psychology so far has emphasized the latter cases. 

The relevancy of the imagery to the intent obviously 
varies with the degree the meaning is concrete or abstract. 
In the concept of humanity, color distinctions cannot be 
irrelevant. They are part of the concrete meaning. The 
meaning of a melody can be a true meaning only when it 
reproduces the melody, while Kepler's squares and New- 


Meaning and Validity 20 1 

ton's equations must be regarded merely as artificial tools 
for fixating and communicating the meaning. In the hunt 
for a forgotten name, the throbbing, restless intent becomes 
even more important and the suggested imagery even more 
accidental. But whether the meaning is concrete or ab- 
stract, the intent-content is obviously the determining aspect 
of the process and the only aspect to which the truth con- 
ception is relevant. 

With this passing notice of the concept of meaning, we 
must next try to fix the concept of truth. Here there is 
woeful need of differentia. In the first place it is well to 
keep in mind that truth and meaning are not coincident 
terms, as a good deal of the discussion of to-day seems to as- 
sume. Truth is only one species of meanings. Esthetic 
meanings, meanings of approval and disapproval, not to 
speak of the whole class of the more primitive perceptual 
meanings, do not involve the question of truth, and yet 
who shall deny that they are real meanings ? The enjoy- 
ment of the symphony has meaning, as well as the testing 
of the hypothesis, but the meanings are quite different. 
What then constitutes a truth meaning ? 

Even within the universe of thought as expressed in 
language, we must distinguish the meaning of a proposition 
from its validity. Taking the proposition as a separate 
structure, we must recognize that it is only a datum for 
thought. In formal logic, we are not concerned with 
whether propositions are materially true or false. We in- 
vestigate merely their internal meanings and their relations. 
In trying to understand another mind, we must first of all 
get his meaning, whether we agree to the validity of his 

opinion or not. We say : " I see what you mean, but ." 

We recognize the meaning of antiquated theories of religion 

2O2 Truth and Reality 

and of science, of witchcraft and of astrology, though we 
no longer recognize their validity. 

It may be contended that what we really mean is reality, 
and that, therefore, there can be final distinction between 


meaning and validity. This involves, however, an assump- 
tion, as regards our meaning and the object which we 
mean, that we cannot accept a priori. It may turn out 
that the object which we mean is only more of our mean- 
ing our internal meaning enlarged and made definite in 
an inclusive, preexistent, external meaning. But that this 
is so must itself be proven as the outcome of an inductive 
process. It seems to us, at any rate, that our meanings 
must mould themselves upon the carcass of reality by ex- 
ternal observation and experiment, and cannot weave the 
tissue of the world merely out of themselves by implication, 
as the snail secretes his shell. For us, as finites, at any 
rate, the difference between what we mean and what is 
valid may involve a radical wrench to our meanings. To 
be valid, meanings must not merely be internally consist- 
ent and intelligible; they must lead to a reality beyond 

If we use meaning in the sense of pragmatic meaning 
the difference which a situation makes to our further pro- 
cedure whether practical or formal then there can be no 
final dualism between the meaning of a proposition and its 
truth. The meaning which moulds itself on the constitu- 
tion of reality ; which leads to the intended consequences, 
is precisely the valid meaning. But even here we must 
not forget that our internal meanings are provisional and 
that they become true, not because we mean them, but 
because they enable us to anticipate and control their ob- 
ject. This should prevent us from being arrogant about 

Meaning and Validity 203 

Truth in the singular and eternal sense, because this is 
at best an ideal. What we really have, on any theory, 
empirical or rationalistic, are "truths," tentative leadings, 
halting meanings, which in part and darkly help us to take 
the next step. 

There has been considerable confusion in recent discus- 
sion as regards the definition of truth. This has been 
owing in part no doubt to the unorganized state of prag- 
matism, but still more to its caricature by its critics. It 
is quite true that we cannot define truth merely as that 
which has useful consequences. Castor oil, too, has use- 
ful consequences under certain conditions. Nor is truth 
useful under all conditions ; and a real criterion of truth 
must work all the time. It must give us point for point 
correspondence so far as the relevant features of the situa- 
tion are concerned. We sometimes feel that we have to 
withhold the truth of his condition from the patient for 
fear of jeopardizing his chances at a critical time. A father 
probably would not thank a truthful neighbor for enlight- 
ening his son as to his father's not being all he is cracked 
up to be. A child's idealizing of his parent seems, on the 
whole, a good thing. Only in Leibniz's best possible uni- 
verse or within the comprehensive maw of an idealistic 
absolute does it follow that whatever is is good, and 
therefore that the true and the useful coincide. In a 
world as pluralistic and plastic as our social world is, it 
may very well happen that fiction is sometimes better than 
truth ; and in the absence of idealization most of us would 
shrink into rather bony shadows. Deception may be an 
indispensable means to social progress. The fact that the 
true and the useful so often coincide, and that the useful 
must largely furnish the inspiration for the true, must not 

2O4 Truth and Reality 

blind us to the contradictory instances, such as the satisfy- 
ing of curiosity or malice. Only the devil would tell the 
truth under some circumstances. Life is not all comedy. 
There are the tragic, slap-you-in-the-face truths, too, the 
utility of which lies at least beyond our ken. We cannot 
be said, therefore, to have defined the true by classifying it 
under the useful. 

Nor do we define truth by stating it in terms of " satis- 
faction," even though satisfaction or fluency of some kind 
should turn out to be part of the nature of truth. I see no 
inherent wrong in trying to state truth in terms of our 
affective-volitional nature, as well as in intellectual terms, 
provided that our terms define. We are not concerned here 
with the question which is the more fundamental side 
whether an hypothesis appears to agree because it satisfies 
or satisfies because it agrees ; psychologically either may 
be true. Our intellectual perception influences our feel- 
ings; and there can be no doubt that our wishes and 
feelings influence our intellectual perception. They con- 
dition our emphasis and selection of data. Human nature 
is not divided into water-tight compartments. In either 
case we must speak in finite terms what seems to agree 
and what now satisfies. One side of human nature has no 
more finality than the other. In the long run, no doubt, 
only real agreement seems agreement and only real agree- 
ment satisfies the truth demand. This would of course 
include the cases where our faith, our affective-volitional 
nature, is a creative factor in making the agreement come 
true, as well as cases where the facts are indifferent to our 
faith, " for who by taking thought can add one cubit to his 
stature ?" But we are concerned now with what makes an 
idea true. And while the truth activity has, no doubt, its 

Meaning and Validity 205 

characteristic tone of satisfaction, it is not this tone which 
makes the idea true. We have the satisfaction whenever 
we believe that we have attained the truth, though we are 
often mistaken, as shown by further experience. And we 
could not have a mistaken criterion of truth. 

If we define truth in terms of satisfaction, we should at 
least state what kind of satisfaction or what sort of fulfill- 
ment of purpose, because otherwise we would not distin- 
guish truth satisfaction from esthetic or moral or any other 
type ,of satisfaction. In these, too, we have selection, 
simplification and ideal construction ; and yet these are not 
truth attitudes. What are, then, the differentia of truth 
" satisfaction," if we state truth in terms of value ? It is 
not merely what our ancestors felt or what our great grand- 
children are going to feel, nor is it determined by intensity 
or duration. It is not enough to state it as social value, 
because other types of value too are social. Nor must it 
be merely the satisfaction that truth leads to, because this 
need not be truth at all. It may be mystical trance or 
sleep. The value of truth is not simply its use, as some 
writers seem to hold ; but the feeling which characterizes 
truth or accompanies the truth attitude. And this attitude 
consists in the termination of the idea, purpose or expect- 
ancy in its complementary facts, the agreement of the par- 
ticular hypothesis or suspicion with the reality which it 
intends or points to. 

To call this termination of search, this equilibrium of 
hypothesis or suspicion, thus terminating in evidence, 
" satisfaction," in the sense of a utilitarian good, needs quali- 
fication. This implies that truth is always an unqualified 
good. Yet in the uncertainty may lie the only hope, and 
never to know may be blessed. A man I know was a long 

2O6 Truth and Reality 

time in uncertainty as to the suicide of his son. The alter- 
native hypothesis kept him up, but the hypothesis of suicide 
finally terminated in facts. The man became a perma- 
nent melancholiac. The only " satisfaction " of such a truth 
is that it puts a stop to uncertainty; that one dread alter- 
native with its black emotion finally possesses the field. 
The intellectual " satisfaction " here runs counter to any 
moral satisfaction surely. It condemns the world as evil, 
so far as that individual is concerned. A man who has 
become addicted to opiates or passed through certain 
kinds of vice has a certain knowledge that the normal man 
does not possess ; but such a knowledge is a doubtful good. 

The " satisfaction " of truth, then, is a coefficient of the 
terminating of an idea in a certain reality which it intends 
or suspects, hopes for or fears. It may be good or it may 
be evil or it may be mixed. It takes its coloring from the 
nature of the situation the idea and its termination. In 
general it simply means equilibrium after doubt or intellec- 
tual readjustment, a termination of search and uncertainty 
so far as that particular hypothesis is concerned. Truth 
value gets its tinge from this particular agreement or ter- 
mination. To speak of such termination as fulfillment and 
satisfaction is born of the same undiscriminating optimism 
which exhibited the trophies at Delphi. 

Even in using terms of expectancy, as I have above, I 
feel that I have overstated the subjective "leading" of 
truth, for facts may be forced upon our acknowledgment 
which we can neither be said to have intended nor sus- 
pected. They may drop from a clear sky. In our plural- 
istic, changing world we do not always have opportunity to 
plan for the facts nor even to suspect them. The facts 
sometimes select us instead of our selecting them. They 

Meaning and Validity 207 

sometimes violate all our fundamental interests, outside of 
the cognitive. In the case of the news of our friend having 
perished in a railroad accident, the news does not come as 
fulfillment of purpose. If so, we ought to be tried for 
murder in the first degree. Truth here means chaos, the 
defeat of expectancy. The particular ideational setting 
here is selected or forced by the environment In most 
human lives the unwelcome, unintended facts are probably 
as numerous as those planned for. Satisfied or unsatisfied, 
we have to accommodate ourselves to the new events. But 
if the hedonic value of truth is determined by the particu- 
lar agreement of our idea with its reality, then the nature 
of this agreement with reality becomes the important thing 
to investigate for any real light on truth its relation to 
its object and the manner of testing, rather than the he- 
donic tone of the psychological situation. 

Is there an immediate test of truth, the result of the 
mere inspecting of a meaning or proposition and without 
any need of examining its relation to a larger world ? 
There always will be people, no doubt, who will insist 
upon the a priori certainty of some propositions or axioms. 
But what do we mean by such certainty and what guaranty 
does it have ? Some have found such certainty in the 
authority of the mystical illumination of certain moments. 
Even William James argues that such mystical illumination 
is authoritative for him who has the experience, even if not 
coercive over others. But he also admits, at least by his 
illustrations, that such a feeling of illumination, whether 
artificially or spontaneously produced, may be the merest 
insanity. It would seem to be impossible, so far as the 
mystical states go, to judge between sense and nonsense ; 
and therefore it is hard to see how such conscious states 

208 Truth and Reality 

can be authoritative or valid in their own right in any 
epistemological sense. They may be mystically and es- 
thetically satisfying and we may choose to abide by them, 
but that does not make them valid. The truth of such 
states must be found in their being socially applicable, in 
their ability to meet and organize the data of waking ex- 
perience. A truth valid only for the one who has it can 
hardly be called truth. Rich as such states may be in 
emotional meaning ; though they do transport the individ- 
ual who has them to the seventh heaven, yet they are 
verified only as they agree with further experience, as 
they permit of being translated into the prose of waking 
life. Mystical certainty simply amounts to saying that if 
a man feels that way, he feels that way, though it be the 
merest nonsense. Luminousness may be a part of the 
truth experience, but it does not make it valid. 

Others again have insisted, according to temperament, 
upon the dry light or upon the feeling of fitness or upon 
the categorical character of certain propositions, especially 
the mathematical and moral. But this intuitional or cate- 
gorical certainty is simply another name for believing a 
thing. Our belief may have an instinctive basis or it may 
be due to indissoluble association; but in either event it 
does not prove anything, except that we have it. Even 
the categorical vehemence of a Kant is not sufficient to 
make traditional beliefs valid. The serious inroad upon 
the mathematical axioms, especially Euclid's list, which 
seemed for centuries so categorically and dryly certain, 
should give us warning not to put our trust too implicitly 
upon traditional certainties. Axioms, after all, are gen- 
eralizations from experience; and however intuitive they 
may become in the process of individual and race history, 

Meaning and Validity 209 

they can be validated only with reference to the procedure 
of experience, individual and social. The a priori certainty 
of the law of identity and of the law of contradiction resolves 
itself into hypothetical tautology apart from experience. 
If a thing or meaning is the same, it is the same ; and if it 
is the same, it is not other. Whether there is such a thing 
as identity or not must be determined by experience. Even 
our more positive "love for the wholeness of things," which 
is the root of scientific endeavor, is not valid except as it 
can^be realized, however partially, in experience. The im- 
mediate inspection of our ideas, therefore, is not sufficient 
to establish the truth of those ideas, except as we are con- 
cerned merely with the Cartesian axiom of the existence of 
such facts in consciousness. It cannot furnish a final test 
of validity. 

The impossibility of conceiving the contrary carries us 
no further. This is true in all real belief. A man re- 
cently told me that he was so steeped in the doctrine of 
the Trinity that he could not conceive anything else ; yet 
on questioning him I found that the doctrine with him 
was merely emotional, and had no intellectual significance. 
Sometimes these axioms, the contrary of which cannot be 
conceived, have taken an entirely contrary form in differ- 
ent minds. Hence the antinomies which men like Zeno, 
Kant and Spencer have used to discredit finite knowledge. 
Thus one holds that reality must be finite, another that it 
must be infinite. One holds that it must be infinitely di- 
visible, another that it consists of indivisible individuals or 
is an individual whole. One holds that cause and effect 
must be identical, another that they must be different, etc. 
Men like Spencer simply lie down and allow themselves 
to be buried by such venerable contradictions. Each side 

2IO Truth and Reality 

of the antinomy retained its force for him, and so there 
was nothing to do but doubt his reason. And Spencer's 
reason was very inadequate. How many of such musts, 
the contrary of which he cannot conceive, a man has de- 
pends mostly upon his stupidity and lack of imagination. 
So far as mere logic is concerned, we must hold with 
the ancient Protagoras : " On every question there are two 
speeches, which stand in opposition to one another." The 
impossibility of the contrary appears only when we set our- 
selves a definite purpose, adopt a certain universe of dis- 
course, formal or empirical, with its definite constitution. 
Thus conceiving the contrary of the law of consistency is 
impossible within the universe of truth, though we can 
conceive a universe that of absolute dissimilarity or of 
absolute chance, in which the law of consistency is not 

Validity can only be stated as the agreement of an idea 
or belief with its reality. The idea may be selective of the 
reality or the reality may force the idea. The feeling may 
be one of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, according as the 
reality we must acknowledge fits or thwarts our conative 
tendencies, but 'tis true whether 'tis pity 'tis true or joy un- 
speakable. Nor does the psychological motive or interest, 
which prompts the search for the particular truth, alter 
the truth relation. Whether the motives for investigating 
the chemical properties of strychnine be those of inventing 
a superior tonic or of finding a new way of committing mur- 
der, the truth as regards the properties remains the same. 
It has sometimes been argued that, because the motive 
for seeking truth often lies in our affective-volitional nature, 
therefore the test of truth lies in the satisfaction of this 
side of our nature. But whether our motive for seeking 

Meaning and Validity 211 

for truth lies in our instinct for gain, revenge or sympathy, 
the test is precisely the same as though the motive lay in 
impartial curiosity or " love of the wholeness of things." 
In any case, truth consists in the tallying, whether coercively 
or constructively, of the idea with its reality. 

This agreement may be merely formal, if our cognitive 
purpose is merely formal. Our syllogistic reasoning is 
valid if the conclusion agrees, according to logical rules, 
with the premises. In order to have objective validity, 
however, more is needed than formal agreement or concep- 


tual necessity. The novel, too, must be consistent. Nestor 
and Ulysses are beautifully self-harmonious characters. 
Truth, in the objective sense, must agree with a prior 
reality. Consistency with what? becomes the question. 
And it must be consistency with the reality selected or 
which selects us. This may be a philological root or a 
chemical substance or an earthquake. The scientific hy- 
pothesis is valid when it terminates in the experiences 
which it intends, when we must act as if it were true. 
Else it must be revised. But validity in any case means 
agreement, whether of ideas with other ideas, as in formal 
reasoning, or with facts of a perceptual and individual kind, 
as in concrete truth. 

When the agreement can be shared with other egos, we 
regard the validity as to that extent corroborated. Truth 
is a social institution, if not at the time of its discovery, at 
least in the long run. We are entitled to no private laws 
of logic nor to any private perceptions. When, therefore, 
the argument or the experiment wins the agreement of 
contemporary investigators or checks up with social expe- 
rience, our scientific nervousness is greatly relieved. So- 
cial agreement has often seemed the final test of truth. 

212 Truth and Reality 

Individual judgment seems insignificant, when pitted against 
the funded and approved knowledge of the race. 

But the individual sometimes proves wiser than the 
society of his day. What social prejudice prevents con- 
temporaries from seeing, the chosen one of Jehovah sees. 
And he takes his stand upon his insight sometimes rea- 
soned, sometimes quite intuitional. Truth, therefore, not 
only must seem to agree now with individual or social 
experience. Truth must agree with the future. Social 
agreement, owing to the variable and complex character of 
human nature, does not cover the whole field of the inner 
attitudes of the various individuals. The overtones of in- 
dividual natures may vary vastly; and while the census 
tables deal with us on the basis of averages, the individual 
differences may be the more significant facts for the prog- 
ress of the race. It is only through individual variations, 
such as the great geniuses of mankind, and their imitation 
by society, that higher social levels, intellectual and moral, 
are possible. 

Individual and social selection alike are subject to selec- 
tion by the future to cosmic selection. While we mean 
what we mean, while our insight may satisfy us for the 
time being, this does not prove the ultimate validity of our 
present meanings. The historic method has emphasized 
nothing so much as the relativity of our finite view-points, 
individual and social. The evolutionary process, having 
set us our program by the categories which it has furnished, 
reacts upon our rational selection, transforms, eliminates 
or selects our individual and institutional purposes. The 
individual or social satisfaction of our meanings does not 
guarantee their survival, not even with universal agreement, 
at any one time. No axioms could have been more univer- 

Meaning and Validity 213 

sal than the geocentric view of the world and that of " an 
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Yet even these 
have not proved permanent. The process is ever furnish- 
ing new variations and, in its growing social complexity, is 
enforcing new survival conditions. The old science be- 
comes mythology and the old conceptions of fair play van- 
dalism. An idea o'i meaning, to be absolutely valid, must 
be tested by passing through the sifting process of the 
stream of human natures. Each generation must add its 
proviso of time. It must not shackle the future. Our pres- 
ent formal demands, growing out of our instinctive and 
social heritage, must be treated as hypotheses, though not 
necessarily conscious of themselves, to be tested by the on- 
going of human experience, individual and social. This 
stream of processes, moreover, is not a mere chance affair 
as regards its ultimate value and meaning, but is determined 
by an objective formal constitution of the whole universe. 
This I have discussed elsewhere. 1 

Thus cosmic selection, which is responsible for our ten- 
dencies and demands, reacts again upon the products of 
the rational process. It determines what ideals or pur- 
poses shall have a place in the process in the long 

1 See International Journal of Ethics, Vol. XVII, p. 454 ft 


BOTH realists and idealists have joined in maintaining 
that truth is agreement with reality. But they have failed 
to state the nature of this agreement. Is truth a duplicate 
of reality or is it merely symbolic of reality ? If the latter, 
what is the rationale of inventing this symbolism ? Dog- 
matic realism and dogmatic idealism alike fail to break up 
reality and so fail to show the different meaning of agree- 
ment, according as truth is a copying process or is an arti- 
ficial device. I hope to make these problems a little clearer 
in this chapter. 

The problem of correspondence was a simple affair for 
naive realism, because naive realism dealt with only one 
kind of stuff, one grade of reality. Whether it is a case of 
like perceiving like, as with Empedocles ; or opposites per- 
ceiving opposites : cold perceiving hot ; the light, the dark, 
etc., as with Anaxagoras, we still remain within the one 
nexus of changes. For both the idea, which strives to know, 
and the object to be known, are conceived as physical facts 
and the act of knowledge itself as a physical change. This 
is equally true of the effluences of Empedocles, the images 
of Democri^tus, and the forms Aristotle and the School- 
men, with the passive imprint which these forms are sup- 
posed to make upon the wax tablet of the mind. With a 


Truth and Agreement 215 

sharp distinction between mind and body, which took defi- 
nite form with Augustine and was revived by Descartes, 
the difficulties as to how one set of processes can make a 
difference to another set of processes thickened. So we 
have the terminism of Occam and the phenomenalism of 
Hume and Kant. There can, on this view, be no real 
imitation by knowledge of reality, for knowledge moves 
within a world of its own. It is at most a sign lan- 
guage. We can know nothing about the real world. We 
know it only as it terminates in our subjective sensa- 
tions and is elaborated in our experience. There can, how- 
ever, be phenomenal verification or anticipation within 
experience. The world of shadows, also, to use Platonic 
language, has its uniformities, which make prediction pos- 
sible. If we are doomed to the world of shadows, we can 
at least get ready for future shadows. 

Idealism, in insisting again upon one kind of stuff, i.e., 
mind stuff, tries to return to the original simplicity of like 
acting upon like. So long as the question of the ego is 
not raised, the problem is easily stated as merely purposive 
realization or logical connection within one context or unity 
of thought When the question is raised, however, as to 
whose experience or unity, the problem grows more diffi- 
cult. The idealist must either raise himself into a solipsis- 
tic absolute or, in modestly recognizing his own finitude, 
face the dualism of an internal and external meaning, and 
struggle over the seeming fragmentariness and darkness 
of our world. 

A new theory of knowledge has been developed in re- 
cent times by William James and others, which tries to 
avoid the idealistic difficulty and presumption by treating 
knowledge as merely an instrument having no relevancy 

2i6 Truth and Reality 

to the object to be known, but being valid in case it can 
be exchanged, in the course of the process, for immediate ex- 
perience, as wares are exchanged for gold. While such a 
theory, with abundant illustrations from natural science, 
accounts for how knowledge can control the world of pro- 
cesses, it leaves us in the dark as to the real question 
the relevancy of knowledge to its object. 


Before we can have purposive selection and correspond- 
ence, our selection is determined by our instinctive ten- 
dencies. The infant does not have any definite program ; 
it is not as yet a self and so is not concerned about self- 
realization. It is so constituted, however, as to respond in 
characteristic ways to certain stimuli, such as moving things, 
bright things, loud things, things to eat, to grasp, to be 
afraid of, etc. There is no question of intention here and 
therefore no question of truth. The infant, as the result of 
the evolutionary process, is such a slot as can be set off by 
just such pennies. What adaptation, fitness or correspond- 
ence to its environment there is, means fitness or corre- 
spondence only to a more developed stage of experience. 
Its movements do indeed show a certain degree of adapta- 
tion, its sense-responses may be said to correspond to 
stimuli of so many vibrations per second. But they do 
not mean correspondence to the infant. 

Agreement means agreement only when we intention- 
ally select in the realization of a certain purpose. Only 
then does truth or error exist. If I point to Peter when 
I mean Paul, to white when I mean black, I have failed 
to carry out my intent and so have erred. To corre- 
spond or agree means to realize my purpose or at any 

Truth and Agreement 217 

rate to be able to act as if my hypothesis were true. 
Correspondence, however, has a twofold significance, the 
instrumental relation of the knowing attitude to its ob- 
ject and that of sharing, to use a Platonic term. 

In so far as reflective thought sets its own conditions, 
irrespective of the inner meaning of the processes to 
which it refers, aiming simply at prediction or control 
of the object as a means to its own purposes in so far 
thought is instrumental. Whether the object itself has 
any* meaning or not, such meaning or claim is ignored. 
And thought must always be instrumental when it deals 
with that which is immediate and which, therefore, is 
transformed and done violence to in being dealt with re- 
flectively. This is equally true of brute immediacy and 
of immediacy on the higher esthetic level, which pre- 
supposes thought life. If reality, therefore, in its ultimate 
meaning must be conceived as mystical appreciation, 
which passes knowledge, as the mystics from Plotinus to 
Bradley have insisted, then knowledge would always need 
to be instrumental. Again, in bringing our categories 
the result of our instinctive equipment and social, historic 
setting to bear upon the sense material which furnishes 
us with our data of nature, with its coexistences and se- 
quences, we can hope to have only instrumental knowl- 
edge. We cannot agree that because nature can be made 
to realize purposes, it is itself purposive ; any more than 
because a knife cuts meat, it must itself be meat. It must 
indeed be something, i.e., it must be capable of making 
predictable differences to us. But we cannot treat it as 
purposive. If there is purpose governing nature, it must 
be extra-natural, determining survival. The old idea of 
correspondence, which Kant subjected to such searching 

218 Truth and Reality 

criticism, deals with this relation of the concept to the 
non- reflective or physical world. Here it is easy to show 
that there can be no internal correspondence, or copying of 
meaning, as the processes which we investigate have no 
inwardness. We make the conceptual system of nature 
unify it, in obedience to our tendencies, on the one hand, 
and the data of immediate experience, on the other, so as 
to meet the requirements of the environment and, so far 
as possible, control it for our needs. We are here limited 
to the external continuities and qualities of nature. We 
cannot acknowledge things as having a halo of meaning or 
value of their own. 

Sometimes even knowledge of ideal objects is legitimately 
of this instrumental kind. Treating the circle as made up 
of infinitesimal straight lines, though convenient, does not 
correspond even with our ideal reality. The census tables 
do not correspond to any real order. They are sorted facts 
for an artificial purpose. Sometimes we ignore the claims 
of the reflective consciousness, because we regard it as crim- 
inal or pernicious to our standards of truth and right. But 
sometimes we ignore the claims of other meanings because 
of our moral blindness. The cardinal crime, the crime of 
crimes, as Kant has shown, is to neglect the inner signifi- 
cance of our fellow-man and to treat him merely as a thing. 
What we respect as having a claim on its own account 
must differ widely, too, in different stages of development. 
For the savage, what is outside of the tribe has no meaning 
which needs to be respected. On the other hand, nature 
phenomena, ghosts, etc., are treated with more than human 
respect. In general we find that it is easy to recognize a 
meaning if it agrees with our own, but difficult the greater 
the divergence, 

Truth and Agreement 219 

Knowledge may be instrumental, then, for two reasons. 
It may be instrumental because it belongs to another order 
of reality from the object it strives to know. It may be a 
systematic arrangement, in the service of our purposes, of 
facts which themselves know no system. This must hold 
wherever science deals with non-reflective facts, as in 
the physical sciences. It holds of the psychological sci- 
ences, too, when they are not dealing with processes of 
the reflective or meaningful grade, or when they are de- 
composing the reflective attitude for purposes of naturalistic 
description. In so far as our analysis and reconstruction 
must always fall short of the real object, all our knowledge 
becomes infected more or less with the instrumental char- 
acter. We can never, in our description, give the complete 
equivalents of the real gold or the real Socrates. This 
can be only when our purpose creates its own object. Else 
we have to be satisfied with such aspects of the situation as 
will suffice for the leading of truth. 


Some objects of knowledge must be recognized as 
having a meaning of their own, a rational purpose and 
value, which we must acknowledge. Even here, knowledge, 
to be sure, must be in some degree instrumental, as we 
have seen ; but this is only incidental, a stage in the process 
of sharing or sympathizing with the object. The problem 
here is no longer one of mere manipulation. The corre- 
spondence here cannot be exhausted in the one-sided 
relation of hypothesis to immediacy within the process of 
individual experience. The judging attitude here is a 
different one from that of means and end. The fulfillment 
of our purpose here is conditioned upon partaking of an 

22O Truth and Reality 

extra-individual realm of meanings, respecting and sym- 
pathizing with them. We do not want to make over or 
control Shakespeare's Hamlet or the Sistine Madonna or 
the friend that we love. We want to understand and 
appreciate them. Our knowledge, when it is concerned 
with social or ideal structures, is primarily of this sharing 
character. It is not the business of the historian to make 
over the past, but to understand it or share its meaning. 
Even when our aim is that of the practical reformer or 
when we must revise the scientific hypothesis, it is first 
incumbent upon us to understand or share the ideals which 
we would revise or reinterpret. To fail to recognize in the 
universe any purpose but our own, is to be a bore or a 
criminal. Some individuals must be respected as having 
a meaning of their own and cannot be treated merely as 
things, if we would live fairly and, in the end, accomplish 
our purposes. To be sure, our limitations as finite beings 
and as part of the time-process makes such sharing diffi- 
cult; but it remains, nevertheless, a real aim. Plato has a 
word for us, as well as the modern instrumentalist. 

In instrumental knowledge, as we have seen, the ques- 
tion is merely how the facts seem to us ; how they can be 
controlled by us; whether our concepts terminate in per- 
ceptions. Not so in the knowledge of the sharing type. 
Here the truth attitude is not merely an artificial tool, like 
an astronomical ellipse or a census table. It is not a piece- 
meal selection of external qualities and relations which are 
serviceable as leadings to the concrete processes which we 
strive to anticipate and control. We must imitate, not 
merely externally, but share and acknowledge, soul 
confronting soul, the individual's own meaning in its 
unique wholeness. Only when social communication of 

Truth and Agreement 221 

mind with mind results in such sympathy and copying do 
we have real knowledge of selves. In so far as the knowing 
attitude here can be completely realized, it is no longer of 
reality ; but it is reality. To know the meaning of Hamlet 
is to have the reality of Hamlet Leibniz's monads are a 
splendid illustration of a universe which might exist in 
many copies. 

To be sure, here, too, the concept or hypothesis must 
terminate in immediate experiences, present or future, 
within our individual history. But these become signs of 

another reality, which we strive to reach. We do not stop 
with the external characters the printed words or spoken 
sounds. These become symbolic merely carriers of the 
meaning. The difference in the two attitudes may be 
said to be a metaphysical difference, i.e., a difference as 
regards the ultimate intent of the knowing process, rather 
than methodological. The finite test of the corre- 
spondence in either case, the test available from moment 
to moment in individual life whether in knowledge of 
the instrumental or sharing type, is an internal test or the 
corresponding of our purpose or hypothesis with the on- 
going of experience. It means an attitude of fulfillment 
or forced acknowledgment in this ongoing. 

The knowing process, when it deals with psychological 
unities, is really valid only when it reproduces or copies 
the object, is the nature of the object. The only valid 
hypothesis about a reflective object is the attitude that 
acknowledges the meaning of the object and succeeds in 
sharing it aims beyond sense-experience at its meta- 
physical reality. Whether this aim or intent is true or 
not must be tested, as in the instrumental case, with ref- 
erence to further experience. But this attitude, if true, 

222 Truth and Reality 

terminates in sharing and not in mere perceptions and 
their uniformities. Another center of experience is ac- 
knowledged, which has put its prior stamp upon our self- 
stamped facts. The attitudes in the cases of sharable 
and non-sharable realities are built out in different ways ; 
the former has over-beliefs that the latter does not have, 
and so requires a different verification a verification in- 
cluding the over-beliefs. When such sharing is impossible 
we must be satisfied with such artificial or phenomenal 
correspondence as the uniformity of our perceptions makes 


This theory of copying must be distinguished from the 
theory of the cinematographic copy of the flux of the 
universe, advanced by Henry Bergson. In the first place, 
the copying of which we are speaking is a real imitation of 
reality. We follow its stages of cumulative meaning as 
revealed in another mind history or its products. In the 
second place, the cinematographic copy, at best, would be 
cumbersome and useless, even for practical purposes. It 
could furnish no leading to the will in the bewildering 
multitude of facts. Truth, on the contrary, is an active, 
selective attitude on the part of the mind. It must single 
out characters or identities from our concrete changing 
world and thus enable us, in a degree, to anticipate its 
flow. And the contents, thus selected, must be a genuine 
part of the real world to enable us to dip into the process 
and predict its conduct. They are the warp, which enables 
us to follow the many-colored woof of life. As abstractions, 
in the service of the will, they seek and point to their context. 

Nor do I have any sympathy with the dualistic type of 

Truth and Agreement 223 

realism which would make our states of consciousness 
duplicates of the real object outside. The assumption of 
such duplication has always proved fatal to knowledge. 
And it is gratuitous in fact. Sensations are not copies. 
They are a subjective way of taking certain continuities 
of our psycho-physical organism with its objective world. 
Neither are our images, as such, copies. They are rela- 
tively persistent processes of experience, modified by in- 
tervening rearrangement. They become representative 
when they are the same in more than one context, and, 
therefore, when excited in one context, suggest another 
context with its dynamic coefficient and time value. The 
copy theory of sensory processes can have meaning only 
when we assume a social consciousness in which, as states 
of consciousness, they preexist, as for example Berkeley sup- 
posed. But such a storehouse is quite superfluous. We can 
acknowledge nature as having a context of its own. And 
there is nothing phenomenal about nature, if we take it at 
its face value, as it appears in experience, and do not 
attempt to read our human purposes into nature. 

It is only in sharing meaning that concrete imitation 
the copying of the object's own fullness can come in 
question. And here the truth meaning has peculiar 
advantage over other meanings as its characters are al- 
ready few and universal. To share Euclid's geometrical 
system is not only possible, but comparatively easy. And 
when we do understand it, we have Euclid's thought. 
There is no residuum so far as truth is concerned, what- 
ever fringe the thought may have otherwise carried in 
Euclid's mind. 

Realism has always insisted upon the trans-subjective ref- 
erence of the cognitive meaning. But the paradox, often 

224 Truth and Reality 

pointed out by realists themselves, that the object must be 
both in and out of experience, must remain an absolute 
mystery so long as we deal with meanings as subjective 
pictures, inclosed within the magic circle of an epiphe- 
nomenal consciousness. This paradox is ignored, not 
solved, by having recourse to mystical or esthetic theories as 
regards the continuity of the meaning with reality. If we, 
however, regard the universe under the conception of 
plural energetic centers, which can figure in various con- 
texts, including our cognitive context, and some at least as 
having a meaning of their own and capable of entering into 
cognitive relations with us ; and if, furthermore, we regard 
cognitive purposes as themselves energies, evolving in 
complexity with, and having survival value through, their 
control of other energies, such as the physiological, then 
the paradox is resolved even if the practical limitations re- 
main. We have at least found a motive for our ideas seek- 
ing agreement with their intended reality, for successful ad- 
justment in the end depends upon such agreement And 
our only key to external reality is what we must take it as, 
in the realization of our purposes. 

The object, in any case, is more than our intent. It 
belongs to its own context, quite independent of whether 
it figures in our cognitive context or not. If the drama of 
reality consisted only in a series of doubts, readjustments 
and satisfactions, then Plato's subjectivistic interpretation 
of Protagoras would indeed be true, that "to whom a 
thing seems that which seems is." But in that case what 
need could there be of readjustment within the stream of 
experience ? Why should not the meaning at any time 
exhaust the situation? Why should there be failure or 
the necessity for accommodation to a larger world ? Evi- 

Truth and Agreement 225 

dently the meaning does not exhaust the reality of the 

This inadequacy of the internal meaning to constitute 
its own object can be shown equally well on the level of 
sharing as on that of instrumental knowledge. Is Ibsen's 
meaning made or created in each stage of the process of 
the reader's interpretation? Is not the object here some- 
thing preexisting and external not made by the critic? 
And must not the critic's meaning conform to this in 
order to be valid of Ibsen's meaning ? By ideal construc- 
tion we try to reproduce for ourselves the meaning of 
Ibsen's play. We gather data accordingly; but the truth 
we have first when our meaning imitates the other mean- 
ing, when it gives an adequate copy of the other mean- 
ing. In such a case the idealists are quite right that the 
agreement must be with truth, an objective constitution 
of truth, and not merely with immediate experience. I 
cannot, however, see what agreement with truth can mean 
unless you assume that the object itself is a truth process. 
If the universe as a whole is truth, a system of experience, 
then of course all truth ought to be a copying of truth. 
But I do not think this has been proven. Stringing 
nature on our reflective unity does not make nature a 
reflective unity. There is, in so far as we know, no truth 
or system in nature. Nature only furnishes certain 
changes, interactions and constancies which we can seize 
upon and systematize to suit our needs. 

The immediatists themselves have fretted a great deal 
lately at their misinterpretation by others. But why 
should they fret ? Their critics, realists and idealists alike, 
seem to be satisfied with their interpretation; and that is 
all the immediatists ought to ask. If they say that the 

226 Truth and Reality 

critics ought not to be satisfied, they have evidently in- 
sisted upon a reality beyond immediacy and something 
besides subjective satisfaction as the test of truth upon 
correspondence with an objective reality. 

We never shall have a true theory of knowledge until 
we recognize the complexity of reality in its various stages. 
We have seen that those who have made the knowing 
attitude exclusively instrumental have borrowed their 
illustrations altogether from the physical part of reality. 
They talk about knives and chairs and chemical formulae. 
They are apt to ignore another part of the environment, 
which to a human being is at least equally important with 
the physical, viz., the institutional. Could the object be 
treated altogether without any reference to any purpose 
or meaning of its own, then the instrumental theory would 
indeed cover the field. Were reality through and through 
reflective or conceptual, on the other hand; must we 
acknowledge it as one system of meanings, then Plato 
and all his disciples would be right, that all knowledge in 
the end must be expressed in terms of sharing or imi- 
tation a copy of the inner meaning of the processes at 
which truth aims. In so far as it should succeed in this, the 
distinction between truth and reality would disappear; 
the idea would thicken into being. As it is, it is both 
sanity and fair play to treat reality as its nature demands, 
instrumentally, where no purpose need be acknowledged ; 
sympathetically where the conditions so demand. 

Whether a man shall be an idealist or a materialist is 
not a matter of consistency, but of claims which we must 
meet. Where we must recognize ideals, as in dealing with 

Truth and Agreement 227 

the institutional life of the race, we must be idealists. 
Where our ideals have no inner relevancy to the processes 
with which we deal and the aim is merely control, we 
must be materialists. Here a one-sided a priori consis- 
tency is as mischievous as in other departments of life. 
To institutionalize nature by giving it reflective life and 
ideals of its own is to leave evidence for fairy tales. To 
ignore purposes and meanings, where we ought to under- 
stand and meet them, is to show one's lack of imagination 
and unfitness for social life. Thus the truth of Plato, as 
well as of Kant and James, is recognized. The one- 
sidedness of the instrumental theory consists in ignoring 
that part of the environment which is institutional; is 
itself meanings or ideals. The one-sidedness of Plato 
and his followers is that they attempt to institutionalize 
nature as well as man. 

The instrumental theory does not satisfy the claims of 
the successive moments of each individual life any more 
than it does the social claims. It is not fair to regard 
each moment of appreciation or reflection as a mere in- 
strument to another moment. If each moment has no 
significance or worth of its own, is a mere instrument for 
meeting a future moment, then life as a succession of 
moments can have no significance. Instrumentalism, bare 
and simple, must lead to bankruptcy. Each moment must 
be respected as end, as well as means. Every genuine 
moment is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, as well as 
the parent of a new moment. And again, every false and 
perverse moment is a tragedy never remedied, as well as a 
call for reconstruction, if there is such a call, or an obstruc- 
tion to further living. The universe, in other words, is 
not merely fluid. If it were, it would be nothing. Each 

228 Truth and Reality 

moment and each stage of life is an individual reality 
with its own warm and living meaning, to lose which is to 
lose all. 

The confusion in recent discussions has come in part at 
least from the failure to distinguish between truth and 
reality. Truth is our version of reality. The geological 
ages existed as characters or processes of reality long be- 
fore we discovered them, but the truth about them did not 
exist before we discovered them. It is nonsense to speak 
of an hypothesis, which is our meaning or attitude, as true 
previous to verification; but previous to verification there 
exist certain conditions, which make some hypotheses come 
true. These conditions, in most cases, are not altered by 
our hypothesis. The chemical properties of gold are not 
altered by our faith; the condition of our nerves may be. 
The " laws "of nature are contributed by the man who dis- 
covers them; and science very properly, therefore, deals 
with the laws biographically, as Newton's law, Carnot's law, 
etc., though once discovered they become social and eternal. 
Nature furnishes existences, uniformities of various sorts, 
but no laws, no truth. These laws or expectancies become 
true when nature behaves in the predicted way. This is 
all that correspondence in regard to nature means. It is 
not a one to one correspondence, as we only hit at best a 
few aspects of reality ; and only a few are significant for us. 
Truth, looked at from the individual point of view, becomes 
agreement with truth, when we imitate or make our own 
truths already existing, hypotheses already verified, social 
truths. Here we do copy truth, within the limitations of 
human nature. Truth need not mean, and cannot except 
to a small extent mean, individual verification. An hypothe- 
sis or law is true, if some one has really verified it. Going 

Truth and Agreement 229 

over it again in such a case does not make it true. It sim- 
ply relieves our nervousness and confirms our belief. But 
our belief or doubt neither verifies nor undoes the verifica- 
tion of an hypothesis, though it may furnish a motive for 
testing it. 

As I see it, both the intellectualists and the anti-intellect- 
ualists have contributed to the confusion the intellectual- 
ists by tacitly, often unintentionally, assuming an absolute 
system of truth with which we must agree ; the anti-intellect- 
ualists by then* intense individualism in practically insisting 
that truth is not truth, unless it has passed through their 
particular cranium. Of course a truth is not my truth un- 
less I make it my own by going over its grounds, tracing 
it to its termination in the intended facts. But going over 
an hypothesis already verified does not make it true or 
valid. This is a social fact. Whether I make it my own 
or not is tremendously significant for me, but is not, unless I 
improve upon the hypothesis, a contribution to truth. Who- 
ever the legatee or individual producer of truth may be, it 
is quite sufficient that truth exist in one individual conscious- 
ness, as his systematic meaning, whatever the other indi- 
viduals may mean. If everybody should sleep the sleep of 
Endymion, there would be no truth. If, on the other hand, 
there is an omniscient, ever wakeful God, his possession of 
the truth would give it all the validity that its possession 
by billions could possibly give it. The question in any case 
would be, Does it terminate in facts ? Does it, as judged 
by either past or present or future experience, or all of them, 
meet the reality we intend or which is forced upon us ? 


IN this chapter I wish to discuss three problems: the 
meaning of humanism ; the relation of motive to validity 
in truth seeking; and finally certain limitations of human 
nature in its search for knowledge. 

It is universally recognized now that we must arrive at 
truth through our human purposes, as the fulfillment and 
definition of human striving. We can know nature only as 
it runs through human nature. 1 But we must distinguish 
between coming to light through our human nature and 
being dependent upon, or created by, human nature. 
Human nature with its purposive selection determines the 
meaning of the object, but does it, as cognitive, determine 
the existence of the object? Furthermore, while truth, in 
the nature of things, must be man-made, must be arrived 
at through human processes of perception, imagination 
and thought, does that make truth, once arrived at, 
human ? 

In answering the latter question first, we must maintain 
that if truth works, it is no longer peculiarly human. The 
necessity which makes our thinking objective lies not in us 
as human, but in the structural conditions of the universe 

1 This has been brilliantly emphasized by Dr. F. C. S. Schiller, especially in 
his book " Humanism." 


Human Nature and Truth 231 

which we must meet. If animals have sense perception, 
and imagination, as the higher animals certainly have, 
there is no reason, so far as the evidence goes, to think 
that their perception, or the laws of their association, differ 
fundamentally from ours. If they could also reason, there 
is no need for assuming that their laws of thought would be 
different from ours. If there are supra-human beings in 
the universe, we must assume that the same rules of logic 
and the same scientific uniformities hold for them as for 
us. We cannot think of them as having another law of 
contradiction or another law of gravitation. Truth is, 
strictly speaking, no more human than it is Aryan or 
Negro. In any case, truth is a relation between the idea 
and its intended object. It is proven true when the idea 
terminates in its intended consequences. 

Another theory, however, has been proposed by eminent 
thinkers, as regards the relation of truth to human nature. 
It has been held that human nature determines, in part or 
altogether, the nature of the object which is known. Ac- 
cording to Kant, human nature, on the one hand, greatly 
modifies the object in the way of sensation the character 
of the sensation being due far more to human nature than 
to stimuli. On the other hand, human nature contributes 
the system of relations in the way of space, time, causality, 
etc., and thus constitutes the unity of nature. Other 
philosophers, while not consistent in the working out of 
their theory, have gone so far as to make the existence of 
the object dependent altogether upon its being taken ac- 
count of by human nature. Thus, barring the tacked-on 
assumption of God, in Berkeley's system, the reality of the 
object is made to consist in its being perceived. Fichte 
in a similar manner, would make human nature posit both 

232 Truth and Reality 

the system and the existence of the datum itself. In 
neither case, however, has the hypothesis been worked out 
consistently. Berkeley has recourse, in the last analysis, 
to God as the storehouse of perception, while Fichte takes 
refuge in the positing by an absolute ego. 

What does human nature contribute to nature ? We must 
agree with Kant that human nature contributes the signifi- 
cant system, or the cognitive relations, to nature. Nature 
has no significance on its own account. In the cognitive 
sense, it is true that we make the unity of nature. We fur- 
nish the conventional units, by means of which we take stock 
of nature's energies. Our yardsticks are our measures. Our 
mathematical equations and our syllogisms are our human 
contributions. They are our tools for the description of 
our perceptions. They must be justified by their conven- 
ience, as such human tools. Nature knows them not. 
The selecting of certain aspects, the abstracting of these 
from their concrete setting, our construction of hypotheses 
these are human activities, the result of the human in- 
terest, which we bring. But while we admit that human 
nature is responsible for our cognitive system of nature, we 
cannot on that account hold that human nature unifies or con- 
nects arbitrarily. It does not constitute the existential con- 
nections of nature. Our human unification must in the 
last analysis tally with the coexistences, sequences and 
interconnections in nature. Our conventional measures 
of distance, or of time, or of weight, do not constitute the 
objects with which they deal the existential relations of 
distance, or time, or weight. Our equations must be ca- 
pable of dipping into the real stream of concrete experience 
in order to be valid. The coexistences and uniformities 
of nature are not made by our perceiving them, though 

Human Nature and Truth 233 

they become significant for us, when they thus become 
conscious. Nor must we suppose that stringing the facts 
on the unity of our consciousness makes nature itself an 
experiential unity. Whether nature is such or not must be 
determined with reference to the demands of our conduct 
towards nature. What human experience contributes is 
significance. It does not contribute existence. 

Existentially, nature must be acknowledged as being what 
we must take it as, in varying contexts. Of these contexts 
human nature is one. Through its organic differentiation, 
human nature, no doubt, conditions the existence of some 
qualities, such as tone and color. Other qualities, again, such 
as form, weight, size, temperature and resistance must be 
taken as existing in other contexts besides the organic con- 
text. If we take relations, again, here, too, it holds that 
some relations, such as similarity and difference, fitness, con- 
sistency and proportion, must be regarded as relations to 
human nature, while again other relations, such as distance 
and causality, must be taken to exist independently of human 
nature. As values mean satisfaction and are conditioned 
upon the realization of the will, they cannot exist independ- 
ently of conscious, willing beings. But, in any case, human 
nature as cognitive does not make the qualities, relations, or 
values. It only makes them significant for us. Even our 
own past meanings and the meanings of others must be 
taken as existing independently of the cognitive moment. 

Human experience, moreover, has its own laws of con- 
nection, its own history, quite independent of the object of 
which it takes account. While the condition for our tak- 
ing account of causality is doubtless, as Hume pointed out, 
the law of habit, the causal connections need not, there- 
fore, be conceived as subjective habit. Our processes of 

234 Truth and Reality 

becoming conscious of nature may have nothing to do with 
the behavior of the facts which we intend. Thus, while 
our synthesis of the properties of the chemical elements, of 
the parts of a geometrical system, takes place in time and 
may require ages of successive experiences, the chemical 
elements and Euclidian geometry may remain constant. 
While our meanings change, they may refer to relatively 
stable qualities, relations and values, on the part of the 
object. Again, while our meanings may remain compar- 
atively constant, they may refer to a world of infinitesimal 
succession as regards their object. 

Our ideals, no more than our facts, can be regarded as 
the mere functions of human nature. On the contrary, 
human nature in its striving must own these ideals as 
obligations or limits. This is implied in every endeavor 
for truth, right or beauty. The world of experience, as 
we find it, must be criticized, selected and reconstructed 
in order to fulfill our ideal demands. These, therefore, 
must be regarded as part of the objective constitution of 
our world. 


We must distinguish, in the second place, between the mo- 
tive for seeking the truth and the test of truth itself. Con- 
siderable confusion has arisen from the failure to make this 
distinction. The two need not be identical. The motive 
for truth is always to be found in our affective-volitional 
nature. The test of truth may be quite independent of our 
feelings and desires. It would at least be as true to say 
that our affective-volitional nature is the bane of truth, as to 
say that it makes the idea true. For our will-to-believe often 
makes us incapable of seeing the objective agreements and 

Human Nature and Truth 235 

blinds us to the real facts. Hatred and love make it alike 
difficult to estimate human motives for what they are. Only 
the pure in heart can see. The only way in which our affec- 
tive-volitional nature can influence the agreement of an 
idea with its object is in those cases in which our will alters 
the situation; where our will-to-believe is an important con- 
dition in the events coming to pass. It is reported of 
Charles Lamb that he refused to admit that two and 
two make four until informed what use was going to be 
made of it. But the relation involved in the equation, any 
one must see, is quite independent of any ulterior motive. 
The motive of Mme. Curie for investigating radio-active 
substances may have been loyalty to her husband, but this 
does not affect the truth of her investigations. The 
validity of Hobbes's contract theory does not suffer from 
his motive to defend the divine right of kings. The dis- 
covery by Columbus of a new continent is not affected by 
his search for a passage to the Indies. 

On the other hand, we must keep in mind that no truth 
is possible without interest without the fringe of the 
associative context with its affective tone. We cannot 
have the seeking for truth in a merely neutral way. It 
presupposes more than a tabula rasa. The impartial 
spectator, in the case of truth-seeking, is not a spectator 
void of interest, but a spectator with an objective interest 
in the situation. Truth must always be the fulfillment of 
will, whether this will be divine curiosity or the will to 
know for some practical end ; and it is most effective when 
we have a passionate purpose, provided, of course, that 
purpose is to discover the real agreement involved, and not 
to pervert the truth relation. 

Truth is not the whole of the mental situation. It is 

236 Truth and Reality 

only an abstract part of it It does not have to do with its 
indoors and out-of-doors, its likes and dislikes, its ambition 
or failure, with the peculiar imagery, whether visual or 
some other type ; but with the pointing or leading of an 
idea to a certain object, just as money may be of paper or 
silver or gold, may be carried in all sorts of ways, handed 
over under all sorts of emotional circumstances, but is 
valued because it passes. 

What, then, constitutes the validity of truth ? We must 
not, as has sometimes been done, confuse the meaning of a 
proposition and its validity. We may understand the 
meaning, clearly and distinctly, of Thales' hypothesis, that 
all is water, but that does not have anything to do with the 
validity of the proposition. Truth, as pragmatism has em- 
phasized, must be tested by its termination in the in- 
tended facts. If we define truth as agreement with reality, 
this means in the last analysis, not agreement with reality 
in general, but with the experiences connected with 
its intended object The intent must terminate in its 
selected facts. An idea which cannot be thus verified in 
the ongoing of experience, either by becoming directly 
continuous with our perception or by indirectly making 
such a difference, either to the facts that can be perceived 
or to our emotional-volitional nature, that we must assume 
it such an idea lies outside of the domain of truth. We 
cannot say that truth itself consists in its consequences, 
because truth involves constructive imagination, with its 
formal demands, as well as data. But we may say that the 
test or evidence of truth consists in consequences, in our 
ability to take our objects in actual procedure as pictured 
by our idea. 

Some recent writers have used two criteria in determin- 

Human Nature and Truth 237 

ing truth that of termination in facts, or the scientific 
criterion just given, and that of the good, or the practical 
criterion. In either case, the truth is held to work. Ac- 
cording to the optimism of these philosophers, the two 
coincide that which agrees with facts is always the good 
and vice versa. No doubt, in the long run, the two coin- 
cide, but not necessarily in any finite span ; and correspond- 
ence in the long run cannot be regarded as an adequate 
test of truth. In some fields of human experience, how- 
ever, as in the case of ethical, esthetic and religious reali- 
ties, 'the only criterion we can use is that of satisfaction, 
of the good. The consequences which we must use as tests 
in the case of religious reality, as in the case of all spiritual 
realities including social unities, cannot be consequences 
of immediate perception, but must be practical conse- 
quences consequences as regards the coherency and 
effectiveness of conduct, the appreciation of beauty, etc. 
If we must act as if such realities exist, then we must also 
regard them as real. But truth, in any case, whether taken 
in its strict scientific sense, or in the more practical and 
proximate sense of religion, is always a plan of procedure. 
The supra-human world, as well as the infra-human, must 
be judged by what we must take it as, in our developing 
experience. The concept, in either case, must lead to 
definite conduct toward the intended reality; and the con- 
duct must bring the expected fruits. 

While we must distinguish between the affective-voli- 
tional motive and the conditions which truth must meet ; 
while our feelings and desires do not, except where they 
alter reality, make ideas true, we must not forget the funda- 
mental unity of human nature. We have seen that it is 
not necessary that truth should be cold and unemotional. 

238 Truth and Reality 

It may, and when actively pursued does, glow like the 
Holy Grail. The truth seeker may have the religious 
enthusiasm of a Plato or a Spinoza. The truth process 
itself must be regarded as a satisfaction of a fundamental 
demand of human nature, and, as such, must be regarded 
as a good. It was'Tlato who said, " the discovery of truth is 
a common good." J It is also true, as Plato pointed out, 
that the search for truth is a noble search, and requires a 
noble nature. Both Plato and Lotze have likewise recog- 
nized the esthetic value of truth itself, with its simplicity 
and unity. Human nature in its realization can be seen 
to be fundamentally one, and the realization of the true 
must be seen to be fundamentally bound up with the right 
and the beautiful, and all to be species of the good ; yet 
this does not prevent us from recognizing certain differen- 
tia in this ultimate good. The good always means proper 
functioning on the part of human nature in its various 
relations, the harmonious activity of all its activities or 
capacities, fluency of life, consistency of transitions. Now 
this is true of the right and the beautiful, as it is of the 
true. The right means fluency of functioning, as regards 
human individuals in their institutional relations, the pro- 
portional equalization of claims. The beautiful means the 
harmonious and complete expression of our esthetic de- 
mands, the feeling of fitness and support as regards the 
various parts of the esthetic object. Truth means the 
fluent termination of the clear and distinct idea in its in- 
tended facts. In the equilibrated life of the individual as 
a whole, all human nature cognitive, volitional and emo- 
tional must function with ease and fluency of transition, 
without conflict of the true with the beautiful or useful, 

1 Plato, " Gorgias," 505. 

Human Nature and Truth 239 

or the ethically good. They are, nevertheless, specific 
forms of the good ; and, in our imperfect finite develop- 
ment', there may be provisional conflict. 


While we must know through human nature by means 
of its interests and tools, it has long been pointed out that 
human nature works under certain limitations. In criticiz- 
ing human nature, however, we must be fair. We cannot, 
for example, regard it as a limitation that we must know 
by means of human nature as such. We cannot contrast 
the process of human knowledge with another mode of 
knowing, to the disadvantage of the former, for it must be 
evident on reflection that we have no other mode of know- 
ing excepting human nature, and that any supposed 
supra-human method of consciousness must itself be an 
abstraction from the method of knowing as we find it in 
our own experience. The intuitional mode of knowing, 
which has sometimes been attributed to a superior being, 
is, as a matter of fact, a genuine method of experience in 
ourselves. It is a short cut for long processes of associa- 
tion and thinking of which the immediate intuition is the 
accumulated meaning. 

Nor can we criticize our human knowledge, because we 
are a part as knowers of a context of history, social as well 
as individual. There would be no knowledge at all unless 
we had the advantage of the cumulative experience of the 
race as assimilated in our own learning process. All our 
orientation to reality must be with reference to such a 
social context. We must imitate the social heritage of the 
past, before we can make any intelligent contribution of 
our own. Nor can we start on our journey of discovery 

240 Truth and Reality 

without such instruments as concepts or hypotheses to 
steer our course. Knowledge cannot be a mere passive 
accumulation of impressions. It must be an active sorting 
on the basis of certain suggestions that are derived from 
past experience, individual and social. All we can demand 
is a willingness to revise our suggestions in accordance 
with the demands of our procedure. 

We cannot, however, as some have recently maintained, 
rid ourselves, at one stroke, of all the problems involved 
in the relation of the object to human nature by assuming 
that consciousness is diaphanous. It is quite true 
that consciousness in the abstract, i.e., as the bare con- 
dition of awareness, does not alter the facts or their 
relations. But the process of knowing involves more 
than the bare fact of awareness. It involves, funda- 
mentally, the problem of interest. And it is in the 
nature of interest that we find both the conditions for 
knowledge and the limitations of knowledge. We have 
already discussed the former. We must now say a few 
words about the latter. 

There are first of all certain limitations due to our bio- 
logical heritage. It was pointed out as early as Locke, 
that the sense qualities, furnished by the end organs of our 
organism, are by no means exhaustive of the possible range 
of sense qualities. Evolution has been interested primarily 
in furnishing certain practical guides to conduct. It has 
had no care for completeness of such sensory reactions. 
The program of human interest must therefore be worked 
out within the limitations furnished by our sense instru- 
ments, and such artificial means as we have found for the 
extension of these in the way of telescopes, microscopes 
and other instruments. 

Human Nature and Truth 241 

Coming to the problem proper of the nature of interest, 
we must remember that human nature is fundament- 
ally instinctive and impulsive, and that our interest is 
throughout determined by this instinctive mental constitu- 
tion. There are, in the first place, probably some racial dif- 
ferences due to this instinctive heritage. It is true that it is 
extremely difficult to make out just how much must be at- 
tributed to fundamental race difference. We know now 
that a great deal which we once attributed to race difference 
can be accounted for as due to social suggestion and imita- 
tion. Not only is this true of certain mental characteristics, 
in the way of customs and traditions, but it is true also of 
certain physiological characteristics, such as peculiar ges- 
tures, bearing, mien, and facial characteristics. The pecul- 
iar gestures of the Hebrews and Italiansare duemerely to the 
imitation of tradition, and fail to stick in a new social environ- 
ment. Our so-called race problems are largely due to the 
blindness of social prejudices. The southern baby mani- 
fests no antipathy to its colored " mammy." The fashion- 
able lady is not troubled by the supposed race odor of her 
colored coachman. Some of the finest loyalties I have 
known have been between Jews and Anglo-Saxons. For 
all that, however, I believe that there is a fundamental dif- 
ference in genius, due to difference in race. It is no his- 
toric accident, I think, that the Hebrews have given us the 
most fundamental story of religious insight and devotion ; 
that the Greeks have given us a new appreciation of art 
and science ; that the Hindoos have contributed an inter- 
esting type of pessimistic mysticism ; that the negroes have 
given us the characteristic southern folk songs. In the 
long run, this instinctive genius of the race dictates its 
type of contribution to social institutions ; constitutes the 

242 Truth and Reality 

race or nation a chosen people ; conditions the peculiar 
gift which a people brings to the world's civilization. 

This race genius constitutes necessarily a limitation of 
appreciation. The Greeks could not appreciate the sense 
of holiness of the Jew. The Jew in turn could not enter 
into the free world of Greek creativeness in science and art. 
Even when we rise above mere brutal prejudice, such as 
the ants probably feel when irritated by the odor of another 
species ; even on the fair ground of competition and sympathy, 
race differences, while they exist, probably constitute certain 
limitations in the]way of human blindness. They require an 
education in tolerance and appreciation. While again a 
large number of human beings adopt Christianity, each race 
has made it over and must translate it in terms of its own 
genius. The reason for the permanency of the geographical 
line between protestantism and Catholicism in Europe lies 
in part in temperament and mental constitution due to 

When we pass from the race to the individual, through 
whom, in the last analysis, the various streams of energy 
must pass in order to be known, we must bear in mind that 
the individual is no bare logic machine for grinding out 
certain mechanical results, but that he is fundamentally 
will, a bundle of tendencies and emotions. However we 
may conceive of individual beginnings, whether individual 
consciousness is a migrating soul through the ages, or a 
creative act on the part of the world process, as we find him 
at any rate, he is a unique center of energy, with important 
emotional and temperamental characteristics. William 
James, in a flash of genius, divided human beings tempera- 
mentally into the tough-minded and the tender-minded, with 
their variations. It is true that our fundamental ways of 

Human Nature and Truth 243 

looking at truth, the basic warp of our philosophic systems, 
is constituted in no small part by such temperamental dif- 
ferences. There will always be the great idealistic stream 
of tendency, with its emphasis upon unities and esthetic 
completeness, on the one hand, and the realistic stream, 
with its emphasis on facts and fundamental cleavages on 
the other. This can be seen, not only in philosophy proper, 
with its interest in the wholeness of things, but in the vari- 
ous sciences as well, with their hypotheses. The type of 
ideal construction differs fundamentally between those who 
would translate experience into an ideal scheme like the vor- 
tex theory, and the modest effort merely to tabulate and pre- 
dict the facts within particular provinces of experience. 
And between the speculative and the matter-of-fact types of 
mind, there will always be more or less suspicion and lack 
of understanding. 

Not only does temperament affect our view of the syn- 
thesis of facts, but it affects as well our emotional attitude 
towards them. Thus pessimism and optimism, as attitudes 
towards the value of life, seem to be ineradicable distinctions 
in the constitution of human beings, and practically not 
affected by the vicissitudes of fortune. The optimistic 
temperament will paint new heavens and a new earth, in 
times of the greatest social stress and misfortune, while the 
pessimistic temperament will invent a world-philosophy of 
despair and nihilism in ages of greatest prosperity and 
outward success. To the temperamental pessimist, the 
optimist seems at best superficial and inane. To the 
temperamental optimist, the pessimist seems a melancholiac. 
Understanding under such extreme temperamental condi- 
tions is out of the question. Temperament, therefore, 
enters in as a fundamantal presupposition in the selection 

244 Truth and Reality 

and emphasis of our facts and thus conditions and limits 
the world of the understanding. 

No less radical is the cleavage between the once born 
and the twice born, the healthy minded and the regenerate 
type of emotional consciousness. To the twice born the 
once born seem to have missed the fundamental significance 
of life. The twice born looks back upon his own past self, 
with its activities and ideals, its glowing values, and counts 
it less than nothing a mere illusion as compared with 
the real world which he has now grasped. Thus Paul 
looks back upon his ardent career as a disciple of Gamaliel ; 
and Tolstoy upon the creative activity which made him 
famous. The once born, on the other hand, in the even, 
healthy-minded tenor of his ways, fails to sympathize with 
the dualism of the twice born, and counts it at best emotional 
idiosyncrasy. The kingdom not of this world is not for 

If there is a wide diversity and corresponding blindness 
as regards the temperamental and emotional nature of 
individuals, there is no less a difference in the intellectual 
range of interest, outside of which the individual is color- 
blind. The fool cannot sympathize with the world in 
which Socrates finds his absorbing enjoyment, and Socrates 
can see but little value in the circumscribed uncritical 
universe of the fool. Genius will always present a problem 
to the average mind. Its spontaneity and surprises, its 
phenomenal absorption in the task at hand, its disregard 
of custom and convention, will always seem a species of 
insanity, if not an object for intolerant persecution, on the 
part of conventional society. 

The sort of universe that shall be ours, therefore, as 
regards truth and appreciation, right and beauty, whether 

Human Nature and Truth 245 

of high or low grade, of what unique quality, is determined 
for us by our instinctive heritage. Education may fail to 
furnish the proper stimuli It may play them wrongly, 
but it cannot alter the fundamental quality of temperament 
and insight. Then, too, our preferences and capacities 
play strangely into the hands of our limitations. Our capacity 
for lyric sweetness unfits us for appreciating the searching 
grandeur of tragedy ; our fondness for the babbling brook 
may make us deaf to the music of the sea. Our Puritani- 
cal strenuous mood blinds us to the beauty of art and play. 
Our creative capacity unfits us for the routine of practical 
life, with its joys of successful achievement. An absolutely 
catholic nature tuned to the whole scale of the universe, its 
dur and moll, its tragedy and comedy, its Raphaels and 
Millets, is an ideal limit, not a historic fact. For the mass 
of us, at least, the universe is illumined only in part. 

Not only are we limited by our instinctive heritage, as 
regards our blindness and insight, we are also limited by 
the fact that we are a part of an historic context, individual 
and social. Looking at life from the individual point of 
view, we find it difficult to understand the significance of 
the other stages of development. The boy romances 
about the man and his pursuits. To him they become 
mirages, vastly enlarged and colored by the angle of 
perspective. The man finds it equally difficult to enter 
into the world of the child with its toys, its playful moods 
and its circumscribed point of view. 

Again, from the point of view of social history, we must 
recognize that we are a part of a social context of thought 
and appreciation, a context suffused with feeling and made 
conservative by force of habit. Before we can reflect we 
imitate the social heritage in the way of axioms and 

246 Truth and Reality 

traditions, and even the greatest genius can rise above 
these and by means of these, only to a limited degree. 
That we accept the Copernican theory, Darwinian Evolu- 
tion, international arbitration, is due largely to a system of 
beliefs into which we are bred, and it is difficult for us to 
sympathize with the more primitive viewpoints that seemed 
equally convincing to a previous age. The axioms which 
we now accept will probably in turn seem equally relative 
and unconvincing to a future age; but we cannot make 
that real to ourselves now. 

This brings me to another difficulty, and that is the 
limitation as regards time or the creative nature of the 
universe. Reality, so far as human history is concerned, 
cannot be regarded as complete in one edition. No chains 
of Parmenides have succeeded in holding the universe 
stable as regards its significance. We cannot read off, 
except merely hypothetically, the future of the race. And 
we do this only by eliminating the growth element and 
emphasizing constancies. Were time an infinite series, then, 
once knowing the law of the series, we should also know 
the limiting term and the sum of the series. We should 
know the nature of the whole as thoroughly as though we 
had completed all of the steps. But our serial construction 
of time is but a phenomenal tool for dealing with the real 
time process. The end cannot be read off from the begin- 
ning. We must wait for the new meanings, the gift of the 
future. In the meantime we live by faith. We adjust our- 
selves as best we can, on the basis of such identities as 
experience presents, amidst its transient and changing 
values. We must act upon the light as we see the light. 
The only thing eternal about our attitude is the willingness 
to see new light the tolerance and f airmindedness which 

Human Nature and Truth 247 

acknowledges that truth is not a finite quantity and cannot 
be foreclosed. For the survival of our individual insights, 
we depend upon a constitution larger than our experience. 
If truth has its roots in certain instinctive demands of our 
nature, which set the program of the truth process, its 
survival conditions lie beyond ourselves in the historic ex- 
perience of the race with its ideal direction. What shall 
have worth or meaning in the process cannot be determined 
by either the individual or social meaning of this cross- 
section of the historic stream. Our purposes shall survive, 
if they prove significant in the ultimate ongoing of 
experience and meet its ideal demands. Whether or not 
they do so, only the future can decide. 



IN the following chapter I wish to discuss three points : 
the definition of realism ; some objections against realism ; 
and some consequences of pragmatic realism. 

There has been a great deal of confusion in regard to 
terms in recent discussion. It may be well, therefore, to 
define, at the outset, what we mean by realism. A number 
of writers have called themselves realists and proposed to 
champion realism, when they are really indistinguishable 
from idealists. Here, at least, the Leibnizian law of indis- 
cernibles ought to hold. If the terms realism and idealism 
are retained at all, they ought to stand for different con- 
cepts. Leaving out all reference to the metaphysical 
stuff for the time being, realism means the reference to an 
object existing beyond the apperceptive unity of momentary 
individual consciousness, and that the object can make a 
difference to this consciousness so as to be known. The 
object, in other words, is dependent upon the cognitive 
moment, not for its existence, but for its significance. 
Idealism, on the other hand, would hold that there is 
strictly only one unity of consciousness and that existence 
is a function of being part of a significant cognitive system. 
Thought is so wedded to things that things cannot exist 
without being thought. This assumption on the part of 


252 Truth and Reality 

idealism may be veiled under various terms, such as 
appearance and reality, the finite and the infinite, the in- 
complete purpose and the completely fulfilled purpose; 
but in the various forms of expression the assumption 
remains that all the facts are ultimately and really strung 
on one unity of thought. 

Realism is an epistemological attitude and has to do 
with the relation of the cognitive meaning to its object. 
As regards stuff, it may be materialistic, spiritualistic, 
dualistic or pluralistic. As regards connection it may 
hold the mechanical interpretation concerning the relation 
of parts ; or it may hold the teleological point of view ; or 
partly one, partly the other, which is the position common- 
sense realism takes. As regards the numerical distinct- 
ness of the universe, it may be monistic, holding the uni- 
verse to be one individual with only apparent diversity in 
space and time ; or it may be frankly pluralistic, holding to 
the numerical diversity and distinctness of individuals. 
As realism, therefore, is pledged to no brand of meta- 
physics, no odium need attach to it so far as metaphysics 
is concerned. 

Realism, as I understand it, does not assume that there 
can exist isolated or independent individuals of such a kind 
as to make no difference to other individuals. No indi- 
vidual has any properties, chemical any more than psycho- 
logical, by itself. Qualities are reactions or expectancies 
within determinate contexts. An isolated individual can- 
not even be zero, as zero must be part of a logical context 
at least. The hypothesis of independent reals is founded 
either on contradictory or on purely hypothetical conditions. 
Kant's things-in-themselves are instances of the latter 
kind. These cannot exist for experience or in relation to 

Pragmatic Realism 253 

things as known. Yet they are supposed to be possible 
for an intuition entirely different from ours. Leibniz has 
recourse in the last analysis to an emanation theory and 
preestablished harmony, which contradict his assumed 
independence. Cognitively independent his monads could 
not be in any case, since by implication they are aware of 
each other. 

Realism does not deny that objects to be known must 
make a difference to reflective experience; that they are 
capable of being taken in a cognitive context. To deny 
this, within the universe of truth, would be self-contra- 
dictory. What realism insists is that objects can also 
exist and must exist in a context of their own, whether 
past or present independent of the cognitive subject; 
that they can make differences within non-cognitive con- 
texts, independent of the cognitive experience, of which 
the latter a posteriori must take account. Thus the wood 
in the grate burns, even though we are not taking account 
of it; the seed grows when we are asleep, through 
properties involved in its chemical context. Even our 
own meanings grow without our being reflectively aware of 
their change. 

As our own cognitive meanings are necessarily finite, 
and any other type of knowing is necessarily hypothetical, 
it is difficult to see how any theory of knowledge can 
avoid being realistic. Absolute idealism, with its hypo- 
thetical unity ; and mysticism, with its ineffable noetic in- 
toxication, still must admit that the finite meaning, in 
striving for its completion, implies an object beyond its 
internal intent. To deny this is to fall into solipsism or to 
confuse one's self with the absolute. The complete absolute 
meaning cannot be said to depend for its existence upon 

254 Truth and Reality 

our finite fragmentary insight. And it is with that finite 
intent that our problem of knowledge is concerned. 


In order to clear the way for realism, we must get rid of 
some fundamental fallacies which permeate most of our 
past philosophic thought. One of these fallacies may be 
stated as the assumption that only like can make a differ- 
ence to like, or that cause and effect must be identical. 
This has been assumed as an axiom by idealism and mate- 
rialism alike. For idealism and materialism are alike in- 
discriminative. Their method is dogmatic rather than 
critical. The only difference is in the stuff with which 
they start. Idealism, starting with meaning stuff, tries to 
express the whole universe in terms of this. Materialism, 
starting with mechanical stuff stuff indifferent to mean- 
ing and value must be consistent, or as consistent as it 
can, in expressing the universe in terms of this. Both buy 
simplicity at the expense of facts. 

The problem is the old one of Empedocles : Can only 
like make a difference to like ? " For it is with earth that 
we see Earth, and water with Water, by air we see bright 
Air, by fire destroying Fire. By love do we see Love, 
and Hate by grievous hate." Expressed in terms of 
modern idealism, from the side of individual consciousness, 
the problem would read : Can only experience make a dif- 
ference to experience ; can only thought make a difference 
to thought ? The absolute idealist attempts this disjunc- 
tion : The reality which we strive to know must either be 
part of one context with our own finite meaning, must be 
included within the completed purpose, the absolute ex- 
perience, of which we are even now conscious as well as 

Pragmatic Realism 255 

of our finitude and fragmentariness ; or, on the other hand, 
the real object must be independent of our thought refer- 
ence, must exist wholly outside our cognitive context, with- 
out being capable of making any difference to it. But 
complete independence is meaningless ; therefore there 
must be one inclusive experience. To think an object is 
to think it as experienced, therefore it must be experience. 

The issue at this point between the realist and the ideal- 
ist is a two-fold one. The realist insists that there can be 
different universes of experience which can make a differ- 
ence lo each other ; and also that what is non-reflective or 
non-meaning can make a difference to our reflective pur- 
poses, or vice versa. We can reflect upon a stone; that 
makes the stone experience for us. But does it also make 
the stone as such experience ? It is as reasonable, at any 
rate, to say that only water can know water, and that 
therefore in order to know water we must have water in 
the eye or in the brain, as it is to say that in order to 
know the stone or to reflect upon the stone, the stone must 
be reflective. In either case our attitude is merely dog- 
matic. That objects in order to be known must be capable 
of being taken again, in the context of cognitive experience, 
is, of course, a truism. But that does not prove that they 
cannot exist without being known or that they must 
themselves be experience in order to be known. 

Science has been forced to abandon the axiom that only 
like can act upon like. It is busy remaking its mechanical 
models in order to meet the complexity of its world. 
Chemical energy need not be the same as electrical or 
nervous energy, to make a difference to either. Chemical 
energy implies weight and mass, while electrical or nerv- 
ous energy does not. The old metaphysical difficulty in 

256 Truth and Reality 

regard to conscious and physical energy has given way to 
a question of fact. The question is not, Can they make a 
difference to each other? but, Is there evidence of their 
making any difference to each other ? A cup of coffee or 
a good beefsteak makes a difference to thinking. But that 
does not necessarily make them thought stuff. Whether 
cause and effect are identical, either in time or in kind, is 
something for empirical investigation to determine, and not 
to be settled a priori. Science presents strong evidence 
that they need be neither. The light rays may have 
traveled through space many years before they make the 
difference of light sensations in connection with our 
psycho-physical organism ; and that they make such differ- 
ences does not prove that they are themselves sensations. 

It is time that philosophy, too, were abandoning dogma- 
tism in favor of facts. It is no longer a question of materi- 
alism or idealism ; but we must use idealistic tools where we 
are dealing with idealistic stuff, and mechanical categories 
where the evidence for consciousness and value is lacking. 
We must learn to respect ends where there are ends ; and 
to use as means those facts which have no meaning of 
their own. To fail thus to discriminate is to be a senti- 
mentalist, on the one hand, or a bore, on the other. What 
we want is a grain of sanity, even the size of a mustard 

The merit of idealism, and for this we ought to give it 
due credit, is that it has shown that the universe must be 
differentiated with reference to our purposive attitudes. 
This is true whether the reality to be known is purposive 
or not. Where idealism has been strong is in interpreting 
institutional life. In order adequately to know another 
meaning, we must copy or share that meaning. This is true 

Pragmatic Realism 257 

whenever our reality is thought stuff. Idealism, on the 
other hand, has always been weak in dealing with nature, 
and, therefore, in furnishing the proper setting for natural 
science. Idealism has striven to institutionalize nature or 
to reduce nature to reflective experience. In order to do 
this, it has been forced either to insist upon the phenome- 
nality of nature, with Berkeley and Green, or to take the 
ground of Hegel, John Caird and Royce, that nature is es- 
sentially thought, social experience, the objectification of 
logical categories, though an sick and notfurstc/t, i.e., only 
as lived over by reflective experience. Hence nature be- 
comes capable of system ; it is essentially systematic. In 
thus hypostatizing the unity of apperception into an objec- 
tive unity of nature, idealism has failed to discriminate. 
The stone and Hamlet are lumped together. But we can- 
not acknowledge or react on nature as experience on its own 
account, and therefore idealism breaks down. We make the 
conceptual system of nature, as social minds, to anticipate 
the future and to satisfy our needs. The meaning of the 
energy that satisfies, and of the transformations by which 
it satisfies, is furnished by our ideal context. That water 
satisfies thirst ; that fire burns wood these are extra-sub- 
jective energetic relations. But the why must be fur- 
nished by our scientific experience, partial and fragmentary 
though it is. 

Materialism has been quite right in applying the mechani- 
cal categories to part of reality. The mechanical ideals 
will always find favor in natural science, where the aim is 
not the understanding of an objective meaning, but control 
of nature for our purposes. Where the materialist shows 
his dogmatism is in applying categories which are conven- 
ient in dealing with the non-purposive structure of the 

258 Truth and Reality 

world to institutional reality as well. In failing to make 
them work here, instead of calling into play new catego- 
ries, he insists upon eliminating the refractory world of 
meaning and value, while the idealist, with his eye primarily 
on the world of social tissue or ideals, has insisted that the 
real is essentially the social or communicable. Each has 
failed to recognize how the other half lives. 

Another dogmatic fallacy which has been committed by 
idealists, to smooth out the realistic discontinuities and 
ease the shock of actualities, is the play upon the implicit 
and explicit. I would not say that the category of the 
implicit has no legitimate use. Wherever we are dealing 
with a purposive whole of any kind, intellectual, ethical 
or esthetic, we not only can but must use the category of 
the implicit. The earlier part of the argument must im- 
ply or foreshadow the later within the logical unity. The 
earlier part of the dramatic plot must find its fulfillment in 
the later ; the moral struggle points to an ideal. The abuse 
of the category of the implicit comes when we apply our 
purposes to infra-purposive realities. Because thinking as 
a process arises under certain structural conditions of com- 
plexity, this does not prove that earlier and simpler stages 
of development must be treated as degrees of thinking. 
There seem, on the contrary, to be qualitative leaps in the 
genetic series of experience, not reducible to the quantita- 
tive category of degrees. Thinking is a new fact in the 
series furnishes a new context of significance. Again, 
because we systematize nature according to the presuppo- 
sitions of the reflective moment, this does not imply a re- 
flective unity in nature. Here again there seems to be a 
discontinuity, so far as meaning is concerned, which thought 
must acknowledge and cannot bridge, objectively, at any 

Pragmatic Realism 259 

rate, by any implicit assumption as regards thought's own 

Another current dogmatic fallacy is the assumption 
that because we take contents over in thinking them, 
therefore we transmute or make them over, if indeed we 
do not create them outright, in taking account of them. 
But the transmutation of the immediate or non-reflective 
has to do with its significance, not its content. The colors 
in the painting are the same that we have seen thousands 
of times, though here they are used to express a new mean- 
ing. The gold we think about has precisely the same 
qualities as the gold which was present as an object of 
immediate perception or esthetic admiration. It does not 
change its color or size because we reflect on it. It is the 
same object with the same qualities and relations, except 
that much of the existential has been omitted and the rela- 
tion of cognitive significance has been superadded. 

Another fallacy is the assumption that what is not stuff 
cannot be real. This assumption is very old. It is assumed 
by Parmenides when he dismisses non-being as unthinkable 
and unspeakable. It is assumed by Kant in his antimony 
of space and time, when he maintains that the relation to 
nothing is no relation. Most philosophers have followed 
the leadership of these distinguished thinkers. But the 
assumption that zero is unthinkable and that the relation 
to nothing is no relation has been abandoned by mathe- 
matics for logical reasons. There is no more important rela- 
tion in number than the relation to zero. The limiting 
concept of zero has also proved of great value in metaphys- 
ics as well as in mathematics. Take space for example : 
While space is no thing, yet as distance it is an important 
condition in the interaction of things. 

260 Truth and Reality 


Instead of the dogmatic method pursued by the old ideal- 
ism and materialism alike, we must substitute the critical 
method. This method has been rechristened within re- 
cent years by C. S. Peirce and William James and called 
pragmatism. As I understand this method, it means, sim- 
ply, to carry the scientific spirit into metaphysics. It means 
the willingness to acknowledge reality for what it is ; what 
it is always meaning for us, what difference it makes to 
our reflective purposes. Instead of insisting upon identity 
of stuff, as dogmatism has always done, this method is dis- 
criminative. It enables us to break up the universe and 
to deal with it piecemeal, to recognize unity where there 
is unity and chaos where there is chaos, purpose where 
there is purpose and the absence of purpose where there 
is no evidence of purpose. The universe in each part or 
stage of development is what we must acknowledge it to 
be not necessarily what we do acknowledge, but what we 
must acknowledge to live life successfully. This acknowl- 
edgment, moreover, is not a mere will to believe or voli- 
tional fiat, but, at least as knowledge becomes organized, a 
definite and forced acknowledgment. An unlimited will 
to believe as regards objective reality would be possible, if 
at all, only before we have organized knowledge, that is, 
if you could imagine knowledge starting in a conscious 
will-act. When we already have organized knowledge, if 
we choose to know, the possibilities become limited. In 
case of fully organized knowledge, the place of the indeter- 
minate will-to-believe would be the will-not-to-think, that 
is, to commit intellectual suicide. 

We can not state the truth attitude in merely sub- 

Pragmatic Realism 261 

jective terms. The truth attitude must face outward. It 
must orient us to a context existing on its own account, 
whether past or present. In such orientation or such ex- 
ternal meaning lies the significance of truth. The truth 
attitude cannot be characterized as merely doubt with a 
transition to a new equilibrium, and as ceasing with cer- 
tainty. The truth attitude may at least involve the con- 
sciousness that we know that we know. To be sure, the 
nervousness of science leads us to repeat the experiment 
in order to make sure that we have made no mistake ; but 

that does not alter the truth of our first finding, if the ex- 
periment proves correct. Truth, as we have it, involves 
two things, first, luminousness, or a peculiar satisfaction 
to the individual experience at the time, due to its felt 
consistency or fluent termination in its intended object. 
This is the positive truth value, whether formal or factual. 
The other factor involved in scientific truth is the feeling 
of tentativeness or openness to correction. This is a quali- 
fication or nervousness on the part of the truth attitude, 
either as a result of an actual feeling of discrepancy and 
fragmentariness as regards our present meaning; or it 
may be due to a more general feeling of instability based 
upon our finitude and the time character of our meanings. 
Such correction can only come through further experience, 
whether of the immediate or formal type. We cannot say 
that the value consists in the future consequences or lead- 
ings. These obviously have no value until they come. 
Further experience furnishes the possibility of correction 
of our truth values and so of producing new values. I 
say possibility of correction because repeating the experi- 
ment, while it relieves our nervousness, does not necessarily 
produce a new truth. The truth meaning must first be 

262 Truth and Reality 

stated in schematic terms on the basis of the data as we 
have them and then tried out in terms of consequences. 
Such consequences must be in part present to us as a re- 
sult of past experience. We do not formulate theories in 
vacuo. If the truth value lay merely in the future conse- 
quences or leadings, there could be no such thing as truth 
value. Truth must face backward in order to face for- 
ward. It is Janus faced. 

We may lay it down, then, that the real must be known 
through our purposive attitudes or conceptual construction. 
Real objects are never constituted by mere sense percep- 
tion. They are not compounds of sensations. Sensations 
are our awareness of the going on of certain physiological 
changes, whether connected with an extra-organic world 
or not. They cannot be said, therefore, to constitute 
things. These presuppose selective purpose. They can 
only become objects for a self -realizing will. The real is 
the intelligible or noumenal, not the mere immediate ; and 
by the noumenal I mean what we must meet, what reality 
must be taken as in our procedure, as opposed to our sen- 
sations. It is through conative purpose that knowledge of 
the character of our world becomes possible. The imme- 
diate, however, must furnish the evidence ; in the language 
of James it puts us next to the real object. It establishes 
energetic continuity with the intended context of reality. 

Empiricism is at best a halfway house. We cannot say 
that the real is merely what is perceived or what makes an 
immediate difference to our conscious purposes, whether 
in the way of value or of fact. We must at least say that 
the real is what can be perceived, unless we bring in some 
deus ex machina or supernatural storehouse of percepts, as 
Berkeley does. Surely the empirical idealist of to-day 

Pragmatic Realism 263 

would not say that the increased powers of the telescope 
or microscope create the facts. Nor can the uniformity of 
our expectancies be credited to our individual perception ; 
and hence from the perceptualist point of view, it requires 
another deus ex machina. To say that uniformity or 
stability is a social fact does not explain the fact, but 
presupposes an extra-social constitution, a constitution 
binding upon all of us. Not only perception, but possible 
perception must be invoked to complete the empirical 
idealist's reality ; and " possible " itself is not a category 
of perception. 

As the old idealist and the old realist alike assumed the 
qualitative identity of cause and effect, it became necessary 
to think of subjective states as copies of external qualities. 
Na'fve realism and idealism alike assume this copy-relation 
of the subjective on one hand and the real qualities on the 
other. In modified realism, the primary qualities at least 
must be copied. For the empirical idealism of to-day the 
problem still remains as to whether the perceptions and 
the objective qualities are the same. Unless the idealist 
becomes a solipsist he must show that his subjective copies 
are adequate to a world as existent. This difficulty would 
vanish, once we abandoned the dogmatic and unintelligible 
duplication of qualities, as though qualities could exist 
passively by themselves. Qualities are energies. They 
are what objects must be taken as in determinate contexts. 
To ask what perceptual qualities are, when they are not 
perceived, becomes in that case as superfluous as it is 
meaningless. Processes, of which we are not conscious, 
have no perceptual qualities, unless, under certain other 
conditions, they can make perceptual differences to beings 
organized as we are. To speak of archetypal qualities is 

264 Truth and Reality 

merely duplicating this moment of perception to take 
what exists in a context as an abstract idea. If these non- 
conscious reals act upon other non-conscious reals, we 
have not perceptual differences, but chemical or physical 
changes. These must be interpolated by us in order to 
make continuous our perceptual scheme. We saw the 
wood burning in the grate : in our absence the fire has 
gone out and the wood has turned to ashes. To piece to- 
gether this discontinuity in our perceptions, we must assume 
certain differences or changes which cannot themselves be 
expressed as perceptions. And thus we come to realize 
that while we must take some qualities of things as exist- 
ing as part of our perceptual context, we must also take 
other qualities as existing independent of perception in 
their own dynamic thing-contexts, which we can read off 
a posteriori and predict under determinate conditions. 

Perceptual qualities, therefore, are not the only qualities. 
Even granting a being who should have perceptual differ- 
ences for all the changes going on, minute or great, and 
without breach of continuity, he would not have a 
complete account of reality. The real individual cannot 
be exhausted as a compound of perceptual qualities. He 
must be acknowledged as something more than the sum 
total of his sense appearances, past, present and future. 
If sensations alone constituted reality, then the more sen- 
sations the more reality. Take Helen Keller's reality, for 
example, on this supposition. For convenience, I will use 
Professor Titchener's estimate of the number and kinds of 
sensations, leaving aside the question here as to whether 
all sensations can be taken as sense qualities. According 
to him, sight furnishes us 32,820 different sensations, 
hearing 11,600, making a total of 44,420. As Helen 

Pragmatic Realism 265 

Keller possesses neither the sense of sight nor that of 
hearing, her reality would be to our reality as 15 is to 
44,435. But Helen Keller seems to be able to enter into 
communion with human beings all over the world, to share 
their purposes, to sympathize with them and help them better 
than most human beings with the use of all their senses. 

The reason the position that reality is the sum of its 
perceptions has seemed so plausible lies partly in the 
fallacious use of the method of agreement, partly in the 
confusion between the causa cognoscendi and the causa 
essendi. The perceptual qualities do exist; and it is 
through them we become immediately conscious of an 
external world. Objects are what they are perceived as, 
but indefinitely more. We must not forget that there are 
other contexts, such as the multitudinous thing-contexts 
and the contexts of our will attitudes. These may be 
practically more significant for determining the reality of a 
thing than our sensations not all of which can be treated 
as sense qualities. It may be of more practical significance 
for the nature of water that it satisfies thirst than that it 
gives us a number of contact reactions. When we come to 
deal with a human being, a friend of ours, the inadequacy 
of mere perceptual qualities becomes even more evident. 
He is not to be taken merely as his height, nor his color, 
nor his softness, nor his hardness, nor even the sum total 
of all the perceptions we can get. He is primarily what 
we must acknowledge, what fulfills a unique purpose on 
the part of our wills, and, as opposed to the gold or the 
stone, a reality with an inner meaning which we can to 
some extent copy. 

We have seen that experience becomes truth only 
through conceptual construction or purposive will attitudes. 

266 Truth and Reality 

Percepts only become cognitively significant as termini of 
ideal construction, as verification stuff. No wonder that 
the perceptualists have not been able to discover non-being 
dimensions, since these could not be perceived, but dis- 
covered only through the most subtle conceptual tools, ac- 
cording to the real difference which they make to our pur- 
posive striving. We have already indicated that because 
reality can only be known through conceptual construction, 
that does not mean that reality must be conceptual. 
Reality is, however, knowable only in so far as it is con- 
ceptualized. In recognizing that reality could not be 
treated altogether as purpose, moral or intellectual, Kant 
showed a keenness far exceeding that of his critics. 

Since perceptual qualities are the felt continuities or 
functional connections of energetic centers, when a con- 
scious agent is part of the complex, there can be no sense 
in speaking of these qualities as either acting upon the will 
or parallel to the world of will acts. The perceptual 
qualities do not exist independent of the concrete situation, 
so that they could act upon it. They are what the object 
must be taken as, or known as, in the special psycho- 
physical context. They preexist only potentially, i.e., as 
what the object can be taken as in the determinate con- 
text. They are, however, only one type of transeunt con- 
nections or energetic continuities. These energetic 
continuities may be intersubjective relations, and in that 
case communication and conceptual understanding are 
possible. They may be relations to centers below the 
reflective level. In that case knowledge becomes instru- 
mental a reweaving of a non-meaning context into the 
unity of our purposes. 

Equipped with our subjective purposes, or conceptual 

Pragmatic Realism 267 

tools, we can confront the larger world. In the course of 
conscious experience, as we strive to realize our tendencies, 
formal or practical, the world beyond us becomes differen- 
tiated and labeled according to our success or failure. But 
the real objects are not constituted by our differentiation, 
except when we make our realities outright, as in the case 
of artistic creation. The meaning for us is, indeed, created 
in the course of experience, but not the objects which we 
mean. Else science were impossible. The real objects 
must be acknowledged or met, whether they are to be un- 
derstood or to be controlled. 

The world of real objects may be differentiated into two 
general divisions, the world of being or stuff, on the one 
hand, and the world of non-being or non-stuff, on the other. 
By the former I understand various types of expectancy 
or uniformity, which we can have in regard to our percept- 
ual world. These types of uniformity, again, can be graded 
into two main divisions, namely, those which we can ac- 
knowledge metaphysically as purposive in their own right 
and those we must acknowledge as existing and must meet, 
but which have no inwardness or value on their own ac- 
count. The former we must learn to understand and ap- 
preciate, the latter to anticipate and control. The former 
constitute the realm of idealism, the latter of materialism. 
As regards the stuff character of reality, this theory is 
frankly pluralistic, acknowledging different kinds and 
grades of energetic centers according to the differences 
they make to our reflective purposes. 

But we must also take account of the non-stuff dimen- 
sions of reality. These differ from the stuff types in that 
they are not perceptually continuous with our psycho-physi- 
cal organism. They cannot appear as immediate phenom- 

268 Truth and Reality 

ena, but still must be acknowledged for the realization of our 
purposes. Thus we must actfpwledge the transformation 
of our values, the instability of our meanings. Time 
creeps into our equations and makes revision necessary. 
New values can only be had by waiting. Again, space, as 
distance, abstracting from the content of space, conditions 
our intersubjective relations, as well as our relations to 
non-purposive beings. It makes possible externality of 
energetic centers and free mobility. Further, the relativity 
of our meanings and ideals makes necessary the assumption 
of an absolute direction, a normative limit, to measure the 
validity of our finite standards. Lastly, we find it conven- 
ient to abstract the fact of consciousness from the psychic 
contents and the conative attitudes. While our awareness 
is intermittent, the conative attitudes and purposes may be 
comparatively constant. These non-stuff dimensions must 
be regarded as real as the will centers which they condition. 
They are more knowable than the world of stuff, because 
their characters are few and simple, whereas the varieties 
and contexts of stuff are almost infinite. Thus, by means 
of our conceptual tools, we are able to discover not only 
various kinds of stuff, but we are able to discover dimen- 
sions of reality of ultimate importance, where microscopes 
and telescopes cannot penetrate realities which eye hath 
not seen nor ear heard, nor ever will see or hear, more 
subtle than ether or radium. 


To avoid confusion, it is well to distinguish at the out- 
set between reality as the object of our knowledge and as 
our object-construct. The real object is that which we 
must meet, to which we must adjust ourselves, in order to 
live to the fullest extent. The object-construct, or the 
scientific context, is the sum of our knowledge or definitions 
about reality, our series and other conceptual tools by 
means of which we strive to describe and reconstruct our 
world. Ask the scientist about energy, ether, gravitation, 
or water, and he immediately empties himself of his physi- 
cal and astronomical equations, his chemical formulae, etc. 
These are the scientific elaborations of experience for our 
convenience and need not be like the facts they aim to 
manipulate. The equations of Newton are not like the facts 
or changes that gravitation symbolizes. We thus elaborate 
our world into various series or contexts, by means of 
which we strive to anticipate the real object. We must 
distinguish, in other words, between the cognitive context, 
on the one hand, and the context of the object, which we 
strive to know, on the other. 


Every fact can be taken in several contexts. It can be 
taken in a physical context as part of the interacting world 
in space ; and it can be taken in a psychological context, 


2/O Truth and Reality 

individual or social. Thus the content, sun, is part of a 
world of physical processes and known to us by the differ- 
ences it makes to other physical things and to our psycho- 
physical organism. The sun is also a concept with a 
history and place in our thought development, individual 
and social. Whether we can know has, therefore, a three- 
fold meaning. It may fefer to the possibility of taking the 
same meaning twice within the one stream of experience, 
or to the possibility of two knowers having the same mean- 
ing, or to the sameness of the physical object. In any case 
the problem is difficult enough, but it can be simplified by 
proceeding upon an empirical instead of an a priori basis. 
By this method we shall at least not multiply difficulties. 

Can we take an object or fact twice in our individual 
history ? Can we logically take a meaning over without 
doing violence to it ? Can we know the past ? Obviously, 
unless this is possible, identity anywhere else is meaning- 
less, for all knowing in the end must be individual meaning. 
Social reference itself must have its basis in individual 
constitution. The ultimate evidence for the existence of 
sameness must be the individual feeling of sameness, 
though this sameness of conscious functioning presupposes 
a degree of structural uniformity on the part of reality 
which makes the intuition of memory and familiarity possi- 
ble. The principle of indiscernibles is at any rate valuable 
as a pragmatic principle. We may indeed have a priori 
reasons, and empirical too, for suspecting the naive feeling 
of sameness, even unaided by microscopes, but we cannot 
wholly discredit it without discrediting the judging process 
itself. We must hold that what can be taken as the same 
is the same or practically so. There is of course the sup- 
plementary social test, in any particular case, viz., that 

The Object and its Contexts 271 

others can recognize our attitudes, our meaningful func- 
tioning, as the same or different, and so correct our patho- 
logical feelings. But the others, too, are, after all, strands 
of individual history. If the consciousness of every indi- 
vidual were evanescent, there could be no more recognition 
of the sameness of other meanings than of our own. That 
they can mean that I am the same must, in the end, come 
back to the continuity of each individual meaning. Apart 
from such a continuity, social and physical sameness would 
be alike meaningless. Our meanings, then, like our objec- 
tive individuals, are the same just in so far as we can 
acknowledge them to be the same. My concept, sun, still 
means the same sun, has the same perceptual nucleus of 
shiny disk and its apparent motion, however much it may 
have been enriched by astronomical study. 

That the past, in so far as it has meaning for us, exists 
as a part of the present cognitive context is a truism. 
When it is not thus taken up into the present context, it 
persists potentially as dispositions, manuscripts, or geologi- 
cal strata. It is not well, however, to press this a priori 
argument, derived from the nature of the apperceptive 
context, too far. If the past were altogether fluent, we 
could not reconstruct it at all. It never could mean past 
to us. It must have a content of its own, even though the 
cognitive context has changed. Pure nothing could not 
afford a basis for serial construction. In geological trans- 
formations, the ribs of the old strata do stand out with an 
individuality of their own, furnishing the basis for our ideal 
perspective. And in psychological development, too, we 
must recognize the ribs certain structures which still 
stand out as individuals with their own meaning, though 
in the atmosphere of the present setting. We must feel 

2/2 Truth and Reality 

the functional identity of the past in the present. Here, 
too, we have record, the retentiveness of the individual 
mind. The old meanings remain. They cling to their 
structural conditions as the vine to its artificial support. 
They do not simply flow into the next moment, for we can 
acknowledge and compare their own meanings with the 
new meanings which have replaced them. While the past 
meanings are past so far as being our personal meanings 
is concerned, they are not past as ideal structures. As 
such they can still become memories, to be re-lived when 
the light of consciousness is thrown on them again, even 
though their place in the growth series makes them have 
the feeling of pastness. They are part-minds resur- 
rected, dynamically continuous with, but not created by, 
the present subject. They must be acknowledged as 
having their own setting and meaning independent of the 
meaning and value which they have in our present cogni- 
tive context. They figure thus in two teleological contexts ; 
and these again owe their continuity to their figuring in a 
world of physical processes. 

The dating of this sequence of meanings would be con- 
jectural beyond a few seconds, if it were not for the tag of 
the chronological system associated with the structures. 
Except for this artificial time coefficient, the understanding 
of past structures does not differ essentially from the pres- 
ent. They do not differ necessarily in vividness or dis- 
tinctness from experiences much more recent. These 
characters depend upon other conditions besides lapse of 
time. The difference again in the feeling of intimacy be- 
tween our own past meanings and other meanings must be 
sought in the difference in functional continuity with the 
present. This gives the former a different intuitional 

The Object and its Contexts 273 

value. But this intuition of familiarity may fail even as 
regards my own successive contexts. The part-minds or 
associative contexts of the past may become dynamically 
discontinuous with each other and with the present context, 
as in multiple personality. In such a case we no longer 
put the personal stamp upon them. We know them, if at 
all, as we do the contexts of other egos. And even in or- 
dinary life, we may depend entirely upon records for our 
own past. The interpretation of our past, in any case, is 
not a matter of knowing the brain continuities, if we did 
know them, but an immediate recognition of the meanings 
themselves, whether brought to us by the processes of as- 
sociation or objective records, though this does not dis- 
prove the dependence of our sense of continuity upon 
physical processes. 

So socialized is our experience, so strung out upon the 
conventional measures of time and space, so associated 
with language, that the interpretation of meanings even 
of our own past is largely an interpretation of language. 
Words and their contexts are the social correlates of our 
meanings, in our trying to understand ourselves as well as 
each other. Brain correlation, however real it may be in 
the world of causal explanation, has no relevancy to our in- 
terpreting of meanings. The support of the world of mean- 
ings is language and social institutions. And here we can 
develop our ideal relations, quite independent of our igno- 
rance of brain dynamics. Logic and ethics were full- 
fledged sciences before physiology could be said to exist 

But contents must be taken not merely as figuring in the 
context of individual experience, they must also be taken as 
figuring in historic social experience. Here a serious prob- 
lem arises from the fact that we have to recognize a num- 

274 Truth and Reality 

her of coexisting and overlapping individual contexts. As 
these contexts cannot be treated as mere duplicates, the 
problem of knowing the same object takes another form, 
viz., whether there can be universal objects or objects for 
several knowers. Here again the test must be empirical. 
We, as several knowers, do seem to be able, in spite of the 
seeming incommensurability of the contexts, to refer to the 
same content, to agree and to act together. The discrep- 
ancies of different fields of consciousness, their different 
fringes of significance, must be settled by the same induc- 
tive tests that any other problem involves, not simply be de- 
duced a priori. Such experiments, for ascertaining, for 
example, the difference in associative constellations in dif- 
ferent individuals, have already been carried on by Munster- 
berg and others. Such differences, however, have to do 
with the imagery of the meaning, not its final intent or ref- 
erence to an objective world. 

Through the common understandings of the several sub- 
jects we build up the world of science, institutions and 
beauty. These unities come to be recognized as existing 
on their own account. True, these social contexts, as the 
past contexts, must figure in the cognitive context of the 
individual subject. They must become known through 
the agreement of the idea with its intended consequences 
within individual experience. But we must acknowledge, as 
independent of the cognitive context, an objective context 
in which the facts have their own relation and significance, 
which we must respect. Like individual experience, social 
experience shows its dependence upon physical continuity 
for records, by means of which the meaning can be handed 
on to the future. 

We have been forced to take account of two forms of 

The Object and its Contexts 275 

identity, teleological identity and physical identity. The 
former has presented two kinds of problems, viz., Can 
present subjects know the same meaning as past subjects 
within the same history ? And can one individual subject 
know the same meaning that other subjects know? In 
either case, teleological identity is closely dependent upon 
physical identity. For my sharing my own past, or the 
possibility of memory, is dependent upon processes, not 
themselves experience. Else there would be no continuity 
of waking moments with each other. Social agreement, 
too, involves a physical constitution which makes continuity 
of centers in space possible and which concerns those 
records from which we can reconstruct our meanings in 
time. Identity of meaning is impossible unless we can 
take our physical objects twice. 

Nature, as our system of knowledge, is our social con- 
struct, with its systematized expectancies as reduced to 
scientific technique. Yet, while physical science is a social 
institution, we cannot recognize its object as a social insti- 
tution. We must distinguish between communicative pro- 
cesses, which we can acknowledge as having a meaning or 
purpose of their own, and non-communicative processes 
which we must deal with in a merely external way. While 
both have their own context, independent of the context of 
our cognitive purpose, \b& context of the physical processes 
is not one of meaning, but of causality. The physical pro- 
cesses furnish a limit which our ideal construction must 
meet. They are not mere phenomena. We must recognize 
physical things as figuring in their own context of physical 
interactions, within their own space constellations, and their 
own history of cumulative'changes, though they also figure, 
as contents, within social experience and within the individual 

276 Tntth and Reality 

conscious moment of perception and interpretation. Only 
the latter contexts have meaning and value bound up with 
them. The former means a context for our ideal construc- 
tion merely. 

Existentially, if not Ideologically, our relation to nature 
is bipolar. We do not make the gravitational differences, 
the interstellar distances and the geological strata when 
we take account of them. They acquire significance, not 
existence, when they are taken over out of their own con- 
text into our cognitive context. The latter must tally in 
its coexistences and sequences with the intended context of 
nature as perceived, if we are to anticipate successfully its 
facts. However much we socialize nature in our scientific 
procedure, science itself becomes meaningless unless we 
also respect nature as having its own context. 

We have seen that the processes, which we must take 
account of, exist in three types of context. They figure in 
the world of interacting energies, with their causal and 
space relations ; they figure in the social contexts in 
science and institutions, which we must imitate and react 
upon ; they figure in the special context of each individual, 
as he tries to appropriate the processes as part of his world 
of meanings. In studying the record of Thales or taking 
account of our own meaning of yesterday, all three contexts 
are involved. 


What relation do these contexts bear to each other ? The 
physical sun out in space and my meaning sun are both 
real structures. They make a real difference to each other. 
My meaning is not merely a passive picture, but a conative 
tendency, an energy which leads to certain motor con- 

The Object and its Contexts 277 

sequences, at least so far as my own body is concerned. 
The differences ray purpose makes to the sun are negligible 
for scientific purposes. And so we come to treat the pro- 
cess as one-sided. But while we may, for certain purposes, 
ignore the differences our thoughts make to the physical 
world, we must, nevertheless, in order to have knowledge, 
assume that the universe is a dynamic whole. The thought 
structure must be dynamically part of the same world with 
the sun structure. It hangs together with the sun, medi- 
ately at least, by hanging together with our own nervous 
system and through the control it exercises over it and the 
bodily movements. Every fact must be capable of making 
a difference, directly or through intermediaries, to other 
facts, and especially to human nature, to make knowledge 
possible. Hence parallelism is an impossible theory. It is 
well to remember that our splitting the world into ideal 
series, such as mind and body, does not affect the continuity 
of the energetic relations of the real world. 

When we come to the relation of the context of individ- 
ual meaning to the social context, it is easier to see how 
one makes a difference to the other. All thinking, how- 
ever many private frills and corruscations it may have, is 
social thinking. It can develop only, and become valid only, 
in response to social needs. On the other hand, the very 
existence of a social context is due to the overlappings, 
the common attitudes and contents, of individual minds. 
This is true practically as well as theoretically. Mutual 
trust or distrust makes all the difference between economic 
confidence and social stability, on one hand, and panic and 
anarchy, on the other. In the plastic world of inter- 
subjective relations, our understanding each other's mean- 
ings and our will attitudes toward each other do make 

278 Truth and Reality 

decided and recognizable differences to the structures in- 
volved, individual or social. 

When we come to the past contexts again, here we must 
recognize a different relation. While these contexts can 
and do make a difference to the living present, send their 
radiation on as we restore continuity with them, we can- 
not in turn influence them. We cannot change the con- 
tent of Homer's Iliad by our thinking about it, though we 
can change its meaning and value for ourselves. 

Our relation to the physical world is existentially bipolar, 
as we must acknowledge the existence of nature, but it is 
Ideologically unipolar, as nature has significance and 
value only as taken up into the context of human nature. 
We must acknowledge Mt. Washington as existent ; but 
we cannot acknowledge it as having an inner meaning or 
halo of value of its own. While all our meaning contexts, 
individual and social, must hang on nature for records, it 
must hang on them for significance. Our relation to the 
social context, again, is both existentially bipolar and teleo- 
logically bipolar, as we must acknowledge the other sub- 
jects both as existing on their own account and possessing 
a meaning of their own. In talking with a friend we 
must both acknowlege him as existing and as having a 
meaning, independent of our cognitive attitude. The 
past, finally, we must take as teleologically bipolar, for we 
must acknowledge that the past contexts have a meaning 
of their own. We do not create the meaning of the Iliad, 
or our meaning of yesterday, by taking account of it. But 
the relation is existentially unipolar, for the past-subject 
itself has ceased to exist. The creator of the Homeric 
meaning is no more. 

Each context, finally, must be recognized, by the cogni- 

The Object and its Contexts 279 

tive subject, as having its own perspective and its own 
rate of motion. While the same content, sun, figures as 
part of the physical world ; in the context of social history ; 
and in individual history, the physical history of the sun, 
with its dizzy figures, bears no proportion to the history of 
the social concept, sun ; or its cognizing in individual ex- 
perience. And in each case the object must be recognized 
as qualified by the relations or laws of the context within 
which we are taking it the laws of the associative con- 
text of the individual mind ; of the intersubjective con- 
nections of social history ; and of the physical uniformities 
as observed by natural science. This is true, though they 
must also be acknowledged as hanging together within a 
dynamic whole. 

We can see now that the contention of Bradley, that the 
object selected or referred to in the truth attitude is always 
reality, is at best a clumsy way of putting it. It reminds 
one of the story of the man in the Adirondacks who tried 
to shoot a bear by aiming at him generally. To be sure, 
underlying our whole search for knowledge is the postulate 
that the facts or processes which we strive to know be- 
long to one world with our cognitive purposes and with 
each other, i.e., they can make differences to each other. 
A wholly indifferent process is obviously unknowable. 
But while this postulate of continuity is assumed or tacitly 
implied in all our judgments, it can hardly be said to 
define the judging process. This does not aim at the 
universe generally, but is fundamentally selective. The 
object must be singled out from the immediate mass of 
experience by a conscious purpose ; it becomes meaning- 
ful precisely by being thus selected and furnished its 
specific context. The object of the selective meaning is 

280 Truth and Reality 

precisely what the subject sets itself or is interested in, 
whether Apollo, or two plus two, or gravitation, or your 
friend's opinion, or time, or space. There is no need of 
mystification here. 

That all the facts or processes of the universe belong 
together within an absolute context of significance; that 
every process makes a reflective difference to every other, 
or is a fragment which dialectically unravels a through and 
through meaningful system ; and that therefore in meaning 
anything whatsoever we cannot help, whether we know it 
or not, to mean the whole, because it is the whole that 
means this, while a logically possible hypothesis, is not 
a self-evident axiom. It does not, with all its confidence, 
dispel one whit of our ignorance or make scientific experi- 
ment and discovery any less indispensable. It must at any 
rate come as an induction from the needs of human experi- 
ence, not as an assumption at the outset. 


Is the object either a past or future state of conscious- 
ness ? Can the object in the first place be stated as a past 
state of consciousness ? This has been assumed by many 
philosophers. It has been pointed out that consciousness 
is ever on the wing ; that to attempt to analyze and describe 
it is to transfix it ; and that what reflection deals with, 
therefore, is something that has been, ^postmortem autopsy. 
We are told that knowledge looks backward, while action 
looks forward. If this were true, we could not only not 
know our passing moments, we could know no object 
whatever, as every object of knowledge must figure in this 
passing stream. To be sure, the reflective attitude is very 
different from the non-reflective, and an immediate content 

The Object and its Contexts 281 

may later figure in a reflective context. But subject and 
object cannot be separated in time ; they are phases or 
poles of the same reflective moment. The object in any 
moment is what we mean, that which interests us, that 
which we conceive as the fulfillment of our purposes 
whether moving or static. And this surely need not be a 
past state of consciousness, unless the purpose is to under- 
stand the past. And even here we are striving to realize 
at least an individual, and generally a social, present pur- 
pose* a purpose big with the future, which it strives to 
bring to birth. 

On the other hand, it has been maintained that the ob- 
ject must be stated as future states of consciousness. Truth, 
we are told, consists in its consequences. As attention is 
essentially prospective ; as knowledge is for the sake of 
adjustment to a larger world, this view seems more reason- 
able than that the object is a past state of consciousness. 
But while the future consequences may furnish a corrective 
of knowledge, they cannot be the object aimed at. If the 
truth attitude consisted in consequences altogether, it would 
be as meaningless as it would be non-existent We must 
aim at a present constitution, we cannot aim at what does 
not as yet exist. Even the consequences as we picture 
them to ourselves are our ideal constitution, based upon 
present data, the projection of the uniformities as we must 
take account of them. In the process of experience, to be 
sure, both the setting and the values may change ; and the 
aim comes to have new meaning, whether it works or must 
be abandoned. But the object referred to is not the 
future consequences with their unforeseen real differ- 
ences. They constitute quite another story, which must be 
waited for. 

282 Truth and Reality 

In the effort to arrive at truth, history and science must 
use the same methods. In either case, we must proceed 
by means of hypothesis to select and systematize our facts 
and weave them into a consistent whole. In either case 
validity must mean that the results permit of social agree- 
ment, as the process of investigation goes on. The data of 
the past must be treated as the data of the present, the 
motives of Caesar like those of Roosevelt, the past nebulae 
like present nebulae. In either case, the immediate data 
must be reconstructed into a whole on the basis of their 
identities and differences, interpreted in terms of concepts. 
Sometimes we may simplify our present complex situation 
by spreading it out as a genetic series, as Darwin simpli- 
fied the present complex forms of life by his evolutionary 
theory. Sometimes we may simplify past results by re- 
producing them in present experiments as physics illus- 
trates geological changes, by its high pressure, its electric 
furnaces and other experiments. But whether we are deal- 
ing with scientific or historic construction we are striving 
alike to unify present data. 

The difference between history and science is not a 
methodological difference, but a metaphysical difference. 
Science is dealing with a world which we acknowledge as 
existent. The chemist and the psychologist can become 
perceptually continuous with the objects which they mean, 
while the historian from his symbolic data, which we call 
records, is trying to reproduce an object no longer possible 
of perception or direct communication. Caesar is no longer 
marching his legions across the Rubicon ; fair Helen and 
the heroes of the Trojan war are at rest. To be sure, the 
historian is not dealing with a myth world any more than 
the scientist. He is dealing with individual meanings or 

The Object and its Contexts 283 

structures continuous with our knowing attitude. But these 
individuals have survived only through the symbolic substi- 
tutes or vehicles of language and art which have carried the 
meanings down the stream of time. The parchment has 
survived the creator of the meaning, though the soul of the 
meaning itself may outlive many parchments, may require 
a succession of carriers. The continuity is a mediate con- 
tinuity; and a mediate continuity which only leads ideally 
back to the real subject. The real processes themselves, 
witl\ their living glow, are not reversible or reproducible. 
The time element, therefore, makes the difference between 
the facts which the scientist and the historian are striving 
to reach. This comes in as a limiting or metaphysical con- 
cept, however, and does not, as such, play a part in the 
induction which must depend through and through upon 
data, whether as regards content or chronology. 

Since reality is individual and changing, absolute fact, 
as our final interpretation of reality, must be regarded as 
a conceptual limit. Fact, as we have it, is the result of 
such identities as can be reached by various coexisting 
meanings about their common intent, as regards themselves, 
the past and nature. This interpretation, however, is an 
indefinite quantity. Our interpretations and intents must 
still be reinterpreted to fit into the future contexts of judg- 
ing experience. The context of history, so far as we know, 
is never completed. What is the use of talking of the 
absolutely abiding and permanent, where nothing so far as 
we know is abiding or permanent, and where life is a con- 
tinuous readjustment to a changing world of facts and 
values? On the other hand, what is the use of talking 
about an absolute flux where, after all, we have a consider- 
able degree of continuity and steadiness ? Absolute flux 

284 Truth and Reality 

and absolute identity are both logical limits within such a 
world as ours. Here I can see the advantage of the absolute 
as an ideal hypothesis. Absolute fact would be the steady 
glare, the unblinking insight, of an absolute ego, the same 
yesterday, to-day and forever. Such a limiting concept, 
like Newton's absolute rate of motion, furnishes at least a 
convenient device for showing the relativity of our actual 
facts, as Newton's hypothesis of an absolute rate of motion 
shows the relativity of all empirical rates. 

One thing, however, is clear. Truth always means to 
be eternal. No truth ever intended its own falsity, even 
though our knowledge of the law of change has made it 
evident in general that it may not be final. In so far as it 
satisfies our demand, is really truth for us, there is stamped 
upon it its own eternal intent. I have reference here not 
to the mere symbols which stare us in the face with their 
permanence of structure, even after they have, like old, 
worn-out clothes, been discarded. I am referring to the 
living truth attitude. This always says, " Verweile doch ! 
Du bist so schon." Precisely here lies the tragedy of 
truth. The real world, the real subject that judges and 
the real object it means, know of no eternity; they will not 
be bound by the chains of thought, Parmenides notwith- 
standing. Thus our experience is ever outgrowing our 
concepts, crystallized into language. Even when the sub- 
jective structure grows stereotyped and is satisfied with 
the old point of view, the real situation does not stop for 
all that. What is more pitiable than to see the old investi- 
gator sticking to his antiquated hypothesis in spite of new 
evidence and larger generalizations ? 

Truth or meaning is always of the moving now. It 
makes sketches by catching certain constancies sketches 

The Object and its Contexts 285 

something like reality, even as the cartoonist's sketch re- 
sembles Roosevelt sufficiently for identification but the 
real change value it cannot catch, except as it congeals 
into results. Truth, therefore, just because it attempts to 
fix a world of process, must, to a certain extent, be hypo- 
thetical. It cannot bind the future. It is based upon 
the relative uniformities of experience which in the case of 
the physical world have an almost eternal fixity as com- 
pared to our fleeting lives. Outside of that, our equations 
talk nonsense, as Clifford says. The laws of science, even 
mechanics, are, after all, our plastic attitudes toward things. 
Our atoms and ethers, our law of conservation of energy 
and our law of gravitation, must be retranslated in the 
light of fresh discoveries. The very fact that our laws are 
human concepts, apart from any change in the objects 
they intend, which for mechanical purposes may be 
practically stable, must make them plastic in the ongoing 
stream of experience. The unity we find in things is first of 
all the unity of our experience and must vary in meaning 
with it. 


Is truth conventional? It is easy, we have seen, to 
confuse truth and its symbols, such as language and 
mathematical models. Those who have insisted upon the 
conventional character of truth have, no doubt, been guilty 
of such confusion. Because language is made up of abstract 
entities in the way of substantives and relational terms, 
they have insisted that our judgments also are made up of 
such entities and hence must be false to the unitary whole 
which they postulate. Most of the objections raised by 
such critics of thought as Bradley are based upon the con- 

286 Truth and Reality 

fusion between the abstract symbols, thus converted into 
entities, and thought. Hence the ease with which thought 
is transcended in those writers transcended by first being 
caricatured, and then abandoned for mysticism. 

But it is not only from the side of philosophical mysticism, 
but from mathematical science as well, that the question 
of the artificiality of truth has been raised. Nature knows 
nothing of our ellipses, parabolas or equations. Hence is 
not scientific truth merely conventional ? No doubt there 
is a conventional element in truth. Human nature con- 
tributes the measures and series, the descriptive symbols ; 
and, inasmuch as individual invention and technique count 
for more in science than in common sense, the artificiality 
seems all the greater. But it must be recognized that there 
is a surd of content which we do not invent, viz., the perceptual 
sequences which we try to describe. This has been called 
" the universal invariant." The psychologist would proba- 
bly be skeptical about universal invariants where human 
individuals are involved, but we may be said to have at 
least such constancy as permits of pointing, and which 
furnishes the real currency on which our credit system in 
the way of scientific laws and formulae do business. The 
contents may remain constant, however much their values 
may change in new subjective contexts. 

The phenomenal character of our knowledge, however, 
does not consist in that facts are vitiated by being known, 
as has sometimes been held. On the contrary, reality, 
whether of the thing kind or the self kind, is precisely 
what we must take it as, in different contexts. Truth is 
what we mean as we systematically strive to imitate the 
intended object. What makes our knowledge so phenome- 
nal and instrumental lies in what it must omit, rather than 

The Object and its Contexts 287 

in what it says. Our selection is not adequate to the rich- 
ness of reality. We fail to exhaust the continuities of 
nature and the manifold of the world we strive to share. 
And while our conceptions help to piece out our percep- 
tions, still our results are proximate and pragmatic. For the 
purpose of prediction and practical control, we emphasize 
the common and uniform. But we pay dearly for our in- 
variants in omitting the fleeting values and meanings that 
give each moment its concreteness. This is especially 
true in dealing with the world of selves, past and present. 
For such concreteness we substitute our averages, our 
classificatory systems, our space and time series. We 
split the universe into special departments, with their partial 
hypothesis, to meet our needs and limitations. It is this 
selective and abstract character of knowledge that makes 
it seem so gray compared with the glow of life. 

Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie 
Und gnin des Lebens goldner Baum. 

But it is also this that makes it so convenient an instru- 
ment in finding our way from fact to fact and in meeting 
the complexity of life. The unique and individual shades 
of meaning, the fleeting rainbow hues of the moment, each 
will must acknowledge or supply for itself. 

What meaning we are justified in attributing to this 
acknowledged reality depends upon the functional agree- 
ment of ideas with further experience. This reading, 
however, is not a matter of our observing brain changes, 
but of observing conduct. We do not, unless we are psy- 
chologists, consciously watch other people's bodily symp- 
toms and compare them with our own, even were this 
possible. Differential reaction goes hand in hand with 

288 Truth and Reality 

differential meaning, long before we reflect. Through a 
long process of survival selection and through social imita- 
tion, we have come to react spontaneously upon certain 
situations, including the behavior of other human beings. 
In higher mind-relations, this means an immediate inter- 
pretation of language. This is what gives the intuitive 
character to all our normal interpretation of other selves. 
We start with an implied hylozoistic philosophy of the 
world, which we afterward individualize through experi- 
ence into objects with more or less definite differential 
significance the world of selves and the world of things, 
the world of teleology and the world of mechanism, with 
their specific contexts. 


The persistent effort to see the various contexts of the 
world of objects as one pattern, the divine love for the 
wholeness of things, we call metaphysics. This raises 
the question : Is metaphysics a science ? From time to time 
the controversy breaks out as to whether metaphysics is 
science or poetry, whether it deals with evidence or whether 
it is a realm of free imagination, limited only by its own 
internal purposes and the law of consistency in working 
them out. If one looks back over the history of meta- 
physics, one can find ample reason for such a controversy. 
Metaphysics has too often attempted to spin its spider-web 
of logic from its own a priori demands, with not only a 
neglect, but often a conscious disdain, for facts. History 
and science have been fitted alike into the philosopher's 
a priori models. But whatever may have been the sins of 
metaphysics in the past and for them it has duly suffered 
we are now agreed that it must proceed by the same 

The Object and its Contexts 289 

methods as science, not by dogmatic conviction, but by 
tentative hypothesis and verification. This is at least the 
import of the pragmatic movement. It differs from other 
sciences, not in its method, but in its intent, in the prob- 
lems it sets itself, viz., the final interpretation of knowledge 
and the other overlapping problems of experience, which 
lie outside the special sciences. 

What has inspired the controversy recently, however, 
seems to be not a question of method, but of value. It 
has been pointed out that the large generalizations of 
metaphysics furnish a distinctly esthetic value and that 
this is the characteristic thing about them. But then why 
is not all science a branch of art ? It is a long time since 
Plato felt the kinship of truth and beauty and since Lotze 
pointed out that the feeling for unity, which furnishes the 
motive and joy of science, is an esthetic feeling. However, 
while we recognize identities, we must not neglect differ- 
ences. No doubt science and esthetics are fundamentally 
the same in their instinctive demands for unity, distinct- 
ness and simplicity. But the limitations which are recog- 
nized in art and science are vastly different. We do not 
insist that art shall be capable of verification in the sense 
that science must be. The former must minister to the 
instinct for the beautiful, and must do so by eliminating 
the accessories and selecting the relations which fit that 
instinct, while science must deal with the world of fact 
and ascertain its constitution. Both are selective. Both 
idealize their world. But while science seeks its verifica- 
tion in the world of existence, art seeks its verification in 
the growing meaning and unity of human attitudes. 

Metaphysics is simply the attempt to find out the truth 
about reality not truth for a certain purpose merely, but 

290 Truth and Reality 

what we finally must think about our world. Reality is 
non-communicative sometimes, like a man who refuses to 
be interviewed well, then like the reporter, we have to 
write up what we think about it from such external marks 
and probabilities as we can find, not what it thinks. In 
any case, philosophy, like the enterprising newspaper, has 
to get out a good many editions to keep up with the pro- 
cession of history. 


THAT there should be confusion about metaphysics in 
the popular press is as excusable as it is incurable. No 
doubt popular opinion has its implied metaphysics, too, 
but its ignorance of language is equal to its ignorance of 
science. That reputable writers on science, however, 
should continue to use metaphysics as a name for the oc- 
cult and unknowable on the one hand and the fictitious on 
the other, would be unpardonable except for their neglected 
education. 1 Such misunderstandings make it imperative 
on the man who has the courage to acknowledge the name 
of Metaphysician as scorned as the name, Sophist, of 
old to vindicate his field. Alas, he must do this not 
only against the outside world, but against certain flippant 
colleagues of his own, who have proven false to their own 

In the first place, I want to correct the impression that 
metaphysics is a rare out-of-the-way thing, which only a 
few moss-grown, more or less fictitious professors, have. 
We all have it. Common sense, with its implied dualism 

1 Two otherwise splendid articles in the Hibbert Journal illustrate well the 
above confusion : " Atomic Theories and Modern Physics," July, 1909, and 
"The Metaphysical Tendencies of Modern Physics," July, 1910. Both by 
Professor Louis T. More. 


292 Truth and Reality 

or materialism ; the agnostic, with his hide-and-seek game 
with the unknowable; the professed scientist with his 
fundamental assumptions they all have it as truly as the 
systematic idealist or realist, only popular metaphysics is 
inconsistent and inarticulate. 

First of all, let us define what we mean by metaphysics 
and metaphysical entities. Metaphysics means the sys- 
tematic difference that facts make to each other and to our 
reflective procedure. It is what facts must be taken as in 
the entirety of our experience and not merely for a con- 
ventional purpose. For the purposes of prediction, it may 
be convenient to reduce time to space units. But what 
does* time really mean in relation to our conduct ? Why do 
we have to take account of it at all ? For census purposes, 
it may be sufficient to take people as numerical units, but 
what are they really in relation to other individuals in their 
endless variety of social contexts ? 

If we must assume free space to meet the facts, then free 
space is real. And it has the properties we must assume. 
Professor L. T. More says : " Direct evidence shows that 
kinetic energy is propagated through what experimentally 
must be regarded as empty space. This energy, called heat 
and light, passes to the earth from the sun, but is neither 
absorbed or otherwise modified until ponderable matter is 
encountered." 1 The "infallible" Michelsen could find no 
difference that the ether makes to the movement of the earth. 
If by further investigation, science finds no contrary evi- 
dence, we may take it as metaphysically proven, then, that 
free space exists, and that there is no ether. On the other 
hand, to show that for certain purposes we can ignore the 
existence of ether; that for some purposes, we can treat it 

i Hibbert Journal, Vol. VIII, p. 816. 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 293 

as having one set of properties and for another a different 
set this is not metaphysics. We cannot believe in the 
existence of an entity for one purpose and not believe in it 
for another. The real object and its properties do not vary 
with our cognitive attitudes. Such description, therefore, 
must be regarded merely as a convenient symbolism. Meta- 
physics does not mean truth for a certain purpose. It means 
correlated truth truth that can be taken as the same 
throughout our reflective procedure. However convenient 
it may be to divide our problems, there is not one truth, 
as regards the same objects, for chemistry and another for 
physics. Opposed to metaphysics, then, we have not 
science, but provisional and conflicting sciences. 

Take Huxley's hypothesis, so current in recent phys- 
iology and psychology, that mind is an epiphenomenon, 
i.e. t not an energy which can make a difference to other 
energies, but a mere chiaroscuro, or incidental display 
the head-light of the engine, which indicates the move- 
ment but does not make it go. Now such a theory, if 
stated as the truth about mind, is metaphysics, however 
violently anti-metaphysical the author may profess to be. 
Every theory must be tested by its consistency with our 
total experience, past and present. If it tallies with that, 
we must all believe in it for the time being. Unfortu- 
nately, this theory seems to be based on certain assump- 
tions rather than the plain facts of invariable antecedence 
and consequence or what we must take the body-mind 
relation as being in experience. According to the impact 
theory of motion, it seemed absurd that mind ideas, feel- 
ings, etc., should push the elastic balls which we call mole- 
cules. But we have now had to revise our impact theory 
for other reasons the action of electricity, for example ; 

294 Truth and Reality 

and so the imagination no longer trips itself up with its 
own pictures. Such a theory as the materialistic theory 
of mind, therefore, is very unmetaphysical. It may be 
convenient to treat mind as making no difference for 
certain purposes, physiological or chemical, but it does not 
hold in the larger context of experience. Ignoring mind 
or any other fact as a convenience for a certain abstract 
purpose is not anti-metaphysical. It simply lies outside of 
metaphysics as the systematic truth of experience. 

Take still another scientific theory of the last generation, 
the Darwinian theory of the origin of species, as based 
upon accidental variation and survival struggle without the 
transmission of acquired characters. If this theory really 
holds, if we can satisfactorily meet the facts of life that way, 
then it is a metaphysical theory. If we simply take it as 
a convenient hypothesis for biology, which leaves chemical 
and psychological and ethical problems still in abeyance, if 
indeed it does not conflict with them, then it is provisional 
science and its claim must be held in the balance with 
other claims for eventual adjustment. If, as some biolo- 
gists have come to feel, it is inadequate to the needs of 
biology : if we must assume a formal factor in evolution 
and not merely accidental variation; or if we must, perhaps, 
assume organic memory as the basis of cumulative differ- 
ences if, in short, the hypothesis fails to meet the in- 
tended facts even for its biological purpose, then the 
hypothesis is unmetaphysical. 

Nor does metaphysics have any more sympathy with 
dogmatic and irresponsible agnosticism than with spurious 
scientific generalizations. That our knowledge is very 
limited, is forced upon any sane man by experience. 
Relative agnostics, all truth seekers must be. We know 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 295 

only in part. Therefore, metaphysics as the legatee the 
clearing house of the special sciences must be modest and 
tentative. But in so far as we can proceed systematically, 
on the basis of a certain theory, it is really true. Reality 
conspires with us for the truth. It is not a lying demon, 
bent on withholding the truth. So far as our knowledge is 
workable, it is of the tissue of reality, however selected 
and abstract it must be in order to serve the needs of pre- 
diction and life. 

To speak of unknowable forces and causes, as some of 
our colleagues do so flippantly and with such an air of 
scientific superiority, is as unmetaphysical as it is unscien- 
tific. Metaphysics, no more than science, is concerned with 
the unknowable or occult. It postulates, with all truth 
seeking, that truth is theoretically possible, and, in part 
at least, practically attainable. There are no hidden 
essences of things. Reality, whether mind or matter, is 
what we must take it as in the systematic procedure of 
experience. The real appears for just what it is, in its 
various relationships. It is for science to tabulate these 
relationships, and, as far as possible, unify our expe- 
rience of them not to invent superstitious doubles 
always keeping in mind that only in the unity of the 
procedure of experience does the real truth lie. There is 
no truth for a merely split-off purpose, or portion of 

We are not ignorant of causes, if we know what they do. 
Electricity is just what it shows itself as being, through its 
operations, under definite conditions. To say that we know 
what a force does, that we can tabulate and predict its 
behavior, and yet be ignorant of its character is a contra- 
diction. It is the gratuitous inventing of a hidden essence 

296 Truth and Reality 

and then, by definition, asserting that we can't know it. 
We know the character of electricity and we know its 
transitions when we know its conduct under stated condi- 
tions. The figment of certain inscrutable essences or 
causes survives at the present time only in the brains of 
certain physicists. Metaphysics learned as far back as 
Berkeley, not to go back to the Middle Ages, that assump- 
tions are not to be multiplied and that hypotheses which 
make no difference to the procedure of experience must be 

We see now the scope and function of metaphysics. We 
see that, if it must necessarily wait upon the special sciences 
for much of its material, they do their work only poorly, if 
they neglect it. And fly it as they may, it is the wings. 
It consists in the final beliefs and attitudes towards our 
world, no matter what name we give it. That it must, in 
large part, wait upon the special sciences ; that the proper- 
ties and relations of things, as well as of minds, can only be 
truly ascertained under those determinate conditions which 
the special sciences investigate, will be admitted by all. 
On the other hand, metaphysics, as itself a special science, 
need not wait until the other sciences complete their 
task. It must continually criticize and clarify their over- 
lapping problems, whether this is done by the specialist 
himself or by another party who goes over his results. 
Moreover, metaphysics may do its work in part in advance 
of the special sciences. It is the oldest of the sciences. 
The interest in the general perspective came first the 
overlapping principles which the Greeks outlined for pretty 
much all the sciences. They discovered the basic presup- 
positions of scientific procedure or the laws of logic ; they 
discovered the general postulates of the physical sciences, 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 297 

such as the conservation of mass, property and motion ; the 
concept of equivalence, etc. They discovered the'concep- 
tion of proportional variation as basic in chemistry, however 
crude the four elements of Empedocles. They discovered, 
too, as early as Anaximander, the concept of evolution as 
based upon the selective adaptation to environment. They 
discovered the laws of association in pyschology and or- 
ganized the central principles of ethics and politics into 
sciences all on the slenderest basis of scientific observa- 
tion and with the interest of the metaphysician uppermost, 
viz., the interest in " the wholeness of things, both human 
and divine," to quote from the divine Plato. 

To discover the reality of time, it is not necessary to be 
conversant with the difference it makes to all the special 
problems of science, once we grasp its real difference to 
conduct in any concrete domain of experience. So with 
the significance of causality. Causality is not a generaliza- 
tion from all possible causes, which we should never be 
able to have, but the grasping of the relation to our will 
in some clear and distinct instances. Only so could we 
have specialists in metaphysics itself. 


In metaphysics, as in the special sciences, we must use 
the abstractive method, i. e. t we must single out the signifi- 
cant leadings as regards the belonging together of the 
large masses of facts. We have no right to import, in an 
arbitrary way, our own constructions into reality in its 
wholeness any more than into its parts. The content must 
first be abstracted from the world as experienced and then 
tried out as to its leading. Our hypotheses must be sug- 
gested by experience and must dip into experience again. 

298 Truth and Reality 

This seems, indeed, to have been the aim, on the whole, 
in the history of thought. The difficulty has been that, 
whereas the characteristics selected were supposed to have 
universal leading from part to part of experience, they 
could only serve the function of partial leadings. Thus 
the mechanical view of the universe has, indeed, a real 
basis in experience. Part of our world has the character- 
istics of solidity and mass and appears to act by impact. 
The objection to materialism is that it has made a partial 
character of the world do service for the whole, and has 
thus been forced to do violence to part of the facts. 

Again, the idealistic view cannot be ruled out from the 
universe so long as there are minds which feel and think, 
whether these be animal, human, or supra-human. The 
only question that can be raised is not whether mind is 
real when it is conscious of itself when it tries to invent 
theories about reality but whether mind is a universal 
attribute of reality in terms of which all reality can be 
read. And here evidence is lacking. So with the other 
historic controversies about knowledge and reality ; they 
are never wrong altogether. Their mistake rather lies in 
trying to make a part-truth do for the whole. 

We have seen that metaphysics deals with the over- 
lapping generalities or unities which do not come within 
the provinces of the special sciences. However much the 
superstitious specialist may revile " metaphysics," there is 
a dialectic in the world as experienced, which forces us out 
of the pockets which we have so conveniently made and 
makes us take account of the facts in large relations. 
This is noticeable in the combination of labels which the sci- 
ences have been forced to adopt, such as physical chemistry, 
physiological chemistry, psycho-physical organisms, etc. 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 299 

It is seen, however, in an even more important way, in 
certain large tendencies to correlate facts, especially as 
indicated by two concepts, viz. energy and evolution. By 
means of the concept of energy and its equivalences it has 
become possible to string the whole world in space on one 
string and thus to destroy the dogmatic cleavage which in 
the past has tended to isolate facts into rigid departments. 
Mind makes definite differences to body ; and immaterial 
energy, such as electricity, to material or mass entities. 
Tljus we are forced to recognize, empirically as well as 
a priori, the wholeness of things in space. 

Not less remarkable has been the influence of that other 
tendency, the evolutionistic. Especially since the impulse 
which Darwin gave the movement, there has been a ten- 
dency for our dogmatic verbal divisions to dissolve and for 
continuity of process to take the place of abstract isolation. 
Not only have the original biological species been shown 
to be a part of the same process of growth and adaptation 
which had long before been recognized in the stellar world ; 
but intelligence, too, has its history ; it is the proper out- 
come of the process which its presence serves to reveal in 
its true light a process which uses mechanism as a tool 
in realizing its immanent end. For the tree of universal 
evolution, as every tree, is known by its fruit. To take 
account of structures and values, not merely as in natural 
history, but to recognize their place in the Jnward flow and 
movement of life, which is ever appropriating the past and 
ever pregnant with a new future; which carries within 
itself its own law of growth this consciousness of whole- 
ness in time is what distinguishes metaphysics from the 
partial tabulations of the historical sciences. 

What metaphysics thus aims at is a larger correlation of 

3OO Truth and Reality 

the sequences and values of the special sciences. What- 
ever is truly observed about the special facts and sequences 
remains true. Metaphysics does not transform the ob- 
served facts and values, but gives them a larger setting, 
and thus enables us better to appreciate their significance. 
In practical use, its contribution seems small compared 
with the special sciences; in liberal culture it far outstrips 
them. As Aristotle has so nobly said : " All the sciences, 
indeed, are more necessary than this, but none is better." 1 
It will be seen now that I thoroughly disagree with Pro- 
fessor Miinsterberg and others as regards the relation of 
the sciences to metaphysics. The sciences do not willfully 
falsify the facts for us, by a purely artificial treatment, in 
the service of our practical interests. They do not merely 
decompose. They also unify and, in unifying, imitate the 
qualities and relations of reality. Science, so long as it is 
true to its quest, will neither decompose nor unify further 
than the facts dictate. Partial its hypotheses often are, and 
often conflicting, too. But the aim of all the sciences is 
the cooperation toward a unified perspective of experience, 
the discovery of how we must take our facts in their total re- 
lationships. Hence, their fundamental aim is metaphysical. 
So far as they go, at any rate, they mean to discover how 
we must take our world. For we cannot adjust ourselves 
to our world on the basis of arbitrary symbols or pictures. 
These are serviceable, if at all, only because they serve to 
indicate to us the specific procedure of reality and so en- 
able us to regulate our conduct accordingly. The con- 
stancies of science must be identities taken out of the 
matrix of changing reality, to help us in meeting its de- 
mands. Truth is not falsification ; it is identification. It 
1 " Metaphysics," Book I, Ch. II, paragraph 10. 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 301 

is because we can recognize the character of nature as in 
some respects the same in the flux of situations, that we 
have prediction and control. 

We see thus that our theory of knowledge and our 
theory of reality are inextricably inter-dependent. For we 
know reality only as the differences, quantitative and quali- 
tative, which it makes to our systematic conduct. And, 
on the other hand, reality is precisely what we must take 
it as, in our systematic experience, whether we are dealing 
with things or selves, facts or values. Knowledge is but 
the sorting of reality, however partial and abstract such 
sorting may be. Reality, with its identities and differences, 
is precisely what dictates our procedure in realizing our 
will. It is what it is known as, in so far as our knowledge 
is thorough and systematic. To suppose that knowledge 
alters the character of reality is to cut ourselves off from 
all access to it, whether scientific or metaphysical. The 
much talked of phenomenality of knowledge is merely its 
partiality its impatience and failure to take facts in their 
systematic togetherness. This, however, does not rob the 
aspects, truly observed and described, of their reality. 
The assumption that the outer context of perception is less 
real than our inner context of appreciation is a confusion 
of existence and value. It is in the inner context we must 
seek the significance of reality, but not necessarily its 


In conclusion, what are some of the types of overlapping 
problems with which philosophy must deal ? There are 
three fundamental types of such problems : the problem 
of knowledge ; the problem of existence, or what sort of 

3<D2 Truth and Reality 

beings and relations there are; and the problems of value, 
or what internal unity such facts have. It is to the last 
two types of problems that we ordinarily give the name of 
metaphysics. With the overlapping problems of knowl- 
edge we have already dealt in the preceding chapters. We 
have dealt with the genesis of the intellectual categories, 
with the psychological and formal nature of truth, with the 
criterion of truth, and with the relation of truth to its 
object. These are problems with which the special sciences 
cannot deal, but they are, nevertheless, of the greatest im- 
portance for intelligent scientific inquiry. It is not an 
accident that most of the names of the special sciences 
end in the term logic or knowledge. Logic, in the broad 
sense of a theory of method and of knowledge, does indeed 
overlap all of them. They are all part of the game of 
truth and must obey the rules of the game ; the limitations 
of the game are their limitations. 1 

There are, further, the problems of existence and the 
problems of value, with which metaphysics, as a science, 
deals. 2 First, what final types of being must we acknowl- 
edge in our adjustments to the world as experienced ? 
What stuff are things made of ? How must we take the 
world of processes ? 

In the first place, experience up to date indicates that how- 
ever diverse processes may be, they can make differences to 
each other. Causality does not require, so far as we can 
see, identity of stuff. Electrical processes can make pre- 
dictable differences to mechanical and to mental, etc. The 

1 For a brief statement of the problem of knowledge, see the first 
part of the next chapter. 

2 I may say that the fundamental concepts of reality which I shall 
mention here in a brief and dogmatic fashion are dealt with at length 
in a volume entitled " A Realistic Universe," soon to appear. 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 303 

ability to make predictable differences we call energy. So 
this serves as a convenient name, however thin, for the 
whole world of process. These energies are capable of 
being classified into classes or groups. It seems that we can 
simplify our energies into three of these the mechanical 
energies, involving mass ; electrical energies, including 
light and magnetism, where weight and mass do not apply ; 
and conative energies or the differences that our minds 
can make to each other and to things. Of course we have 
attempts at still further simplification. The idealist would 
reduce all processes to the mind type. But here we are 
confronted by the lack of evidence as regards the simpler 
processes of the world. Some physical theorists, again, 
would reduce all mass energies to the electrical type. But 
even J. J. Thom/son has recognized the impossibility of ac- 
counting for all of mass on the electrical basis. This three- 
fold division, therefore, seems a convenient halting place 
for science ; and, if so, for metaphysics, because metaphysics, 
too, must follow the lead of induction. It cannot make its 
own facts. 

With the problem of stuff goes the problem of inter- 
action, for we know stuff only by the differences it makes. 
If metaphysics has not solved the question how certain 
made-to-order entities can influence each other, how me- 
chanical entities, such as atoms and molecules can interact 
with psychical entities, such as thoughts and feelings and 
vice versa, how material entities can make a difference to 
immaterial, if it has not answered our ancient questions 
about motion, it has done what is better: it has shown 
that the questions are mostly useless, and that the absurdi- 
ties to which they lead are due to our concepts, not to the 
irrational procedure of reality. It is not for us to dictate 

304 Truth and Reality 

to reality what can happen or how it can act, but to take 
account of the differences which the parts of reality do 
make to each other under definite conditions. And if our 
assumptions make such differences absurd, then we must 
revise our assumptions. The invention of cleavages and 
parallelisms in reality to correspond with the discrepancies 
of our assumptions, and thus ruling nature's seeming con- 
tinuities out of court, may be a proof of ingenuity, but not 
of scientific sanity. As regards the external interrelations 
of the parts, as well as regards the nature of their stuff, 
they are precisely what they must be taken as in the defi- 
nite situations of experience. 

As regards time, another overlapping problem, it seems 
clear that we cannot reduce it to quantitative units. These 
are merely tools for predicting the flow. Time must be 
identified with the variation of positions, not their static 
relation. While there is a high degree of constancy making 
prediction to a large extent possible, time seems to introduce 
an element of contingency and novelty, requiring fresh ad- 
justment. At least that is true for our finite experience. 
In any case, time is involved in the moving of the scenery, 
not its static relations. 

As regards space, I would agree with Ostwald that " empty 
space is known to us only by the quantity of energy neces- 
sary to penetrate it, and occupied space is only a group of 
various energies." But in either case, space as distance 
makes a positive difference to the interacting energies. 
And this is the only difference space makes. Such attri- 
butes as free mobility and absolute conductivity are nega- 
tive. They mean the absence of energetic interference. 

It seems convenient to separate consciousness from the 
energies taking consciousness as the condition of aware- 

Metaphysics The Overlapping Problems 305 

ness, given a certain complexity of structure, physiological 
and mental. Consciousness is such an independent varia- 
tion, if we must thus take it in the unification of our expe- 
rience of our world. 

Finally, we have the problem of value. The human 
mind is so constituted that it cannot stop with the mere 
ceaseless flux in time or the mechanical interaction of parts 
in space. It asks about the why and the whither. Even 
Heraclitus sought for a law of change, an inner unity 
running through the scattered parts of experience, guiding 
the play of chance. And while we cannot regard this 
unity as superimposed mechanically from without, as in 
the case of Paley's watchmaking god, nor regard nature 
as working with a definite model in mind, according to the 
superficial interpretation of final causes, yet we must be- 
lieve that the universe, somehow, is to be judged by its 
outcome and that those ideals of self-criticism and appreci- 
ation which the universe in its more developed stages holds 
up to itself are not accidents, but in the deepest sense 
nature's self-realization, that liberation which is dumbly 
striven for the guiding impulse of the long groping his- 
tory of evolution with its repeated trials, failures, and fixa- 
tion of types. 

We must recognize that the universe has form or signifi- 
cant connection ; that its processes do not happen by mere 
accident; that evolution is not bare chance, for if there is 
no form or order in reality, our own reasoning about it will 
be irrelevant. Therefore, to attempt to reason or to have 
science becomes contradictory. It would seem strange, too, 
that reality should develop these formal demands, if they 
are not somehow germane to it and selective in its 

306 Truth and Reality 

These are suggestions merely ; only some of the many 
overlapping problems. Moreover, all the investigations 
of the special sciences as regards the specific procedure of 
reality increase our metaphysical knowledge. For meta- 
physics is only knowing consistently and truly the relation 
of our objects to our conduct. The qualities of things as 
well as their existence are known through the differences 
they make to the systematic procedure of human nature. 
Speculations outside of that, whether concerned with the 
natural or supernatural, are not metaphysics they are 


NOT the least significant fact of this great scientific age 
is its deep interest in religion. On the one hand, in spite 
of serious protests from the conservatives, science has es- 
tablished its right to apply the same method to the study 
of religion which has been of such great service in reducing 
the facts of other fields from chaos to order ; and thus we 
have Comparative Religion, Higher Criticism and the 
Psychology of Religion. On the other hand, attempts have 
been made from the philosophical side to furnish the same 
rationale for the ultimate religious concepts as for the 
scientific. The import of this has been, not to show 
that both sorts of ideas are ultimately equally invalid, 
equally lose themselves in the unknowable, as in the dark 
all cows are gray ; but to show the legitimacy and impor- 
tance of both in steering us in the direction of the real. 
What I am concerned with in this chapter is to inquire into 
the validity of our religious ideals; but to do this I shall 
have to inquire first how any ideals become valid. If this 
seems a roundabout way, I still feel that it is the shortest 
way to reach the end in view. 

The final problem which any theory of knowledge must 
attempt to solve is : How can ideas or concepts, which are 
merely structures of my mind, modifications of my brain 


308 Truth and Reality 

and carried about in my head, mean or express the real 
nature of the world ? To do justice to this problem here 
would be to furnish a complete system of epistemology 
and metaphysics. The limitation of our task makes this 
impossible ; at most we can furnish only mere suggestions. 
We are concerned with the problem of knowledge in gen- 
eral only so far as this is involved in our more specific 
problem, namely, the real basis of our religious ideals. 
The first question, then, which we shall attempt to answer 
in barest outline is : How do concepts, structures in our 
mind, crystallize or thicken into being, become objective 
fact ? And the second, more special one, is : How does 
the criterion of the objectivity of concepts in general apply 
to the religious ideals ? 

One of the most suggestive things in modern philosophy 
is Herbert Spencer's definition of life, as " the continuous 
adjustment of internal relations to external relations." " We 
perceive that what we call intelligence shows itself when 
the external relations to which the internal ones are adjusted 
begin to be numerous, complex, and remote in time or 
space ; that every advance in intelligence essentially con- 
sists in the establishment of more varied, more complete 
and more involved adjustments ; and that even the highest 
achievements of science are resolvable into mental relations 
of coexistence and sequence, so coordinated as exactly to 
tally with certain relations of coexistence and sequence that 
occur externally." And again : " Any assumption is justi- 
fied by ascertaining that all the conclusions deducible from it 
correspond with the facts as directly observed ; by showing 
the agreement between the experiences it leads us to an- 
ticipate and the actual experiences." 1 Or, as Professor 

1 " First Principles," Ch. IV, " The Relativity of Knowledge." 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 309 

James would express it : Our ideas are valid when they are 
" coterminous " with perception or fact Our idea of an 
eclipse is true when our anticipation of it in space and time 
ends in the facts of the eclipse. 

Life and knowledge are essentially adjustments to a 
larger world. The springs for such a process of adjust- 
ment must be found in human nature. Modern philosophy 
and psychology alike emphasize that we are essentially 
active or willing beings, beings with desires to be satisfied ; 
and we are dependent upon the environment for the satis- 
faction of those desires. Our impulses or affections, as 
Butler pointed out long before Darwin and Spencer, are 
centrifugal; they point to objects beyond themselves for 
their realization ; human nature as such is fragmentary, 
and points to a larger world for completion. Only in so 
far as the smaller system is adjusted to the larger system 
can our desires be realized. But how can the smaller 
system ever know anything about the larger and thus 
properly adjust itself? 

The English empiricists from Locke down are right in 
emphasizing that our adjustments are the results of expe- 
rience. Our instinctive tendencies would remain at best 
vague and inchoate if it were not for individual experience, 
which serves to make them definite. It is by continuous 
attempts at adjustments, the fruitful adjustments surviving 
as exciting interest or gratifying desire while the vain ones 
perish, that the organism learns gradually what are the 
proper adjustments. It is only on the level of our 
ideational adjustments, however, that the question of the 
true and the false arises. The fruitfulness of these idea- 
tional adjustments is one evidence, at least, for their truth- 
fulness. While not all fruitful ideas are true and not all 

3IO Truth and Reality 

true ideas are useful, in the long run such fruitful adjust- 
ments must be true to the character of reality. If decep- 
tion and illusion worked as well in the long run as truth, 
science would be in vain; for falsehood is infinite, and 
there can be no science of falsehood. The usefulness of 
deception must always be for a limited purpose, due to the 
imperfect development or pathological condition of human 
nature. Just as, on the whole, pleasant things are whole- 
some, so, on the whole, useful ideas are true, though in 
either case there are temporary exceptions in the evolu- 
tionary process; in either case we must supplement ex- 
perience with further experience. 

What the early English empiricists neglected, in their 
eagerness to show that we learn by experience, was to 
answer the question : Who am I ? to define the individual. 
They emphasized the part played by the environment at 
the expense of the individual, his tendencies and needs. 
The ego was to be a mere passive tablet, a piece of white 
paper, upon which Nature could write her sequences. 
This implied that the ego must be a mere nothing in fact, 
as Hume points out, a mere result of association, a "bundle 
of perceptions." But in that case there was neither any 
need nor any possibility of adjustment or knowledge. If 
the individual centers are nothing, we have a lot of nothings 
playing on nothings, and the environment has vanished 
with the individual. Thus Humean empiricism would 
reach its logical bankruptcy. 

It was at this point that Kant took up the problem. 
Kant emphasized the dignity of the individual at the ex- 
pense of the environment. The mass of sensations or data 
which are thrust upon us could present no order or mean- 
ing as such. The laws and system of the data are the 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 3 1 1 

work of the subject, which confronts the environment with 
certain predispositions, certain ways of looking at things. 
It is a matter of wonder to the naive Kant that the data 
conform so obediently to the order forced upon them ! For 
we make the system of nature. What makes nature seem 
so objective is that we all agree in making it in the same 
way ; it is a sort of social collusion. But the environment 
takes revenge for this violence upon it. If we insist upon 
making Nature according to our models, she will refuse, at 
any rate, to tell us anything about herself, and thus leave 
us to the solitude of our own fancies. When Kant attempts 
to distinguish between empirical causal relations and caus- 
ality in general as dictated by the subject, his system utterly 
breaks down. If particular causal relations must be ascer- 
tained through experience, what remains for the boasted 
category of causality to do ? Thus Kant, in giving arbitrary 
priority to the individual subject, lost all real access to the 

In this dilemma the theory of knowledge remained sub- 
stantially until the evolutionary movement Both Hume 
and Kant emphasized important aspects of knowledge : we 
must learn from experience the real character of nature ; 
and yet we can only get out of nature the meanings or laws 
with which we confront it. The abstract methods of Hume 
and Kant could not overcome this antinomy. Both neg- 
lected the problem of the genesis of knowledge, in the 
light of which its nature must be interpreted. The two po- 
sitions can be reconciled only in a more concrete theory of 
the individual, which takes account of the nature of the 
individual as modified by history. 

This history is as old as the universe in its changes of 
cosmic weather for old as star-dust is mind-stuff, old as 

312 Truth and Reality 

existence are ideals. True, we have no right to read the 
meaning of the later and more complex stages of history 
into the earlier and simpler ones and speak of inorganic 
nature in terms of will or reason, as animistic philosophers 
are fond of doing. It is to us, the spectators, that the 
simpler stages have meaning or purpose. Yet we believe 
that the simpler ones are continuous in one history with the 
more complex ones, that the whole process is obedient to 
one direction ; and though we cannot reproduce even prob- 
lematically the content or meaning of the simpler stages, 
we can at any rate to some extent reproduce their external 
or phenomenal form. What we must emphasize is that we, 
as thus conditioned by race history, are subjects, conscious 
egos, possessing properties of our own, capable of certain 
habits or adjustments as regards the environment, and not 
the mere passive result of mechanical laws, a chance con- 
junction in the dance of atomic elements, whether sensa- 
tional or material. 

When the individual history of human organisms begins, 
a certain structural differentiation, as a result of the survi- 
val process of evolution, has already determined for us our 
general data of a world. Our sense-organs admit only of 
a certain kind of diversity ; they are tools for picking out a 
certain range of data as " signs " of the energies of our en- 
vironment. Not only our data, however, but our capacity 
for reacting, both in general and in more specific directions, 
has already been determined by the character of the ner- 
vous system. We start upon our brief human history with 
a certain temperament and endowment ; but more than that 
we possess an equipment of certain dispositions or tenden- 
cies, needs or demands, which must be satisfied. In these 
we reap the results of past adjustments from a race history 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 313 

indefinitely old. And while these results are not experience, 
not innate ideas, they serve to economize experience. They 
furnish us with the warp for which individual experience 
must furnish the woof. They are general docilities which 
can be made definite by being consciously tried out 

These tendencies may be merely individual and material, 
such as the tendency to self-preservation, characteristic of 
all life, and, we might say with Spinoza, of physical things, 
too. Or the tendencies may lead to social satisfaction. 
They may be a craving for friendship, a taste for music, a 
feeling for consistency, a sense of right, or a yearning for 
the supernatural. The special adjustments or tools for the 
satisfaction of these tendencies have already to a large ex- 
tent been provided for by the order of things into which we 
are born. By our tendency to imitate we become familiar 
with the adjustments of society, its knives and forks, its laws, 
its science, its religion. In the course of this imitation 
which we call education, we discover our own meaning or 
purpose ourselves. We contribute our own reaction or in- 
terpretation to the past. But whether our adjustments are 
the result of inherited dispositions, or of imitation, or of 
purposive experiment, what determines the repetition or 
survival of an adjustment is its capacity for ministering to 
the needs of the individual and the race. 

How far our adjustments or dispositions are a priori, in the 
sense of inherited, or are acquired within the history of the 
individual organism, we are not at present in a position to 
state, and perhaps never shall know ; but one thing is certain, 
when we begin to be conscious of what we are doing, to reflect 
upon our own acts and processes, we do find ready-made a 
complex set of adjustments or dispositions ; experience has 
already taken on certain forms or serial arrangements ; we 

314 Truth and Reality 

look for certain connections and continuities between phe- 
nomena. Hence the a priori categories of men like Kant 
and Schopenhauer. We awaken to that yearning for the 
wholeness of things which intoxicated Plato ; we recognize 
certain demands for consistency and beauty, which both 
outstrip and set the program for individual striving. 
That these adjustments or dispositions are the products of 
the interaction of the organism and the environment, phys- 
ical and ideal, through the history of the race ; that the 
environment has dictated to us what dispositions we must 
entertain to survive, long before our dispositions begin re- 
flectively to dictate to nature what it shall mean this is 
the contribution of the evolutionist movement. To sup- 
plement the empiricism of Locke and Hume, therefore, 
we must first recognize an instinctive structure with its 
tendencies, a subject capable of cumulative adjustment, 
and then substitute for the history of one individual ex- 
perience the history of the race. In order to learn from 
experience, we must be equipped with mines of tendencies 
or interests which the energies outside us can touch off. 
Nature can only become real to us by passing through 
human nature. 

In all our adjustments, whether they are self-conscious 
or merely sentient, is involved trial, or experiment. 
Knowledge, too, starts with certain guesses, certain random 
efforts, spontaneous constructions those surviving, on 
the whole, which issue in fruitful results. And the results 
become fruitful because the adjustments are made with 
reference to the character of reality. The organism must 
take account of the diversity, as well as identity, of the 
environment; in other words, for the mental adjustment 
to become fact or to be successful, the meant identity or 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 3 1 5 

meant diversity must coincide with the objective identity 
or diversity of character. This aim at adjustment may 
be found in all stages, and may take account of a very 
abstract and immediate aspect of the environment or may 
aim at a very concrete and remote environment. Nor can 
we be neutral as regards reality beyond us, as we might 
be if we were merely bundles of perception or logic ma- 
chines. We are bundles, not of perceptions, but of desires. 
The necessity to act in order to survive makes it impossible 
to ,be indifferent as regards our environment. And our 
actions imply certain beliefs with reference to the bigger 
world the environment which we confront, whether we 
are conscious of those beliefs and whether they are those 
we profess or not. 

How can we bring these beliefs or hypotheses to the 
test ? How can we know whether they are the mere con- 
structions of our brain, mere symbols, or whether they also 
express the character of reality ? We have two ways of 
testing : one is a subjective way, referring to the proper 
functioning of our own thought; the other is objective, or 
refers to action. Ultimately, the two must coincide. The 
subjective criterion is that of consistency. Contradictory 
judgments cannot both be true. If I make the judgments 
that a house is red and that it is not red in the same respect, 
both judgments cannot express fact. But mere consistency 
does not make our ideas objective. Nor is social agreement 
sufficient to constitute objective fact. We can agree as to 
the meaning of centaurs and mermaids and a geometry of 
dimensions. Yet this agreement does not constitute them 
objective facts. Ideas to become objective must not merely 
be consistent and capable of being agreed upon : they must 
lead to certain consequences of perception and action. If 

316 Truth and Reality 

we can act as if a certain faith is real, if the environment re- 
sponds to our action by ratifying our will, then our faith crys- 
tallizes into being and ceases to be mere faith or subjective 
attitude. We have hit upon the meaning, the real character, 
of our environment. Hence our environment responds by 
granting our request. Truth, finally, must be tested through 
the consequences in the way of conduct or procedure to 
which it leads provided that we include in these both the 
difference which the object makes to our individual nature 
now and the ratification of further experience, the latter 
coming in only as a proviso, necessary at any one time, 
owing to the finitude of human nature and the fluent char- 
acter of reality. True, sometimes our response takes the 
form of intuitive certainty, the net result of race history ; 
but this certainty must in the end be capable of being tested 
in the procedure of experience even the golden rule and 
the venerable axioms of geometry. 

In the degree, then, in which we can act as if> we have 
hit upon the true meaning of the environment; we can 
dictate to it because it has already dictated to us. Most of 
our guesses or faiths as regards reality are only partially 
responded to ; we can only in part act as if. We can only 
act, perhaps, as though our faith were real for a certain 
abstract purpose. However, in so far as the environment 
responds even for the abstractest purpose, our idea or faith 
must embody an essential aspect of reality. Thus the 
atomic theory serves admirably for the grosser purposes 
of chemistry, while, in its classic form at least, it breaks 
down for certain phenomena of physics, such as electricity. 
Hence its truth must be regarded as partial. It does not 
express the whole truth of the character of the physical 
world ; yet it does embody an essential, if abstract, aspect 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 317 

just in so far as we can act as if the world were made that 
way and get our results. If we take the ether, again, we 
find that for certain purposes it has been treated as a per- 
fect fluid and for others as a perfect jelly. We have here 
apparent contradiction in the assumed substrate of phe- 
nomena, yet both beliefs with reference to it lead to fruitful 
consequences. Hence the abstract partial aspects must 
each have its right ; and a concept must be possible that 
embodies both characters without contradiction. When we 
can form a concept, a mental construction, on which we 
can act consistently as if it expressed the essence or nature 
of reality, then this ceases to be mere belief or idea; it 
thickens into being, it is reality. Reality then conforms 
to our categories or ideas because these have been adjusted 
to it It should be added that knowledge becomes ex- 
haustive only when we deal with objects which are them- 
selves meanings. Any number of people can have the 
reality of Hamlet. 

It has been fashionable of late to speak of concepts as 
shorthand, merely convenient symbols, but without relation 
to the real world. In so far as they are mere subjective 
guesses, and reality refuses to respond to them, to behave 
as if they were true, in so far we may speak of them as 
mere shorthand, mere symbols. But in so far as they 
become convenient, in so far as they form the basis of 
prediction, just so far do they cease to be mere shorthand. 
They must seize upon characters of reality in order to be 
serviceable, even though in the case of physical nature 
these characters are to-us-ward and do not reproduce or 
copy the inner reality of the process, and so do not com- 
pletely thicken into being, but must be regarded as instru- 
mental good instruments if they work. So far as regards 

318 Truth and Reality 

the real or inner nature of the environment, we must act 
by faith, not by sight. Our sensations as such are depend- 
ent for their character not merely upon the environment, 
but also upon our psycho-physical organism, and at best 
they are but signs of what we intend. Nor can the real 
character of the environment be ascertained by mere 
thought, as Plato supposed, but by thought or creative im- 
agination that realizes itself in action. Our ultimate clew 
to reality is that it behaves as if it conformed to our idea 
of it; when that happens, our constructive imagination 
must have succeeded in divining it or hitting it off, or suc- 
ceeded so far as our finite limitations permit. How com- 
plex this environment shall be assumed to be, what diversity 
it shall possess for us, depends upon how we must regulate 
our conduct to obtain the satisfaction of our will. If we 
must act as if there were other individuals, other relatively 
independent centers of activity, then there are other indi- 
viduals ; and their character must be such as we must ad- 
just ourselves to, in order to have our expectations of them 
realized, in order to live properly. If we regard the physical 
world as mechanical, as mere means to an end, whereas we 
recognize human beings as ends in themselves, it is because 
only by distinguishing such objective values we attain the 
satisfaction, or good, of our will. Thus both the diversity 
of existence and the diversity of meaning, as regards the 
bigger world, are known through the differentiation of the 
activity of the subject, necessary in order to accomplish its 

It is the plurality and changeability of our world that di- 
vorces truth as a mental structure from the characters of the 
reality it means. Our meanings must readjust themselves 
to their changing objects or else prove false. On the other 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 319 

hand, truth could not mean reality, could be nothing but 
mere shorthand, unless our mental structures were contin- 
uous with their environment. Here we seem to have an 
antinomy. Both discontinuity and continuity seem to be 
necessary in order to account for the nature of truth. Mon- 
ism, by affirming the unity of the world as a static whole, 
has failed to account for the relativity of truth as it attempts 
to express fact. Pluralism again, of the old-fashioned type, 
with its indifferent substances, made unity or continuity im- 
pojjsible, and hence made knowledge impossible. Both 
unity and plurality, continuity and discontinuity, must be 
true of the real, though under different conditions, because 
we must act as if they were true in order properly to adjust 
ourselves to the environment. Both, however, must be rel- 
ative. The concrete truth must be somehow a universe of 
process with diversity of structure ; with relatively stable 
centers that can interact and, in a measure, picture each 
other ; of continuities and discontinuities according as the 
conditions are present or absent for connecting certain en- 
ergies. If we must adjust ourselves to it as if it were such, 
then such it must be, even though we may not now be able 
to explain how it is so. 


How does the above teleological criterion of being apply 
to the religious environment ? We have seen how the mind 
has constructed for itself and projected a world of ideas in 
order to meet its environment, and said, "That art thou." In 
so far as its prediction has been verified and the proper ad- 
justment thus obtained, the environment has replied, " That 
am I." The character we have given this environment 
has depended upon the needs of the soul to make itself 

32O Truth and Reality 

at home in the world, to satisfy its wants. The environ- 
ment again has reacted upon the adjustment and shown how 
far it has been adequate. Thus we have come to construct 
an inorganic, an organic and a supra-organic or psychic 
environment, each of which grades of environment has 
proven its reality by the necessity of adjusting ourselves to 
it in order for the highest well-being. But in this historic 
process of adjustment even the psychic environment of so- 
cial unity has proven inadequate without the faith in an 
ultimate spiritual environment which shall be the objectivity 
and fulfillment of our fragmentary human ideals. Thus the 
soul of man has built itself nobler mansions, has constructed 
the ideal world of religion, even as the swallow builds 
herself a nest in order to feel cozier and more at home in an 
otherwise cold world. Now, does the religious ideal of a 
realized good in the world have any real basis, or is it but 
a fond dream ? Is there any environment beyond and still 
higher than the supra-organic or social environment, already 
so difficult for us to grasp and yet so real ? Man has at any 
rate acted upon the belief in such an unseen environment, 
higher than the human, and persists in doing so. Is there 
any justification for this? 

The same criterion must be applied to the reality of the 
religious environment as has been applied to other kinds of 
environment. I can see no intrinsic difference as regards 
the test of religious concepts or hypotheses from the test of 
scientific. The former are more momentous hypotheses, to 
be sure, but that does not alter their verification. Science, 
too, is fundamentally built on faith, a faith built on very 
slender evidence the faith that this Chinese puzzle of a 
world can be sorted and be made to fit together into a sys- 
tematic whole, as religion is built upon the faith in a Power 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 321 

that is righteous, sympathizes with, and works for, righteous- 
ness. In any case the idea must be justified or proved by its 
consequences, or its ability to satisfy the needs of the individ- 
ual, or at any rate the race in its progressive evolution. As 
we expect the scientific demand to grow more definite and 
articulate in the course of evolution, so we should expect 
the same in regard to the religious demands. If it is a great 
distance from Thales to modern science, so it is a long stretch 
from the Book of Judges to the Sermon on the Mount. In 
the case of science and religion alike, immediacy whether 
the immediacy of perception as in science or the vaguer 
immediacy of instinctive feeling as in religion must be 
interpreted and corrected in the light of further experi- 

The question is : Is the religious environment bound up 
with the history of man in such a way that he must act as 
if it were real in order to attain his highest development ? 
If the religious ideal is bound up with moral and social growth, 
as well as the highest individual appreciation and satisfac- 
tion ; if there is no abatement of this adjustment, but, on the 
contrary, if it increases in complexity and unity with the de- 
velopment of human life ; if life would be poorer without 
it ; if, in short, the religious adjustment has proved a neces- 
sary one, in order to attain the highest and most effective 
type ; and if materialism fails to inspire such a type of life, 
then the religious ideal must in some degree possess objec- 
tive reality. Here, too, we have the survival of the fittest 
as regards beliefs ; and the history of the race might be 
written as the history of religious beliefs. The working of 
the religious hypothesis must in so far be taken as evidence 
of its truthfulness, just as the working of the scientific hy- 
pothesis is in so far regarded as evidence of its truth. Both 

322 Truth and Reality 

must be modified in the light of the requirements of further 
experience. The progressive usefulness in either case must 
prove the greater objectivity of the content. Can any one 
doubt the cementing influence of religious beliefs on social 
unities, or the heightening effect on morality of the faith in 
an impartial and sympathetic Spectator and Cooperator, or 
the association of religion with the highest in art ? And as 
we learn to substitute more and more, in the progress of 
evolution, inner unity for mere mechanical coexistence, are 
we not progressing towards the appreciation of a higher 
spiritual supra-individual unity of souls greater than nations 
and greater than humanity; a unity which is not a mere 
block unity, like that of Parmenides, but a unity which 
embodies the end of ideal striving ? If it is a fact that the 
religious ideal is thus essential to the highest unity and 
development of life, then the religious ideal can be no mere 
shadow projected by the imagination of man ; but it becomes 
objective; it thickens into being. It is the ultimate con- 
stitution of the cosmos. 

The mistake in the past has been in trying to express 
the environment of the individual and the race in merely 
physical or perceptual terms. This would provide no 
standard of fitness. It would merely record the fact of 
survival, and stamp that fit which does survive. We must, 
I think, regard the kingdom not-of-this-world as no less 
real than the kingdom of this world ; the realm of formal 
demands and ideals no less real than the realm of facts and 
impulses. And not only must the former be as real as the 
latter, looked at from the point of view of existence, but the 
former must count for more, must legislate to the latter ; the 
ideal environment must set the ultimate survival conditions 
of the natural. Else the process can have no unity or mean- 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 323 

ing. Else no generalization would be possible. Natural 
science becomes as hopeless as ethics, for both involve the 
axiom that the cosmic process has direction, or is amenable 
to certain ideals. 

What has been said with reference to the existence of 
the religious environment applies equally to its character. 
We cannot agree with Herbert Spencer that utter charac- 
terlessness, existence without content, is the goal of religious 
progress. What possible inspiration could mere empty 
existence have in human evolution? The same criterion 
which shows us that God is, shows us also what he is. 
The development of religion, moreover, shows more and 
more agreement as regards its content. All the developed 
religions agree in maintaining, though with different em- 
phasis and concreteness, certain attributes as indispensable. 
Thus the ideal of goodness, as the supreme factor in the 
religious ideal, is common to all the great religions. It is 
evident that the more empty and vague the religous ideal 
is, the less effective it is ; and that, on the other hand, the 
religious content which conduces to the most definite under- 
standing of man's problems and contributes most to the 
development of man must be most objective. 

We can only mention some of the most prominent char- 
acters of the religious ideal which have proved indispensable 
to its historic efficiency. One is the unity of the religious 
ideal as opposed to polytheism, the demand for one unique 
and final embodiment of the highest good. Furthermore, 
this unity must be a personal experience, not necessarily 
having our limitations, but capable of entering into sympa- 
thetic relations with all good strivings, as it has sufficient 
power to enforce its ideal. God must not be merely an 
impersonal constitution. Even the atheism of classical 

324 Truth and Reality 

Buddhism could not be made practical until it apotheosized 
the founder. 

Practical religion must, furthermore, identify itself with 
the values or norms of life primarily. In other words, the 
religious ideal must not be pantheistic. Only the finite 
can have worth. I do not see how any one can love or 
worship things in general, this medley of comedy and 
tragedy, of harmony and discord, which we call a world. 
Such a worship would seem possible only by killing the 
nerve of activity, by saying to the passing moment, 
"Verweile doch, du bist so schon," which, if we believe 
Faust, is equivalent to selling one's self to the devil. 
However satisfying such a view may be esthetically, it is 
not ethical. Pantheism is as unethical as materialism. A 
God that is identical with the totality of existence is help- 
less to redeem the world, as he is equally responsible for 
its sins and its virtues. As Plato puts it : " God, if he be 
good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert, 
but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most 
things that occur to men; for few are the goods of 
human life, and many are the evils, and the good only is 
to be attributed to him : of the evil other causes have to 
be discovered." 1 Hence Christianity preaches a kingdom 
that is not of this world, a God of righteousness. " Be 
ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." God is 
identified with the absolute worth or goodness of the 
world, not with its mere brute existence. God is just, as 
identified with the realm of ideals, and as such he sets 
survival conditions to the lower finite centers. But the God 
required by human experience must also be merciful, and 
as such, he strives to raise our finite lives to the standard. 
1 The Republic," Bk. II, 379. 

The Reality of Religious Ideals 325 

In this love of the perfect and striving to make the finite 
perfect, justice is not abrogated but fulfilled. The world 
consists of many centers of consciousness, who must learn 
to imitate, and make their own, the perfect good, each 
in his own way. And in this lies both the tragedy and 
the zest of life. 

The truest and most objective religious ideal, then, is 
that which can furnish the completest and fullest satisfac- 
tion of the demands and longings of evolving humanity. 
The various religions, no matter how ancient and vener- 
able, must submit to the pragmatic test, their ability to 
minister to human experience in all its complexity. Relig- 
ions must not appeal merely to our credulity for the mirac- 
ulous. In that case the savage religions would rank at 
the top ; for, in the absence of science, there is no limit to 
the miraculous. Nor must the appeal be to a mere super- 
natural revelation or authority. In that case Brahmanism 
and the old Pharisaism would rank foremost. Religions 
must appeal to the good sense of man ; they must increase 
his perspective or sanity. They must enable him to think 
more deeply and truly ; to appreciate and create greater 
beauty; to live more completely and fully, individually 
and socially. Christianity neither can nor must claim any 
exemption from this test of the completest ministry to 
human nature. With this it stands or falls, not with its 
ecclesiasticism or creeds. For the Sabbath was made for 
man, and not man for the Sabbath. 

Christianity is the highest religion to us because it, as 
no other, furnishes, in the simplest and completest way, 
that environment of the soul which satisfies and makes 
objective its yearning for the highest good. And inasmuch 
as the personality of Jesus answers all our demands for 

326 Truth and Reality 

personal goodness, as no other historic individual does 
fulfills them not only relatively but completely we must 
acknowledge him as divine in a unique way. He is to the 
Western world, at any rate, the concrete universal, the 
beautiful life not only individually beautiful and com- 
plete, as a work of art, but the greatest energizing power 
for beauty, truth and goodness. Nor is his claim to this 
position waning, but ever gaining new strength in the dis- 
solution of dogmas and the crash of creeds. And in the 
struggle for survival which is now going on between the 
Western and Eastern world, in spite of, yea from, the smoke 
and din of battle and secular conquest, the ideal dominion 
of the Galilean promises to extend itself, in the centuries 
to come, to the ends of the earth. 


Absolute experience, the hypothesis of 
the universe as an, 109-111, 160-161. 

Absolute idealism, insistence on internal 
relations of consciousness by, 109. 

Absolute truth, the attainability of, 115- 

Abstractive method in metaphysics, 
297 ff. 

Adjustments, life and knowledge viewed 
as, 308-315. 

Adolescence, reason for the period of, 18. 

Affirmative judgment, priority of nega- 
tive judgment to, 87-90. 

Agnosticism, lack of sympathy of meta- 
physics for, 294-295. 

Agreement, validity stated as the, of an 
idea or belief with its reality, 210-211 ; 
discussion of the nature of, 214 ff. 

Analogy, proper use of, in framing hy- 
potheses, 131-132, 133. 

Anaxogoras, mentioned, 214. 

Animals, development of brain of, con- 
trasted with development of human 
beings, 17-18; difference in growth 
span of man and of, 18; response to 
stimuli of children and of young, 21- 
22 ; erperiments with, to show inter- 
dependence of associative memory and 
social instincts, 27-28; habit among, 
47 ; importance of imitation among, 
48 ; conception of ideal wholes absent 
in, 57; relations of thought and 
language illustrated by, 73. 
Aristotle, 103 ; quoted regarding law of 
nnitude, 142 ; quoted on metaphysics, 

Art, the elasticity of, 7-8; claim of 
esthetic objects to title of, 72; dis- 
tinction between science and, 289-290. 
Association, connection between language 
and the laws of, 74; the operation ol 
thought through, 84-85. 

Associative memory, a stage in develop- 
ment of consciousness, 17 ; instincts 
characteristicjof the stage of, 25 ff. ; 
appearance of the social instincts 
together with, 27 ; cumulative mean- 
ing on the level of, 67. 

Augustine, 10, 215. 

Baldwin, James Mark, 42 n. ; definition 
of ideal synthesis by, 55. 

Belief and validity, 102-103, 200. 210- 

Bergson, Henry, 75, 222. 

Berkeley, 257, 296. 

Biological heritage, limitations in truth 
seeking due to our, 240. 

Bradley, 144, 217, 279, 285. 

Brain of animals and of man, develop- 
ment of, 17-18. 

Burnet, "Early Greek Philosophers" by, 
cited, 1 66, 170. 

Butler, 309. 

Caird, John, 257. 

Cams, Paul, 43 n. ; quoted on pragma- 
tism, 178. 

Categories of intelligence, the, 43 ff. 

Cause and effect, the synthesis of, 
among categories on level of generali- 
zation, 53-54. 

Chicken, reactions of, to stimuli, com- 
pared with those of the human child, 

Chinese, illustration drawn from re- 
ligions of the, 5-6. 

Christianity, the highest religion, 324- 

Cognitive meaning, realism concerns the 
relation of the, to its object, 252. 

Cognitive relations contributed by human 
nature to nature, 232-234. 

Cold-storage judgment, the so-called, 95- 




Compounding, the activity of, among 
operations of the mind, 104 ff. 

Concept, place of the, in the thought pro- 
cess, 04-95 ; necessity of the, 230-240. 

Concepts, crystallization of, into objec- 
tive facts, 308 ff . ; not to be held as 
merely convenient symbols, 317-318. 

Conceptual construction vs. perceptual 
qualities, 262-268. 

Conduct, termination of thinking in types 
of, 78; different stages of, 78-79; the 
function of truth is to regulate, 123- 
124; significance of the term, 183-184. 

Conscience, evaluation of life by, 159. 

Consciousness, initial stages of, 15-17; 
part of spectator taken by, in physio- 
logical stage of mind-development, 20- 
24 ; in the stage of associative memory, 
25-28; in the stage of reflective mean- 
ing, 28-34; psychological analysis of 
the relational, 107-108; epistemo- 
logical significance of relational con- 
tent of, 108 ff. ; as awareness, 268, 

Consistency, the law of, 126-133, 146; 
tests of the law, 148-154. 

Content of truth, the, 104 ff. 

Contexts, objective, 269-276; relation 
of, to each other, 276-280. 

Contiguity, the law of, among categories 
of reproductive imagination, 49. 

Contradiction, the law of, 126 ff. 

Conventionality of truth, question of, 

Coordinations, spatial, recognition of on 
perceptual level of intelligence, 44-45. 

Copying theory of knowledge, 221-222. 

Correspondence, of truth and reality, 
214 ff. ; the real meaning of, 216-217; 
the instrumental and the sharing sig- 
nificance of, 217-219. 

Cosmic selection, individual and social 
selection subject to, 212-213. 

Criterion of truth, the, 165 ff. 

Critical method, substitution of, for dog- 
matic, in philosophic thought, 260 ff. 

" Critique of Pure Reason," Kant's, 43. 

Curiosity a motive in truth-seeking, 235. 

Darwinian theory, 294, 299. 
Deduction, analysis of, 99-100. 
Democritus, 10-11, 124. 
Descartes, 215. 

Dewey, "Logical Studies," 181 n. 
Discrimination, begins on the prelogical 

level, 68. 

Docility, the attitude called, 33. 
Dogmatic fallacies of the past, 254-259. 
Dualistic type of realism, the, 222-223. 
Duality, law of, 138-141, 147. 
Duration, the sense of, on the perceptual 

level, 45-46. See Time. 

Education, experiments in, 4 ; possibility 
of, determined by our evolutionary 
heritage, 15. < 2, 

Ego, accounting for the, 310 ff. 

Egoistic-preservative instincts, appear- 
ance of, 20-24. 

Eleatics, Protagoras and the, 169-175. 

Elimination, process of, exercised by in- 
stinct mechanism in physiological stage, 

Eliot, President, quoted on experiments 
in education, 4. 

Empedocles, quoted, 170, 214. 

Empiricism, pragmatism and, 197-198; 
discussion of, 262-264; emphasis 
placed by on man's adjustments at 
expense of the individual, 309-310. 

Energy, metaphysics and the concept of, 
299; classification of energies, 303. 

Environment, office of, to furnish stimuli, 
15, 17. 37-40; the individual's debt to 
his, 309-316; consideration of man's 
religious, 321-323. 

Epistemological significance of the rela- 
tional consciousness, 108-111. 

Estheticism, 6-8, 71-72, 159. 

Esthetic unity, characteristics of, 71 ; to 
be distinguished from thought unity, 

Etemalism, pragmatism and, 198. 

Evolution, 240; theory of, and meta- 
physics, 299. 

Existence, problems of, with which meta- 
physics deals, 302-304. 

Expectancy, a stage in development of 
consciousness, 17. 

Experience, an ideal unity of, 63-64; 
the proposition that only experience 
can make a difference to, 254-256. 

Faith, relation of thought to, 156-157; 
the element of, hi philosophical and in 
scientific hypotheses, 3 17-318, 320-321. 



Fallacies, certain fundamental, of philo- 
sophic thought, 254-259. 

Family, a necessary institution for man 
on account of length of growth span, 

Fashions in thinking, force of, and limi- 
tations resulting from, 68-69, 245-246, 


Fichte, the philosophy of, 12-13, 231-232. 
Finitude, the law of, 141-145, 147-148; 

tests of the law, 148-154. 
Flechsig, 31. 
Foetus, response of, to stimuli, resulting 

in a structural series, 16. 

Generalization, the level of, among cate- 
gories of intelligence, 51-55. 

God, the concept of, 64; use of, as a 
perceptive factor, by certain philos- 
ophers, 231-232; philosophic attain- 
ment to concept and character of, 323- 

Gomperz, "Greek Thinkers," cited, 165, 

Goodness, the ideal of, common to the 
great religions, 323. 

Green, mentioned, 257. 

Habit, instincts on the sensitive level 
made definite by, 24; considered as 
a fundamental category on the per- 
ceptual level, 47. 

Hegel, 10, 150-160, 257; introspective 
account of thought by, 77-78; recog- 
nition by, of the negativitat in system- 
atic thought, 90. 

Hegelian absolute, the, 31. 

Heraclitus, 166. 

Hilbert, D., quoted, 142. 

Homo mensura doctrine of Protagoras, 
4, 170, 171. 

Humanism, pragmatism not equivalent 
to, 191-193 ; the meaning of, 230-234. 

Human nature, the definition of, 168- 
172 ; and truth, 230-247 ; limitations 
of, in search for knowledge, 239-247. 

Hume, David, 119, 215, 233, 310, 311. 

Huxley, T. H., 293. 

Hypotheses, the importance of, as shown 
by modern science, 175-176; testing 
of, by the method of pragmatism, 186 ff . 

Hypothetical stage in the development of 
the judging process, 93. 

Idealism, 5 ; insistence on internal rela- 
tions by absolute, 109 ; effort made by, 
to give a systematic account of ex- 
perience, 1 60; discussion of pragmatic 
realism as placed over against, 251 ff. ; 
merit of, in interpretation of institu- 
tional life, 256-257; weakness of, in 
dealing with nature, 257. 

Idealization, the level of, among cate- 
gories of intelligence, 55-64. 

Ideal synthesis, definition of, 55-58 ; dis- 
tinction between thought and, 71-72. 

Ideal unity, forms of, 57-64. 

Identification, the real meaning of 
thought, 98; quality of truth as, 
rather than falsification, 300-301. 

Identities, physical and social, 269-276. 

Identity, the law of, 126 ff. ; insistence 
on identity of stuff by dogmatism, 

Imageless thought, 79-80. 

Imagery of the thought process, 200 ff . 

Imagination, the level of reproductive, 

Imitation, reaction on behavior stimuli 
called, 23 ; does not create tendencies, 
31 ; a fundamental category on the 
perceptual level, 48; as shown in 
thought-fashions, 68-69. 

Immediacy, in the philosophy of Pro- 
tagoras, 168-175 ; the importance of, as 
shown by modern science, 175-180; 
of perception, interpretation and cor- 
rection of, in light of further experi- 
ence, 321. 

Implicit and explicit, idealistic play upon 
the, 258-259. 

Individual, definition of the, 310 ff. 

Individual contexts, 275-276; relations 
of, to social and physical contexts, 

Individual interpenetration, synthesis of, 
among categories on the level of 
generalization, 54-55. 

Individualism, in the philosophy of Pro- 
tagoras, 168-175. 

Individual judgment, social agreement vs., 

Induction, analysis of, 99-100. 

Inference, expansion of the judgment 
into its reasons, 08. 

Infinite, not to be regarded as of the 
nature of thought, 141-145. 



Instinct, mind as, 15 6. ; defined as a 
response to stimulus determined by 
congenital structure, 18; stages of, 20; 
reason and, contrasted, 83; relations 
of intelligence and, 120. 

Instinctive heritage, limitations in truth- 
seeking resulting from our, 244-245. 

Instincts, on the sensitive stage, 20-24; 
the egoistic-preservative, on the sensi- 
tive stage of development, 20-24 ; con- 
trast of those of children and of young 
animals, 21-22 ; the action of, regarded 
as a penny-in-the-slot affair, 22; the 
stage of associative memory, 25 fif. ; 
appearance of reflection and the third 
stage of, 26 ff. ; appearance of the 
social, 27-28; the ideal, which appear 
with stage of reflective meaning, 28-34. 

Institutional life, 40 ; idealism strong in 
interpretation of, 256-257. 

Instrumental relation of knowledge, 217- 
219, 227-228. 

Intelligence, defined as capacity to learn 
from experience, 43 ; the categories of, 
43 ff. ; conative character of, 43-44; 
the perceptual level of, 44 ff. ; rela- 
tions of instinct and, 120. 

Interaction, the problem of, 303-304. 

Interest, the element of, in truth-seeking, 
235; nature of, influenced by racial 
and individual differences, 241-243. 

James, William, the philosophy of, 12- 
13, 3 1 1 Protagoras and, 165 ; teleo- 
logical nature of the thought process 
shown by, 181; mentioned, 190, 260; 
on the "mystical illumination" test of 
truth, 207 ; new theory of knowledge 
developed by, 215-216; division by, 
of human beings into tough-minded 
and tender-minded, 242. 

Jesus, divinity of, 325-326. 

Joachim, "The Nature of Truth," quoted, 

Judgment, definition of, 86; a back- 
ground of habit and imitation for, 87 ; 
priority of negative over affirmative, 
87-90; psychological priority to be 
distinguished from its logical signifi- 
cance, 90; hypothetical stage in 
development of, 93 ; the categorical 
stage, 94, 95-97; the "cold-storage" 
judgment, 06; relations of content of 

truth and, 106 ff. ; the subject-object 
relation presupposed by, 139 ff. 

Kallen, H. M., 185 n. 

Kant, Immanuel, the philosophy of, 12- 
13, 30, 43, 52, S3, 54, 56-57, 59 ff-, 
208, 209, 215, 217, 218, 231, 310-311. 

Keller, Helen, 264-265. 

Knowledge, Locke's scheme of, 104-106 ; 
views of, of absolute idealists, 109-111 ; 
the law of finitude applied to, 141-145 ; 
the problem of, according to Protag- 
oras and Plato, 168-175; means the 
differences that stimuli make to reflect- 
ive human nature, 183 ; new theory 
of, developed by modern philosophers, 
215-216; the instrumental relation of, 
217-219; the sharing relation of, 217, 
219-222; overlapping problems of, 
260 ff., 301-302; inter-dependence of 
theory of, and theory of reality, 301. 

Language, reasoning not necessary to 
existence of, 29; relation existing 
between thought and, 72-76, 79, 80; 
effect of close association of our ex- 
perience and, 273. 

Laws of thought, investigation of the, 
124-126. See postulates. 

Leibniz, 119, 134, 221, 253. 

Life, various methods of evaluating, 150- 
160; certain philosophic definitions of, 

Like, the axiom that only like can act 
upon, 254-256. 

Limitations of human nature in its search 
for knowledge, 239-247. 

Locke, " Essay concerning Human Under- 
standing," quoted, 104, 105, 106, 107. 

Lotze, "Logic," cited, 153. 

Lovejoy, the "Thirteen Pragmatisms" 
of, 190 n. 

Mathematical models, confusion of truth 
and, 208-209. 

Meaning, distinction between thought 
and the prelogical stages of, 67-68; 
and validity, 200 ff . ; the concept of, 
200-201 ; truth not a coincident term 
with, 201 ; ultimate validity of, deter- 
mined by cosmic selection, 212-213. 

Melissos, quoted, 169. 

Metaphysics, to be considered a science, 



rather than an art, 288-290; what is 
meant by, 290-293 ; provisional and 
conflicting sciences opposed to, 293- 
296 ; criticism and clarification of over- 
lapping problems by, 296-297; and 
the concept of energy, 299 ; and evolu- 
tionary theory, 209; larger correla- 
tion of sequences and values of the 
special sciences aimed at by, 209-300. 

Mind as instinct, 15 ff. 

More, Louis T., articles by, 291 n. ; 
quoted, 292. 

Morgan, C. Lloyd, 17, 22, 25, 42 n.; 
quoted, 45. 

Morphology of truth, the, 86 ff. 

Motive, relation of, to validity in truth- 
seeking, 234-239. 

Munsterberg, Hugo, 31, 300. 

Mystical illumination of certain moments 
as a test of truth, 207-208. 

Natural selection, progress through spon- 
taneous variations and, 15; hierarchy 
of instincts provided for by, 17-18; 
group supplementation of instincts by, 
25 ; stages of instinct mechanism tele- 
scoped into one another by, 25, 34. 

Nature, the contribution of human nature 
to, 231-234 ; context of, 275-276. 

No consciousness, the, 91-92. 

Nominalism, confusion of thought with 
language by, 75; taken in the bald 
sense of absolute disparateness, would 
make truth impossible, 127-128; rela- 
tion of pragmatism to, 184-185. 

Number, the ideal universe of, 111-112. 

Object and its contexts, the, 269 ff. 

Occam, mentioned, 215. 

Ontological absolute, the, 109-110, 160. 

Optimism, world philosophy of, w. that 
of pessimism, 243. 

Overlapping problems, 274; metaphysics 
and the, 296 ff . ; fundamental types of, 
for philosophy to deal with, 301-306. 

Pantheism, 323, 324. 

Part-relations of content of truth, ni- 

Peirce, C. S., use of term pragmatism by, 

184, 260. 
Perceptual level of intelligence, 44-48; 

cumulative meaning on the, 67. 
Perceptual qualities, 262-266. 

Philosophy, a plea for tolerance in, 3-14. 

Physical contexts, 269-270, 274-276; 
relation of, to social and individual 
contexts, 276-277. 

Pillsbury, "The Psychology of Reason- 
ing" by, 102 n. 

Plato, quoted, 4; variation in the 
philosophy of, 6-7 ; the philosophy of, 
10, 142; on the impossibility of a 
logical definition of knowledge, 153- 
154; the "Theatetus" of, 160-175; 
interpretation of human nature of, 171 ; 
quoted on satisfaction as a criterion 
in truth-seeking, 238 ; quoted on con- 
ception of God, 324. 

Pleasure and pain values as guides in 
the working of instincts, 22-23. 

Poetry, consistency not demanded in, 

Postulates of truth, the, 123 ff. ; proofs 
of the, 148-154. 

Pragmatic method, applied to the tak- 
ing of experience, 58; applied to the 
ideal synthesis of outer experience or 
nature, 60. 

Pragmatism, a theory of the function of 
truth, 1 23 ; historic orientation of, 
165 ff . ; agreement of Protagoras and 
modern, 165-168; defined as scientific 
method conscious of its own procedure, 
177; modern and ancient, compared, 
180-183 ; significance of the term con- 
duct, 183-184; relation of pragmatism 
to nominalism, 184-185; discussion of 
what pragmatism is and is not, 186- 
199; signifies the carrying of the 
scientific spirit into metaphysics, 260 

Pragmatic realism, definition and dis- 
cussion of, 251-268. 

Prestige, effects of, in thinking, 68-09, 
245, 273- 

Priestley, 10-11. 

Processes, the problem of diverse, 302- 

Protagoras, the empiricism of, 165 ff. ; 

value of work of, against the a priorizm 

of the Eleatics, 160-175. 
Psychological analysis, of thought, 76- 

81; of the relational consciousness, 


Qualities, perceptual, and those existing 
independent of perception, 262-268. 



Quality, the synthesis of, among cate- 
gories on level of generalization, 52-53. 
Quantity, the synthesis of, 51-52. 

Race, fundamental differences in genius 
due to differences in, 241-242. 

Realism, and the content of truth, 113- 
115; pragmatism and, 194; discus- 
sion of the definition of, 251-254; 
discussion and clearing away of objec- 
tions against, 254-259; consequences 
resulting from pragmatic realism, 260- 

Reality, the agreement of truth and, dis- 
cussed, 214-229; stuff and non-stuff 
character of, 267-268; interdepend- 
ence of theory of, and theory of 
knowledge, 301 ; problems concerning 
fundamental concepts of, 301-305. 

Reason, instinct and, contrasted, 83. 

Reasoning, and language, 29. 

Recapitulation, explanation of instincts 
as, 24. 

Reciprocity, not a distinct category on 
the level of generalization, 54. 

Reference or duality, the law of, 138- 
141, 147. 

Reflection, a stage in development of 
consciousness, 17; development of 
power of, in third stage of instinct, 26 ff . 

Relating, the process of, as concerned 
with the truth process, 104 ft. 

Relations, internal and external, and the 
process of truth, 104-121 ; Locke's 
scheme of knowledge on the basis of, 

Relativity of values, the doctrine of, 166- 

Religion, determined by our instinctive 
tendencies, 40-41. 

Religious experience, the content of, 115. 

Religious ideals, the reality of, 307-326. 

Reproductive imagination, the level of, 
48-51; three categories of: conti- 
guity, similarity, and set, 49. 

Royce, Josiah, the philosophy of, 10, 31, 
160, 257; "The Conception of God" 
by, quoted, 109-110. 
Russell, "Philosophical Essays," quoted, 
107, 108 ; " Foundations of Geometry " 
by, quoted, 141. 

Satisfaction as a criterion in truth- 
seeking, 193-194, 204-205, 237-239. 

Schiller, F. C. S., 181 n., 230 n. 

Science, metaphysics as a, 288-290; ap- 
plication of, to study of religion, 307. 

Sciences, bearing of metaphysics on the 
special, 297-301. 

Seeming, Protagoras' and Plato's defi- 
nition of, 171-175. 

Sensations and reality, 264-265. 

Sensitiveness, considered as a stage of 
consciousness, 17. 

Separating, the activity of, among opera- 
tions of the mind, 104 ff. 

Set, a category of reproductive imagina- 
tion, 50-51 ; the thought set a unique 
fact, not reducible to sensations, 108. 

Sharing relation of knowledge, 217, 219- 


Similarity, a category of reproductive 
imagination, 49-50. 

Social agreement not the final test of 
truth, 211-212, 270-272. 

Social contexts, 270-275. 

Social instincts, evolution of the, 27 ; 
interdependence of associative memory 
and, 27-28. 

Socrates, significance of the concept to, 
95; on relativity of values, 167. 

Space, the problem of, 304. 

Space coordinations, on perceptual level 
of intelligence, 44-45. 

Spencer, Herbert, 39, 209, 210; sugges- 
tive definition of life by, 308. 

Spinoza, 135-136. 

Stimuli, structural tendencies of the 
organic growth series called into play 
by, 15; response of the foetus to, 16; 
development of the organism in 
obedience to, 16-17 ; responses to, 
which constitute instinct, 20-24; ap- 
pearance of reason in response to, 30- 
31 ; responses to, at various levels of 
intellectual development, 43-64. 

Stout, Professor, 43-44. 

Stuff, fallacious assumption that all that 
is not, cannot be real, 259; the world 
of, and the world of non-stuff, 267-268 ; 
the problem concerning, 302-303. 

Subject-object relation presupposed by 
truth, 138-141, 147 ; tests of the law, 

Survival conditions, changes in, in 
civilized environments, 38-39. 

Syllogism, the, as a linguistic device, 79, 



100-102 ; value of the, for abstracting 
and investigating valid thought rela- 
tions, 125. 

Teleological criterion of being, applied to 
the religious environment, 319-320. 

Teleological relation of whole and part, 
111-114, 117, 119, 193. 

Temperament, limitations in search for 
knowledge resulting from differences 
in, 242-244. 

Tendencies, survival value of, variation 
in, and effect of, 37-42. 

Thought, to be distinguished from pre- 
logical stages of meaning, 67-68; 
fashions in, 68-69, 273; not neces- 
sarily involved in adaptation of means 
to ends, 69-70; a form of volitional 
conduct, 70 ; debt of, to more concrete 
forms of unity, such as complication 
and association, 70-71; to be distin- 
guished from other forms of ideal syn- 
thesis, such as esthetic unity, 71-72; 
relation existing between language and, 
72-76, 79, 80, 273; psychological in- 
vestigations of, 76-81 ; question of 
imageless, 79-80 ; a volitional process, 
81-82 ; definition and discussion of the 
thought attitude proper, 81-85; the 
act of judgment the real core of thought 
activity, 86 ; implies a problem and its 
solution, 86-87 ; priority of negative 
judgment over the affirmative, 87-90; 
place of the no consciousness, 91-92; 
the real meaning of, is identification, 
98, 300; induction and deduction, 
99-100 ; psychological analysis of the 
relational consciousness, 107-108 ; 
truth created rather than found by, 
121 ; the question of the nature of, 
123-126; the law of finitude, 141-145; 
relation of the will to, 154 ff. ; not to be 
held the only way of evaluating life, 159. 

Thought process, the, 67 ff. 

Time, sense of duration of, on perceptual 
level of intelligence, 45-46 ; the factor 
of, among limitations of human nature 
in its search for knowledge, 246-247, 
268, 280-285; dealt with as an over- 
lapping problem, 304. 

Tolerance, a plea for philosophic, 3-14. 

Totality, the law of, 133-138, 146 ; tests 
of the law, 148-154. 

Trial, instincts on the sensitive level 
made definite by, 24. 

Truth, the morphology of, 86 ff. ; grounds 
of, confused with grounds of belief, 
102-103 ; the content of, 104 ff . ; the 
process of relating and the process of, 
104-122; the question of the attain- 
ability of absolute, 115-122; question 
whether thought finds or creates, 121 ; 
the postulates of, 1 23 ff . ; the function 
of, to regulate conduct, 123-124; the 
law of consistency, including the laws 
of identity and of contradiction, 126- 
133; the law of totality, 133-138; the 
law that truth must be representative, 
or that it presupposes the subject- 
object relation, 138-141 ; the law of 
finitude, 141-145; proofs of the pos- 
tulates of, 148-154; to be considered 
an adjective of thinking, an active 
sorting of reality as experienced, 158; 
the criterion of, 165 ff. ; Plato's defi- 
nition of, 173; the author's tentative 
definition of, 183; pragmatism as a 
practical theory of, 183-184 ; question 
of the usefulness of, 191 ; guesses and, 
195-196; is systematic meaning, cor- 
rected and completed in its intended 
reality, 195-196 ; the test of, 196-197 ; 
and usefulness, 203 ; not to be defined 
in terms of satisfaction, 204-206 ; the 
"mystical illumination" test of, 207- 
208; mathematical and moral prop- 
ositions and, 208; intuitional or 
categorical certainty test, 208-209; 
"impossibility of the contrary" test, 
209-210; consists in the agreement 
of an idea or belief with its reality, 
210211; social agreement not a 
final test of, as opposed to individual 
judgment, 211-212; must agree with 
the future, 212; cosmic selection and 
its effects on, 212-213 ; and agreement, 
214 ff. ; human nature and, 230 ff. ; 
relation of motive to validity in seek- 
ing, 234-239; the element of interest 
in seeking, 235 ; what constitutes the 
validity of, 236; the element of time 
in the search for, 268, 280-285 .' ques- 
tion of conventional character of, 285- 
288 ; and metaphysics, 288-200, 291 ff . ; 
the overlapping problems, 301-305; 
and religious ideals, 307-326. 



Truth process, the, 67 ff. ; is self-realiza- 
tion, the will to know, 85 ; the various 
stages of the, 86 ff. 

Unity of experience, an ideal, 63-64. 

Unity of history, the demand for an ideal, 

Unity of nature, realization of the, 61, 63. 

Unity of religious ideal, 323-324. 

Unity of the self, the demand for the, 
57~58; a goal to be accomplished, 
rather than a finished fact, 59-60. 

Universal invariant, the, 286-287. 

Universe, hypothesis of the, as an abso- 
lute experience, loo-iu, 160-161. 

Usefulness of truth, question of the, 191, 

Validity, basis of, confused with basis 
of belief, 102-103 ; meaning and, 
200 ff . ; stated as the agreement of an 
idea or belief with its reality, 210-211 ; 
relation of motive to, in truth-seeking, 
234-239 ; of our religious ideals, 307 ff . 

Value, the problem of, 305. 

Values, Protagoras' doctrine of the rela- 
tivity of, 166-167. 

Variations, theory that progress takes 
place through spontaneous, and natural 
selection, 15; operation of the sur- 
vival variations longitudinally as well 
as sectionally in development, 19; ex- 
planation of variations in tastes and 
tendencies of different persons and 
classes, 31-33. 

Whole and part, teleological relation of, 

111-114, H9> 193- 
Will, relation of the, to thought, 154 ff. 

Xenophanes, on guesses and truth, 

Zeno, philosophy of, 169, 209. 

Zero, fallacious assumptions regarding 

unthinkableness of, 259. 
Zeus, unity of content of the Homeric, 


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