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Title: Essays in Radical Empiricism
Author: James, William, 1842-1910
Language: English
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| By William James                                                     |
|                                                                      |
|  HUMAN NATURE. Gifford Lectures delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902. |
|  8vo. New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans,              |
|  Green & Co. 1902.                                                   |
|                                                                      |
|  POPULAR LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY. 8vo. New York,                      |
|  London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1907.           |
|                                                                      |
| THE MEANING OF TRUTH: A SEQUEL TO "PRAGMATISM." 8vo.                 |
|  New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co.       |
|  1909.                                                               |
|                                                                      |
|  PRESENT SITUATION IN PHILOSOPHY. 8vo. New York, London,             |
|  Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1909.                   |
|                                                                      |
|  TO PHILOSOPHY. 8vo. New York, London, Bombay,                       |
|  and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1911.                           |
|                                                                      |
| ESSAYS IN RADICAL EMPIRICISM. 8vo. New York, London, Bombay,         |
|  and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1912.                           |
|                                                                      |
|  PHILOSOPHY. 12mo. New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta:           |
|  Longmans, Green & Co. 1897.                                         |
|                                                                      |
| MEMORIES AND STUDIES. 8vo. New York, London, Bombay, and             |
|  Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1911.                               |
|                                                                      |
| THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY. 2 vols., 8vo. New York:                |
|  Henry Holt & Co. London: Macmillan & Co. 1890.                      |
|                                                                      |
| PSYCHOLOGY: BRIEFER COURSE. 12mo. New York: Henry Holt               |
|  & Co. London: Macmillan & Co. 1892.                                 |
|                                                                      |
|  ON SOME OF LIFE'S IDEALS. 12mo. New York: Henry Holt                |
|  & Co. London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co. 1899.     |
|                                                                      |
|  DOCTRINE. 16mo. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. London: Archibald      |
|  Constable & Co. 1898.                                               |
|                                                                      |
| THE LITERARY REMAINS OF HENRY JAMES. Edited, with an                 |
|  Introduction, by William James. With Portrait. Crown 8vo. Boston:   |
|  Houghton Mifflin Co. 1885.                                          |
|                                                                      |





Longmans, Green, and Co
Fourth Avenue & 30th Street, New York
London, Bombay and Calcutta

Copyright, 1912, by Henry James Jr.
All Rights Reserved


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

Two years later Professor James published _The Meaning of Truth_ and _A
Pluralistic Universe_, and inserted in these volumes several of the
articles which he had intended to use in the 'Essays in Radical
Empiricism.' Whether he would nevertheless have carried out his original
plan, had he lived, cannot be certainly known. Several facts, however,
stand out very clearly. In the first place, the articles included in the
original plan but omitted from his later volumes are indispensable to
the understanding of his other writings. To these articles he repeatedly
alludes. Thus, in _The Meaning of Truth_ (p. 127), he says: "This
statement is probably excessively obscure to any one who has not read my
two articles 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World of Pure
Experience.'" Other allusions have been indicated in the present text.
In the second place, the articles originally brought together as 'Essays
in Radical Empiricism' form a connected whole. Not only were most of
them written consecutively within a period of two years, but they
contain numerous cross-references. In the third place, Professor James
regarded 'radical empiricism' as an _independent_ doctrine. This he
asserted expressly: "Let me say that there is no logical connexion
between pragmatism, as I understand it, and a doctrine which I have
recently set forth as 'radical empiricism.' The latter stands on its own
feet. One may entirely reject it and still be a pragmatist."
(_Pragmatism_, 1907, Preface, p. ix.) Finally, Professor James came
toward the end of his life to regard 'radical empiricism' as more
fundamental and more important than 'pragmatism.' In the Preface to _The
Meaning of Truth_ (1909), the author gives the following explanation of
his desire to continue, and if possible conclude, the controversy over
pragmatism: "I am interested in another doctrine in philosophy to which
I give the name of radical empiricism, and it seems to me that the
establishment of the pragmatist theory of truth is a step of first-rate
importance in making radical empiricism prevail" (p. xii).

In preparing the present volume, the editor has therefore been governed
by two motives. On the one hand, he has sought to preserve and make
accessible certain important articles not to be found in Professor
James's other books. This is true of Essays I, II, IV, V, VIII, IX, X,
XI, and XII. On the other hand, he has sought to bring together in one
volume a set of essays treating systematically of one independent,
coherent, and fundamental doctrine. To this end it has seemed best to
include three essays (III, VI, and VII), which, although included in the
original plan, were afterwards reprinted elsewhere; and one essay, XII,
not included in the original plan. Essays III, VI, and VII are
indispensable to the consecutiveness of the series, and are so
interwoven with the rest that it is necessary that the student should
have them at hand for ready consultation. Essay XII throws an important
light on the author's general 'empiricism,' and forms an important link
between 'radical empiricism' and the author's other doctrines.

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

A word more may be in order concerning the general meaning of this
doctrine. In the Preface to the _Will to Believe_ (1898), Professor
James gives the name "_radical empiricism_" to his "philosophic
attitude," and adds the following explanation: "I say 'empiricism,'
because it is contented to regard its most assured conclusions
concerning matters of fact as hypotheses liable to modification in the
course of future experience; and I say 'radical,' because it treats the
doctrine of monism itself as an hypothesis, and, unlike so much of the
halfway empiricism that is current under the name of positivism or
agnosticism or scientific naturalism, it does not dogmatically affirm
monism as something with which all experience has got to square" (pp.
vii-viii). An 'empiricism' of this description is a "philosophic
attitude" or temper of mind rather than a doctrine, and characterizes
all of Professor James's writings. It is set forth in Essay XII of the
present volume.

In a narrower sense, 'empiricism' is the method of resorting to
_particular experiences_ for the solution of philosophical problems.
Rationalists are the men of principles, empiricists the men of facts.
(_Some Problems of Philosophy_, p. 35; cf. also, _ibid._, p. 44; and
_Pragmatism_, pp. 9, 51.) Or, "since principles are universals, and
facts are particulars, perhaps the best way of characterizing the two
tendencies is to say that rationalist thinking proceeds most willingly
by going from wholes to parts, while empiricist thinking proceeds by
going from parts to wholes." (_Some Problems of Philosophy_, p. 35; cf.
also _ibid._, p. 98; and _A Pluralistic Universe_, p. 7.) Again,
empiricism "remands us to sensation." (_Op. cit._, p. 264.) The
"empiricist view" insists that, "as reality is created temporally day by
day, concepts ... can never fitly supersede perception.... The deeper
features of reality are found only in perceptual experience." (_Some
Problems of Philosophy_, pp. 100, 97.) Empiricism in this sense is as
yet characteristic of Professor James's philosophy _as a whole_. It is
not the distinctive and independent doctrine set forth in the present

The only summary of 'radical empiricism' in this last and narrowest
sense appears in the Preface to _The Meaning of Truth_ (pp. xii-xiii);
and it must be reprinted here as the key to the text that follows.[1]

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

(1) "The postulate is that _the only things that shall be debatable
among philosophers shall be things definable in terms drawn from
experience_. (Things of an unexperienceable nature may exist ad libitum,
but they form no part of the material for philosophic debate.)" This is
"the principle of pure experience" as "a methodical postulate." (Cf.
below, pp. 159, 241.) This postulate corresponds to the notion which the
author repeatedly attributes to Shadworth Hodgson, the notion "that
realities are only what they are 'known as.'" (_Pragmatism_, p. 50;
_Varieties of Religious Experience_, p. 443; _The Meaning of Truth_, pp.
43, 118.) In this sense 'radical empiricism' and pragmatism are closely
allied. Indeed, if pragmatism be defined as the assertion that "the
meaning of any proposition can always be brought down to some particular
consequence in our future practical experience, ... the point lying in
the fact that the experience must be particular rather than in the fact
that it must be active" (_Meaning of Truth_, p. 210); then pragmatism
and the above postulate come to the same thing. The present book,
however, consists not so much in the assertion of this postulate as in
the _use_ of it. And the method is successful in special applications by
virtue of a certain "statement of fact" concerning relations.

(2) "The statement of fact is that _the relations between things,
conjunctive as well as disjunctive, are just as much matters of direct
particular experience, neither more so nor less so, than the things
themselves_." (Cf. also _A Pluralistic Universe_, p. 280; _The Will to
Believe_, p. 278.) This is the central doctrine of the present book. It
distinguishes 'radical empiricism' from the "ordinary empiricism" of
Hume, J. S. Mill, etc., with which it is otherwise allied. (Cf. below,
pp. 42-44.) It provides an empirical and relational version of
'activity,' and so distinguishes the author's voluntarism from a view
with which it is easily confused--the view which upholds a pure or
transcendent activity. (Cf. below, Essay VI.) It makes it possible to
escape the vicious disjunctions that have thus far baffled philosophy:
such disjunctions as those between consciousness and physical nature,
between thought and its object, between one mind and another, and
between one 'thing' and another. These disjunctions need not be
'overcome' by calling in any "extraneous trans-empirical connective
support" (_Meaning of Truth_, Preface, p. xiii); they may now be
_avoided_ by regarding the dualities in question as only _differences of
empirical relationship among common empirical terms_. The pragmatistic
account of 'meaning' and 'truth,' shows only how a vicious disjunction
between 'idea' and 'object' may thus be avoided. The present volume not
only presents pragmatism in this light; but adds similar accounts of the
other dualities mentioned above.

Thus while pragmatism and radical empiricism do not differ essentially
when regarded as _methods_, they are independent when regarded as
doctrines. For it would be possible to hold the pragmatistic theory of
'meaning' and 'truth,' without basing it on any fundamental theory of
relations, and without extending such a theory of relations to residual
philosophical problems; without, in short, holding either to the above
'statement of fact,' or to the following 'generalized conclusion.'

(3) "The generalized conclusion is that therefore _the parts of
experience hold together from next to next by relations that are
themselves parts of experience. The directly apprehended universe needs,
in short, no extraneous trans-empirical connective support, but
possesses in its own right a concatenated or continuous structure_."
When thus generalized, 'radical empiricism' is not only a theory of
knowledge comprising pragmatism as a special chapter, but a metaphysic
as well. It excludes "the hypothesis of trans-empirical reality" (Cf.
below, p. 195). It is the author's most rigorous statement of his theory
that reality is an "experience-continuum." (_Meaning of Truth_, p. 152;
_A Pluralistic Universe_, Lect. V, VII.) It is that positive and
constructive 'empiricism' of which Professor James said: "Let empiricism
once become associated with religion, as hitherto, through some strange
misunderstanding, it has been associated with irreligion, and I believe
that a new era of religion as well as of philosophy will be ready to
begin." (_Op. cit._, p. 314; cf. _ibid._, Lect. VIII, _passim_; and _The
Varieties of Religious Experience_, pp. 515-527.)

The editor desires to acknowledge his obligations to the periodicals
from which these essays have been reprinted, and to the many friends of
Professor James who have rendered valuable advice and assistance in the
preparation of the present volume.


  January 8, 1912.


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


     I. DOES 'CONSCIOUSNESS' EXIST?                          1

    II. A WORLD OF PURE EXPERIENCE                          39

   III. THE THING AND ITS RELATIONS                         92

    IV. HOW TWO MINDS CAN KNOW ONE THING                   123

        OF PURE EXPERIENCE                                 137

    VI. THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVITY                         155

   VII. THE ESSENCE OF HUMANISM                            190

  VIII. LA NOTION DE CONSCIENCE                            206



    XI. HUMANISM AND TRUTH ONCE MORE                       244

   XII. ABSOLUTISM AND EMPIRICISM                          266

        INDEX                                              281



'Thoughts' and 'things' are names for two sorts of object, which common
sense will always find contrasted and will always practically oppose to
each other. Philosophy, reflecting on the contrast, has varied in the
past in her explanations of it, and may be expected to vary in the
future. At first, 'spirit and matter,' 'soul and body,' stood for a pair
of equipollent substances quite on a par in weight and interest. But one
day Kant undermined the soul and brought in the transcendental ego, and
ever since then the bipolar relation has been very much off its balance.
The transcendental ego seems nowadays in rationalist quarters to stand
for everything, in empiricist quarters for almost nothing. In the hands
of such writers as Schuppe, Rehmke, Natorp, Münsterberg--at any rate in
his earlier writings, Schubert-Soldern and others, the spiritual
principle attenuates itself to a thoroughly ghostly condition, being
only a name for the fact that the 'content' of experience _is known_. It
loses personal form and activity--these passing over to the content--and
becomes a bare _Bewusstheit_ or _Bewusstsein überhaupt_, of which in its
own right absolutely nothing can be said.

I believe that 'consciousness,' when once it has evaporated to this
estate of pure diaphaneity, is on the point of disappearing altogether.
It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right to a place among first
principles. Those who still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the
faint rumor left behind by the disappearing 'soul' upon the air of
philosophy. During the past year, I have read a number of articles whose
authors seemed just on the point of abandoning the notion of
consciousness,[3] and substituting for it that of an absolute experience
not due to two factors. But they were not quite radical enough, not
quite daring enough in their negations. For twenty years past I have
mistrusted 'consciousness' as an entity; for seven or eight years past I
have suggested its non-existence to my students, and tried to give them
its pragmatic equivalent in realities of experience. It seems to me that
the hour is ripe for it to be openly and universally discarded.

To deny plumply that 'consciousness' exists seems so absurd on the face
of it--for undeniably 'thoughts' do exist--that I fear some readers will
follow me no farther. Let me then immediately explain that I mean only
to deny that the word stands for an entity, but to insist most
emphatically that it does stand for a function. There is, I mean, no
aboriginal stuff or quality of being,[4] contrasted with that of which
material objects are made, out of which our thoughts of them are made;
but there is a function in experience which thoughts perform, and for
the performance of which this quality of being is invoked. That
function is _knowing_. 'Consciousness' is supposed necessary to explain
the fact that things not only are, but get reported, are known. Whoever
blots out the notion of consciousness from his list of first principles
must still provide in some way for that function's being carried on.


My thesis is that if we start with the supposition that there is only
one primal stuff or material in the world, a stuff of which everything
is composed, and if we call that stuff 'pure experience,' then knowing
can easily be explained as a particular sort of relation towards one
another into which portions of pure experience may enter. The relation
itself is a part of pure experience; one of its 'terms' becomes the
subject or bearer of the knowledge, the knower,[5] the other becomes the
object known. This will need much explanation before it can be
understood. The best way to get it understood is to contrast it with the
alternative view; and for that we may take the recentest alternative,
that in which the evaporation of the definite soul-substance has
proceeded as far as it can go without being yet complete. If neo-Kantism
has expelled earlier forms of dualism, we shall have expelled all forms
if we are able to expel neo-Kantism in its turn.

For the thinkers I call neo-Kantian, the word consciousness to-day does
no more than signalize the fact that experience is indefeasibly
dualistic in structure. It means that not subject, not object, but
object-plus-subject is the minimum that can actually be. The
subject-object distinction meanwhile is entirely different from that
between mind and matter, from that between body and soul. Souls were
detachable, had separate destinies; things could happen to them. To
consciousness as such nothing can happen, for, timeless itself, it is
only a witness of happenings in time, in which it plays no part. It is,
in a word, but the logical correlative of 'content' in an Experience of
which the peculiarity is that _fact comes to light_ in it, that
_awareness of content_ takes place. Consciousness as such is entirely
impersonal--'self' and its activities belong to the content. To say that
I am self-conscious, or conscious of putting forth volition, means only
that certain contents, for which 'self' and 'effort of will' are the
names, are not without witness as they occur.

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

But in addition to this, we are supposed by almost every one to have an
immediate consciousness of consciousness itself. When the world of outer
fact ceases to be materially present, and we merely recall it in memory,
or fancy it, the consciousness is believed to stand out and to be felt
as a kind of impalpable inner flowing, which, once known in this sort of
experience, may equally be detected in presentations of the outer world.
"The moment we try to fix our attention upon consciousness and to see
_what_, distinctly, it is," says a recent writer, "it seems to vanish.
It seems as if we had before us a mere emptiness. When we try to
introspect the sensation of blue, all we can see is the blue; the other
element is as if it were diaphanous. Yet it _can_ be distinguished, if
we look attentively enough, and know that there is something to look
for."[6] "Consciousness" (Bewusstheit), says another philosopher, "is
inexplicable and hardly describable, yet all conscious experiences have
this in common that what we call their content has this peculiar
reference to a centre for which 'self' is the name, in virtue of which
reference alone the content is subjectively given, or appears ... While
in this way consciousness, or reference to a self, is the only thing
which distinguishes a conscious content from any sort of being that
might be there with no one conscious of it, yet this only ground of the
distinction defies all closer explanations. The existence of
consciousness, although it is the fundamental fact of psychology, can
indeed be laid down as certain, can be brought out by analysis, but can
neither be defined nor deduced from anything but itself."[7]

'Can be brought out by analysis,' this author says. This supposes that
the consciousness is one element, moment, factor--call it what you
like--of an experience of essentially dualistic inner constitution, from
which, if you abstract the content, the consciousness will remain
revealed to its own eye. Experience, at this rate, would be much like a
paint of which the world pictures were made. Paint has a dual
constitution, involving, as it does, a menstruum[8] (oil, size or what
not) and a mass of content in the form of pigment suspended therein. We
can get the pure menstruum by letting the pigment settle, and the pure
pigment by pouring off the size or oil. We operate here by physical
subtraction; and the usual view is, that by mental subtraction we can
separate the two factors of experience in an analogous way--not
isolating them entirely, but distinguishing them enough to know that
they are two.


Now my contention is exactly the reverse of this. _Experience, I
believe, has no such inner duplicity; and the separation of it into
consciousness and content comes, not by way of subtraction, but by way
of addition_--the addition, to a given concrete piece of it, of other
sets of experiences, in connection with which severally its use or
function may be of two different kinds. The paint will also serve here
as an illustration. In a pot in a paint-shop, along with other paints,
it serves in its entirety as so much saleable matter. Spread on a
canvas, with other paints around it, it represents, on the contrary, a
feature in a picture and performs a spiritual function. Just so, I
maintain, does a given undivided portion of experience, taken in one
context of associates, play the part of a knower, of a state of mind, of
'consciousness'; while in a different context the same undivided bit of
experience plays the part of a thing known, of an objective 'content.'
In a word, in one group it figures as a thought, in another group as a
thing. And, since it can figure in both groups simultaneously we have
every right to speak of it as subjective and objective both at once. The
dualism connoted by such double-barrelled terms as 'experience,'
'phenomenon,' 'datum,' '_Vorfindung_'--terms which, in philosophy at any
rate, tend more and more to replace the single-barrelled terms of
'thought' and 'thing'--that dualism, I say, is still preserved in this
account, but reinterpreted, so that, instead of being mysterious and
elusive, it becomes verifiable and concrete. It is an affair of
relations, it falls outside, not inside, the single experience
considered, and can always be particularized and defined.

The entering wedge for this more concrete way of understanding the
dualism was fashioned by Locke when he made the word 'idea' stand
indifferently for thing and thought, and by Berkeley when he said that
what common sense means by realities is exactly what the philosopher
means by ideas. Neither Locke nor Berkeley thought his truth out into
perfect clearness, but it seems to me that the conception I am defending
does little more than consistently carry out the 'pragmatic' method
which they were the first to use.

If the reader will take his own experiences, he will see what I mean.
Let him begin with a perceptual experience, the 'presentation,' so
called, of a physical object, his actual field of vision, the room he
sits in, with the book he is reading as its centre; and let him for the
present treat this complex object in the common-sense way as being
'really' what it seems to be, namely, a collection of physical things
cut out from an environing world of other physical things with which
these physical things have actual or potential relations. Now at the
same time it is just _those self-same things_ which his mind, as we say,
perceives; and the whole philosophy of perception from Democritus's time
downwards has been just one long wrangle over the paradox that what is
evidently one reality should be in two places at once, both in outer
space and in a person's mind. 'Representative' theories of perception
avoid the logical paradox, but on the other hand they violate the
reader's sense of life, which knows no intervening mental image but
seems to see the room and the book immediately just as they physically

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

Well, the experience is a member of diverse processes that can be
followed away from it along entirely different lines. The one
self-identical thing has so many relations to the rest of experience
that you can take it in disparate systems of association, and treat it
as belonging with opposite contexts.[9] In one of these contexts it is
your 'field of consciousness'; in another it is 'the room in which you
sit,' and it enters both contexts in its wholeness, giving no pretext
for being said to attach itself to consciousness by one of its parts or
aspects, and to outer reality by another. What are the two processes,
now, into which the room-experience simultaneously enters in this way?

One of them is the reader's personal biography, the other is the history
of the house of which the room is part. The presentation, the
experience, the _that_ in short (for until we have decided _what_ it is
it must be a mere _that_) is the last term of a train of sensations,
emotions, decisions, movements, classifications, expectations, etc.,
ending in the present, and the first term of a series of similar 'inner'
operations extending into the future, on the reader's part. On the other
hand, the very same _that_ is the _terminus ad quem_ of a lot of
previous physical operations, carpentering, papering, furnishing,
warming, etc., and the _terminus a quo_ of a lot of future ones, in
which it will be concerned when undergoing the destiny of a physical
room. The physical and the mental operations form curiously incompatible
groups. As a room, the experience has occupied that spot and had that
environment for thirty years. As your field of consciousness it may
never have existed until now. As a room, attention will go on to
discover endless new details in it. As your mental state merely, few new
ones will emerge under attention's eye. As a room, it will take an
earthquake, or a gang of men, and in any case a certain amount of time,
to destroy it. As your subjective state, the closing of your eyes, or
any instantaneous play of your fancy will suffice. In the real world,
fire will consume it. In your mind, you can let fire play over it
without effect. As an outer object, you must pay so much a month to
inhabit it. As an inner content, you may occupy it for any length of
time rent-free. If, in short, you follow it in the mental direction,
taking it along with events of personal biography solely, all sorts of
things are true of it which are false, and false of it which are true if
you treat it as a real thing experienced, follow it in the physical
direction, and relate it to associates in the outer world.


So far, all seems plain sailing, but my thesis will probably grow less
plausible to the reader when I pass from percepts to concepts, or from
the case of things presented to that of things remote. I believe,
nevertheless, that here also the same law holds good. If we take
conceptual manifolds, or memories, or fancies, they also are in their
first intention mere bits of pure experience, and, as such, are single
_thats_ which act in one context as objects, and in another context
figure as mental states. By taking them in their first intention, I mean
ignoring their relation to possible perceptual experiences with which
they may be connected, which they may lead to and terminate in, and
which then they may be supposed to 'represent.' Taking them in this way
first, we confine the problem to a world merely 'thought-of' and not
directly felt or seen.[10] This world, just like the world of percepts,
comes to us at first as a chaos of experiences, but lines of order soon
get traced. We find that any bit of it which we may cut out as an
example is connected with distinct groups of associates, just as our
perceptual experiences are, that these associates link themselves with
it by different relations,[11] and that one forms the inner history of a
person, while the other acts as an impersonal 'objective' world, either
spatial and temporal, or else merely logical or mathematical, or
otherwise 'ideal.'

The first obstacle on the part of the reader to seeing that these
non-perceptual experiences have objectivity as well as subjectivity will
probably be due to the intrusion into his mind of _percepts_, that third
group of associates with which the non-perceptual experiences have
relations, and which, as a whole, they 'represent,' standing to them as
thoughts to things. This important function of the non-perceptual
experiences complicates the question and confuses it; for, so used are
we to treat percepts as the sole genuine realities that, unless we keep
them out of the discussion, we tend altogether to overlook the
objectivity that lies in non-perceptual experiences by themselves. We
treat them, 'knowing' percepts as they do, as through and through
subjective, and say that they are wholly constituted of the stuff called
consciousness, using this term now for a kind of entity, after the
fashion which I am seeking to refute.[12]

Abstracting, then, from percepts altogether, what I maintain is, that
any single non-perceptual experience tends to get counted twice over,
just as a perceptual experience does, figuring in one context as an
object or field of objects, in another as a state of mind: and all this
without the least internal self-diremption on its own part into
consciousness and content. It is all consciousness in one taking; and,
in the other, all content.

I find this objectivity of non-perceptual experiences, this complete
parallelism in point of reality between the presently felt and the
remotely thought, so well set forth in a page of Münsterberg's
_Grundzüge_, that I will quote it as it stands.

"I may only think of my objects," says Professor Münsterberg; "yet, in
my living thought they stand before me exactly as perceived objects
would do, no matter how different the two ways of apprehending them may
be in their genesis. The book here lying on the table before me, and the
book in the next room of which I think and which I mean to get, are both
in the same sense given realities for me, realities which I acknowledge
and of which I take account. If you agree that the perceptual object is
not an idea within me, but that percept and thing, as indistinguishably
one, are really experienced _there, outside_, you ought not to believe
that the merely thought-of object is hid away inside of the thinking
subject. The object of which I think, and of whose existence I take
cognizance without letting it now work upon my senses, occupies its
definite place in the outer world as much as does the object which I
directly see."

"What is true of the here and the there, is also true of the now and the
then. I know of the thing which is present and perceived, but I know
also of the thing which yesterday was but is no more, and which I only
remember. Both can determine my present conduct, both are parts of the
reality of which I keep account. It is true that of much of the past I
am uncertain, just as I am uncertain of much of what is present if it be
but dimly perceived. But the interval of time does not in principle
alter my relation to the object, does not transform it from an object
known into a mental state.... The things in the room here which I
survey, and those in my distant home of which I think, the things of
this minute and those of my long-vanished boyhood, influence and decide
me alike, with a reality which my experience of them directly feels.
They both make up my real world, they make it directly, they do not have
first to be introduced to me and mediated by ideas which now and here
arise within me.... This not-me character of my recollections and
expectations does not imply that the external objects of which I am
aware in those experiences should necessarily be there also for others.
The objects of dreamers and hallucinated persons are wholly without
general validity. But even were they centaurs and golden mountains, they
still would be 'off there,' in fairy land, and not 'inside' of

This certainly is the immediate, primary, naïf, or practical way of
taking our thought-of world. Were there no perceptual world to serve as
its 'reductive,' in Taine's sense, by being 'stronger' and more
genuinely 'outer' (so that the whole merely thought-of world seems weak
and inner in comparison), our world of thought would be the only world,
and would enjoy complete reality in our belief. This actually happens in
our dreams, and in our day-dreams so long as percepts do not interrupt

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

The room thought-of, namely, has many thought-of couplings with many
thought-of things. Some of these couplings are inconstant, others are
stable. In the reader's personal history the room occupies a single
date--he saw it only once perhaps, a year ago. Of the house's history,
on the other hand, it forms a permanent ingredient. Some couplings
have the curious stubbornness, to borrow Royce's term, of fact; others
show the fluidity of fancy--we let them come and go as we please.
Grouped with the rest of its house, with the name of its town, of its
owner, builder, value, decorative plan, the room maintains a definite
foothold, to which, if we try to loosen it, it tends to return, and to
reassert itself with force.[14] With these associates, in a word, it
coheres, while to other houses, other towns, other owners, etc., it
shows no tendency to cohere at all. The two collections, first of its
cohesive, and, second, of its loose associates, inevitably come to be
contrasted. We call the first collection the system of external
realities, in the midst of which the room, as 'real,' exists; the
other we call the stream of our internal thinking, in which, as a
'mental image,' it for a moment floats.[15] The room thus again gets
counted twice over. It plays two different rôles, being _Gedanke_ and
_Gedachtes_, the thought-of-an-object, and the object-thought-of, both
in one; and all this without paradox or mystery, just as the same
material thing may be both low and high, or small and great, or bad
and good, because of its relations to opposite parts of an environing

As 'subjective' we say that the experience represents; as 'objective'
it is represented. What represents and what is represented is here
numerically the same; but we must remember that no dualism of being
represented and representing resides in the experience _per se_. In its
pure state, or when isolated, there is no self-splitting of it into
consciousness and what the consciousness is 'of.' Its subjectivity and
objectivity are functional attributes solely, realized only when the
experience is 'taken,' _i.e._, talked-of, twice, considered along with
its two differing contexts respectively, by a new retrospective
experience, of which that whole past complication now forms the fresh

The instant field of the present is at all times what I call the 'pure'
experience. It is only virtually or potentially either object or subject
as yet. For the time being, it is plain, unqualified actuality, or
existence, a simple _that_. In this _naïf_ immediacy it is of course
_valid_; it is _there_, we _act_ upon it; and the doubling of it in
retrospection into a state of mind and a reality intended thereby, is
just one of the acts. The 'state of mind,' first treated explicitly as
such in retrospection, will stand corrected or confirmed, and the
retrospective experience in its turn will get a similar treatment; but
the immediate experience in its passing is always 'truth,'[16] practical
truth, _something to act on_, at its own movement. If the world were
then and there to go out like a candle, it would remain truth absolute
and objective, for it would be 'the last word,' would have no critic,
and no one would ever oppose the thought in it to the reality

I think I may now claim to have made my thesis clear. Consciousness
connotes a kind of external relation, and does not denote a special
stuff or way of being. _The peculiarity of our experiences, that they
not only are, but are known, which their 'conscious' quality is invoked
to explain, is better explained by their relations--these relations
themselves being experiences--to one another._


Were I now to go on to treat of the knowing of perceptual by conceptual
experiences, it would again prove to be an affair of external relations.
One experience would be the knower, the other the reality known; and I
could perfectly well define, without the notion of 'consciousness,' what
the knowing actually and practically amounts to--leading-towards,
namely, and terminating-in percepts, through a series of transitional
experiences which the world supplies. But I will not treat of this,
space being insufficient.[18] I will rather consider a few objections
that are sure to be urged against the entire theory as it stands.


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

To this challenge the reply is easy. Although for fluency's sake I
myself spoke early in this article of a stuff of pure experience, I have
now to say that there is no _general_ stuff of which experience at large
is made. There are as many stuffs as there are 'natures' in the things
experienced. If you ask what any one bit of pure experience is made of,
the answer is always the same: "It is made of _that_, of just what
appears, of space, of intensity, of flatness, brownness, heaviness, or
what not." Shadworth Hodgson's analysis here leaves nothing to be
desired.[19] Experience is only a collective name for all these sensible
natures, and save for time and space (and, if you like, for 'being')
there appears no universal element of which all things are made.


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

"If it be the self-same piece of pure experience, taken twice over, that
serves now as thought and now as thing"--so the objection runs--"how
comes it that its attributes should differ so fundamentally in the two
takings. As thing, the experience is extended; as thought, it occupies
no space or place. As thing, it is red, hard, heavy; but who ever heard
of a red, hard or heavy thought? Yet even now you said that an
experience is made of just what appears, and what appears is just such
adjectives. How can the one experience in its thing-function be made of
them, consist of them, carry them as its own attributes, while in its
thought-function it disowns them and attributes them elsewhere. There is
a self-contradiction here from which the radical dualism of thought and
thing is the only truth that can save us. Only if the thought is one
kind of being can the adjectives exist in it 'intentionally' (to use the
scholastic term); only if the thing is another kind, can they exist in
it constitutively and energetically. No simple subject can take the same
adjectives and at one time be qualified by it, and at another time be
merely 'of' it, as of something only meant or known."

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

No one denies that they have some categories in common. Their relations
to time are identical. Both, moreover, may have parts (for psychologists
in general treat thoughts as having them); and both may be complex or
simple. Both are of kinds, can be compared, added and subtracted and
arranged in serial orders. All sorts of adjectives qualify our thoughts
which appear incompatible with consciousness, being as such a bare
diaphaneity. For instance, they are natural and easy, or laborious. They
are beautiful, happy, intense, interesting, wise, idiotic, focal,
marginal, insipid, confused, vague, precise, rational, casual, general,
particular, and many things besides. Moreover, the chapters on
'Perception' in the psychology-books are full of facts that make for the
essential homogeneity of thought with thing. How, if 'subject' and
'object' were separated 'by the whole diameter of being,' and had no
attributes in common, could it be so hard to tell, in a presented and
recognized material object, what part comes in through the sense-organs
and what part comes 'out of one's own head'? Sensations and
apperceptive ideas fuse here so intimately that you can no more tell
where one begins and the other ends, than you can tell, in those cunning
circular panoramas that have lately been exhibited, where the real
foreground and the painted canvas join together.[20]

Descartes for the first time defined thought as the absolutely
unextended, and later philosophers have accepted the description as
correct. But what possible meaning has it to say that, when we think of
a foot-rule or a square yard, extension is not attributable to our
thought? Of every extended object the _adequate_ mental picture must
have all the extension of the object itself. The difference between
objective and subjective extension is one of relation to a context
solely. In the mind the various extents maintain no necessarily stubborn
order relatively to each other, while in the physical world they bound
each other stably, and, added together, make the great enveloping Unit
which we believe in and call real Space. As 'outer,' they carry
themselves adversely, so to speak, to one another, exclude one another
and maintain their distances; while, as 'inner,' their order is loose,
and they form a _durcheinander_ in which unity is lost.[21] But to argue
from this that inner experience is absolutely inextensive seems to me
little short of absurd. The two worlds differ, not by the presence or
absence of extension, but by the relations of the extensions which in
both worlds exist.

Does not this case of extension now put us on the track of truth in the
case of other qualities? It does; and I am surprised that the facts
should not have been noticed long ago. Why, for example, do we call a
fire hot, and water wet, and yet refuse to say that our mental state,
when it is 'of' these objects, is either wet or hot? 'Intentionally,' at
any rate, and when the mental state is a vivid image, hotness and
wetness are in it just as much as they are in the physical experience.
The reason is this, that, as the general chaos of all our experiences
gets sifted, we find that there are some fires that will always burn
sticks and always warm our bodies, and that there are some waters that
will always put out fires; while there are other fires and waters that
will not act at all. The general group of experiences that _act_, that
do not only possess their natures intrinsically, but wear them
adjectively and energetically, turning them against one another, comes
inevitably to be contrasted with the group whose members, having
identically the same natures, fail to manifest them in the 'energetic'
way.[22] I make for myself now an experience of blazing fire; I place it
near my body; but it does not warm me in the least. I lay a stick upon
it, and the stick either burns or remains green, as I please. I call up
water, and pour it on the fire, and absolutely no difference ensues. I
account for all such facts by calling this whole train of experiences
unreal, a mental train. Mental fire is what won't burn real sticks;
mental water is what won't necessarily (though of course it may) put out
even a mental fire. Mental knives may be sharp, but they won't cut real
wood. Mental triangles are pointed, but their points won't wound. With
'real' objects, on the contrary, consequences always accrue; and thus
the real experiences get sifted from the mental ones, the things from
our thoughts of them, fanciful or true, and precipitated together as the
stable part of the whole experience-chaos, under the name of the
physical world. Of this our perceptual experiences are the nucleus, they
being the originally strong experiences. We add a lot of conceptual
experiences to them, making these strong also in imagination, and
building out the remoter parts of the physical world by their means; and
around this core of reality the world of laxly connected fancies and
mere rhapsodical objects floats like a bank of clouds. In the clouds,
all sorts of rules are violated which in the core are kept. Extensions
there can be indefinitely located; motion there obeys no Newton's laws.


There is a peculiar class of experiences to which, whether we take them
as subjective or as objective, we _assign_ their several natures as
attributes, because in both contexts they affect their associates
actively, though in neither quite as 'strongly' or as sharply as things
affect one another by their physical energies. I refer here to
_appreciations_, which form an ambiguous sphere of being, belonging with
emotion on the one hand, and having objective 'value' on the other, yet
seeming not quite inner nor quite outer, as if a diremption had begun
but had not made itself complete.[23]

Experiences of painful objects, for example, are usually also painful
experiences; perceptions of loveliness, of ugliness, tend to pass muster
as lovely or as ugly perceptions; intuitions of the morally lofty are
lofty intuitions. Sometimes the adjective wanders as if uncertain where
to fix itself. Shall we speak of seductive visions or of visions of
seductive things? Of wicked desires or of desires for wickedness? Of
healthy thoughts or of thoughts of healthy objects? Of good impulses, or
of impulses towards the good? Of feelings of anger, or of angry
feelings? Both in the mind and in the thing, these natures modify their
context, exclude certain associates and determine others, have their
mates and incompatibles. Yet not as stubbornly as in the case of
physical qualities, for beauty and ugliness, love and hatred, pleasant
and painful can, in certain complex experiences, coexist.

If one were to make an evolutionary construction of how a lot of
originally chaotic pure experiences became gradually differentiated into
an orderly inner and outer world, the whole theory would turn upon one's
success in explaining how or why the quality of an experience, once
active, could become less so, and, from being an energetic attribute in
some cases, elsewhere lapse into the status of an inert or merely
internal 'nature.' This would be the 'evolution' of the psychical from
the bosom of the physical, in which the esthetic, moral and otherwise
emotional experiences would represent a halfway stage.


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

My reply to this is my last word, and I greatly grieve that to many it
will sound materialistic. I can not help that, however, for I, too, have
my intuitions and I must obey them. Let the case be what it may in
others, I am as confident as I am of anything that, in myself, the
stream of thinking (which I recognize emphatically as a phenomenon) is
only a careless name for what, when scrutinized, reveals itself to
consist chiefly of the stream of my breathing. The 'I think' which Kant
said must be able to accompany all my objects, is the 'I breathe' which
actually does accompany them. There are other internal facts besides
breathing (intracephalic muscular adjustments, etc., of which I have
said a word in my larger Psychology), and these increase the assets of
'consciousness,' so far as the latter is subject to immediate
perception;[24] but breath, which was ever the original of 'spirit,'
breath moving outwards, between the glottis and the nostrils, is, I am
persuaded, the essence out of which philosophers have constructed the
entity known to them as consciousness. _That entity is fictitious, while
thoughts in the concrete are fully real. But thoughts in the concrete
are made of the same stuff as things are._

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


[2] [Reprinted from the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. I, No. 18, September 1, 1904. For the relation
between this essay and those which follow, cf. below, pp. 53-54. ED.]

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

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

[5] In my _Psychology_ I have tried to show that we need no knower other
than the 'passing thought.' [_Principles of Psychology_, vol. I, pp. 338

[6] G. E. Moore: _Mind_, vol. XII, N. S., [1903], p. 450.

[7] Paul Natorp: _Einleitung in die Psychologie_, 1888, pp. 14, 112.

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

[9] [For a parallel statement of this view, cf. the author's _Meaning of
Truth_, p. 49, note. Cf. also below, pp. 196-197. ED.]

[10] [For the author's recognition of "concepts as a co-ordinate realm"
of reality, cf. his _Meaning of Truth_, pp. 42, 195, note; _A
Pluralistic Universe_, pp. 339-340; _Some Problems of Philosophy_, pp.
50-57, 67-70; and below, p. 16, note. Giving this view the name 'logical
realism,' he remarks elsewhere that his philosophy "may be regarded as
somewhat eccentric in its attempt to combine logical realism with an
otherwise empiricist mode of thought" (_Some Problems of Philosophy_, p.
106). ED.]

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

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

[13] Münsterberg: _Grundzüge der Psychologie_, vol. I, p. 48.

[14] Cf. A. L. Hodder: _The Adversaries of the Sceptic_, pp. 94-99.

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

[16] Note the ambiguity of this term, which is taken sometimes
objectively and sometimes subjectively.

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

[18] I have given a partial account of the matter in _Mind_, vol. X, p.
27, 1885 [reprinted in _The Meaning of Truth_, pp. 1-42], and in the
_Psychological Review_, vol. II, p. 105, 1895 [partly reprinted in _The
Meaning of Truth_, pp. 43-50]. See also C. A. Strong's article in the
_Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_, vol. I, p.
253, May 12, 1904. I hope myself very soon to recur to the matter. [See
below, pp. 52 ff.]

[19] [Cf. Shadworth Hodgson: _The Metaphysic of Experience_, vol. I.
_passim;_ _The Philosophy of Reflection_, bk. II, ch. IV, § 3. ED.]

[20] Spencer's proof of his 'Transfigured Realism' (his doctrine that
there is an absolutely non-mental reality) comes to mind as a splendid
instance of the impossibility of establishing radical heterogeneity
between thought and thing. All his painfully accumulated points of
difference run gradually into their opposites, and are full of
exceptions. [Cf. Spencer: _Principles of Psychology_, part VII, ch.

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

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

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

[24] [_Principles of Psychology_, vol. I, pp. 299-305. Cf. below, pp.
169-171 (note).]



It is difficult not to notice a curious unrest in the philosophic
atmosphere of the time, a loosening of old landmarks, a softening of
oppositions, a mutual borrowing from one another on the part of systems
anciently closed, and an interest in new suggestions, however vague, as
if the one thing sure were the inadequacy of the extant
school-solutions. The dissatisfaction with these seems due for the most
part to a feeling that they are too abstract and academic. Life is
confused and superabundant, and what the younger generation appears to
crave is more of the temperament of life in its philosophy, even though
it were at some cost of logical rigor and of formal purity.
Transcendental idealism is inclining to let the world wag
incomprehensibly, in spite of its Absolute Subject and his unity of
purpose. Berkeleyan idealism is abandoning the principle of parsimony
and dabbling in panpsychic speculations. Empiricism flirts with
teleology; and, strangest of all, natural realism, so long decently
buried, raises its head above the turf, and finds glad hands
outstretched from the most unlikely quarters to help it to its feet
again. We are all biased by our personal feelings, I know, and I am
personally discontented with extant solutions; so I seem to read the
signs of a great unsettlement, as if the upheaval of more real
conceptions and more fruitful methods were imminent, as if a true
landscape might result, less clipped, straight-edged and artificial.

If philosophy be really on the eve of any considerable rearrangement,
the time should be propitious for any one who has suggestions of his own
to bring forward. For many years past my mind has been growing into a
certain type of _Weltanschauung_. Rightly or wrongly, I have got to the
point where I can hardly see things in any other pattern. I propose,
therefore, to describe the pattern as clearly as I can consistently with
great brevity, and to throw my description into the bubbling vat of
publicity where, jostled by rivals and torn by critics, it will
eventually either disappear from notice, or else, if better luck befall
it, quietly subside to the profundities, and serve as a possible ferment
of new growths or a nucleus of new crystallization.


I give the name of 'radical empiricism' to my _Weltanschauung_.
Empiricism is known as the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends to
emphasize universals and to make wholes prior to parts in the order of
logic as well as in that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, lays the
explanatory stress upon the part, the element, the individual, and
treats the whole as a collection and the universal as an abstraction. My
description of things, accordingly, starts with the parts and makes of
the whole a being of the second order. It is essentially a mosaic
philosophy, a philosophy of plural facts, like that of Hume and his
descendants, who refer these facts neither to Substances in which they
inhere nor to an Absolute Mind that creates them as its objects. But it
differs from the Humian type of empiricism in one particular which makes
me add the epithet radical.

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

Now, ordinary empiricism, in spite of the fact that conjunctive and
disjunctive relations present themselves as being fully co-ordinate
parts of experience, has always shown a tendency to do away with the
connections of things, and to insist most on the disjunctions.
Berkeley's nominalism, Hume's statement that whatever things we
distinguish are as 'loose and separate' as if they had 'no manner of
connection,' James Mill's denial that similars have anything 'really' in
common, the resolution of the causal tie into habitual sequence, John
Mill's account of both physical things and selves as composed of
discontinuous possibilities, and the general pulverization of all
Experience by association and the mind-dust theory, are examples of what
I mean.[26]

The natural result of such a world-picture has been the efforts of
rationalism to correct its incoherencies by the addition of
trans-experiential agents of unification, substances, intellectual
categories and powers, or Selves; whereas, if empiricism had only been
radical and taken everything that comes without disfavor, conjunction as
well as separation, each at its face value, the results would have
called for no such artificial correction. _Radical empiricism_, as I
understand it, _does full justice to conjunctive relations_, without,
however, treating them as rationalism always tends to treat them, as
being true in some supernal way, as if the unity of things and their
variety belonged to different orders of truth and vitality altogether.


Relations are of different degrees of intimacy. Merely to be 'with' one
another in a universe of discourse is the most external relation that
terms can have, and seems to involve nothing whatever as to farther
consequences. Simultaneity and time-interval come next, and then
space-adjacency and distance. After them, similarity and difference,
carrying the possibility of many inferences. Then relations of activity,
tying terms into series involving change, tendency, resistance, and the
causal order generally. Finally, the relation experienced between terms
that form states of mind, and are immediately conscious of continuing
each other. The organization of the Self as a system of memories,
purposes, strivings, fulfilments or disappointments, is incidental to
this most intimate of all relations, the terms of which seem in many
cases actually to compenetrate and suffuse each other's being.[27]

Philosophy has always turned on grammatical particles. With, near, next,
like, from, towards, against, because, for, through, my--these words
designate types of conjunctive relation arranged in a roughly ascending
order of intimacy and inclusiveness. _A priori_, we can imagine a
universe of withness but no nextness; or one of nextness but no
likeness, or of likeness with no activity, or of activity with no
purpose, or of purpose with no ego. These would be universes, each with
its own grade of unity. The universe of human experience is, by one or
another of its parts, of each and all these grades. Whether or not it
possibly enjoys some still more absolute grade of union does not appear
upon the surface.

Taken as it does appear, our universe is to a large extent chaotic. No
one single type of connection runs through all the experiences that
compose it. If we take space-relations, they fail to connect minds into
any regular system. Causes and purposes obtain only among special series
of facts. The self-relation seems extremely limited and does not link
two different selves together. _Prima facie_, if you should liken the
universe of absolute idealism to an aquarium, a crystal globe in which
goldfish are swimming, you would have to compare the empiricist universe
to something more like one of those dried human heads with which the
Dyaks of Borneo deck their lodges. The skull forms a solid nucleus; but
innumerable feathers, leaves, strings, beads, and loose appendices of
every description float and dangle from it, and, save that they
terminate in it, seem to have nothing to do with one another. Even so my
experiences and yours float and dangle, terminating, it is true, in a
nucleus of common perception, but for the most part out of sight and
irrelevant and unimaginable to one another. This imperfect intimacy,
this bare relation of _withness_ between some parts of the sum total of
experience and other parts, is the fact that ordinary empiricism
over-emphasizes against rationalism, the latter always tending to ignore
it unduly. Radical empiricism, on the contrary, is fair to both the
unity and the disconnection. It finds no reason for treating either as
illusory. It allots to each its definite sphere of description, and
agrees that there appear to be actual forces at work which tend, as time
goes on, to make the unity greater.

The conjunctive relation that has given most trouble to philosophy is
the _co-conscious transition_, so to call it, by which one experience
passes into another when both belong to the same self. About the facts
there is no question. My experiences and your experiences are 'with'
each other in various external ways, but mine pass into mine, and yours
pass into yours in a way in which yours and mine never pass into one
another. Within each of our personal histories, subject, object,
interest and purpose _are continuous or may be continuous_.[28] Personal
histories are processes of change in time, and _the change itself is one
of the things immediately experienced_. 'Change' in this case means
continuous as opposed to discontinuous transition. But continuous
transition is one sort of a conjunctive relation; and to be a radical
empiricist means to hold fast to this conjunctive relation of all
others, for this is the strategic point, the position through which, if
a hole be made, all the corruptions of dialectics and all the
metaphysical fictions pour into our philosophy. The holding fast to this
relation means taking it at its face value, neither less nor more; and
to take it at its face value means first of all to take it just as we
feel it, and not to confuse ourselves with abstract talk _about_ it,
involving words that drive us to invent secondary conceptions in order
to neutralize their suggestions and to make our actual experience again
seem rationally possible.

What I do feel simply when a later moment of my experience succeeds an
earlier one is that though they are two moments, the transition from the
one to the other is _continuous_. Continuity here is a definite sort of
experience; just as definite as is the _discontinuity-experience_ which
I find it impossible to avoid when I seek to make the transition from an
experience of my own to one of yours. In this latter case I have to get
on and off again, to pass from a thing lived to another thing only
conceived, and the break is positively experienced and noted. Though the
functions exerted by my experience and by yours may be the same (_e.g._,
the same objects known and the same purposes followed), yet the sameness
has in this case to be ascertained expressly (and often with difficulty
and uncertainty) after the break has been felt; whereas in passing from
one of my own moments to another the sameness of object and interest is
unbroken, and both the earlier and the later experience are of things
directly lived.

There is no other _nature_, no other whatness than this absence of break
and this sense of continuity in that most intimate of all conjunctive
relations, the passing of one experience into another when they belong
to the same self. And this whatness is real empirical 'content,' just as
the whatness of separation and discontinuity is real content in the
contrasted case. Practically to experience one's personal continuum in
this living way is to know the originals of the ideas of continuity and
of sameness, to know what the words stand for concretely, to own all
that they can ever mean. But all experiences have their conditions; and
over-subtle intellects, thinking about the facts here, and asking how
they are possible, have ended by substituting a lot of static objects of
conception for the direct perceptual experiences. "Sameness," they have
said, "must be a stark numerical identity; it can't run on from next to
next. Continuity can't mean mere absence of gap; for if you say two
things are in immediate contact, _at_ the contact how can they be two?
If, on the other hand, you put a relation of transition between them,
that itself is a third thing, and needs to be related or hitched to its
terms. An infinite series is involved," and so on. The result is that
from difficulty to difficulty, the plain conjunctive experience has been
discredited by both schools, the empiricists leaving things permanently
disjoined, and the rationalist remedying the looseness by their
Absolutes or Substances, or whatever other fictitious agencies of union
they may have employed.[29] From all which artificiality we can be saved
by a couple of simple reflections: first, that conjunctions and
separations are, at all events, co-ordinate phenomena which, if we take
experiences at their face value, must be accounted equally real; and
second, that if we insist on treating things as really separate when
they are given as continuously joined, invoking, when union is required,
transcendental principles to overcome the separateness we have assumed,
then we ought to stand ready to perform the converse act. We ought to
invoke higher principles of _dis_union, also, to make our merely
experienced disjunctions more truly real. Failing thus, we ought to let
the originally given continuities stand on their own bottom. We have no
right to be lopsided or to blow capriciously hot and cold.


The first great pitfall from which such a radical standing by experience
will save us is an artificial conception of the _relations between
knower and known_. Throughout the history of philosophy the subject and
its object have been treated as absolutely discontinuous entities; and
thereupon the presence of the latter to the former, or the
'apprehension' by the former of the latter, has assumed a paradoxical
character which all sorts of theories had to be invented to overcome.
Representative theories put a mental 'representation,' 'image,' or
'content' into the gap, as a sort of intermediary. Common-sense theories
left the gap untouched, declaring our mind able to clear it by a
self-transcending leap. Transcendentalist theories left it impossible to
traverse by finite knowers, and brought an Absolute in to perform the
saltatory act. All the while, in the very bosom of the finite
experience, every conjunction required to make the relation intelligible
is given in full. Either the knower and the known are:

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

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

(3) the known is a _possible_ experience either of that subject or
another, to which the said conjunctive transitions _would_ lead, if
sufficiently prolonged.

To discuss all the ways in which one experience may function as the
knower of another, would be incompatible with the limits of this
essay.[30] I have just treated of type 1, the kind of knowledge called
perception.[31] This is the type of case in which the mind enjoys direct
'acquaintance' with a present object. In the other types the mind has
'knowledge-about' an object not immediately there. Of type 2, the
simplest sort of conceptual knowledge, I have given some account in two
[earlier] articles.[32] Type 3 can always formally and hypothetically be
reduced to type 2, so that a brief description of that type will put the
present reader sufficiently at my point of view, and make him see what
the actual meanings of the mysterious cognitive relation may be.

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

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

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

In this continuing and corroborating, taken in no transcendental sense,
but denoting definitely felt transitions, _lies all that the knowing of
a percept by an idea can possibly contain or signify_. Wherever such
transitions are felt, the first experience _knows_ the last one. Where
they do not, or where even as possibles they can not, intervene, there
can be no pretence of knowing. In this latter case the extremes will be
connected, if connected at all, by inferior relations--bare likeness or
succession, or by 'withness' alone. Knowledge of sensible realities thus
comes to life inside the tissue of experience. It is _made_; and made by
relations that unroll themselves in time. Whenever certain
intermediaries are given, such that, as they develop towards their
terminus, there is experience from point to point of one direction
followed, and finally of one process fulfilled, the result is that
_their starting-point thereby becomes a knower and their terminus an
object meant or known_. That is all that knowing (in the simple case
considered) can be known-as, that is the whole of its nature, put into
experiential terms. Whenever such is the sequence of our experiences we
may freely say that we had the terminal object 'in mind' from the
outset, even although _at_ the outset nothing was there in us but a flat
piece of substantive experience like any other, with no
self-transcendency about it, and no mystery save the mystery of coming
into existence and of being gradually followed by other pieces of
substantive experience, with conjunctively transitional experiences
between. That is what we _mean_ here by the object's being 'in mind.' Of
any deeper more real way of being in mind we have no positive
conception, and we have no right to discredit our actual experience by
talking of such a way at all.

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

But do not such dialectic difficulties remind us of the dog dropping his
bone and snapping at its image in the water? If we knew any more real
kind of union _aliunde_, we might be entitled to brand all our
empirical unions as a sham. But unions by continuous transition are the
only ones we know of, whether in this matter of a knowledge-about that
terminates in an acquaintance, whether in personal identity, in logical
predication through the copula 'is,' or elsewhere. If anywhere there
were more absolute unions realized, they could only reveal themselves to
us by just such conjunctive results. These are what the unions are
_worth_, these are all that _we can ever practically mean_ by union, by
continuity. Is it not time to repeat what Lotze said of substances, that
to _act like_ one is to _be_ one?[33] Should we not say here that to be
experienced as continuous is to be really continuous, in a world where
experience and reality come to the same thing? In a picture gallery a
painted hook will serve to hang a painted chain by, a painted cable will
hold a painted ship. In a world where both the terms and their
distinctions are affairs of experience, conjunctions that are
experienced must be at least as real as anything else. They will be'
absolutely' real conjunctions, if we have no transphenomenal Absolute
ready, to derealize the whole experienced world by, at a stroke. If, on
the other hand, we had such an Absolute, not one of our opponents'
theories of knowledge could remain standing any better than ours could;
for the distinctions as well as the conjunctions of experience would
impartially fall its prey. The whole question of how 'one' thing can
know 'another' would cease to be a real one at all in a world where
otherness itself was an illusion.[34]

So much for the essentials of the cognitive relation, where the
knowledge is conceptual in type, or forms knowledge 'about' an object.
It consists in intermediary experiences (possible, if not actual) of
continuously developing progress, and, finally, of fulfilment, when the
sensible percept, which is the object, is reached. The percept here not
only _verifies_ the concept, proves its function of knowing that percept
to be true, but the percept's existence as the terminus of the chain of
intermediaries _creates_ the function. Whatever terminates that chain
was, because it now proves itself to be, what the concept 'had in mind.'

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


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

According to my view, experience as a whole is a process in time,
whereby innumerable particular terms lapse and are superseded by others
that follow upon them by transitions which, whether disjunctive or
conjunctive in content, are themselves experiences, and must in general
be accounted at least as real as the terms which they relate. What the
nature of the event called 'superseding' signifies, depends altogether
on the kind of transition that obtains. Some experiences simply abolish
their predecessors without continuing them in any way. Others are felt
to increase or to enlarge their meaning, to carry out their purpose, or
to bring us nearer to their goal. They 'represent' them, and may fulfil
their function better than they fulfilled it themselves. But to 'fulfil
a function' in a world of pure experience can be conceived and defined
in only one possible way. In such a world transitions and arrivals (or
terminations) are the only events that happen, though they happen by so
many sorts of path. The only function that one experience can perform is
to lead into another experience; and the only fulfilment we can speak of
is the reaching of a certain experienced end. When one experience leads
to (or can lead to) the same end as another, they agree in function. But
the whole system of experiences as they are immediately given presents
itself as a quasi-chaos through which one can pass out of an initial
term in many directions and yet end in the same terminus, moving from
next to next by a great many possible paths.

Either one of these paths might be a functional substitute for another,
and to follow one rather than another might on occasion be an
advantageous thing to do. As a matter of fact, and in a general way,
the paths that run through conceptual experiences, that is, through
'thoughts' or 'ideas' that 'know' the things in which they terminate,
are highly advantageous paths to follow. Not only do they yield
inconceivably rapid transitions; but, owing to the 'universal'
character[35] which they frequently possess, and to their capacity for
association with one another in great systems, they outstrip the tardy
consecutions of the things themselves, and sweep us on towards our
ultimate termini in a far more labor-saving way than the following of
trains of sensible perception ever could. Wonderful are the new cuts and
the short-circuits which the thought-paths make. Most thought-paths, it
is true, are substitutes for nothing actual; they end outside the real
world altogether, in wayward fancies, utopias, fictions or mistakes. But
where they do re-enter reality and terminate therein, we substitute them
always; and with these substitutes we pass the greater number of our

This is why I called our experiences, taken all together, a quasi-chaos.
There is vastly more discontinuity in the sum total of experiences than
we commonly suppose. The objective nucleus of every man's experience,
his own body, is, it is true, a continuous percept; and equally
continuous as a percept (though we may be inattentive to it) is the
material environment of that body, changing by gradual transition when
the body moves. But the distant parts of the physical world are at all
times absent from us, and form conceptual objects merely, into the
perceptual reality of which our life inserts itself at points discrete
and relatively rare. Round their several objective nuclei, partly shared
and common and partly discrete, of the real physical world, innumerable
thinkers, pursuing their several lines of physically true cogitation,
trace paths that intersect one another only at discontinuous perceptual
points, and the rest of the time are quite incongruent; and around all
the nuclei of shared 'reality,' as around the Dyak's head of my late
metaphor, floats the vast cloud of experiences that are wholly
subjective, that are non-substitutional, that find not even an eventual
ending for themselves in the perceptual world--the mere day-dreams and
joys and sufferings and wishes of the individual minds. These exist
_with_ one another, indeed, and with the objective nuclei, but out of
them it is probable that to all eternity no interrelated system of any
kind will ever be made.

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


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

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

Now the immensely greater part of all our knowing never gets beyond this
virtual stage. It never is completed or nailed down. I speak not merely
of our ideas of imperceptibles like ether-waves or dissociated 'ions,'
or of 'ejects' like the contents of our neighbors' minds; I speak also
of ideas which we might verify if we would take the trouble, but which
we hold for true although unterminated perceptually, because nothing
says 'no' to us, and there is no contradicting truth in sight. _To
continue thinking unchallenged is, ninety-nine times out of a hundred,
our practical substitute for knowing in the completed sense._ As each
experience runs by cognitive transition into the next one, and we
nowhere feel a collision with what we elsewhere count as truth or fact,
we commit ourselves to the current as if the port were sure. We live, as
it were, upon the front edge of an advancing wave-crest, and our sense
of a determinate direction in falling forward is all we cover of the
future of our path. It is as if a differential quotient should be
conscious and treat itself as an adequate substitute for a traced-out
curve. Our experience, _inter alia_, is of variations of rate and of
direction, and lives in these transitions more than in the journey's
end. The experiences of tendency are sufficient to act upon--what more
could we have _done_ at those moments even if the later verification
comes complete?

This is what, as a radical empiricist, I say to the charge that the
objective reference which is so flagrant a character of our experiences
involves a chasm and a mortal leap. A positively conjunctive transition
involves neither chasm nor leap. Being the very original of what we mean
by continuity, it makes a continuum wherever it appears. I know full
well that such brief words as these will leave the hardened
transcendentalist unshaken. Conjunctive experiences _separate_ their
terms, he will still say: they are third things interposed, that have
themselves to be conjoined by new links, and to invoke them makes our
trouble infinitely worse. To 'feel' our motion forward is impossible.
Motion implies terminus; and how can terminus be felt before we have
arrived? The barest start and sally forwards, the barest tendency to
leave the instant, involves the chasm and the leap. Conjunctive
transitions are the most superficial of appearances, illusions of our
sensibility which philosophical reflection pulverizes at a touch.
Conception is our only trustworthy instrument, conception and the
Absolute working hand in hand. Conception disintegrates experience
utterly, but its disjunctions are easily overcome again when the
Absolute takes up the task.

Such transcendentalists I must leave, provisionally at least, in full
possession of their creed.[36] I have no space for polemics in this
article, so I shall simply formulate the empiricist doctrine as my
hypothesis, leaving it to work or not work as it may.

Objective reference, I say then, is an incident of the fact that so much
of our experience comes as an insufficient and consists of process and
transition. Our fields of experience have no more definite boundaries
than have our fields of view. Both are fringed forever by a _more_ that
continuously develops, and that continuously supersedes them as life
proceeds. The relations, generally speaking, are as real here as the
terms are, and the only complaint of the transcendentalist's with which
I could at all sympathize would be his charge that, by first making
knowledge to consist in external relations as I have done, and by then
confessing that nine-tenths of the time these are not actually but only
virtually there, I have knocked the solid bottom out of the whole
business, and palmed off a substitute of knowledge for the genuine
thing. Only the admission, such a critic might say, that our ideas are
self-transcendent and 'true' already, in advance of the experiences that
are to terminate them, can bring solidity back to knowledge in a world
like this, in which transitions and terminations are only by exception

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

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

Even if our ideas did in themselves carry the postulated
self-transcendency, it would still remain true that their putting us
into possession of such effects _would be the sole cash-value of the
self-transcendency for us_. And this cash-value, it is needless to say,
is _verbatim et literatim_ what our empiricist account pays in. On
pragmatist principles therefore, a dispute over self-transcendency is a
pure logomachy. Call our concepts of ejective things self-transcendent
or the reverse, it makes no difference, so long as we don't differ about
the nature of that exalted virtue's fruits--fruits for us, of course,
humanistic fruits. If an Absolute were proved to exist for other
reasons, it might well appear that _his_ knowledge is terminated in
innumerable cases where ours is still incomplete. That, however, would
be a fact indifferent to our knowledge. The latter would grow neither
worse nor better, whether we acknowledged such an Absolute or left him

So the notion of a knowledge still _in transitu_ and on its way joins
hands here with that notion of a 'pure experience' which I tried to
explain in my [essay] entitled 'Does Consciousness Exist?' The instant
field of the present is always experience in its 'pure' state, plain
unqualified actuality, a simple _that_, as yet undifferentiated into
thing and thought, and only virtually classifiable as objective fact or
as some one's opinion about fact. This is as true when the field is
conceptual as when it is perceptual. 'Memorial Hall' is 'there' in my
idea as much as when I stand before it. I proceed to act on its account
in either case. Only in the later experience that supersedes the present
one is this _naïf_ immediacy retrospectively split into two parts, a
'consciousness' and its 'content,' and the content corrected or
confirmed. While still pure, or present, any experience--mine, for
example, of what I write about in these very lines--passes for 'truth.'
The morrow may reduce it to 'opinion.' The transcendentalist in all his
particular knowledges is as liable to this reduction as I am: his
Absolute does not save him. Why, then, need he quarrel with an account
of knowing that merely leaves it liable to this inevitable condition?
Why insist that knowing is a static relation out of time when it
practically seems so much a function of our active life? For a thing to
be valid, says Lotze, is the same as to make itself valid. When the
whole universe seems only to be making itself valid and to be still
incomplete (else why its ceaseless changing?) why, of all things,
should knowing be exempt? Why should it not be making itself valid like
everything else? That some parts of it may be already valid or verified
beyond dispute, the empirical philosopher, of course, like any one else,
may always hope.


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

For the Berkeleyan school, ideas (the verbal equivalent of what I term
experiences) are discontinuous. The content of each is wholly immanent,
and there are no transitions with which they are consubstantial and
through which their beings may unite. Your Memorial Hall and mine, even
when both are percepts, are wholly out of connection with each other.
Our lives are a congeries of solipsisms, out of which in strict logic
only a God could compose a universe even of discourse. No dynamic
currents run between my objects and your objects. Never can our minds
meet in the _same_.

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

To me the decisive reason in favor of our minds meeting in _some_ common
objects at least is that, unless I make that supposition, I have no
motive for assuming that your mind exists at all. Why do I postulate
your mind? Because I see your body acting in a certain way. Its
gestures, facial movements, words and conduct generally, are
'expressive,' so I deem it actuated as my own is, by an inner life like
mine. This argument from analogy is my _reason_, whether an instinctive
belief runs before it or not. But what is 'your body' here but a percept
in _my_ field? It is only as animating _that_ object, _my_ object, that
I have any occasion to think of you at all. If the body that you actuate
be not the very body that I see there, but some duplicate body of your
own with which that has nothing to do, we belong to different universes,
you and I, and for me to speak of you is folly. Myriads of such
universes even now may coexist, irrelevant to one another; my concern is
solely with the universe with which my own life is connected.

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

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

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

I well know the subtle dialectic which insists that a term taken in
another relation must needs be an intrinsically different term. The crux
is always the old Greek one, that the same man can't be tall in relation
to one neighbor, and short in relation to another, for that would make
him tall and short at once. In this essay I can not stop to refute this
dialectic, so I pass on, leaving my flank for the time exposed.[39] But
if my reader will only allow that the same '_now_' both ends his past
and begins his future; or that, when he buys an acre of land from his
neighbor, it is the same acre that successively figures in the two
estates; or that when I pay him a dollar, the same dollar goes into his
pocket that came out of mine; he will also in consistency have to allow
that the same object may conceivably play a part in, as being related to
the rest of, any number of otherwise entirely different minds. This is
enough for my present point: the common-sense notion of minds sharing
the same object offers no special logical or epistemological
difficulties of its own; it stands or falls with the general possibility
of things being in conjunctive relation with other things at all.

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

It is therefore not a formal question, but a question of empirical fact
solely, whether, when you and I are said to know the 'same' Memorial
Hall, our minds do terminate at or in a numerically identical percept.
Obviously, as a plain matter of fact, they do _not_. Apart from
color-blindness and such possibilities, we see the Hall in different
perspectives. You may be on one side of it and I on another. The percept
of each of us, as he sees the surface of the Hall, is moreover only his
provisional terminus. The next thing beyond my percept is not your
mind, but more percepts of my own into which my first percept develops,
the interior of the Hall, for instance, or the inner structure of its
bricks and mortar. If our minds were in a literal sense _con_terminous,
neither could get beyond the percept which they had in common, it would
be an ultimate barrier between them--unless indeed they flowed over it
and became 'co-conscious' over a still larger part of their content,
which (thought-transference apart) is not supposed to be the case. In
point of fact the ultimate common barrier can always be pushed, by both
minds, farther than any actual percept of either, until at last it
resolves itself into the mere notion of imperceptibles like atoms or
ether, so that, where we do terminate in percepts, our knowledge is only
speciously completed, being, in theoretic strictness, only a virtual
knowledge of those remoter objects which conception carries out.

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

Yes, they certainly have _Space_ in common. On pragmatic principles we
are obliged to predicate sameness wherever we can predicate no
assignable point of difference. If two named things have every quality
and function indiscernible, and are at the same time in the same place,
they must be written down as numerically one thing under two different
names. But there is no test discoverable, so far as I know, by which it
can be shown that the place occupied by your percept of Memorial Hall
differs from the place occupied by mine. The percepts themselves may be
shown to differ; but if each of us be asked to point out where his
percept is, we point to an identical spot. All the relations, whether
geometrical or causal, of the Hall originate or terminate in that spot
wherein our hands meet, and where each of us begins to work if he wishes
to make the Hall change before the other's eyes. Just so it is with our
bodies. That body of yours which you actuate and feel from within must
be in the same spot as the body of yours which I see or touch from
without. 'There' for me means where I place my finger. If you do not
feel my finger's contact to be 'there' in _my_ sense, when I place it on
your body, where then do you feel it? Your inner actuations of your body
meet my finger _there_: it is _there_ that you resist its push, or
shrink back, or sweep the finger aside with your hand. Whatever farther
knowledge either of us may acquire of the real constitution of the body
which we thus feel, you from within and I from without, it is in that
same place that the newly conceived or perceived constituents have to be
located, and it is _through_ that space that your and my mental
intercourse with each other has always to be carried on, by the
mediation of impressions which I convey thither, and of the reactions
thence which those impressions may provoke from you.

In general terms, then, whatever differing contents our minds may
eventually fill a place with, the place itself is a numerically
identical content of the two minds, a piece of common property in which,
through which, and over which they join. The receptacle of certain of
our experiences being thus common, the experiences themselves might some
day become common also. If that day ever did come, our thoughts would
terminate in a complete empirical identity, there would be an end, so
far as _those_ experiences went, to our discussions about truth. No
points of difference appearing, they would have to count as the same.


With this we have the outlines of a philosophy of pure experience before
us. At the outset of my essay, I called it a mosaic philosophy. In
actual mosaics the pieces are held together by their bedding, for which
bedding the Substances, transcendental Egos, or Absolutes of other
philosophies may be taken to stand. In radical empiricism there is no
bedding; it is as if the pieces clung together by their edges, the
transitions experienced between them forming their cement. Of course
such a metaphor is misleading, for in actual experience the more
substantive and the more transitive parts run into each other
continuously, there is in general no separateness needing to be
overcome by an external cement; and whatever separateness is actually
experienced is not overcome, it stays and counts as separateness to the
end. But the metaphor serves to symbolize the fact that Experience
itself, taken at large, can grow by its edges. That one moment of it
proliferates into the next by transitions which, whether conjunctive or
disjunctive, continue the experiential tissue, can not, I contend, be
denied. Life is in the transitions as much as in the terms connected;
often, indeed, it seems to be there more emphatically, as if our spurts
and sallies forward were the real firing-line of the battle, were like
the thin line of flame advancing across the dry autumnal field which the
farmer proceeds to burn. In this line we live prospectively as well as
retrospectively. It is 'of' the past, inasmuch as it comes expressly as
the past's continuation; it is 'of' the future in so far as the future,
when it comes, will have continued _it_.

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

In this sense we at every moment can continue to believe in an existing
_beyond_. It is only in special cases that our confident rush forward
gets rebuked. The beyond must, of course, always in our philosophy be
itself of an experiential nature. If not a future experience of our own
or a present one of our neighbor, it must be a thing in itself in Dr.
Prince's and Professor Strong's sense of the term--that is, it must be
an experience _for_ itself whose relation to other things we translate
into the action of molecules, ether-waves, or whatever else the
physical symbols may be.[40] This opens the chapter of the relations of
radical empiricism to panpsychism, into which I can not enter now.[41]

The beyond can in any case exist simultaneously--for it can be
experienced _to have existed_ simultaneously--with the experience that
practically postulates it by looking in its direction, or by turning or
changing in the direction of which it is the goal. Pending that
actuality of union, in the virtuality of which the 'truth,' even now, of
the postulation consists, the beyond and its knower are entities split
off from each other. The world is in so far forth a pluralism of which
the unity is not fully experienced as yet. But, as fast as verifications
come, trains of experience, once separate, run into one another; and
that is why I said, earlier in my article, that the unity of the world
is on the whole undergoing increase. The universe continually grows in
quantity by new experiences that graft themselves upon the older mass;
but these very new experiences often help the mass to a more
consolidated form.

These are the main features of a philosophy of pure experience. It has
innumerable other aspects and arouses innumerable questions, but the
points I have touched on seem enough to make an entering wedge. In my
own mind such a philosophy harmonizes best with a radical pluralism,
with novelty and indeterminism, moralism and theism, and with the
'humanism' lately sprung upon us by the Oxford and the Chicago
schools.[42] I can not, however, be sure that all these doctrines are
its necessary and indispensable allies. It presents so many points of
difference, both from the common sense and from the idealism that have
made our philosophic language, that it is almost as difficult to state
it as it is to think it out clearly, and if it is ever to grow into a
respectable system, it will have to be built up by the contributions of
many co-operating minds. It seems to me, as I said at the outset of this
essay, that many minds are, in point of fact, now turning in a direction
that points towards radical empiricism. If they are carried farther by
my words, and if then they add their stronger voices to my feebler one,
the publication of this essay will have been worth while.


[25] [Reprinted from the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. I, 1904, No. 20, September 29, and No. 21,
October 13. Pp. 52-76 have also been reprinted, with some omissions,
alterations and additions, in _The Meaning of Truth_, pp. 102-120. The
alterations have been adopted in the present text. This essay is
referred to in _A Pluralistic Universe_, p. 280, note 5. ED.]

[26] [Cf. Berkeley: _Principles of Human Knowledge_, Introduction; Hume:
_An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_, sect. VII, part II
(Selby-Bigge's edition, p. 74); James Mill: _Analysis of the Phenomena
of the Human Mind_, ch. VIII; J. S. Mill: _An Examination of Sir William
Hamilton's Philosophy_, ch. XI, XII; W. K. Clifford: _Lectures and
Essays_, pp. 274 ff.]

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

[28] The psychology books have of late described the facts here with
approximate adequacy. I may refer to the chapters on 'The Stream of
Thought' and on the Self in my own _Principles of Psychology_, as well
as to S. H. Hodgson's _Metaphysic of Experience_, vol. I, ch. VII and

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

[30] For brevity's sake I altogether omit mention of the type
constituted by knowledge of the truth of general propositions. This type
has been thoroughly and, so far as I can see, satisfactorily, elucidated
in Dewey's _Studies in Logical Theory_. Such propositions are reducible
to the _S_-is-_P_ form; and the 'terminus' that verifies and fulfils is
the _SP_ in combination. Of course percepts may be involved in the
mediating experiences, or in the 'satisfactoriness' of the _P_ in its
new position.

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

[32] ["On the Function of Cognition," _Mind_, vol. X, 1885, and "The
Knowing of Things Together," _Psychological Review_, vol. II, 1895.
These articles are reprinted, the former in full, the latter in part, in
_The Meaning of Truth_, pp. 1-50. ED.] These articles and their
doctrine, unnoticed apparently by any one else, have lately gained
favorable comment from Professor Strong. ["A Naturalistic Theory of the
Reference of Thought to Reality," _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. I, 1904.] Dr. Dickinson S. Miller has
independently thought out the same results ["The Meaning of Truth and
Error," _Philosophical Review_, vol. II, 1893; "The Confusion of
Function and Content in Mental Analysis," _Psychological Review_, vol.
II, 1895], which Strong accordingly dubs the James-Miller theory of

[33] [Cf. H. Lotze: _Metaphysik_, §§ 37-39, 97, 98, 243.]

[34] Mr. Bradley, not professing to know his absolute _aliunde_,
nevertheless derealizes Experience by alleging it to be everywhere
infected with self-contradiction. His arguments seem almost purely
verbal, but this is no place for arguing that point out. [Cf. F. H.
Bradley; _Appearance and Reality, passim;_ and below, pp. 106-122.]

[35] Of which all that need be said in this essay is that it also can be
conceived as functional, and defined in terms of transitions, or of the
possibility of such. [Cf. _Principles of Psychology_, vol. I, pp.
473-480, vol. II, pp. 337-340; _Pragmatism_, p. 265; _Some Problems of
Philosophy_, pp. 63-74; _Meaning of Truth_, pp. 246-247, etc. ED.]

[36] [Cf. below, pp. 93 ff.]

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

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

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

[40] Our minds and these ejective realities would still have space (or
pseudo-space, as I believe Professor Strong calls the medium of
interaction between 'things-in-themselves') in common. These would exist
_where_, and begin to act _where_, we locate the molecules, etc., and
_where_ we perceive the sensible phenomena explained thereby. [Cf.
Morton Prince: _The Nature of Mind, and Human Automatism_, part I, ch.
III, IV; C. A. Strong: _Why the Mind Has a Body_, ch. XII.]

[41] [Cf. below, p. 188; _A Pluralistic Universe_, Lect. IV-VII.]

[42] I have said something of this latter alliance in an article
entitled 'Humanism and Truth,' in _Mind_, October, 1904. [Reprinted in
_The Meaning of Truth_, pp. 51-101. Cf. also "Humanism and Truth Once
More," below, pp. 244-265.]



Experience in its immediacy seems perfectly fluent. The active sense of
living which we all enjoy, before reflection shatters our instinctive
world for us, is self-luminous and suggests no paradoxes. Its
difficulties are disappointments and uncertainties. They are not
intellectual contradictions.

When the reflective intellect gets at work, however, it discovers
incomprehensibilities in the flowing process. Distinguishing its
elements and parts, it gives them separate names, and what it thus
disjoins it can not easily put together. Pyrrhonism accepts the
irrationality and revels in its dialectic elaboration. Other
philosophies try, some by ignoring, some by resisting, and some by
turning the dialectic procedure against itself, negating its first
negations, to restore the fluent sense of life again, and let redemption
take the place of innocence. The perfection with which any philosophy
may do this is the measure of its human success and of its importance in
philosophic history. In [the last essay], 'A World of Pure Experience,'
I tried my own hand sketchily at the problem, resisting certain first
steps of dialectics by insisting in a general way that the immediately
experienced conjunctive relations are as real as anything else. If my
sketch is not to appear too _naïf_, I must come closer to details, and
in the present essay I propose to do so.


'Pure experience' is the name which I gave to the immediate flux of life
which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual
categories. Only new-born babes, or men in semi-coma from sleep, drugs,
illnesses, or blows, may be assumed to have an experience pure in the
literal sense of a _that_ which is not yet any definite _what_, tho'
ready to be all sorts of whats; full both of oneness and of manyness,
but in respects that don't appear; changing throughout, yet so
confusedly that its phases interpenetrate and no points, either of
distinction or of identity, can be caught. Pure experience in this state
is but another name for feeling or sensation. But the flux of it no
sooner comes than it tends to fill itself with emphases, and these
salient parts become identified and fixed and abstracted; so that
experience now flows as if shot through with adjectives and nouns and
prepositions and conjunctions. Its purity is only a relative term,
meaning the proportional amount of unverbalized sensation which it still

Far back as we go, the flux, both as a whole and in its parts, is that
of things conjunct and separated. The great continua of time, space, and
the self envelope everything, betwixt them, and flow together without
interfering. The things that they envelope come as separate in some ways
and as continuous in others. Some sensations coalesce with some ideas,
and others are irreconcilable. Qualities compenetrate one space, or
exclude each other from it. They cling together persistently in groups
that move as units, or else they separate. Their changes are abrupt or
discontinuous; and their kinds resemble or differ; and, as they do so,
they fall into either even or irregular series.

In all this the continuities and the discontinuities are absolutely
co-ordinate matters of immediate feeling. The conjunctions are as
primordial elements of 'fact' as are the distinctions and disjunctions.
In the same act by which I feel that this passing minute is a new pulse
of my life, I feel that the old life continues into it, and the feeling
of continuance in no wise jars upon the simultaneous feeling of a
novelty. They, too, compenetrate harmoniously. Prepositions, copulas,
and conjunctions, 'is,' 'isn't,' 'then,' 'before,' 'in,' 'on,' 'beside,'
'between,' 'next,' 'like,' 'unlike,' 'as,' 'but,' flower out of the
stream of pure experience, the stream of concretes or the sensational
stream, as naturally as nouns and adjectives do, and they melt into it
again as fluidly when we apply them to a new portion of the stream.


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

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

The naturalist answer is that the environment kills as well as sustains
us, and that the tendency of raw experience to extinguish the experient
himself is lessened just in the degree in which the elements in it that
have a practical bearing upon life are analyzed out of the continuum and
verbally fixed and coupled together, so that we may know what is in the
wind for us and get ready to react in time. Had pure experience, the
naturalist says, been always perfectly healthy, there would never have
arisen the necessity of isolating or verbalizing any of its terms. We
should just have experienced inarticulately and unintellectually
enjoyed. This leaning on 'reaction' in the naturalist account implies
that, whenever we intellectualize a relatively pure experience, we ought
to do so for the sake of redescending to the purer or more concrete
level again; and that if an intellect stays aloft among its abstract
terms and generalized relations, and does not reinsert itself with its
conclusions into some particular point of the immediate stream of life,
it fails to finish out its function and leaves its normal race unrun.

Most rationalists nowadays will agree that naturalism gives a true
enough account of the way in which our intellect arose at first, but
they will deny these latter implications. The case, they will say,
resembles that of sexual love. Originating in the animal need of getting
another generation born, this passion has developed secondarily such
imperious spiritual needs that, if you ask why another generation ought
to be born at all, the answer is: 'Chiefly that love may go on.' Just
so with our intellect: it originated as a practical means of serving
life; but it has developed incidentally the function of understanding
absolute truth; and life itself now seems to be given chiefly as a means
by which that function may be prosecuted. But truth and the
understanding of it lie among the abstracts and universals, so the
intellect now carries on its higher business wholly in this region,
without any need of redescending into pure experience again.

If the contrasted tendencies which I thus designate as naturalistic and
rationalistic are not recognized by the reader, perhaps an example will
make them more concrete. Mr. Bradley, for instance, is an
ultra-rationalist. He admits that our intellect is primarily practical,
but says that, for philosophers, the practical need is simply Truth.
Truth, moreover, must be assumed 'consistent.' Immediate experience has
to be broken into subjects and qualities, terms and relations, to be
understood as truth at all. Yet when so broken it is less consistent
than ever. Taken raw, it is all un-distinguished. Intellectualized, it
is all distinction without oneness. 'Such an arrangement may _work_, but
the theoretic problem is not solved.' The question is '_how_ the
diversity can exist in harmony with the oneness.' To go back to pure
experience is unavailing. 'Mere feeling gives no answer to our riddle.'
Even if your intuition is a fact, it is not an _understanding_. 'It is a
mere experience, and furnishes no consistent view.' The experience
offered as facts or truths 'I find that my intellect rejects because
they contradict themselves. They offer a complex of diversities
conjoined in a way which it feels is not its way and which it can not
repeat as its own.... For to be satisfied, my intellect must understand,
and it can not understand by taking a congeries in the lump.'[44] So Mr.
Bradley, in the sole interests of 'understanding' (as he conceives that
function), turns his back on finite experience forever. Truth must lie
in the opposite direction, the direction of the Absolute; and this kind
of rationalism and naturalism, or (as I will now call it) pragmatism,
walk thenceforward upon opposite paths. For the one, those intellectual
products are most true which, turning their face towards the Absolute,
come nearest to symbolizing its ways of uniting the many and the one.
For the other, those are most true which most successfully dip back into
the finite stream of feeling and grow most easily confluent with some
particular wave or wavelet. Such confluence not only proves the
intellectual operation to have been true (as an addition may 'prove'
that a subtraction is already rightly performed), but it constitutes,
according to pragmatism, all that we mean by calling it true. Only in so
far as they lead us, successfully or unsuccessfully, back into sensible
experience again, are our abstracts and universals true or false at


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

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

For instance, let the matter in dispute be term _M_, asserted to be on
the one hand related to _L_, and on the other to _N_; and let the two
cases of relation be symbolized by _L--M_ and _M--N_ respectively. When,
now, I assume that the experience may immediately come and be given in
the shape _L--M--N_, with no trace of doubling or internal fission in
the _M_, I am told that this is all a popular delusion; that _L--M--N_
logically means two different experiences, _L--M_ and _M--N_, namely;
and that although the Absolute may, and indeed must, from its superior
point of view, read its own kind of unity into _M_'s two editions, yet
as elements in finite experience the two _M_'s lie irretrievably
asunder, and the world between them is broken and unbridged.

In arguing this dialectic thesis, one must avoid slipping from the
logical into the physical point of view. It would be easy, in taking a
concrete example to fix one's ideas by, to choose one in which the
letter _M_ should stand for a collective noun of some sort, which noun,
being related to _L_ by one of its parts and to _N_ by another, would
inwardly be two things when it stood outwardly in both relations. Thus,
one might say: 'David Hume, who weighed so many stone by his body,
influences posterity by his doctrine.' The body and the doctrine are two
things, between which our finite minds can discover no real sameness,
though the same name covers both of them. And then, one might continue:
'Only an Absolute is capable of uniting such a non-identity.' We must, I
say, avoid this sort of example, for the dialectic insight, if true at
all, must apply to terms and relations universally. It must be true of
abstract units as well as of nouns collective; and if we prove it by
concrete examples we must take the simplest, so as to avoid irrelevant
material suggestions.

Taken thus in all its generality, the absolutist contention seems to use
as its major premise Hume's notion 'that all our distinct perceptions
are distinct existences, and that the mind never perceives any real
connexion among distinct existences.'[46] Undoubtedly, since we use two
phrases in talking first about '_M_'s relation to _L_' and then about
'_M_'s relation to _N_,' we must be having, or must have had, two
distinct perceptions;--and the rest would then seem to follow duly. But
the starting-point of the reasoning here seems to be the fact of the two
_phrases_; and this suggests that the argument may be merely verbal. Can
it be that the whole dialectic consists in attributing to the experience
talked-about a constitution similar to that of the language in which we
describe it? Must we assert the objective double-ness of the _M_ merely
because we have to name it twice over when we name its two relations?

Candidly, I can think of no other reason than this for the dialectic
conclusion;[47] for, if we think, not of our words, but of any simple
concrete matter which they may be held to signify, the experience itself
belies the paradox asserted. We use indeed two separate concepts in
analyzing our object, but we know them all the while to be but
substitutional, and that the _M_ in _L--M_ and the _M_ in _M--N mean_
(_i.e._, are capable of leading to and terminating in) one self-same
piece, _M_, of sensible experience. This persistent identity of certain
units (or emphases, or points, or objects, or members--call them what
you will) of the experience-continuum, is just one of those conjunctive
features of it, on which I am obliged to insist so emphatically.[48] For
samenesses are parts of experience's indefeasible structure. When I hear
a bell-stroke and, as life flows on, its after image dies away, I still
hark back to it as 'that same bell-stroke.' When I see a thing _M_, with
_L_ to the left of it and _N_ to the right of it, I see it _as_ one _M_;
and if you tell me I have had to 'take' it twice, I reply that if I
'took' it a thousand times I should still _see_ it as a unit.[49] Its
unity is aboriginal, just as the multiplicity of my successive takings
is aboriginal. It comes unbroken as _that M_, as a singular which I
encounter; they come broken, as _those_ takings, as my plurality of
operations. The unity and the separateness are strictly co-ordinate. I
do not easily fathom why my opponents should find the separateness so
much more easily understandable that they must needs infect the whole of
finite experience with it, and relegate the unity (now taken as a bare
postulate and no longer as a thing positively perceivable) to the region
of the Absolute's mysteries. I do not easily fathom this, I say, for the
said opponents are above mere verbal quibbling; yet all that I can catch
in their talk is the substitution of what is true of certain words for
what is true of what they signify. They stay with the words,--not
returning to the stream of life whence all the meaning of them came, and
which is always ready to reabsorb them.


For aught this argument proves, then, we may continue to believe that
one thing can be known by many knowers. But the denial of one thing in
many relations is but one application of a still profounder dialectic
difficulty. Man can't be good, said the sophists, for man is _man_ and
_good_ is good; and Hegel[50] and Herbart in their day, more recently A.
Spir,[51] and most recently and elaborately of all, Mr. Bradley, informs
us that a term can logically only be a punctiform unit, and that not one
of the conjunctive relations between things, which experience seems to
yield, is rationally possible.

Of course, if true, this cuts off radical empiricism without even a
shilling. Radical empiricism takes conjunctive relations at their face
value, holding them to be as real as the terms united by them.[52] The
world it represents as a collection, some parts of which are
conjunctively and others disjunctively related. Two parts, themselves
disjoined, may nevertheless hang together by intermediaries with which
they are severally connected, and the whole world eventually may hang
together similarly, inasmuch as _some_ path of conjunctive transition by
which to pass from one of its parts to another may always be
discernible. Such determinately various hanging-together may be called
_concatenated_ union, to distinguish it from the 'through-and-through'
type of union, 'each in all and all in each' (union of _total conflux_,
as one might call it), which monistic systems hold to obtain when things
are taken in their absolute reality. In a concatenated world a partial
conflux often is experienced. Our concepts and our sensations are
confluent; successive states of the same ego, and feelings of the same
body are confluent. Where the experience is not of conflux, it may be of
conterminousness (things with but one thing between); or of
contiguousness (nothing between); or of likeness; or of nearness; or of
simultaneousness; or of in-ness; or of on-ness; or of for-ness; or of
simple with-ness; or even of mere and-ness, which last relation would
make of however disjointed a world otherwise, at any rate for that
occasion a universe 'of discourse.' Now Mr. Bradley tells us that none
of these relations, as we actually experience them, can possibly be
real.[53] My next duty, accordingly, must be to rescue radical
empiricism from Mr. Bradley. Fortunately, as it seems to me, his general
contention, that the very notion of relation is unthinkable clearly, has
been successfully met by many critics.[54]

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


The first duty of radical empiricism, taking given conjunctions at their
face-value, is to class some of them as more intimate and some as more
external. When two terms are _similar_, their very natures enter into
the relation. Being _what_ they are, no matter where or when, the
likeness never can be denied, if asserted. It continues predicable as
long as the terms continue. Other relations, the _where_ and the _when_,
for example, seem adventitious. The sheet of paper may be 'off' or 'on'
the table, for example; and in either case the relation involves only
the outside of its terms. Having an outside, both of them, they
contribute by it to the relation. It is external: the term's inner
nature is irrelevant to it. Any book, any table, may fall into the
relation, which is created _pro hac vice_, not by their existence, but
by their casual situation. It is just because so many of the
conjunctions of experience seem so external that a philosophy of pure
experience must tend to pluralism in its ontology. So far as things have
space-relations, for example, we are free to imagine them with different
origins even. If they could get to _be_, and get into space at all, then
they may have done so separately. Once there, however, they are
_additives_ to one another, and, with no prejudice to their natures, all
sorts of space-relations may supervene between them. The question of
how things could come to be anyhow, is wholly different from the
question what their relations, once the being accomplished, may consist

Mr. Bradley now affirms that such external relations as the
space-relations which we here talk of must hold of entirely different
subjects from those of which the absence of such relations might a
moment previously have been plausibly asserted. Not only is the
_situation_ different when the book is on the table, but the _book
itself_ is different as a book, from what it was when it was off the
table.[55] He admits that "such external relations seem possible and
even existing.... That you do not alter what you compare or rearrange in
space seems to common sense quite obvious, and that on the other side
there are as obvious difficulties does not occur to common sense at all.
And I will begin by pointing out these difficulties.... There is a
relation in the result, and this relation, we hear, is to make no
difference in its terms. But, if so, to what does it make a difference?
[_Doesn't it make a difference to us onlookers, at least?_] and what is
the meaning and sense of qualifying the terms by it? [_Surely the
meaning is to tell the truth about their relative position._[56]] If, in
short, it is external to the terms, how can it possibly be true of them?
[_Is it the 'intimacy' suggested by the little word 'of,' here, which I
have underscored, that is the root of Mr. Bradley's trouble?_] ... If
the terms from their inner nature do not enter into the relation, then,
so far as they are concerned, they seem related for no reason at all....
Things are spatially related, first in one way, and then become related
in another way, and yet in no way themselves are altered; for the
relations, it is said, are but external. But I reply that, if so, I can
not _understand_ the leaving by the terms of one set of relations and
their adoption of another fresh set. The process and its result to the
terms, if they contribute nothing to it [_Surely they contribute to it
all there is 'of' it!_] seem irrational throughout. [_If 'irrational'
here means simply 'non-rational,' or nondeductible from the essence of
either term singly, it is no reproach; if it means 'contradicting' such
essence, Mr. Bradley should show wherein and how._] But, if they
contribute anything, they must surely be affected internally. [_Why so,
if they contribute only their surface? In such relations as 'on' 'a foot
away,' 'between,' 'next,' etc., only surfaces are in question._] ... If
the terms contribute anything whatever, then the terms are affected
[_inwardly altered?_] by the arrangement.... That for working purposes
we treat, and do well to treat, some relations as external merely I do
not deny, and that of course is not the question at issue here. That
question is ... whether in the end and in principle a mere external
relation [_i.e., a relation which can change without forcing its terms
to change their nature simultaneously_] is possible and forced on us by
the facts."[57]

Mr. Bradley next reverts to the antinomies of space, which, according to
him, prove it to be unreal, although it appears as so prolific a medium
of external relations; and he then concludes that "Irrationality and
externality can not be the last truth about things. Somewhere there must
be a reason why this and that appear together. And this reason and
reality must reside in the whole from which terms and relations are
abstractions, a whole in which their internal connection must lie, and
out of which from the background appear those fresh results which never
could have come from the premises." And he adds that "Where the whole is
different, the terms that qualify and contribute to it must so far be
different.... They are altered so far only [_How far? farther than
externally, yet not through and through?_] but still they are
altered.... I must insist that in each case the terms are qualified by
their whole [_Qualified how?--Do their external relations, situations,
dates, etc., changed as these are in the new whole, fail to qualify them
'far' enough?_], and that in the second case there is a whole which
differs both logically and psychologically from the first whole; and I
urge that in contributing to the change the terms so far are altered."

Not merely the relations, then, but the terms are altered: _und zwar_ 'so
far.' But just _how_ far is the whole problem; and 'through-and-through'
would seem (in spite of Mr. Bradley's somewhat undecided utterances[58])
to be the full Bradleyan answer. The 'whole' which he here treats as
primary and determinative of each part's manner of 'contributing,' simply
_must_, when it alters, alter in its entirety. There _must_ be total
conflux of its parts, each into and through each other. The 'must' appears
here as a _Machtspruch_, as an _ipse dixit_ of Mr. Bradley's
absolutistically tempered 'understanding,' for he candidly confesses that
how the parts _do_ differ as they contribute to different wholes, is
unknown to him.[59]

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


Mr. Bradley's understanding shows the most extraordinary power of
perceiving separations and the most extraordinary impotence in
comprehending conjunctions. One would naturally say 'neither or both,'
but not so Mr. Bradley. When a common man analyzes certain _whats_ from
out the stream of experience, he understands their distinctness _as thus
isolated_. But this does not prevent him from equally well understanding
their combination with each other _as originally experienced in the
concrete_, or their confluence with new sensible experiences in which
they recur as 'the same.' Returning into the stream of sensible
presentation, nouns and adjectives, and _thats_ and abstract _whats_,
grow confluent again, and the word 'is' names all these experiences of
conjunction. Mr. Bradley understands the isolation of the abstracts, but
to understand the combination is to him impossible.[60] "To understand
a complex _AB_," he says, "I must begin with _A_ or _B_. And beginning,
say with _A_, if I then merely find _B_, I have either lost _A_, or I
have got beside _A_, [_the word 'beside' seems here vital, as meaning a
conjunction 'external' and therefore unintelligible_] something else,
and in neither case have I understood.[61] For my intellect can not
simply unite a diversity, nor has it in itself any form or way of
togetherness, and you gain nothing if, beside _A_ and _B_, you offer me
their conjunction in fact. For to my intellect that is no more than
another external element. And 'facts,' once for all, are for my
intellect not true unless they satisfy it.... The intellect has in its
nature no principle of mere togetherness."[62]

Of course Mr. Bradley has a right to define 'intellect' as the power by
which we perceive separations but not unions--provided he give due
notice to the reader. But why then claim that such a maimed and
amputated power must reign supreme in philosophy, and accuse on its
behoof the whole empirical world of irrationality? It is true that he
elsewhere attributes to the intellect a _proprius motus_ of transition,
but says that when he looks for _these_ transitions in the detail of
living experience, he 'is unable to verify such a solution.'[63]

Yet he never explains what the intellectual transitions would be like in
case we had them. He only defines them negatively--they are not spatial,
temporal, predicative, or causal; or qualitatively or otherwise serial;
or in any way relational as we naïvely trace relations, for relations
_separate_ terms, and need themselves to be hooked on _ad infinitum_.
The nearest approach he makes to describing a truly intellectual
transition is where he speaks of _A_ and _B_ as being 'united, each
from its own nature, in a whole which is the nature of both alike.'[64]
But this (which, _pace_ Mr. Bradley, seems exquisitely analogous to
'taking' a congeries in a 'lump,' if not to 'swamping') suggests nothing
but that _conflux_ which pure experience so abundantly offers, as when
'space,' 'white' and 'sweet' are confluent in a 'lump of sugar,' or
kinesthetic, dermal, and optical sensations confluent in 'my hand.'[65]
All that I can verify in the transitions which Mr. Bradley's intellect
desiderates as its _proprius motus_ is a reminiscence of these and other
sensible conjunctions (especially space-conjunctions), but a
reminiscence so vague that its originals are not recognized. Bradley in
short repeats the fable of the dog, the bone, and its image in the
water. With a world of particulars, given in loveliest union, in
conjunction definitely various, and variously definite, the 'how' of
which you 'understand' as soon as you see the fact of them,[66] for
there is no 'how' except the constitution of the fact as given; with all
this given him, I say, in pure experience, he asks for some ineffable
union in the abstract instead, which, if he gained it, would only be a
duplicate of what he has already in his full possession. Surely he
abuses the privilege which society grants to all us philosophers, of
being puzzle-headed.

Polemic writing like this is odious; but with absolutism in possession
in so many quarters, omission to defend my radical empiricism against
its best known champion would count as either superficiality or
inability. I have to conclude that its dialectic has not invalidated in
the least degree the usual conjunctions by which the world, as
experienced, hangs so variously together. In particular it leaves an
empirical theory of knowledge[67] intact, and lets us continue to
believe with common sense that one object _may_ be known, if we have any
ground for thinking that it _is_ known, to many knowers.

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


[43] [Reprinted from _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. II, No. 2, January 19, 1905. Reprinted also as
Appendix A in _A Pluralistic Universe_, pp. 347-369. The author's
corrections have been adopted in the present text. ED.]

[44] [F. H. Bradley: _Appearance and Reality_, second edition, pp.
152-153, 23, 118, 104, 108-109, 570.]

[45] Compare Professor MacLennan's admirable _Auseinandersetzung_ with
Mr. Bradley, in _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific
Methods_, vol. I, [1904], pp. 403 ff., especially pp. 405-407.

[46] [Hume: _Treatise of Human Nature_, Appendix, Selby-Bigge's edition,
p. 636.]

[47] Technically, it seems classable as a 'fallacy of composition.' A
duality, predicable of the two wholes, _L--M_ and _M--N_, is forthwith
predicated of one of their parts, _M_.

[48] See above, pp. 42 ff.

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

[50] [For the author's criticism of Hegel's view of relations, cf. _Will
to Believe_, pp. 278-279. ED.]

[51] [Cf. A. Spir: _Denken und Wirklichkeit_, part I, bk. III, ch. IV
(containing also account of Herbart). ED.]

[52] [See above, pp. 42, 49.]

[53] Here again the reader must beware of slipping from logical into
phenomenal considerations. It may well be that we _attribute_ a certain
relation falsely, because the circumstances of the case, being complex,
have deceived us. At a railway station we may take our own train, and
not the one that fills our window, to be moving. We here put motion in
the wrong place in the world, but in its original place the motion is a
part of reality. What Mr. Bradley means is nothing like this, but rather
that such things as motion are nowhere real, and that, even in their
aboriginal and empirically incorrigible seats, relations are impossible
of comprehension.

[54] Particularly so by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, in his _Man and
the Cosmos_; by L. T. Hobhouse, in chapter XII ("The Validity of
Judgment") of his _Theory of Knowledge_; and by F. C. S. Schiller, in
his _Humanism_, essay XI. Other fatal reviews (in my opinion) are
Hodder's, in the _Psychological Review_, vol. I, [1894], p. 307; Stout's
in the _Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society_, 1901-2, p. 1; and
MacLennan's in [_The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific
Methods_, vol. I, 1904, p. 403].

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

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

[57] _Appearance and Reality_, second edition, pp. 575-576.

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

[59] _Op. cit._, pp. 577-579.

[60] So far as I catch his state of mind, it is somewhat like this:
'Book,' 'table,' 'on'--how does the existence of these three abstract
elements result in _this_ book being livingly on _this_ table. Why isn't
the table on the book? Or why doesn't the 'on' connect itself with
another book, or something that is not a table? Mustn't something _in_
each of the three elements already determine the two others to _it_, so
that they do not settle elsewhere or float vaguely? Mustn't the _whole
fact be pre-figured in each part_, and exist _de jure_ before it can
exist _de facto_? But, if so, in what can the jural existence consist,
if not in a spiritual miniature of the whole fact's constitution
actuating every partial factor as its purpose? But is this anything but
the old metaphysical fallacy of looking behind a fact _in esse_ for the
ground of the fact, and finding it in the shape of the very same fact
_in posse_? Somewhere we must leave off with a _constitution_ behind
which there is nothing.

[61] Apply this to the case of 'book-on-table'! W. J.

[62] _Op. cit._, pp. 570, 572.

[63] _Op. cit._, pp. 568, 569.

[64] _Op. cit._, p. 570.

[65] How meaningless is the contention that in such wholes (or in
'book-on-table,' 'watch-in-pocket,' etc.) the relation is an additional
entity _between_ the terms, needing itself to be related again to each!
Both Bradley (_op. cit._, pp. 32-33) and Royce (_The World and the
Individual_, vol. I, p. 128) lovingly repeat this piece of profundity.

[66] The 'why' and the 'whence' are entirely other questions, not under
discussion, as I understand Mr. Bradley. Not how experience gets itself
born, but how it can be what it is after it is born, is the puzzle.

[67] Above, p. 52.



In [the essay] entitled 'Does Consciousness Exist?' I have tried to show
that when we call an experience 'conscious,' that does not mean that it
is suffused throughout with a peculiar modality of being ('psychic'
being) as stained glass may be suffused with light, but rather that it
stands in certain determinate relations to other portions of experience
extraneous to itself. These form one peculiar 'context' for it; while,
taken in another context of experiences, we class it as a fact in the
physical world. This 'pen,' for example, is, in the first instance, a
bald _that_, a datum, fact, phenomenon, content, or whatever other
neutral or ambiguous name you may prefer to apply. I called it in that
article a 'pure experience.' To get classed either as a physical pen or
as some one's percept of a pen, it must assume a _function_, and that
can only happen in a more complicated world. So far as in that world it
is a stable feature, holds ink, marks paper and obeys the guidance of a
hand, it is a physical pen. That is what we mean by being 'physical,' in
a pen. So far as it is instable, on the contrary, coming and going with
the movements of my eyes, altering with what I call my fancy, continuous
with subsequent experiences of its 'having been' (in the past tense), it
is the percept of a pen in my mind. Those peculiarities are what we mean
by being 'conscious,' in a pen.

In Section VI of another [essay][69] I tried to show that the same
_that_, the same numerically identical pen of pure experience, can enter
simultaneously into many conscious contexts, or, in other words, be an
object for many different minds. I admitted that I had not space to
treat of certain possible objections in that article; but in [the last
essay] I took some of the objections up. At the end of that [essay] I
said that still more formidable-sounding objections remained; so, to
leave my pure-experience theory in as strong a state as possible, I
propose to consider those objections now.


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

In the physical world we make with impunity the assumption that one and
the same material object can figure in an indefinitely large number of
different processes at once. When, for instance, a sheet of rubber is
pulled at its four corners, a unit of rubber in the middle of the sheet
is affected by all four of the pulls. It _transmits_ them each, as if
it pulled in four different ways at once itself. So, an air-particle or
an ether-particle 'compounds' the different directions of movement
imprinted on it without obliterating their several individualities. It
delivers them distinct, on the contrary, at as many several 'receivers'
(ear, eye or what not) as may be 'tuned' to that effect. The apparent
paradox of a distinctness like this surviving in the midst of
compounding is a thing which, I fancy, the analyses made by physicists
have by this time sufficiently cleared up.

But if, on the strength of these analogies, one should ask: "Why, if two
or more lines can run through one and the same geometrical point, or if
two or more distinct processes of activity can run through one and the
same physical thing so that it simultaneously plays a rôle in each and
every process, might not two or more streams of personal consciousness
include one and the same unit of experience so that it would
simultaneously be a part of the experience of all the different minds?"
one would be checked by thinking of a certain peculiarity by which
phenomena of consciousness differ from physical things.

While physical things, namely, are supposed to be permanent and to have
their 'states,' a fact of consciousness exists but once and _is_ a
state. Its _esse_ is _sentiri_; it is only so far as it is felt; and it
is unambiguously and unequivocally exactly _what_ is felt. The
hypothesis under consideration would, however, oblige it to be felt
equivocally, felt now as part of my mind and again at the same time
_not_ as a part of my mind, but of yours (for my mind is _not_ yours),
and this would seem impossible without doubling it into two distinct
things, or, in other words, without reverting to the ordinary dualistic
philosophy of insulated minds each knowing its object representatively
as a third thing,--and that would be to give up the pure-experience
scheme altogether.

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


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

It means, first, that new experiences have supervened; and, second, that
they have borne a certain assignable relation to the unit supposed.
Continue, if you please, to speak of the pure unit as 'the pen.' So far
as the pen's successors do but repeat the pen or, being different from
it, are 'energetically'[70] related to it, it and they will form a group
of stably existing physical things. So far, however, as its successors
differ from it in another well-determined way, the pen will figure in
their context, not as a physical, but as a mental fact. It will become a
passing 'percept,' _my_ percept of that pen. What now is that decisive
well-determined way?

In the chapter on 'The Self,' in my _Principles of Psychology_, I
explained the continuous identity of each personal consciousness as a
name for the practical fact that new experiences[71] come which look
back on the old ones, find them 'warm,' and greet and appropriate them
as 'mine.' These operations mean, when analyzed empirically, several
tolerably definite things, viz.:

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

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

3. That these feelings are the nucleus of 'me';

4. That whatever once was associated with them was, at least for that
one moment, 'mine'--my implement if associated with hand-feelings, my
'percept' only, if only eye-feelings and attention-feelings were

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

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


Obviously no new kind of condition would have to be supplied. All that
we should have to postulate would be a second subsequent experience,
collateral and contemporary with the first subsequent one, in which a
similar act of appropriation should occur. The two acts would interfere
neither with one another nor with the originally pure pen. It would
sleep undisturbed in its own past, no matter how many such successors
went through their several appropriative acts. Each would know it as
'my' percept, each would class it as a 'conscious' fact.

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

The paradox of the same experience figuring in two consciousnesses seems
thus no paradox at all. To be 'conscious' means not simply to be, but to
be reported, known, to have awareness of one's being added to that
being; and this is just what happens when the appropriative experience
supervenes. The pen-experience in its original immediacy is not aware of
itself, it simply _is_, and the second experience is required for what
we call awareness of it to occur.[72] The difficulty of understanding
what happens here is, therefore, not a logical difficulty: there is no
contradiction involved. It is an ontological difficulty rather.
Experiences come on an enormous scale, and if we take them all
together, they come in a chaos of incommensurable relations that we can
not straighten out. We have to abstract different groups of them, and
handle these separately if we are to talk of them at all. But how the
experiences ever _get themselves made_, or _why_ their characters and
relations are just such as appear, we can not begin to understand.
Granting, however, that, by hook or crook, they _can_ get themselves
made, and can appear in the successions that I have so schematically
described, then we have to confess that even although (as I began by
quoting from the adversary) 'a feeling only is as it is felt,' there is
still nothing absurd in the notion of its being felt in two different
ways at once, as yours, namely, and as mine. It is, indeed, 'mine' only
as it is felt as mine, and 'yours' only as it is felt as yours. But it
is felt as neither _by itself_, but only when 'owned' by our two several
remembering experiences, just as one undivided estate is owned by
several heirs.


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

Meanwhile, a pure experience can be postulated with any amount whatever
of span or field. If it exert the retrospective and appropriative
function on any other piece of experience, the latter thereby enters
into its own conscious stream. And in this operation time intervals make
no essential difference. After sleeping, my retrospection is as perfect
as it is between two successive waking moments of my time. Accordingly
if, millions of years later, a similarly retrospective experience should
anyhow come to birth, my present thought would form a genuine portion of
its long-span conscious life. 'Form a portion,' I say, but not in the
sense that the two things could be entitatively or substantively
one--they cannot, for they are numerically discrete facts--but only in
the sense that the _functions_ of my present thought, its knowledge, its
purpose, its content and 'consciousness,' in short, being inherited,
would be continued practically unchanged. Speculations like Fechner's,
of an Earth-soul, of wider spans of consciousness enveloping narrower
ones throughout the cosmos, are, therefore, philosophically quite in
order, provided they distinguish the functional from the entitative
point of view, and do not treat the minor consciousness under discussion
as a kind of standing material of which the wider ones _consist_.[74]


[68] [Reprinted from _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. II, No. 7, March 30, 1905.]

[69] "A World of Pure Experience," above, pp. 39-91.

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

[71] I call them 'passing thoughts' in the book--the passage in point
goes from pages 330 to 342 of vol. I.

[72] Shadworth Hodgson has laid great stress on the fact that the
minimum of consciousness demands two subfeelings, of which the second
retrospects the first. (Cf. the section 'Analysis of Minima' in his
_Philosophy of Reflection_, vol. I, p. 248; also the chapter entitled
'The Moment of Experience' in his _Metaphysic of Experience_, vol. I, p.
34.) 'We live forward, but we understand backward' is a phrase of
Kierkegaard's which Höffding quotes. [H. Höffding: "A Philosophical
Confession," _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_,
vol. II, 1905, p. 86.]

[73] [Cf. below, pp. 197, 202.]

[74] [Cf. _A Pluralistic Universe_, Lect. IV, 'Concerning Fechner,' and
Lect. V, 'The Compounding of Consciousness.']



Common sense and popular philosophy are as dualistic as it is possible
to be. Thoughts, we all naturally think, are made of one kind of
substance, and things of another. Consciousness, flowing inside of us in
the forms of conception or judgment, or concentrating itself in the
shape of passion or emotion, can be directly felt as the spiritual
activity which it is, and known in contrast with the space-filling
objective 'content' which it envelopes and accompanies. In opposition to
this dualistic philosophy, I tried, in [the first essay] to show that
thoughts and things are absolutely homogeneous as to their material, and
that their opposition is only one of relation and of function. There is
no thought-stuff different from thing-stuff, I said; but the same
identical piece of 'pure experience' (which was the name I gave to the
_materia prima_ of everything) can stand alternately for a 'fact of
consciousness' or for a physical reality, according as it is taken in
one context or in another. For the right understanding of what follows,
I shall have to presuppose that the reader will have read that

The commonest objection which the doctrine there laid down runs up
against is drawn from the existence of our 'affections.' In our
pleasures and pains, our loves and fears and angers, in the beauty,
comicality, importance or preciousness of certain objects and
situations, we have, I am told by many critics, a great realm of
experience intuitively recognized as spiritual, made, and felt to be
made, of consciousness exclusively, and different in nature from the
space-filling kind of being which is enjoyed by physical objects. In
Section VII. of [the first essay], I treated of this class of
experiences very inadequately, because I had to be so brief. I now
return to the subject, because I believe that, so far from invalidating
my general thesis, these phenomena, when properly analyzed, afford it
powerful support.

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

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

It is possible to imagine a universe of experiences in which the only
alternative between neighbors would be either physical interaction or
complete inertness. In such a world the mental or the physical _status_
of any piece of experience would be unequivocal. When active, it would
figure in the physical, and when inactive, in the mental group.

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

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

(2) That their ambiguity illustrates beautifully my central thesis that
subjectivity and objectivity are affairs not of what an experience is
aboriginally made of, but of its classification. Classifications depend
on our temporary purposes. For certain purposes it is convenient to take
things in one set of relations, for other purposes in another set. In
the two cases their contexts are apt to be different. In the case of our
affectional experiences we have no permanent and steadfast purpose that
obliges us to be consistent, so we find it easy to let them float
ambiguously, sometimes classing them with our feelings, sometimes with
more physical realities, according to caprice or to the convenience of
the moment. Thus would these experiences, so far from being an obstacle
to the pure experience philosophy, serve as an excellent corroboration
of its truth.

First of all, then, it is a mistake to say, with the objectors whom I
began by citing, that anger, love and fear are affections purely of the
mind. That, to a great extent at any rate, they are simultaneously
affections of the body is proved by the whole literature of the
James-Lange theory of emotion.[77] All our pains, moreover, are local,
and we are always free to speak of them in objective as well as in
subjective terms. We can say that we are aware of a painful place,
filling a certain bigness in our organism, or we can say that we are
inwardly in a 'state' of pain. All our adjectives of worth are
similarly ambiguous--I instanced some of the ambiguities [in the first
essay].[78] Is the preciousness of a diamond a quality of the gem? or is
it a feeling in our mind? Practically we treat it as both or as either,
according to the temporary direction of our thought. 'Beauty,' says
Professor Santayana, 'is pleasure objectified'; and in Sections 10 and
11 of his work, _The Sense of Beauty_, he treats in a masterly way of
this equivocal realm. The various pleasures we receive from an object
may count as 'feelings' when we take them singly, but when they combine
in a total richness, we call the result the 'beauty' of the object, and
treat it as an outer attribute which our mind perceives. We discover
beauty just as we discover the physical properties of things. Training
is needed to make us expert in either line. Single sensations also may
be ambiguous. Shall we say an 'agreeable degree of heat,' or an
'agreeable feeling' occasioned by the degree of heat? Either will do;
and language would lose most of its esthetic and rhetorical value were
we forbidden to project words primarily connoting our affections upon
the objects by which the affections are aroused. The man is really
hateful; the action really mean; the situation really tragic--all in
themselves and quite apart from our opinion. We even go so far as to
talk of a weary road, a giddy height, a jocund morning or a sullen sky;
and the term 'indefinite' while usually applied only to our
apprehensions, functions as a fundamental physical qualification of
things in Spencer's 'law of evolution,' and doubtless passes with most
readers for all right.

Psychologists, studying our perceptions of movement, have unearthed
experiences in which movement is felt in general but not ascribed
correctly to the body that really moves. Thus in optical vertigo, caused
by unconscious movements of our eyes, both we and the external universe
appear to be in a whirl. When clouds float by the moon, it is as if both
clouds and moon and we ourselves shared in the motion. In the
extraordinary case of amnesia of the Rev. Mr. Hanna, published by Sidis
and Goodhart in their important work on _Multiple Personality_, we read
that when the patient first recovered consciousness and "noticed an
attendant walk across the room, he identified the movement with that of
his own. He did not yet discriminate between his own movements and those
outside himself."[79] Such experiences point to a primitive stage of
perception in which discriminations afterwards needful have not yet been
made. A piece of experience of a determinate sort is there, but there at
first as a 'pure' fact. Motion originally simply _is_; only later is it
confined to this thing or to that. Something like this is true of every
experience, however complex, at the moment of its actual presence. Let
the reader arrest himself in the act of reading this article now. _Now_
this is a pure experience, a phenomenon, or datum, a mere _that_ or
content of fact. _'Reading' simply is, is there_; and whether there for
some one's consciousness, or there for physical nature, is a question
not yet put. At the moment, it is there for neither; later we shall
probably judge it to have been there for both.

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

The shifting place of 'secondary qualities' in the history of
philosophy[80] is another excellent proof of the fact that 'inner' and
'outer' are not coefficients with which experiences come to us
aboriginally stamped, but are rather results of a later classification
performed by us for particular needs. The common-sense stage of thought
is a perfectly definite practical halting-place, the place where we
ourselves can proceed to act unhesitatingly. On this stage of thought
things act on each other as well as on us by means of their secondary
qualities. Sound, as such, goes through the air and can be intercepted.
The heat of the fire passes over, as such, into the water which it sets
a-boiling. It is the very light of the arc-lamp which displaces the
darkness of the midnight street, etc. By engendering and translocating
just these qualities, actively efficacious as they seem to be, we
ourselves succeed in altering nature so as to suit us; and until more
purely intellectual, as distinguished from practical, needs had arisen,
no one ever thought of calling these qualities subjective. When,
however, Galileo, Descartes, and others found it best for philosophic
purposes to class sound, heat, and light along with pain and pleasure as
purely mental phenomena, they could do so with impunity.[81]

Even the primary qualities are undergoing the same fate. Hardness and
softness are effects on us of atomic interactions, and the atoms
themselves are neither hard nor soft, nor solid nor liquid. Size and
shape are deemed subjective by Kantians; time itself is subjective
according to many philosophers;[82] and even the activity and causal
efficacy which lingered in physics long after secondary qualities were
banished are now treated as illusory projections outwards of phenomena
of our own consciousness. There are no activities or effects in nature,
for the most intellectual contemporary school of physical speculation.
Nature exhibits only _changes_, which habitually coincide with one
another so that their habits are describable in simple 'laws.'[83]

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

I will say nothing here of the persistent ambiguity of _relations_. They
are undeniable parts of pure experience; yet, while common sense and
what I call radical empiricism stand for their being objective, both
rationalism and the usual empiricism claim that they are exclusively the
'work of the mind'--the finite mind or the absolute mind, as the case
may be.

       *       *       *       *       *

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

We soon learn to separate the ways in which things appeal to our
interests and emotions from the ways in which they act upon one another.
It does not _work_ to assume that physical objects are going to act
outwardly by their sympathetic or antipathetic qualities. The beauty of
a thing or its value is no force that can be plotted in a polygon of
compositions, nor does its 'use' or 'significance' affect in the
minutest degree its vicissitudes or destiny at the hands of physical
nature. Chemical 'affinities' are a purely verbal metaphor; and, as I
just said, even such things as forces, tensions, and activities can at a
pinch be regarded as anthropomorphic projections. So far, then, as the
physical world means the collection of contents that determine in each
other certain regular changes, the whole collection of our appreciative
attributes has to be treated as falling outside of it. If we mean by
physical nature whatever lies beyond the surface of our bodies, these
attributes are inert throughout the whole extent of physical nature.

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

The reason would seem to be that, although they are inert as regards the
rest of physical nature, they are not inert as regards that part of
physical nature which our own skin covers. It is those very appreciative
attributes of things, their dangerousness, beauty, rarity, utility,
etc., that primarily appeal to our attention. In our commerce with
nature these attributes are what give _emphasis_ to objects; and for an
object to be emphatic, whatever spiritual fact it may mean, means also
that it produces immediate bodily effects upon us, alterations of tone
and tension, of heart-beat and breathing, of vascular and visceral
action. The 'interesting' aspects of things are thus not wholly inert
physically, though they be active only in these small corners of
physical nature which our bodies occupy. That, however, is enough to
save them from being classed as absolutely non-objective.

The attempt, if any one should make it, to sort experiences into two
absolutely discrete groups, with nothing but inertness in one of them
and nothing but activities in the other, would thus receive one check.
It would receive another as soon as we examined the more distinctively
mental group; for though in that group it be true that things do not act
on one another by their physical properties, do not dent each other or
set fire to each other, they yet act on each other in the most energetic
way by those very characters which are so inert extracorporeally. It is
by the interest and importance that experiences have for us, by the
emotions they excite, and the purposes they subserve, by their affective
values, in short, that their consecution in our several conscious
streams, as 'thoughts' of ours, is mainly ruled. Desire introduces them;
interest holds them; fitness fixes their order and connection. I need
only refer for this aspect of our mental life, to Wundt's article 'Ueber
psychische Causalität,' which begins Volume X. of his _Philosophische

It thus appears that the ambiguous or amphibious _status_ which we find
our epithets of value occupying is the most natural thing in the world.
It would, however, be an unnatural status if the popular opinion which I
cited at the outset were correct. If 'physical' and 'mental' meant two
different kinds of intrinsic nature, immediately, intuitively, and
infallibly discernible, and each fixed forever in whatever bit of
experience it qualified, one does not see how there could ever have
arisen any room for doubt or ambiguity. But if, on the contrary, these
words are words of sorting, ambiguity is natural. For then, as soon as
the relations of a thing are sufficiently various it can be sorted
variously. Take a mass of carrion, for example, and the
'disgustingness' which for us is part of the experience. The sun
caresses it, and the zephyr wooes it as if it were a bed of roses. So
the disgustingness fails to _operate_ within the realm of suns and
breezes,--it does not function as a physical quality. But the carrion
'turns our stomach' by what seems a direct operation--it _does_ function
physically, therefore, in that limited part of physics. We can treat it
as physical or as non-physical according as we take it in the narrower
or in the wider context, and conversely, of course, we must treat it as
non-mental or as mental.

Our body itself is the palmary instance of the ambiguous. Sometimes I
treat my body purely as a part of outer nature. Sometimes, again, I
think of it as 'mine,' I sort it with the 'me,' and then certain local
changes and determinations in it pass for spiritual happenings. Its
breathing is my 'thinking,' its sensorial adjustments are my
'attention,' its kinesthetic alterations are my 'efforts,' its visceral
perturbations are my 'emotions.' The obstinate controversies that have
arisen over such statements as these (which sound so paradoxical, and
which can yet be made so seriously) prove how hard it is to decide by
bare introspection what it is in experiences that shall make them either
spiritual or material. It surely can be nothing intrinsic in the
individual experience. It is their way of behaving towards each other,
their system of relations, their function; and all these things vary
with the context in which we find it opportune to consider them.

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


[75] [Reprinted from _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. II, No. 11, May 25, 1905.]

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

[77] [Cf. _The Principles of Psychology_, vol. II, ch. XXV; and "The
Physical Basis of Emotion," _The Psychological Review_, vol. I, 1894, p.

[78] [See above, pp. 34, 35.]

[79] Page 102.

[80] [Cf. Janet and Séailles: _History of the Problems of Philosophy_,
trans. by Monahan, part I, ch. III.]

[81] [Cf. Descartes: _Meditation_ II; _Principles of Philosophy_, part

[82] [Cf. A. E. Taylor: _Elements of Metaphysics_, bk. III, ch. IV.]

[83] [Cf. K. Pearson: _Grammar of Science_, ch. III.]

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




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

The way of handling things I speak of, is, as you already will have
suspected, that known sometimes as the pragmatic method, sometimes as
humanism, sometimes as Deweyism, and in France, by some of the disciples
of Bergson, as the Philosophie nouvelle. Professor Woodbridge's _Journal
of Philosophy_[86] seems unintentionally to have become a sort of
meeting place for those who follow these tendencies in America. There is
only a dim identity among them; and the most that can be said at present
is that some sort of gestation seems to be in the atmosphere, and that
almost any day a man with a genius for finding the right word for things
may hit upon some unifying and conciliating formula that will make so
much vaguely similar aspiration crystallize into more definite form.

I myself have given the name of 'radical empiricism' to that version of
the tendency in question which I prefer; and I propose, if you will now
let me, to illustrate what I mean by radical empiricism, by applying it
to activity as an example, hoping at the same time incidentally to
leave the general problem of activity in a slightly--I fear very
slightly--more manageable shape than before.

Mr. Bradley calls the question of activity a scandal to philosophy, and
if one turns to the current literature of the subject--his own writings
included--one easily gathers what he means. The opponents cannot even
understand one another. Mr. Bradley says to Mr. Ward: "I do not care
what your oracle is, and your preposterous psychology may here be gospel
if you please; ... but if the revelation does contain a meaning, I will
commit myself to this: either the oracle is so confused that its
signification is not discoverable, or, upon the other hand, if it can be
pinned down to any definite statement, then that statement will be
false."[87] Mr. Ward in turn says of Mr. Bradley: "I cannot even imagine
the state of mind to which his description applies.... [It] reads like
an unintentional travesty of Herbartian psychology by one who has tried
to improve upon it without being at the pains to master it."[88]
Münsterberg excludes a view opposed to his own by saying that with any
one who holds it a _Verständigung_ with him is "_grundsätzlich
ausgeschlossen_"; and Royce, in a review of Stout,[89] hauls him over
the coals at great length for defending 'efficacy' in a way which I, for
one, never gathered from reading him, and which I have heard Stout
himself say was quite foreign to the intention of his text.

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

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

(2) There is a metaphysical question: "Is there a _fact_ of activity?
and if so, what idea must we frame of it? What is it like? and what
does it do, if it does anything?" And finally there is a logical

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

It seems to me that if radical empiricism be good for anything, it
ought, with its pragmatic method and its principle of pure experience,
to be able to avoid such tangles, or at least to simplify them somewhat.
The pragmatic method starts from the postulate that there is no
difference of truth that doesn't make a difference of fact somewhere;
and it seeks to determine the meaning of all differences of opinion by
making the discussion hinge as soon as possible upon some practical or
particular issue. The principle of pure experience is also a methodical
postulate. Nothing shall be admitted as fact, it says, except what can
be experienced at some definite time by some experient; and for every
feature of fact ever so experienced, a definite place must be found
somewhere in the final system of reality. In other words: Everything
real must be experienceable somewhere, and every kind of thing
experienced must somewhere be real.

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

By the principle of pure experience, either the word 'activity' must
have no meaning at all, or else the original type and model of what it
means must lie in some concrete kind of experience that can be
definitely pointed out. Whatever ulterior judgments we may eventually
come to make regarding activity, _that sort_ of thing will be what the
judgments are about. The first step to take, then, is to ask where in
the stream of experience we seem to find what we speak of as activity.
What we are to think of the activity thus found will be a later

Now it is obvious that we are tempted to affirm activity wherever we
find anything _going on_. Taken in the broadest sense, any apprehension
of something _doing_, is an experience of activity. Were our world
describable only by the words 'nothing happening,' 'nothing changing,'
'nothing doing,' we should unquestionably call it an 'inactive' world.
Bare activity then, as we may call it, means the bare fact of event or
change. 'Change taking place' is a unique content of experience, one of
those 'conjunctive' objects which radical empiricism seeks so earnestly
to rehabilitate and preserve. The sense of activity is thus in the
broadest and vaguest way synonymous with the sense of 'life.' We should
feel our own subjective life at least, even in noticing and proclaiming
an otherwise inactive world. Our own reaction on its monotony would be
the one thing experienced there in the form of something coming to

This seems to be what certain writers have in mind when they insist that
for an experient to be at all is to be active. It seems to justify, or
at any rate to explain, Mr. Ward's expression that we _are_ only as we
are active,[90] for we _are_ only as experients; and it rules out Mr.
Bradley's contention that "there is no original experience of anything
like activity."[91] What we ought to say about activities thus
elementary, whose they are, what they effect, or whether indeed they
effect anything at all--these are later questions, to be answered only
when the field of experience is enlarged.

Bare activity would thus be predicable, though there were no definite
direction, no actor, and no aim. Mere restless zigzag movement, or a
wild _Ideenflucht_, or _Rhapsodie der Wahrnehmungen_, as Kant would
say,[92] would constitute an active as distinguished from an inactive

But in this actual world of ours, as it is given, a part at least of
the activity comes with definite direction; it comes with desire and
sense of goal; it comes complicated with resistances which it
overcomes or succumbs to, and with the efforts which the feeling of
resistance so often provokes; and it is in complex experiences like
these that the notions of distinct agents, and of passivity as opposed
to activity arise. Here also the notion of causal efficacy comes to
birth. Perhaps the most elaborate work ever done in descriptive
psychology has been the analysis by various recent writers of the more
complex activity-situations.[93] In their descriptions, exquisitely
subtle some of them,[94] the activity appears as the _gestaltqualität_
or the _fundirte inhalt_ (or as whatever else you may please to call
the conjunctive form) which the content falls into when we experience
it in the ways which the describers set forth. Those factors in those
relations are what we mean by activity-situations; and to the possible
enumeration and accumulation of their circumstances and ingredients
there would seem to be no natural bound. Every hour of human life
could contribute to the picture gallery; and this is the only fault
that one can find with such descriptive industry--where is it going to
stop? Ought we to listen forever to verbal pictures of what we have
already in concrete form in our own breasts?[95] They never take us
off the superficial plane. We knew the facts already--less spread out
and separated, to be sure--but we knew them still. We always felt our
own activity, for example, as 'the expansion of an idea with which our
Self is identified, against an obstacle';[96] and the following out of
such a definition through a multitude of cases elaborates the obvious
so as to be little more than an exercise in synonymic speech.

All the descriptions have to trace familiar outlines, and to use
familiar terms. The activity is, for example, attributed either to a
physical or to a mental agent, and is either aimless or directed. If
directed it shows tendency. The tendency may or may not be resisted. If
not, we call the activity immanent, as when a body moves in empty space
by its momentum, or our thoughts wander at their own sweet will. If
resistance is met, _its_ agent complicates the situation. If now, in
spite of resistance, the original tendency continues, effort makes its
appearance, and along with effort, strain or squeeze. Will, in the
narrower sense of the word, then comes upon the scene, whenever, along
with the tendency, the strain and squeeze are sustained. But the
resistance may be great enough to check the tendency, or even to reverse
its path. In that case, we (if 'we' were the original agents or subjects
of the tendency) are overpowered. The phenomenon turns into one of
tension simply, or of necessity succumbed-to, according as the opposing
power is only equal, or is superior to ourselves.

Whosoever describes an experience in such terms as these describes an
experience _of_ activity. If the word have any meaning, it must denote
what there is found. _There_ is complete activity in its original and
first intention. What it is 'known-as' is what there appears. The
experiencer of such a situation possesses all that the idea contains. He
feels the tendency, the obstacle, the will, the strain, the triumph, or
the passive giving up, just as he feels the time, the space, the
swiftness or intensity, the movement, the weight and color, the pain and
pleasure, the complexity, or whatever remaining characters the situation
may involve. He goes through all that ever can be imagined where
activity is supposed. If we suppose activities to go on outside of our
experience, it is in forms like these that we must suppose them, or else
give them some other name; for the word 'activity' has no imaginable
content whatever save these experiences of process, obstruction,
striving, strain, or release, ultimate _qualia_ as they are of the life
given us to be known.

Were this the end of the matter, one might think that whenever we had
successfully lived through an activity-situation we should have to be
permitted, without provoking contradiction, to say that we had been
really active, that we had met real resistance and had really prevailed.
Lotze somewhere says that to be an entity all that is necessary is to
_gelten_ as an entity, to operate, or be felt, experienced, recognized,
or in any way realized, as such.[97] In our activity-experiences the
activity assuredly fulfils Lotze's demand. It makes itself _gelten_. It
is witnessed at its work. No matter what activities there may really be
in this extraordinary universe of ours, it is impossible for us to
conceive of any one of them being either lived through or authentically
known otherwise than in this dramatic shape of something sustaining a
felt purpose against felt obstacles and overcoming or being overcome.
What 'sustaining' means here is clear to anyone who has lived through
the experience, but to no one else; just as 'loud,' 'red,' 'sweet,' mean
something only to beings with ears, eyes, and tongues. The _percipi_ in
these originals of experience is the _esse_; the curtain is the picture.
If there is anything hiding in the background, it ought not to be called
activity, but should get itself another name.

This seems so obviously true that one might well experience astonishment
at finding so many of the ablest writers on the subject flatly denying
that the activity we live through in these situations is real. Merely to
feel active is not to be active, in their sight. The agents that appear
in the experience are not real agents, the resistances do not really
resist, the effects that appear are not really effects at all.[98] It
is evident from this that mere descriptive analysis of any one of our
activity-experiences is not the whole story, that there is something
still to tell _about_ them that has led such able writers to conceive of
a _Simon-pure_ activity, of an activity _an sich_, that does, and
doesn't merely appear to us to do, and compared with whose real doing
all this phenomenal activity is but a specious sham.

The metaphysical question opens here; and I think that the state of mind
of one possessed by it is often something like this: "It is all very
well," we may imagine him saying, "to talk about certain
experience-series taking on the form of feelings of activity, just as
they might take on musical or geometric forms. Suppose that they do so;
suppose we feel a will to stand a strain. Does our feeling do more than
_record_ the fact that the strain is sustained? The _real_ activity,
meanwhile, is the _doing_ of the fact; and what is the doing made of
before the record is made. What in the will _enables_ it to act thus?
And these trains of experience themselves, in which activities appear,
what makes them _go_ at all? Does the activity in one bit of experience
bring the next bit into being? As an empiricist you cannot say so, for
you have just declared activity to be only a kind of synthetic object,
or conjunctive relation experienced between bits of experience already
made. But what made them at all? What propels experience _überhaupt_
into being? _There_ is the activity that _operates_; the activity _felt_
is only its superficial sign."

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

We must not forget, namely, in talking of the ultimate character of our
activity-experiences, that each of them is but a portion of a wider
world, one link in the vast chain of processes of experience out of
which history is made. Each partial process, to him who lives through
it, defines itself by its origin and its goal; but to an observer with
a wider mind-span who should live outside of it, that goal would appear
but as a provisional halting-place, and the subjectively felt activity
would be seen to continue into objective activities that led far beyond.
We thus acquire a habit, in discussing activity-experiences, of defining
them by their relation to something more. If an experience be one of
narrow span, it will be mistaken as to what activity it is and whose.
You think that _you_ are acting while you are only obeying someone's
push. You think you are doing _this_, but you are doing something of
which you do not dream. For instance, you think you are but drinking
this glass; but you are really creating the liver-cirrhosis that will
end your days. You think you are just driving this bargain, but, as
Stevenson says somewhere, you are laying down a link in the policy of

Generally speaking, the onlooker, with his wider field of vision,
regards the _ultimate outcome_ of an activity as what it is more really
doing; and _the most previous agent_ ascertainable, being the first
source of action, he regards as the most real agent in the field. The
others but transmit that agent's impulse; on him we put responsibility;
we name him when one asks us 'Who's to blame?'

But the most previous agents ascertainable, instead of being of longer
span, are often of much shorter span than the activity in view.
Brain-cells are our best example. My brain-cells are believed to excite
each other from next to next (by contiguous transmission of katabolic
alteration, let us say) and to have been doing so long before this
present stretch of lecturing-activity on my part began. If any one
cell-group stops its activity, the lecturing will cease or show disorder
of form. _Cessante causa, cessat et effectus_--does not this look as if
the short-span brain activities were the more real activities, and the
lecturing activities on my part only their effects? Moreover, as Hume so
clearly pointed out,[99] in my mental activity-situation the words
physically to be uttered are represented as the activity's immediate
goal. These words, however, cannot be uttered without intermediate
physical processes in the bulb and vagi nerves, which processes
nevertheless fail to figure in the mental activity-series at all. That
series, therefore, since it leaves out vitally real steps of action,
cannot represent the real activities. It is something purely subjective;
the _facts_ of activity are elsewhere. They are something far more
interstitial, so to speak, than what my feelings record.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we assume a wider thinker, it is evident that his purposes envelope
mine. I am really lecturing _for_ him; and although I cannot surely know
to what end, yet if I take him religiously, I can trust it to be a good
end, and willingly connive. I can be happy in thinking that my activity
transmits his impulse, and that his ends prolong my own. So long as I
take him religiously, in short, he does not de-realize my activities.
He tends rather to corroborate the reality of them, so long as I believe
both them and him to be good.

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

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

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

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

Naïvely we believe, and humanly and dramatically we like to believe,
that activities both of wider and of narrower span are at work in life
together, that both are real, and that the long-span tendencies yoke the
others in their service, encouraging them in the right direction, and
damping them when they tend in other ways. But how to represent clearly
the _modus operandi_ of such steering of small tendencies by large ones
is a problem which metaphysical thinkers will have to ruminate upon for
many years to come. Even if such control should eventually grow clearly
picturable, the question how far it is successfully exerted in this
actual world can be answered only by investigating the details of fact.
No philosophic knowledge of the general nature and constitution of
tendencies, or of the relation of larger to smaller ones, can help us to
predict which of all the various competing tendencies that interest us
in this universe are likeliest to prevail. We know as an empirical fact
that far-seeing tendencies often carry out their purpose, but we know
also that they are often defeated by the failure of some contemptibly
small process on which success depends. A little thrombus in a
statesman's meningeal artery will throw an empire out of gear. I can
therefore not even hint at any solution of the pragmatic issue. I have
only wished to show you that that issue is what gives the real interest
to all inquiries into what kinds of activity may be real. Are the forces
that really act in the world more foreseeing or more blind? As between
'our' activities as 'we' experience them, and those of our ideas, or of
our brain-cells, the issue is well-defined.

I said a while back[100] that I should return to the 'metaphysical'
question before ending; so, with a few words about that, I will now
close my remarks.

In whatever form we hear this question propounded, I think that it
always arises from two things, a belief that _causality_ must be exerted
in activity, and a wonder as to how causality is made. If we take an
activity-situation at its face-value, it seems as if we caught _in
flagrante delicto_ the very power that makes facts come and be. I now am
eagerly striving, for example, to get this truth which I seem half to
perceive, into words which shall make it show more clearly. If the words
come, it will seem as if the striving itself had drawn or pulled them
into actuality out from the state of merely possible being in which they
were. How is this feat performed? How does the pulling _pull_? How do I
get my hold on words not yet existent, and when they come by what means
have I _made_ them come? Really it is the problem of creation; for in
the end the question is: How do I make them _be_? Real activities are
those that really make things be, without which the things are not, and
with which they are there. Activity, so far as we merely feel it, on the
other hand, is only an impression of ours, it may be maintained; and an
impression is, for all this way of thinking, only a shadow of another

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

If there _be_ real creative activities in being, radical empiricism
must say, somewhere they must be immediately lived. Somewhere the
_that_ of efficacious causing and the _what_ of it must be experienced
in one, just as the what and the that of 'cold' are experienced in one
whenever a man has the sensation of cold here and now. It boots not to
say that our sensations are fallible. They are indeed; but to see the
thermometer contradict us when we say 'it is cold' does not abolish
cold as a specific nature from the universe. Cold is in the arctic
circle if not here. Even so, to feel that our train is moving when the
train beside our window moves, to see the moon through a telescope
come twice as near, or to see two pictures as one solid when we look
through a stereoscope at them, leaves motion, nearness, and solidity
still in being--if not here, yet each in its proper seat elsewhere.
And wherever the seat of real causality _is_, as ultimately known 'for
true' (in nerve-processes, if you will, that cause our feelings of
activity as well as the movements which these seem to prompt), a
philosophy of pure experience can consider the real causation as no
other _nature_ of thing than that which even in our most erroneous
experiences appears to be at work. Exactly what appears there is what
we _mean_ by working, though we may later come to learn that working
was not exactly _there_. Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying
with effort as we go, hanging on, and finally achieving our
intention--this _is_ action, this _is_ effectuation in the only shape
in which, by a pure experience-philosophy, the whereabouts of it
anywhere can be discussed. Here is creation in its first intention,
here is causality at work.[101] To treat this offhand as the bare
illusory surface of a world whose real causality is an unimaginable
ontological principle hidden in the cubic deeps, is, for the more
empirical way of thinking, only animism in another shape. You explain
your given fact by your 'principle,' but the principle itself, when
you look clearly at it, turns out to be nothing but a previous little
spiritual copy of the fact. Away from that one and only kind of fact
your mind, considering causality, can never get.[102]

I conclude, then, that real effectual causation as an ultimate nature,
as a 'category,' if you like, of reality, is _just what we feel it to
be_, just that kind of conjunction which our own activity-series reveal.
We have the whole butt and being of it in our hands; and the healthy
thing for philosophy is to leave off grubbing underground for what
effects effectuation, or what makes action act, and to try to solve the
concrete questions of where effectuation in this world is located, of
which things are the true causal agents there, and of what the more
remote effects consist.

From this point of view the greater sublimity traditionally attributed
to the metaphysical inquiry, the grubbing inquiry, entirely disappears.
If we could know what causation really and transcendentally is in
itself, the only _use_ of the knowledge would be to help us to recognize
an actual cause when we had one, and so to track the future course of
operations more intelligently out. The mere abstract inquiry into
causation's hidden nature is not more sublime than any other inquiry
equally abstract. Causation inhabits no more sublime level than anything
else. It lives, apparently, in the dirt of the world as well as in the
absolute, or in man's unconquerable mind. The worth and interest of the
world consists not in its elements, be these elements things, or be
they the conjunctions of things; it exists rather in the dramatic
outcome in the whole process, and in the meaning of the succession
stages which the elements work out.

My colleague and master, Josiah Royce, in a page of his review of
Stout's _Analytic Psychology_[103] has some fine words on this point
with which I cordially agree. I cannot agree with his separating the
notion of efficacy from that of activity altogether (this I understand
to be one contention of his) for activities are efficacious whenever
they are real activities at all. But the inner nature both of efficacy
and of activity are superficial problems, I understand Royce to say; and
the only point for us in solving them would be their possible use in
helping us to solve the far deeper problem of the course and meaning of
the world of life. Life, says our colleague, is full of significance, of
meaning, of success and of defeat, of hoping and of striving, of
longing, of desire, and of inner value. It is a total presence that
embodies worth. To live our own lives better in this presence is the
true reason why we wish to know the elements of things; so even we
psychologists must end on this pragmatic note.

The urgent problems of activity are thus more concrete. They are all
problems of the true relation of longer-span to shorter-span activities.
When, for example, a number of 'ideas' (to use the name traditional in
psychology) grow confluent in a larger field of consciousness, do the
smaller activities still co-exist with the wider activities then
experienced by the conscious subject? And, if so, do the wide activities
accompany the narrow ones inertly, or do they exert control? Or do they
perhaps utterly supplant and replace them and short-circuit their
effects? Again, when a mental activity-process and a brain-cell series
of activities both terminate in the same muscular movement, does the
mental process steer the neural processes or not? Or, on the other hand,
does it independently short-circuit their effects? Such are the
questions that we must begin with. But so far am I from suggesting any
definitive answer to such questions, that I hardly yet can put them
clearly. They lead, however, into that region of panpsychic and
ontologic speculation of which Professors Bergson and Strong have lately
enlarged the literature in so able and interesting a way.[104] The
results of these authors seem in many respects dissimilar, and I
understand than as yet but imperfectly; but I cannot help suspecting
that the direction of their work is very promising, and that they have
the hunter's instinct for the fruitful trails.


[85] President's Address before the American Psychological Association,
Philadelphia Meeting, December, 1904. [Reprinted from _The Psychological
Review_, vol. XII, No. 1, Jan., 1905. Also reprinted, with some
omissions, as Appendix B, _A Pluralistic Universe_, pp. 370-394. Pp.
166-167 have also been reprinted in _Some Problems of Philosophy_, p.
212. The present essay is referred to in _ibid._, p. 219, note. The
author's corrections have been adopted for the present text. ED.]

[86] [_The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods._]

[87] _Appearance and Reality_, second edition, pp. 116-117.--Obviously
written _at_ Ward, though Ward's name is not mentioned.

[88] [_Mind_, vol. XII, 1887, pp. 573-574.]

[89] _Mind_, N. S., vol. VI, [1897], p. 379.

[90] _Naturalism and Agnosticism_, vol. II, p. 245. One thinks naturally
of the peripatetic _actus primus_ and _actus secundus_ here. ["Actus
autem est _duplex_: _primus_ et _secundus_. Actus quidem primus est
forma, et integritas sei. Actus autem secundus est operatio." Thomas
Aquinas: _Summa Theologica_, edition of Leo XIII, (1894), vol. I, p.
391. Cf. also Blanc: _Dictionnaire de Philosophie_, under 'acte.' ED.]

[91] [_Appearance and Reality_, second edition, p. 116.]

[92] [_Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Werke_, (1905), vol. IV, p. 110
(trans. by Max Müller, second edition, p. 128).]

[93] I refer to such descriptive work as Ladd's (_Psychology,
Descriptive and Explanatory_, part I, chap. V, part II, chap. XI, part
III, chaps. XXV and XXVI); as Sully's (_The Human Mind_, part V); as
Stout's (_Analytic Psychology_, book I, chap. VI, and book II, chaps. I,
II, and III); as Bradley's (in his long series of analytic articles on
Psychology in _Mind_); as Titchener's (_Outline of Psychology_, part I,
chap. VI); as Shand's (_Mind_, N. S., III, 449; IV, 450; VI, 289); as
Ward's (_Mind_, XII, 67; 564); as Loveday's (_Mind_, N. S., X, 455); as
Lipps's (Vom Fühlen, Wollen und Denken, 1902, chaps. II, IV, VI); and as
Bergson's (_Revue Philosophique_, LIII, 1)--to mention only a few
writings which I immediately recall.

[94] Their existence forms a curious commentary on Prof. Münsterberg's
dogma that will-attitudes are not describable. He himself has
contributed in a superior way to their description, both in his
_Willenshandlung_, and in his _Grundzüge_ [_der Psychologie_], part II,
chap. IX, § 7.

[95] I ought myself to cry _peccavi_, having been a voluminous sinner in
my own chapter on the will. [_Principles of Psychology_, vol. II, chap.

[96] [Cf. F. H. Bradley, _Appearance and Reality_, second edition, pp.

[97] [Cf. above, p. 59, note.]

[98] _Verborum gratiâ_: "The feeling of activity is not able, _quâ_
feeling, to tell us anything about activity" (Loveday: _Mind_, N. S.,
vol. X, [1901], p. 463); "A sensation or feeling or sense _of_ activity
... is not, looked at in another way, an experience _of_ activity at
all. It is a mere sensation shut up within which you could by no
reflection get the idea of activity.... Whether this experience is or is
not later on a character essential to our perception and our idea of
activity, it, as it comes first, is not in itself an experience of
activity at all. It, as it comes first, is only so for extraneous
reasons and only so for an outside observer" (Bradley, _Appearance and
Reality_, second edition, p. 605); "In dem Tätigkeitsgefühle liegt an
sich nicht der geringste Beweis für das Vorhandensein einer psychischen
Tätigkeit" (Münsterberg: _Grundzüge der Psychologie_). I could multiply
similar quotations and would have introduced some of them into my text
to make it more concrete, save that the mingling of different points of
view in most of these author's discussions (not in Münsterberg's) make
it impossible to disentangle exactly what they mean. I am sure in any
case, to be accused of misrepresenting them totally, even in this note,
by omission of the context, so the less I name names and the more I
stick to abstract characterization of a merely possible style of
opinion, the safer it will be. And apropos of misunderstandings, I may
add to this note a complaint on my own account. Professor Stout, in the
excellent chapter on 'Mental Activity,' in vol. I of his _Analytic
Psychology_, takes me to task for identifying spiritual activity with
certain muscular feelings and gives quotations to bear him out. They are
from certain paragraphs on 'the Self,' in which my attempt was to show
what the central nucleus of the activities that we call 'ours' is.
[_Principles of Psychology_, vol. I, pp. 299-305.] I found it in certain
intracephalic movements which we habitually oppose, as 'subjective,' to
the activities of the transcorporeal world. I sought to show that there
is no direct evidence that we feel the activity of an inner spiritual
agent as such (I should now say the activity of 'consciousness' as such,
see [the first essay], 'Does Consciousness Exist?'). There are, in fact,
three distinguishable 'activities' in the field of discussion: the
elementary activity involved in the mere _that_ of experience, in the
fact that _something_ is going on, and the farther specification of this
_something_ into two _whats_, an activity felt as 'ours,' and an
activity ascribed to objects. Stout, as I apprehend him, identifies
'our' activity with that of the total experience-process, and when I
circumscribe it as a part thereof, accuses me of treating it as a sort
of external appendage to itself (Stout: _op. cit._, vol. I, pp.
162-163), as if I 'separated the activity from the process which is
active.' But all the processes in question are active, and their
activity is inseparable from their being. My book raised only the
question of _which_ activity deserved the name of 'ours.' So far as we
are 'persons,' and contrasted and opposed to an 'environment,' movements
in our body figure as our activities; and I am unable to find any other
activities that are ours in this strictly personal sense. There is a
wider sense in which the whole 'choir of heaven and furniture of the
earth,' and their activities, are ours, for they are our 'objects.' But
'we' are here only another name for the total process of experience,
another name for all that is, in fact; and I was dealing with the
personal and individualized self exclusively in the passages with which
Professor Stout finds fault.

The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing properly
called self, is a part of the content of the world experienced. The
world experienced (otherwise called the 'field of consciousness')
comes at all times with our body as its centre, centre of vision,
centre of action, centre of interest. Where the body is is 'here';
when the body acts is 'now'; what the body touches is 'this'; all
other things are 'there' and 'then' and 'that.' These words of
emphasized position imply a systematization of things with reference
to a focus of action and interest which lies in the body; and the
systematization is now so instinctive (was it ever not so?) that no
developed or active experience exists for us at all except in that
ordered form. So far as 'thoughts' and 'feelings' can be active, their
activity terminates in the activity of the body, and only through
first arousing its activities can they begin to change those of the
rest of the world. [Cf. also _A Pluralistic Universe_, p. 344, note 8.
ED.] The body is the storm centre, the origin of co-ordinates, the
constant place of stress in all that experience-train. Everything
circles round it, and is felt from its point of view. The word 'I,'
then, is primarily a noun of position, just like 'this' and 'here.'
Activities attached to 'this' position have prerogative emphasis, and,
if activities have feelings, must be felt in a peculiar way. The word
'my' designates the kind of emphasis. I see no inconsistency whatever
in defending, on the one hand, 'my' activities as unique and opposed
to those of outer nature, and, on the other hand, in affirming, after
introspection, that they consist in movements in the head. The 'my' of
them is the emphasis, the feeling of perspective-interest in which
they are dyed.

[99] [_Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_, sect. VII, part I,
Selby-Bigge's edition, pp. 65 ff.]

[100] Page 172.

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

[102] I have found myself more than once accused in print of being the
assertor of a metaphysical principle of activity. Since literary
misunderstandings retard the settlement of problems, I should like to
say that such an interpretation of the pages I have published on Effort
and on Will is absolutely foreign to what I meant to express.
[_Principles of Psychology_, vol. II, ch. XXVI.] I owe all my doctrines
on this subject to Renouvier; and Renouvier, as I understand him, is (or
at any rate then was) an out and out phenomenist, a denier of 'forces'
in the most strenuous sense. [Cf. Ch. Renouvier: _Esquisse d'une
Classification Systématique des Doctrines Philosophiques_ (1885), vol.
II, pp. 390-392; _Essais de Critique Générale_ (1859), vol. II, §§ ix,
xiii. For an acknowledgment of the author's general indebtedness to
Renouvier, cf. _Some Problems of Philosophy_, p. 165, note. ED.] Single
clauses in my writing, or sentences read out of their connection, may
possibly have been compatible with a transphenomenal principle of
energy; but I defy anyone to show a single sentence which, taken with
its context, should be naturally held to advocate that view. The
misinterpretation probably arose at first from my defending (after
Renouvier) the indeterminism of our efforts. 'Free will' was supposed by
my critics to involve a supernatural agent. As a matter of plain history
the only 'free will' I have ever thought of defending is the character
of novelty in fresh activity-situations. If an activity-process is the
form of a whole 'field of consciousness,' and if each field of
consciousness is not only in its totality unique (as is now commonly
admitted) but has its elements unique (since in that situation they are
all dyed in the total) then novelty is perpetually entering the world
and what happens there is not pure _repetition_, as the dogma of the
literal uniformity of nature requires. Activity-situations come, in
short, each with an original touch. A 'principle' of free will if there
were one, would doubtless manifest itself in such phenomena, but I never
saw, nor do I now see, what the principle could do except rehearse the
phenomenon beforehand, or why it ever should be invoked.

[103] _Mind_, N. S., vol. VI, 1897; cf. pp. 392-393.

[104] [Cf. _A Pluralistic Universe_, Lect. VI (on Bergson); H. Bergson:
_Creative Evolution_, trans. by A. Mitchell; C. A. Strong: _Why the Mind
has a Body_, ch. XII. ED.]



Humanism is a ferment that has 'come to stay.'[106] It is not a single
hypothesis or theorem, and it dwells on no new facts. It is rather a
slow shifting in the philosophic perspective, making things appear as
from a new centre of interest or point of sight. Some writers are
strongly conscious of the shifting, others half unconscious, even though
their own vision may have undergone much change. The result is no small
confusion in debate, the half-conscious humanists often taking part
against the radical ones, as if they wished to count upon the other

If humanism really be the name for such a shifting of perspective, it
is obvious that the whole scene of the philosophic stage will change in
some degree if humanism prevails. The emphasis of things, their
foreground and background distribution, their sizes and values, will not
keep just the same.[108] If such pervasive consequences be involved in
humanism, it is clear that no pains which philosophers may take, first
in defining it, and then in furthering, checking, or steering its
progress, will be thrown away.

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

Whoever will contribute any touch of sharpness will help us to make sure
of what's what and who is who. Anyone can contribute such a definition,
and, without it, no one knows exactly where he stands. If I offer my own
provisional definition of humanism[109] now and here, others may improve
it, some adversary may be led to define his own creed more sharply by
the contrast, and a certain quickening of the crystallization of general
opinion may result.


The essential service of humanism, as I conceive the situation, is to
have seen that _though one part of our experience may lean upon another
part to make it what it is in any one of several aspects in which it may
be considered, experience as a whole is self-containing and leans on

Since this formula also expresses the main contention of transcendental
idealism, it needs abundant explication to make it unambiguous. It
seems, at first sight, to confine itself to denying theism and
pantheism. But, in fact, it need not deny either; everything would
depend on the exegesis; and if the formula ever became canonical, it
would certainly develop both right-wing and left-wing interpreters. I
myself read humanism theistically and pluralistically. If there be a
God, he is no absolute all-experiencer, but simply the experiencer of
widest actual conscious span. Read thus, humanism is for me a religion
susceptible of reasoned defence, though I am well aware how many minds
there are to whom it can appeal religiously only when it has been
monistically translated. Ethically the pluralistic form of it takes for
me a stronger hold on reality than any other philosophy I know of--it
being essentially a _social_ philosophy, a philosophy of '_co_,' in
which conjunctions do the work. But my primary reason for advocating it
is its matchless intellectual economy. It gets rid, not only of the
standing 'problems' that monism engenders ('problem of evil,' 'problem
of freedom,' and the like), but of other metaphysical mysteries and
paradoxes as well.

It gets rid, for example, of the whole agnostic controversy, by refusing
to entertain the hypothesis of trans-empirical reality at all. It gets
rid of any need for an absolute of the Bradleyan type (avowedly sterile
for intellectual purposes) by insisting that the conjunctive relations
found within experience are faultlessly real. It gets rid of the need of
an absolute of the Roycean type (similarly sterile) by its pragmatic
treatment of the problem of knowledge [a treatment of which I have
already given a version in two very inadequate articles].[110] As the
views of knowledge, reality and truth imputed to humanism have been
those so far most fiercely attacked, it is in regard to these ideas that
a sharpening of focus seems most urgently required. I proceed therefore
to bring the views which _I_ impute to humanism in these respects into
focus as briefly as I can.


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

(1) Know another part of experience--in other words, parts must, as
Professor Woodbridge says,[111] represent _one another_ instead of
representing realities outside of 'consciousness'--this case is that of
conceptual knowledge; or else

(2) They must simply exist as so many ultimate _thats_ or facts of
being, in the first instance; and then, as a secondary complication, and
without doubling up its entitative single-ness, any one and the same
_that_ must figure alternately as a thing known and as a knowledge of
the thing, by reason of two divergent kinds of context into which, in
the general course of experience, it gets woven.[112]

This second case is that of sense-perception. There is a stage of
thought that goes beyond common sense, and of it I shall say more
presently; but the common-sense stage is a perfectly definite
halting-place of thought, primarily for purposes of action; and, so long
as we remain on the common-sense stage of thought, object and subject
_fuse_ in the fact of 'presentation' or sense-perception--the pen and
hand which I now _see_ writing, for example, _are_ the physical
realities which those words designate. In this case there is no
self-transcendency implied in the knowing. Humanism, here, is only a
more comminuted _Identitätsphilosophie_.[113]

In case (1), on the contrary, the representative experience does
transcend itself in knowing the other experience that is its object. No
one can talk of the knowledge of the one by the other without seeing
them as numerically distinct entities, of which the one lies beyond the
other and away from it, along some direction and with some interval,
that can be definitely named. But, if the talker be a humanist, he must
also see this distance-interval concretely and pragmatically, and
confess it to consist of other intervening experiences--of possible
ones, at all events, if not of actual. To call my present idea of my
dog, for example, cognitive of the real dog means that, as the actual
tissue of experience is constituted, the idea is capable of leading into
a chain of other experiences on my part that go from next to next and
terminate at last in vivid sense-perceptions of a jumping, barking,
hairy body. Those _are_ the real dog, the dog's full presence, for my
common sense. If the supposed talker is a profound philosopher, although
they may not _be_ the real dog for him, they _mean_ the real dog, are
practical substitutes for the real dog, as the representation was a
practical substitute for them, that real dog being a lot of atoms, say,
or of mind-stuff, that lie _where_ the sense-perceptions lie in his
experience as well as in my own.


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

Abolish, now, one of the percipients, and the interpolation changes into
'extrapolation.' The sense-terminus of the remaining percipient is
regarded by the philosopher as not quite reaching reality. He has only
carried the procession of experiences, the philosopher thinks, to a
definite, because practical, halting-place somewhere on the way towards
an absolute truth that lies beyond.

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

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

Absolute reality here bears the same relation to sensation as sensation
bears to conception or imagination. Both are provisional or final
termini, sensation being only the terminus at which the practical man
habitually stops, while the philosopher projects a 'beyond' in the
shape of more absolute reality. These termini, for the practical and the
philosophical stages of thought respectively, are self-supporting. They
are not 'true' of anything else, they simply _are_, are _real_. They
'lean on nothing,' as my italicized formula said. Rather does the whole
fabric of experience lean on them, just as the whole fabric of the solar
system, including many relative positions, leans, for its absolute
position in space, on any one of its constituent stars. Here, again, one
gets a new _Identitätsphilosophie_ in pluralistic form.[114]


If I have succeeded in making this at all clear (though I fear that
brevity and abstractness between them may have made me fail), the reader
will see that the 'truth' of our mental operations must always be an
intra-experiential affair. A conception is reckoned true by common sense
when it can be made to lead to a sensation. The sensation, which for
common sense is not so much 'true' as 'real,' is held to be
_provisionally_ true by the philosopher just in so far as it _covers_
(abuts at, or occupies the place of) a still more absolutely real
experience, in the possibility of which to some remoter experient the
philosopher finds reason to believe.

Meanwhile what actually _does_ count for true to any individual trower,
whether he be philosopher or common man, is always a result of his
_apperceptions_. If a novel experience, conceptual or sensible,
contradict too emphatically our pre-existent system of beliefs, in
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is treated as false. Only when the
older and the newer experiences are congruous enough to mutually
apperceive and modify each other, does what we treat as an advance in
truth result. [Having written of this point in an article in reply to
Mr. Joseph's criticism of my humanism, I will say no more about truth
here, but refer the reader to that review.[115]] In no case, however,
need truth consist in a relation between our experiences and something
archetypal or trans-experiential. Should we ever reach absolutely
terminal experiences, experiences in which we all agreed, which were
superseded by no revised continuations, these would not be _true_, they
would be _real_, they would simply _be_, and be indeed the angles,
corners, and linchpins of all reality, on which the truth of everything
else would be stayed. Only such _other_ things as led to these by
satisfactory conjunctions would be 'true.' Satisfactory connection of
some sort with such termini is all that the word 'truth' means. On the
common-sense stage of thought sense-presentations serve as such termini.
Our ideas and concepts and scientific theories pass for true only so far
as they harmoniously lead back to the world of sense.

I hope that many humanists will endorse this attempt of mine to trace
the more essential features of that way of viewing things. I feel almost
certain that Messrs. Dewey and Schiller will do so. If the attackers
will also take some slight account of it, it may be that discussion will
be a little less wide of the mark than it has hitherto been.


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

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

[107] Professor Baldwin, for example. His address 'On Selective
Thinking' (_Psychological Review_, [vol. V], 1898, reprinted in his
volume, _Development and Evolution_) seems to me an unusually
well-written pragmatic manifesto. Nevertheless in 'The Limits of
Pragmatism' (_ibid._, [vol. XI], 1904), he (much less clearly) joins in
the attack.

[108] The ethical changes, it seems to me, are beautifully made evident
in Professor Dewey's series of articles, which will never get the
attention they deserve till they are printed in a book. I mean: 'The
Significance of Emotions,' _Psychological Review_, vol. II, [1895], p.
13; 'The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology,' _ibid._, vol. III, [1896],
p. 357; 'Psychology and Social Practice,' _ibid._, vol. VII, [1900], p.
105; 'Interpretation of Savage Mind,' _ibid._, vol. IX, [1902], p. 217;
'Green's Theory of the Moral Motive,' _Philosophical Review_, vol. I,
[1892], p. 593; 'Self-realization as the Moral Ideal,' _ibid._, vol. II,
[1893], p. 652; 'The Psychology of Effort,' _ibid._, vol. VI, [1897], p.
43; 'The Evolutionary Method as Applied to Morality,' _ibid._, vol. XI,
[1902], pp. 107, 353; 'Evolution and Ethics,' _Monist_, vol. VIII,
[1898], p. 321; to mention only a few.

[109] [The author employs the term 'humanism' either as a synonym for
'radical empiricism' (cf. _e.g._, above, p. 156); or as that general
philosophy of life of which 'radical empiricism' is the theoretical
ground (cf. below, p. 194). For other discussions of 'humanism,' cf.
below, essay XI, and _The Meaning of Truth_, essay III. ED.]

[110] [Omitted from reprint in _Meaning of Truth_. The articles referred
to are 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World of Pure Experience,'
reprinted above.]

[111] In _Science_, November 4, 1904, p. 599.

[112] This statement is probably excessively obscure to any one who has
not read my two articles, 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World of
Pure Experience.'

[113] [Cf. above, p. 134; and below, p. 202.]

[114] [Cf. above, pp. 134, 197.]

[115] [Omitted from reprint in _Meaning of Truth_. The review referred
to is reprinted below, pp. 244-265, under the title "Humanism and Truth
Once More." ED.]



Je voudrais vous communiquer quelques doutes qui me sont venus au sujet
de la notion de Conscience qui règne dans tous nos traités de

On définit habituellement la Psychologie comme la Science des faits de
Conscience, ou des _phénomènes_, ou encore des _états_ de la Conscience.
Qu'on admette qu'elle se rattache à des _moi_ personnels, ou bien qu'on
la croie impersonnelle à la façon du "moi transcendental" de Kant, de la
_Bewusstheit_ ou du _Bewusstsein überhaupt_ de nos contemporains en
Allemagne, cette conscience est toujours regardée comme possédant une
essence propre, absolument distincte de l'essence des choses
matérielles, qu'elle a le don mystérieux de représenter et de
connaître. Les faits matériels, pris dans leur matérialité, ne sont pas
_éprouvés_, ne sont pas objets _d'expérience_, ne se _rapportent_ pas.
Pour qu'ils prennent la forme du système dans lequel nous nous sentons
vivre, il faut qu'ils _apparaissent_, et ce fait d'apparaître, surajouté
à leur existence brute, s'appelle la conscience que nous en avons, ou
peut-être, selon l'hypothèse panpsychiste, qu'ils ont d'eux-mêmes.

Voilà ce dualisme invétéré qu'il semble impossible de chasser de notre
vue du monde. Ce monde peut bien exister en soi, mais nous n'en savons
rien, car pour nous il est exclusivement un objet d'expérience; et la
condition indispensable à cet effet, c'est qu'il soit rapporté à des
témoins, qu'il soit connu par un sujet ou par des sujets spirituels.
Objet et sujet, voilà les deux jambes sans lesquelles il semble que la
philosophie ne saurait faire un pas en avant.

Toutes les écoles sont d'accord là-dessus, scolastique, cartésianisme,
kantisme, néo-kantisme, tous admettent le dualisme fondamental. Le
positivisme ou agnosticisme de nos jours, qui se pique de relever des
sciences naturelles, se donne volontiers, il est vrai, le nom de
monisme. Mais ce n'est qu'un monisme verbal. Il pose une réalité
inconnue, mais nous dit que cette réalité se présente toujours sous deux
"aspects," un côté conscience et un côté matière, et ces deux côtés
demeurent aussi irréductibles que les attributs fondamentaux, étendue et
pensée, du Dieu de Spinoza. Au fond, le monisme contemporain est du
spinozisme pur.

Or, comment se représente-t-on cette conscience dont nous sommes tous si
portés à admettre l'existence? Impossible de la définir, nous dit-on,
mais nous en avons tous une intuition immédiate: tout d'abord la
conscience a conscience d'elle-même. Demandez à la première personne que
vous rencontrerez, homme ou femme, psychologue ou ignorant, et elle vous
répondra qu'elle _se sent_ penser, jouir, souffrir, vouloir, tout comme
elle se sent respirer. Elle perçoit directement sa vie spirituelle comme
une espèce de courant intérieur, actif, léger, fluide, délicat, diaphane
pour ainsi dire, et absolument opposé à quoi que ce soit de matériel.
Bref, la vie subjective ne paraît pas seulement être une condition
logiquement indispensable pour qu'il y ait un monde objectif qui
_apparaisse_, c'est encore un élément de l'expérience même que nous
éprouvons directement, au même titre que nous éprouvons notre propre

Idées et Choses, comment donc ne pas reconnaître leur dualisme?
Sentiments et Objets, comment douter de leur hétérogénéité absolue?

La psychologie soi-disant scientifique admet cette hétérogénéité comme
l'ancienne psychologie spiritualiste l'admettait. Comment ne pas
l'admettre? Chaque science découpe arbitrairement dans la trame des
faits un champ où elle se parque, et dont elle décrit et étudie le
contenu. La psychologie prend justement pour son domaine le champ des
faits de conscience. Elle les postule sans les critiquer, elle les
oppose aux faits matériels; et sans critiquer non plus la notion de ces
derniers, elle les rattache à la conscience par le lien mystérieux de la
_connaissance_, de, l'_aperception_ qui, pour elle, est un troisième
genre de fait fondamental et ultime. En suivant cette voie, la
psychologie contemporaine a fêté de grands triomphes. Elle a pu faire
une esquisse de l'évolution de la vie consciente, en concevant cette
dernière comme s'adaptant de plus en plus complètement au milieu
physique environnant. Elle a pu établir un parallélisme dans le
dualisme, celui des faits psychiques et des événements cérébraux. Elle a
expliqué les illusions, les hallucinations, et jusqu'à un certain point,
les maladies mentales. Ce sont de beaux progrès; mais il reste encore
bien des problèmes. La philosophie générale surtout, qui a pour devoir
de scruter tous les postulats, trouve des paradoxes et des empêchements
là où la science passe outre; et il n'y a que les amateurs de science
populaire qui ne sont jamais perplexes. Plus on va au fond des choses,
plus on trouve d'énigmes; et j'avoue pour ma part que depuis que je
m'occupe sérieusement de psychologie, ce vieux dualisme de matière et de
pensée, cette hétérogénéité posée comme absolue des deux essences, m'a
toujours présenté des difficultés. C'est de quelques-unes de ces
difficultés que je voudrais maintenant vous entretenir.

D'abord il y en a une, laquelle, j'en suis convaincu, vous aura frappés
tous. Prenons la perception extérieure, la sensation directe que nous
donnent par exemple les murs de cette salle. Peut-on dire ici que le
psychique et le physique sont absolument hétérogènes? Au contraire, ils
sont si peu hétérogènes que si nous nous plaçons au point de vue du sens
commun; si nous faisons abstraction de toutes les inventions
explicatives, des molécules et des ondulations éthérées, par exemple,
qui au fond sont des entités métaphysiques; si, en un mot, nous prenons
la réalité naïvement et telle qu'elle nous est donnée tout d'abord,
cette réalité sensible d'où dépendent nos intérêts vitaux, et sur
laquelle se portent toutes nos actions; eh bien, cette réalité sensible
et la sensation que nous en avons sont, au moment où la sensation se
produit, absolument identiques l'une à l'autre. La réalité est
l'aperception même. Les mots "murs de cette salle" ne signifient que
cette blancheur fraîche et sonore qui nous entoure, coupée par ces
fenêtres, bornée par ces lignes et ces angles. Le physique ici n'a pas
d'autre contenu que le psychique. Le sujet et l'objet se confondent.

C'est Berkeley qui le premier a mis cette vérité en honneur. _Esse est
percipi._ Nos sensations ne sont pas de petits duplicats intérieurs des
choses, elles sont les choses mêmes en tant que les choses nous sont
présentes. Et quoi que l'on veuille penser de la vie absente, cachée, et
pour ainsi dire privée, des choses, et quelles que soient les
constructions hypothétiques qu'on en fasse, il reste vrai que la vie
publique des choses, cette actualité présente par laquelle elles nous
confrontent, d'où dérivent toutes nos constructions théoriques, et à
laquelle elles doivent toutes revenir et se rattacher sous peine de
flotter dans l'air et dans l'irréel; cette actualité, dis-je, est
homogène, et non pas seulement homogène, mais numériquement une, avec
une certaine partie de notre vie intérieure.

Voilà pour la perception extérieure. Quand on s'adresse à l'imagination,
à la mémoire ou aux facultés de représentation abstraite, bien que les
faits soient ici beaucoup plus compliqués, je crois que la même
homogénéité essentielle se dégage. Pour simplifier le problème, excluons
d'abord toute réalité sensible. Prenons la pensée pure, telle qu'elle
s'effectue dans le rêve ou la rêverie, ou dans la mémoire du passé. Ici
encore, l'étoffe de l'expérience ne fait-elle pas double emploi, le
physique et le psychique ne se confondent-ils pas? Si je rêve d'une
montagne d'or, elle n'existe sans doute pas en dehors du rêve, mais
_dans_ le rêve elle est de nature ou d'essence parfaitement physique,
c'est _comme_ physique qu'elle m'apparaît. Si en ce moment je me permets
de me souvenir de ma maison en Amérique, et des détails de mon
embarquement récent pour l'Italie, le phénomène pur, le fait qui se
produit, qu'est-il? C'est, dit-on, ma pensée, avec son contenu. Mais
encore ce contenu, qu'est-il? Il porte la forme d'une partie du monde
réel, partie distante, il est vrai, de six mille kilomètres d'espace et
de six semaines de temps, mais reliée à la salle où nous sommes par une
foule de choses, objets et événements, homogènes d'une part avec la
salle et d'autre part avec l'objet de mes souvenirs.

Ce contenu ne se donne pas comme étant d'abord un tout petit fait
intérieur que je projetterais ensuite au loin, il se présente d'emblée
comme le fait éloigné même. Et l'acte de penser ce contenu, la
conscience que j'en ai, que sont-ils? Sont-ce au fond autre chose que
des manières rétrospectives de nommer le contenu lui-même, lorsqu'on
l'aura séparé de tous ces intermédiaires physiques, et relié à un
nouveau groupe d'associés qui le font rentrer dans ma vie mentale, les
émotions par exemple qu'il a éveillées en moi, l'attention que j'y
porte, mes idées de tout à l'heure qui l'ont suscité comme souvenir? Ce
n'est qu'en se rapportant à ces derniers associés que le phénomène
arrive à être classé comme _pensée_; tant qu'il ne se rapporte qu'aux
premiers il demeure phénomène _objectif_.

Il est vrai que nous opposons habituellement nos images intérieures aux
objets, et que nous les considérons comme de petites copies, comme des
calques ou doubles, affaiblis, de ces derniers. C'est qu'un objet
présent a une vivacité et une netteté supérieures à celles de l'image.
Il lui fait ainsi contraste; et pour me servir de l'excellent mot de
Taine, il lui sert de _réducteur_. Quand les deux sont présents
ensemble, l'objet prend le premier plan et l'image "recule," devient une
chose "absente." Mais cet objet présent, qu'est-il en lui-même? De
quelle étoffe est-il fait? De la même étoffe que l'image. Il est fait de
_sensations_; il est chose perçue. Son _esse_ est _percipi_, et lui et
l'image sont génériquement homogènes.

Si je pense en ce moment à mon chapeau que j'ai laissé tout à l'heure au
vestiaire, où est le dualisme, le discontinu, entre le chapeau pensé et
le chapeau réel? C'est d'un vrai _chapeau absent_ que mon esprit
s'occupe. J'en tiens compte pratiquement comme d'une réalité. S'il était
présent sur cette table, le chapeau déterminerait un mouvement de ma
main: je l'enlèverais. De même ce chapeau conçu, ce chapeau en idée,
déterminera tantôt la direction de mes pas. J'irai le prendre. L'idée
que j'en ai se continuera jusqu'à la présence sensible du chapeau, et
s'y fondra harmonieusement.

Je conclus donc que,--bien qu'il y ait un dualisme pratique--puisque les
images se distinguent des objets, en tiennent lieu, et nous y mènent, il
n'y a pas lieu de leur attribuer une différence de nature essentielle.
Pensée et actualité sont faites d'une seule et même étoffe, qui est
l'étoffe de l'expérience en général.

La psychologie de la perception extérieure nous mène à la même
conclusion. Quand j'aperçois l'objet devant moi comme une table de telle
forme, à telle distance, on m'explique que ce fait est dû à deux
facteurs, à une matière de sensation qui me pénètre par la voie des yeux
et qui donne l'élément d'extériorité réelle, et à des idées qui se
réveillent, vont à la rencontre de cette réalité, la classent et
l'interprètent. Mais qui peut faire la part, dans la table concrètement
aperçue, de ce qui est sensation et de ce qui est idée? L'externe et
l'interne, l'étendu et l'inétendu, se fusionnent et font un mariage
indissoluble. Cela rappelle ces panoramas circulaires, où des objets
réels, rochers, herbe, chariots brisés, etc., qui occupent l'avant-plan,
sont si ingénieusement reliés à la toile qui fait le fond, et qui
représente une bataille ou un vaste paysage, que l'on ne sait plus
distinguer ce qui est objet de ce qui est peinture. Les coutures et les
joints sont imperceptibles.

Cela pourrait-il advenir si l'objet et l'idée étaient absolument
dissemblables de nature?

       *       *       *       *       *

Je suis convaincu que des considérations pareilles à celles que je viens
d'exprimer auront déjà suscité, chez vous aussi, des doutes au sujet du
dualisme prétendu.

Et d'autres raisons de douter surgissent encore. Il y a toute une sphère
d'adjectifs et d'attributs qui ne sont ni objectifs, ni subjectifs d'une
manière exclusive, mais que nous employons tantôt d'une manière et
tantôt d'une autre, comme si nous nous complaisions dans leur ambiguïté.
Je parle des qualités que nous _apprécions_, pour ainsi dire, dans les
choses, leur côté esthétique, moral, leur valeur pour nous. La beauté,
par exemple, où réside-t-elle? Est-elle dans la statue, dans la sonate,
ou dans notre esprit? Mon collègue à Harvard, George Santayana, a écrit
un livre d'esthétique,[117] où il appelle la beauté "le plaisir
objectifié"; et en vérité, c'est bien ici qu'on pourrait parler de
projection au dehors. On dit indifféremment une chaleur agréable, ou une
sensation agréable de chaleur. La rareté, le précieux du diamant nous en
paraissent des qualités essentielles. Nous parlons d'un orage affreux,
d'un homme haïssable, d'une action indigne, et nous croyons parler
objectivement, bien que ces termes n'expriment que des rapports à notre
sensibilité émotive propre. Nous disons même un chemin pénible, un ciel
triste, un coucher de soleil superbe. Toute cette manière animiste de
regarder les choses qui paraît avoir été la façon primitive de penser
des hommes, peut très bien s'expliquer (et M. Santayana, dans un autre
livre tout récent,[118] l'a bien expliquée ainsi) par l'habitude
d'attribuer à l'objet _tout_ ce que nous ressentons en sa présence. Le
partage du subjectif et de l'objectif est le fait d'une réflexion très
avancée, que nous aimons encore ajourner dans beaucoup d'endroits. Quand
les besoins pratiques ne nous en tirent pas forcément, il semble que
nous aimons à nous bercer dans le vague.

Les qualités secondes elles-mêmes, chaleur, son, lumière, n'ont encore
aujourd'hui qu'une attribution vague. Pour le sens commun, pour la vie
pratique, elles sont absolument objectives, physiques. Pour le
physicien, elles sont subjectives. Pour lui, il n'y a que la forme, la
masse, le mouvement, qui aient une réalité extérieure. Pour le
philosophe idéaliste, au contraire, forme et mouvement sont tout aussi
subjectifs que lumière et chaleur, et il n'y a que la chose-en-soi
inconnue, le "noumène," qui jouisse d'une réalité extramentale complète.

Nos sensations intimes conservent encore de cette ambiguïté. Il y a des
illusions de mouvement qui prouvent que nos premières sensations de
mouvement étaient généralisées. C'est le monde entier, avec nous, qui se
mouvait. Maintenant nous distinguons notre propre mouvement de celui des
objets qui nous entourent, et parmi les objets nous en distinguons qui
demeurent en repos. Mais il est des états de vertige où nous retombons
encore aujourd'hui dans l'indifférenciation première.

Vous connaissez tous sans doute cette théorie qui a voulu faire des
émotions des sommes de sensations viscérales et musculaires. Elle a
donné lieu à bien des controverses, et aucune opinion n'a encore conquis
l'unanimité des suffrages. Vous connaissez aussi les controverses sur la
nature de l'activité mentale. Les uns soutiennent qu'elle est une force
purement spirituelle que nous sommes en état d'apercevoir immédiatement
comme telle. Les autres prétendent que ce que nous nommons activité
mentale (effort, attention, par exemple) n'est que le reflet senti de
certains effets dont notre organisme est le siège, tensions musculaires
au crâne et au gosier, arrêt ou passage de la respiration, afflux de
sang, etc.

De quelque manière que se résolvent ces controverses, leur existence
prouve bien clairement une chose, c'est qu'il est très difficile, ou
même absolument impossible de savoir, par la seule inspection intime de
certains phénomènes, s'ils sont de nature physique, occupant de
l'étendue, etc., ou s'ils sont de nature purement psychique et
intérieure. Il nous faut toujours trouver des raisons pour appuyer notre
avis; il nous faut chercher la classification la plus probable du
phénomène; et en fin de compte il pourrait bien se trouver que toutes
nos classifications usuelles eussent eu leurs motifs plutôt dans les
besoins de la pratique que dans quelque faculté que nous aurions
d'apercevoir deux essences ultimes et diverses qui composeraient
ensemble la trame des choses. Le corps de chacun de nous offre un
contraste pratique presque violent à tout le reste du milieu ambiant.
Tout ce qui arrive au dedans de ce corps nous est plus intime et
important que ce qui arrive ailleurs. Il s'identifie avec notre moi, il
se classe avec lui. Ame, vie, souffle, qui saurait bien les distinguer
exactement? Même nos images et nos souvenirs, qui n'agissent sur le
monde physique que par le moyen de notre corps, semblent appartenir à ce
dernier. Nous les traitons comme internes, nous les classons avec nos
sentiments affectifs. Il faut bien avouer, en somme, que la question du
dualisme de la pensée et de la matière est bien loin d'être finalement

Et voilà terminée la première partie de mon discours. J'ai voulu vous
pénétrer, Mesdames et Messieurs, de mes doutes et de la réalité, aussi
bien que de l'importance, du problème.

Quant à moi, après de longues années d'hésitation, j'ai fini par prendre
mon parti carrément. Je crois que la conscience, telle qu'on se la
représente communément, soit comme entité, soit comme activité pure,
mais en tout cas comme fluide, inétendue, diaphane, vide de tout contenu
propre, mais se connaissant directement elle-même, spirituelle enfin, je
crois, dis-je, que cette conscience est une pure chimère, et que la
somme de réalités concrètes que le mot conscience devrait couvrir,
mérite une toute autre description, description, du reste, qu'une
philosophie attentive aux faits et sachant faire un peu d'analyse,
serait désormais en état de fournir ou plutôt de commencer à fournir. Et
ces mots m'amènent à la seconde partie de mon discours. Elle sera
beaucoup plus courte que la première, parce que si je la développais sur
la même échelle, elle serait beaucoup trop longue. Il faut, par
conséquent, que je me restreigne aux seules indications indispensables.

       *       *       *       *       *

Admettons que la conscience, la _Bewusstheit_, conçue comme essence,
entité, activité, moitié irréductible de chaque expérience, soit
supprimée, que le dualisme fondamental et pour ainsi dire ontologique
soit aboli et que ce que nous supposions exister soit seulement ce qu'on
a appelé jusqu'ici le _contenu_, le _Inhalt_, de la conscience; comment
la philosophie va-t-elle se tirer d'affaire avec l'espèce de monisme
vague qui en résultera? Je vais tâcher de vous insinuer quelques
suggestions positives là-dessus, bien que je craigne que, faute du
développement nécessaire, mes idées ne répandront pas une clarté très
grande. Pourvu que j'indique un commencement de sentier, ce sera
peut-être assez.

Au fond, pourquoi nous accrochons-nous d'une manière si tenace à cette
idée d'une conscience surajoutée à l'existence du contenu des choses?
Pourquoi la réclamons-nous si fortement, que celui qui la nierait nous
semblerait plutôt un mauvais plaisant qu'un penseur? N'est-ce pas pour
sauver ce fait indéniable que le contenu de l'expérience n'a pas
seulement une existence propre et comme immanente et intrinsèque, mais
que chaque partie de ce contenu déteint pour ainsi dire sur ses
voisines, rend compte d'elle-même à d'autres, sort en quelque sorte de
soi pour être sue et qu'ainsi tout le champ de l'expérience se trouve
être transparent de part en part, ou constitué comme un espace qui
serait rempli de miroirs?

Cette bilatéralité des parties de l'expérience,--à savoir d'une part,
qu'elles _sont_ avec des qualités propres; d'autre part, qu'elles sont
rapportées à d'autres parties et _sues_--l'opinion régnante la constate
et l'explique par un dualisme fondamental de constitution appartenant à
chaque morceau d'expérience en propre. Dans cette feuille de papier il
n'y a pas seulement, dit-on, le contenu, blancheur, minceur, etc., mais
il y a ce second fait de la conscience de cette blancheur et de cette
minceur. Cette fonction d'être "rapporté," de faire partie de la trame
entière d'une expérience plus compréhensive, on l'érige en fait
ontologique, et on loge ce fait dans l'intérieur même du papier, en
l'accouplant à sa blancheur et à sa minceur. Ce n'est pas un rapport
extrinsèque qu'on suppose, c'est une moitié du phénomène même.

Je crois qu'en somme on se représente la réalité comme constituée de la
façon dont sont faites les "couleurs" qui nous servent à la peinture. Il
y a d'abord des matières colorantes qui répondent au contenu, et il y a
un véhicule, huile ou colle, qui les tient en suspension et qui répond à
la conscience. C'est un dualisme complet, où, en employant certains
procédés, on peut séparer chaque élément de l'autre par voie de
soustraction. C'est ainsi qu'on nous assure qu'en faisant un grand
effort d'abstraction introspective, nous pouvons saisir notre
conscience sur le vif, comme une activité spirituelle pure, en
négligeant à peu près complètement les matières qu'à un moment donné
elle éclaire.

Maintenant je vous demande si on ne pourrait pas tout aussi bien
renverser absolument cette manière de voir. Supposons, en effet, que la
réalité première soit de nature neutre, et appelons-la par quelque nom
encore ambigu, comme _phénomène_, _donné_, _Vorfindung_. Moi-même j'en
parle volontiers au pluriel, et je lui donne le nom d'_expériences
pures_. Ce sera un monisme, si vous voulez, mais un monisme tout à fait
rudimentaire et absolument opposé au soi-disant monisme bilatéral du
positivisme scientifique ou spinoziste.

Ces expériences pures existent et se succèdent, entrent dans des
rapports infiniment variés les unes avec les autres, rapports qui sont
eux-mêmes des parties essentielles de la trame des expériences. Il y a
"Conscience" de ces rapports au même titre qu'il y a "Conscience" de
leurs termes. Il en résulte que des _groupes_ d'expériences se font
remarquer et distinguer, et qu'une seule et même expérience, vu la
grande variété de ses rapports, peut jouer un rôle dans plusieurs
groupes à la fois. C'est ainsi que dans un certain contexte de voisins,
elle serait classée comme un phénomène physique, tandis que dans un
autre entourage elle figurerait comme un fait de conscience, à peu près
comme une même particule d'encre peut appartenir simultanément à deux
lignes, l'une verticale, l'autre horizontale, pourvu qu'elle soit située
à leur intersection.

Prenons, pour fixer nos idées, l'expérience que nous avons à ce moment
du local où nous sommes, de ces murailles, de cette table, de ces
chaises, de cet espace. Dans cette expérience pleine, concrète et
indivise, telle qu'elle est là, donnée, le monde physique objectif et le
monde intérieur et personnel de chacun de nous se rencontrent et se
fusionnent comme des lignes se fusionnent à leur intersection. Comme
chose physique, cette salle a des rapports avec tout le reste du
bâtiment, bâtiment que nous autres nous ne connaissons et ne connaîtrons
pas. Elle doit son existence à toute une histoire de financiers,
d'architectes, d'ouvriers. Elle pèse sur le sol; elle durera
indéfiniment dans le temps; si le feu y éclatait, les chaises et la
table qu'elle contient seraient vite réduites en cendres.

Comme expérience personnelle, au contraire, comme chose "rapportée,"
connue, consciente, cette salle a de tout autres tenants et
aboutissants. Ses antécédents ne sont pas des ouvriers, ce sont nos
pensées respectives de tout à l'heure. Bientôt elle ne figurera que
comme un fait fugitif dans nos biographies, associé à d'agréables
souvenirs. Comme expérience psychique, elle n'a aucun poids, son
ameublement n'est pas combustible. Elle n'exerce de force physique que
sur nos seuls cerveaux, et beaucoup d'entre nous nient encore cette
influence; tandis que la salle physique est en rapport d'influence
physique avec tout le reste du monde.

Et pourtant c'est de la même salle absolument qu'il s'agit dans les deux
cas. Tant que nous ne faisons pas de physique spéculative, tant que
nous nous plaçons dans le sens commun, c'est la salle vue et sentie qui
est bien la salle physique. De quoi parlons-nous donc si ce n'est de
_cela_, de cette même partie de la nature matérielle que tous nos
esprits, à ce même moment, embrassent, qui entre telle quelle dans
l'expérience actuelle et intime de chacun de nous, et que notre souvenir
regardera toujours comme une partie intégrante de notre histoire. C'est
absolument une même étoffe qui figure simultanément, selon le contexte
que l'on considère, comme fait matériel et physique, ou comme fait de
conscience intime.

Je crois donc qu'on ne saurait traiter conscience et matière comme étant
d'essence disparate. On n'obtient ni l'une ni l'autre par soustraction,
en négligeant chaque fois l'autre moitié d'une expérience de composition
double. Les expériences sont au contraire primitivement de nature plutôt
simple. Elles _deviennent_ conscientes dans leur entier, elles
_deviennent_ physiques dans leur entier; et c'est _par voie d'addition_
que ce résultat se réalise. Pour autant que des expériences se
prolongent dans le temps, entrent dans des rapports d'influence
physique, se brisant, se chauffant, s'éclairant, etc., mutuellement,
nous en faisons un groupe à part que nous appelons le monde physique.
Pour autant, au contraire, qu'elles sont fugitives, inertes
physiquement, que leur succession ne suit pas d'ordre déterminé, mais
semble plutôt obéir à des caprices émotifs, nous en faisons un autre
groupe que nous appelons le monde psychique. C'est en entrant à présent
dans un grand nombre de ces groupes psychiques que cette salle devient
maintenant chose consciente, chose rapportée, chose sue. En faisant
désormais partie de nos biographies respectives, elle ne sera pas suivie
de cette sotte et monotone répétition d'elle-même dans le temps qui
caractérise son existence physique. Elle sera suivie, au contraire, par
d'autres expériences qui seront discontinues avec elle, ou qui auront ce
genre tout particulier de continuité que nous appelons souvenir. Demain,
elle aura eu sa place dans chacun de nos passés; mais les présents
divers auxquels tous ces passés seront liés demain seront bien
différents du présent dont cette salle jouira demain comme entité

Les deux genres de groupes sont formés d'expériences, mais les rapports
des expériences entre elles diffèrent d'un groupe à l'autre. C'est donc
par addition d'autres phénomènes qu'un phénomène donné devient conscient
ou connu, ce n'est pas par un dédoublement d'essence intérieure. La
connaissance des choses leur _survient_, elle ne leur est pas immanente.
Ce n'est le fait ni d'un moi transcendental, ni d'une _Bewusstheit_ ou
acte de conscience qui les animerait chacune. _Elles se connaissent
l'une l'autre_, ou plutôt il y en a qui connaissent les autres; et le
rapport que nous nommons connaissance n'est lui-même, dans beaucoup de
cas, qu'une suite d'expériences intermédiaires parfaitement susceptibles
d'être décrites en termes concrets. Il n'est nullement le mystère
transcendant où se sont complus tant de philosophes.

Mais ceci nous mènerait beaucoup trop loin. Je ne puis entrer ici dans
tous les replis de la théorie de la connaissance, ou de ce que, vous
autres Italiens, vous appelez la gnoséologie. Je dois me contenter de
ces remarques écourtées, ou simples suggestions, qui sont, je le crains,
encore bien obscures faute des développements nécessaires.

Permettez donc que je me résume--trop sommairement, et en style
dogmatique--dans les six thèses suivantes:

       *       *       *       *       *

_1^o La Conscience, telle qu'on l'entend ordinairement, n'existe pas,
pas plus que la Matière, à laquelle Berkeley a donné le coup de grâce;_

_2^o Ce qui existe et forme la part de vérité que le mot de "Conscience"
recouvre, c'est la susceptibilité que possèdent les parties de
l'expérience d'être rapportées ou connues;_

_3^o Cette susceptibilité s'explique par le fait que certaines
expériences peuvent mener les unes aux autres par des expériences
intermédiaires nettement caractérisées, de telle sorte que les unes se
trouvent jouer le rôle de choses connues, les autres celui de sujets

_4^o On peut parfaitement définir ces deux rôles sans sortir de la
trame de l'expérience même, et sans invoquer rien de transcendant;_

_5^o Les attributions sujet et objet, représenté et représentatif, chose
et pensée, signifient donc une distinction pratique qui est de la
dernière importance, mais qui est d'ordre_ FONCTIONNEL _seulement, et
nullement ontologique comme le dualisme classique se la représente;_

_6^o En fin de compte, les choses et les pensées ne sont point
foncièrement hétérogènes, mais elles sont faites d'une même étoffe,
étoffe qu'on ne peut définir comme telle, mais seulement éprouver, et
que l'on peut nommer, si on veut, l'étoffe de l'expérience en général._


[116] [A communication made (in French) at the Fifth International
Congress of Psychology, in Rome, April 30, 1905. It is reprinted from
the _Archives de Psychologie_, vol. V, No. 17, June, 1905.] Cette
communication est le résumé, forcément très condensé, de vues que
l'auteur a exposées, au cours de ces derniers mois, en une série
d'articles publiés dans le _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, 1904 et 1905. [The series of articles referred to
is reprinted above. ED.]

[117] _The Sense of Beauty_, pp. 44 ff.

[118] _The Life of Reason_ [vol. I, "Reason in Common Sense," p. 142].



If all the criticisms which the humanistic _Weltanschauung_ is receiving
were as _sachgemäss_ as Mr. Bode's,[120] the truth of the matter would
more rapidly clear up. Not only is it excellently well written, but it
brings its own point of view out clearly, and admits of a perfectly
straight reply.

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

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

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

It pretends to explain the notion of a physical order, but does so by
playing fast and loose with the concept of objective reference. On the
one hand, it denies that such reference implies self-transcendency on
the part of any one experience; on the other hand, it claims that
experiences _point_. But, critically considered, there can be no
pointing unless self-transcendency be also allowed. The conjunctive
function of pointing, as I have assumed it, is, according to my critic,
vitiated by the fallacy of attaching a bilateral relation to a term _a
quo_, as if it could stick out substantively and maintain itself in
existence in advance of the term _ad quem_ which is equally required for
it to be a concretely experienced fact. If the relation be made
concrete, the term _ad quem_ is involved, which would mean (if I succeed
in apprehending Mr. Bode rightly) that this latter term, although not
empirically there, is yet _noetically_ there, in advance--in other words
it would mean that any experience that 'points' must already have
transcended itself, in the ordinary 'epistemological' sense of the word

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

Against this rationalistic tendency to treat experience as chopped up
into discontinuous static objects, radical empiricism protests. It
insists on taking conjunctions at their 'face-value,' just as they come.
Consider, for example, such conjunctions as 'and,' 'with,' 'near,'
'_plus_,' 'towards.' While we live in such conjunctions our state is one
of _transition_ in the most literal sense. We are expectant of a 'more'
to come, and before the more _has_ come, the transition, nevertheless,
is directed _towards_ it. I fail otherwise to see how, if one kind of
more comes, there should be satisfaction and feeling of fulfilment; but
disappointment if the more comes in another shape. One more will
continue, another more will arrest or deflect the direction, in which
our experience is moving even now. We can not, it is true, _name_ our
different living 'ands' or 'withs' except by naming the different terms
towards which they are moving us, but we _live_ their specifications and
differences before those terms explicitly arrive. Thus, though the
various 'ands' are all bilateral relations, each requiring a term _ad
quem_ to define it when viewed in retrospect and articulately conceived,
yet in its living moment any one of them may be treated as if it 'stuck
out' from its term _a quo_ and pointed in a special direction, much as a
compass-needle (to use Mr. Bode's excellent simile) points at the pole,
even though it stirs not from its box.

In Professor Höffding's massive little article in _The Journal of
Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_,[121] he quotes a saying
of Kierkegaard's to the effect that we live forwards, but we understand
backwards. Understanding backwards is, it must be confessed, a very
frequent weakness of philosophers, both of the rationalistic and of the
ordinary empiricist type. Radical empiricism alone insists on
understanding forwards also, and refuses to substitute static concepts
of the understanding for transitions in our moving life. A logic similar
to that which my critic seems to employ here should, it seems to me,
forbid him to say that our present is, while present, directed towards
our future, or that any physical movement can have direction until its
goal is actually reached.

At this point does it not seem as if the quarrel about
self-transcendency in knowledge might drop? Is it not a purely verbal
dispute? Call it self-transcendency or call it pointing, whichever you
like--it makes no difference so long as real transitions towards real
goals are admitted as things given _in_ experience, and among
experience's most indefeasible parts. Radical empiricism, unable to
close its eyes to the transitions caught _in actu_, accounts for the
self-transcendency or the pointing (whichever you may call it) as a
process that occurs within experience, as an empirically mediated thing
of which a perfectly definite description can be given. 'Epistemology,'
on the other hand, denies this; and pretends that the self-transcendency
is unmediated or, if mediated, then mediated in a super-empirical world.
To justify this pretension, epistemology has first to transform all our
conjunctions into static objects, and this, I submit, is an absolutely
arbitrary act. But in spite of Mr. Bode's mal-treatment of conjunctions,
as I understand them--and as I understand him--I believe that at bottom
we are fighting for nothing different, but are both defending the same
continuities of experience in different forms of words.

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


[119] [Reprinted from _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. II, No. 9, April 27, 1905.]

[120] [B. H. Bode: "'Pure Experience' and the External World," _Journal
of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_, vol. II, 1905, p.

[121] Vol. II, [1905], pp. 85-92.



Although Mr. Pitkin does not name me in his acute article on radical
empiricism,[123] [...] I fear that some readers, knowing me to have
applied that name to my own doctrine, may possibly consider themselves
to have been in at my death.

In point of fact my withers are entirely unwrung. I have, indeed,
said[124] that 'to be radical, an empiricism must not admit into its
constructions any element that is not directly experienced.' But in my
own radical empiricism this is only a _methodological postulate_, not a
conclusion supposed to flow from the intrinsic absurdity of
transempirical objects. I have never felt the slightest respect for the
idealistic arguments which Mr. Pitkin attacks and of which Ferrier made
such striking use; and I am perfectly willing to admit any number of
noumenal beings or events into philosophy if only their pragmatic value
can be shown.

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

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Pitkin's 'reply' to me,[125] [...] perplexes me by the obscurity of
style which I find in almost all our younger philosophers. He asks me,
however, two direct questions which I understand, so I take the liberty
of answering.

First he asks: Do not experience and science show 'that countless things
are[126] experienced as that which they are not or are only partially?'
I reply: Yes, assuredly, as, for example, 'things' distorted by
refractive media, 'molecules,' or whatever else is taken to be more
ultimately real than the immediate content of the perceptive moment.

Secondly: "If experience is self-supporting[127] (in _any_ intelligible
sense) does this fact preclude the possibility of (a) something not
experienced and (b) action of experience upon a noumenon?"

My reply is: Assuredly not the possibility of either--how could it? Yet
in my opinion we should be wise not to _consider_ any thing or action of
that nature, and to restrict our universe of philosophic discourse to
what is experienced or, at least, experienceable.[128]


[122] [Reprinted from the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_, vol. III, No. 26, December 20, 1906; and _ibid._,
vol. IV, No. 4, February 14, 1907, where the original is entitled "A
Reply to Mr. Pitkin." ED.]

[123] [W. B. Pitkin: "A Problem of Evidence in Radical Empiricism,"
_ibid._, vol. III, No. 24, November 22, 1906. ED.]

[124] [Above, p. 42. ED.]

[125] ["In Reply to Professor James," _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology
and Scientific Methods_, vol. IV, No. 2, January 17, 1907. ED.]

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

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

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



Mr. Joseph's criticism of my article 'Humanism and Truth'[130] is a
useful contribution to the general clearing up. He has seriously tried
to comprehend what the pragmatic movement may intelligibly mean; and if
he has failed, it is the fault neither of his patience nor of his
sincerity, but rather of stubborn tricks of thought which he could not
easily get rid of. Minute polemics, in which the parties try to rebut
every detail of each of the other's charges, are a useful exercise only
to the disputants. They can but breed confusion in a reader. I will
therefore ignore as much as possible the text of both our articles (mine
was inadequate enough) and treat once more the general objective

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

Such have been the changes from aristocracy to democracy, from classic
to romantic taste, from theistic to pantheistic feeling, from static to
evolutionary ways of understanding life--changes of which we all have
been spectators. Scholasticism still opposes to such changes the method
of confutation by single decisive reasons, showing that the new view
involves self-contradiction, or traverses some fundamental principle.
This is like stopping a river by planting a stick in the middle of its
bed. Round your obstacle flows the water and 'gets there all the same.'
In reading Mr. Joseph, I am not a little reminded of those Catholic
writers who refute Darwinism by telling us that higher species can not
come from lower because _minus nequit gignere plus_, or that the notion
of transformation is absurd, for it implies that species tend to their
own destruction, and that would violate the principle that every reality
tends to persevere in its own shape. The point of view is too myopic,
too tight and close to take in the inductive argument. You can not
settle questions of fact by formal logic. I feel as if Mr. Joseph almost
pounced on my words singly, without giving the sentences time to get out
of my mouth.

The one condition of understanding humanism is to become
inductive-minded oneself, to drop rigorous definitions, and follow lines
of least resistance 'on the whole.' "In other words," Mr. Joseph may
probably say, "resolve your intellect into a kind of slush." "Even so,"
I make reply,--"if you will consent to use no politer word." For
humanism, conceiving the more 'true' as the more 'satisfactory' (Dewey's
term) has to renounce sincerely rectilinear arguments and ancient ideals
of rigor and finality. It is in just this temper of renunciation, so
different from that of pyrrhonistic scepticism, that the spirit of
humanism essentially consists. Satisfactoriness has to be measured by a
multitude of standards, of which some, for aught we know, may fail in
any given case; and what is 'more' satisfactory than any alternative in
sight, may to the end be a sum of _pluses_ and _minuses_, concerning
which we can only trust that by ulterior corrections and improvements a
maximum of the one and a minimum of the other may some day be
approached. It means a real change of heart, a break with absolutistic
hopes, when one takes up this view of the conditions of belief.

That humanism's critics have never imagined this attitude inwardly, is
shown by their invariable tactics. They do not get into it far enough to
see objectively and from without what their own opposite notion of
truth is. Mr. Joseph is possessed by some such notion; he thinks his
readers to be full of it, he obeys it, works from it, but never even
essays to tell us what it is. The nearest he comes to doing so is
where[131] he says it is the way "we ought to think," whether we be
psychologically compelled to or not.

Of course humanism agrees to this: it is only a manner of calling truth
an ideal. But humanism explicates the summarizing word 'ought' into a
mass of pragmatic motives from the midst of which our critics think that
truth itself takes flight. Truth is a name of double meaning. It stands
now for an abstract something defined only as that to which our thought
ought to conform; and again it stands for the concrete propositions
within which we believe that conformity already reigns--they being so
many 'truths.' Humanism sees that the only conformity we ever have to
deal with concretely is that between our subjects and our predicates,
using these words in a very broad sense. It sees moreover that this
conformity is 'validated' (to use Mr. Schiller's term) by an indefinite
number of pragmatic tests that vary as the predicates and subjects vary.
If an S gets superseded by an SP that gives our mind a completer sum of
satisfactions, we always say, humanism points out, that we have advanced
to a better position in regard to truth.

Now many of our judgments thus attained are retrospective. The S'es, so
the judgment runs, were SP's already ere the fact was humanly recorded.
Common sense, struck by this state of things, now rearranges the whole
field; and traditional philosophy follows her example. The general
requirement that predicates must conform to their subject, they
translate into an ontological theory. A most previous Subject of all is
substituted for the lesser subjects and conceived of as an archetypal
Reality; and the conformity required of predicates in detail is
reinterpreted as a relation which our whole mind, with all its subjects
and predicates together, must get into with respect to this Reality.
It, meanwhile, is conceived as eternal, static, and unaffected by our
thinking. Conformity to a non-human Archetype like this is probably the
notion of truth which my opponent shares with common sense and
philosophic rationalism.

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

One of the commonest parts of the outcry is that humanism is
subjectivistic altogether--it is supposed to labor under a necessity of
'denying trans-perceptual reality.'[132] It is not hard to see how this
misconception of humanism may have arisen; and humanistic writers,
partly from not having sufficiently guarded their expressions, and
partly from not having yet "got round" (in the poverty of their
literature) to a full discussion of the subject, are doubtless in some
degree to blame. But I fail to understand how any one with a working
grasp of their principles can charge them wholesale with subjectivism. I
myself have never thought of humanism as being subjectivistic farther
than to this extent, that, inasmuch as it treats the thinker as being
himself one portion of reality, it must also allow that _some_ of the
realities that he declares for true are created by his being there. Such
realities of course are either acts of his, or relations between other
things and him, or relations between things, which, but for him, would
never have been traced. Humanists are subjectivistic, also in this,
that, unlike rationalists (who think they carry a warrant for the
absolute truth of what they now believe in in their present pocket),
they hold all present beliefs as subject to revision in the light of
future experience. The future experience, however, may be of things
outside the thinker; and that this is so the humanist may believe as
freely as any other kind of empiricist philosopher.

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

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

Mr. Joseph gives a special turn to this accusation. He charges me[133]
with being self-contradictory when I say that the main categories of
thought were evolved in the course of experience itself. For I use these
very categories to define the course of experience by. Experience, as I
talk about it, is a product of their use; and yet I take it as true
anteriorly to them. This seems to Mr. Joseph to be an absurdity. I hope
it does not seem such to his readers; for if experiences can suggest
hypotheses at all (and they notoriously do so) I can see no absurdity
whatever in the notion of a retrospective hypothesis having for its
object the very train of experiences by which its own being, along with
that of other things, has been brought about. If the hypothesis is
'satisfactory' we must, of course, believe it to have been true
anteriorly to its formulation by ourselves. Every explanation of a
present by a past seems to involve this kind of circle, which is not a
vicious circle. The past is _causa existendi_ of the present, which in
turn is _causa cognoscendi_ of the past. If the present were treated as
_causa existendi_ of the past, the circle might indeed be vicious.

Closely connected with this pseudo-difficulty is another one of wider
scope and greater complication--more excusable therefore.[134]
Humanism, namely, asking how truth in point of fact is reached, and
seeing that it is by ever substituting more satisfactory for less
satisfactory opinions, is thereby led into a vague historic sketch of
truth's development. The earliest 'opinions,' it thinks, must have been
dim, unconnected 'feelings,' and only little by little did more and more
orderly views of things replace them. Our own retrospective view of this
whole evolution is now, let us say, the latest candidate for 'truth' as
yet reached in the process. To be a satisfactory candidate, it must give
some definite sort of a picture of what forces keep the process going.
On the subjective side we have a fairly definite picture--sensation,
association, interest, hypothesis, these account in a general way for
the growth into a cosmos of the relative chaos with which the mind

But on the side of the object, so to call it roughly, our view is much
less satisfactory. Of which of our many objects are we to believe that
it truly _was_ there and at work before the human mind began? Time,
space, kind, number, serial order, cause, consciousness, are hard things
not to objectify--even transcendental idealism leaves them standing as
'empirically real.' Substance, matter, force, fall down more easily
before criticism, and secondary qualities make almost no resistance at
all. Nevertheless, when we survey the field of speculation, from
Scholasticism through Kantism to Spencerism, we find an ever-recurring
tendency to convert the pre-human into a merely logical object, an
unknowable _ding-an-sich_, that but starts the process, or a vague
_materia prima_ that but receives our forms.[135]

The reasons for this are not so much logical as they are material. We
can postulate an extra-mental _that_ freely enough (though some
idealists have denied us the privilege), but when we have done so, the
_what_ of it is hard to determine satisfactorily, because of the
oppositions and entanglements of the variously proposed _whats_ with one
another and with the history of the human mind. The literature of
speculative cosmology bears witness to this difficulty. Humanism suffers
from it no more than any other philosophy suffers, but it makes all our
cosmogonic theories so unsatisfactory that some thinkers seek relief in
the denial of any primal dualism. Absolute Thought or 'pure experience'
is postulated, and endowed with attributes calculated to justify the
belief that it may 'run itself.' Both these truth-claiming hypotheses
are non-dualistic in the old mind-and-matter sense; but the one is
monistic and the other pluralistic as to the world process itself. Some
humanists are non-dualists of this sort--I myself am one _und zwar_ of
the pluralistic brand. But doubtless dualistic humanists also exist, as
well as non-dualistic ones of the monistic wing.

Mr. Joseph pins these general philosophic difficulties on humanism
alone, or possibly on me alone. My article spoke vaguely of a 'most
chaotic pure experience' coming first, and building up the mind.[136]
But how can two structureless things interact so as to produce a
structure? my critic triumphantly asks. Of course they can't, as purely
so-named entities. We must make additional hypotheses. We must beg a
minimum of structure for them. The _kind_ of minimum that _might_ have
tended to increase towards what we now find actually developed is the
philosophical desideratum here. The question is that of the most
materially satisfactory hypothesis. Mr. Joseph handles it by formal
logic purely, as if he had no acquaintance with the logic of hypothesis
at all.

Mr. Joseph again is much bewildered as to what a humanist can mean when
he uses the word knowledge. He tries to convict me[137] of vaguely
identifying it with any kind of good. Knowledge is a difficult thing to
define briefly, and Mr. Joseph shows his own constructive hand here even
less than in the rest of his article. I have myself put forth on
several occasions a radically pragmatist account of knowledge,[138] the
existence of which account my critic probably does not know of--so
perhaps I had better not say anything about knowledge until he reads and
attacks that. I will say, however, that whatever the relation called
knowing may itself prove to consist in, I can think of no conceivable
kind of _object_ which may not become an object of knowledge on
humanistic principles as well as on the principles of any other

I confess that I am pretty steadily hampered by the habit, on the part
of humanism's critics, of assuming that they have truer ideas than mine
of truth and knowledge, the nature of which I must know of and can not
need to have re-defined. I have consequently to reconstruct these ideas
in order to carry on the discussion (I have e.g. had to do so in some
parts of this article) and I thereby expose myself to charges of
caricature. In one part of Mr. Joseph's attack, however, I rejoice that
we are free from this embarrassment. It is an important point and covers
probably a genuine difficulty, so I take it up last.

When, following Schiller and Dewey, I define the true as that which
gives the maximal combination of satisfactions, and say that
satisfaction is a many-dimensional term that can be realized in various
ways, Mr. Joseph replies, rightly enough, that the chief satisfaction of
a rational creature must always be his thought that what he believes is
_true_, whether the truth brings him the satisfaction of collateral
profits or not. This would seem, however, to make of truth the prior
concept, and to relegate satisfaction to a secondary place.

Again, if to be satisfactory is what is meant by being true, _whose_
satisfactions, and _which_ of his satisfactions, are to count?
Discriminations notoriously have to be made; and the upshot is that only
rational candidates and intellectual satisfactions stand the test. We
are then driven to a purely theoretic notion of truth, and get out of
the pragmatic atmosphere altogether. And with this Mr. Joseph leaves
us--truth is truth, and there is an end of the matter. But he makes a
very pretty show of convicting me of self-stultification in according to
our purely theoretic satisfactions any place in the humanistic scheme.
They crowd the collateral satisfactions out of house and home, he
thinks, and pragmatism has to go into bankruptcy if she recognizes them
at all.

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

Are they not all mere matters of _consistency_--and emphatically _not_
of consistency between an Absolute Reality and the mind's copies of it,
but of actually felt consistency among judgments, objects, and manners
of reacting, in the mind? And are not both our need of such consistency
and our pleasure in it conceivable as outcomes of the natural fact that
we are beings that develop mental _habits_--habit itself proving
adaptively beneficial in an environment where the same objects, or the
same kinds of objects, recur and follow 'law'? If this were so, what
would have come first would have been the collateral profits of habit,
and the theoretic life would have grown up in aid of these. In point of
fact this seems to have been the probable case. At life's origin, any
present perception may have been 'true'--if such a word could then be
applicable. Later, when reactions became organized, the reactions became
'true' whenever expectation was fulfilled by them. Otherwise they were
'false' or 'mistaken' reactions. But the same class of objects needs the
same kind of reaction, so the impulse to react consistently must
gradually have been established, with a disappointment felt whenever
the results frustrated expectation. Here is a perfectly plausible germ
for all our higher consistencies. Nowadays, if an object claims from us
a reaction of the kind habitually accorded only to the opposite class of
objects, our mental machinery refuses to run smoothly. The situation is
intellectually unsatisfactory. To gain relief we seek either to preserve
the reaction by re-interpreting the object, or, leaving the object as it
is, we react in a way contrary to the way claimed of us. Neither
solution is easy. Such a situation might be that of Mr. Joseph, with me
claiming assent to humanism from him. He can not apperceive it so as to
permit him to gratify my claim; but there is enough appeal in the claim
to induce him to write a whole article in justification of his refusal.
If he should assent to humanism, on the other hand, that would drag
after it an unwelcome, yea incredible, alteration of his previous mental
beliefs. Whichever alternative he might adopt, however, a new
equilibrium of intellectual consistency would in the end be reached. He
would feel, whichever way he decided, that he was now thinking truly.
But if, with his old habits unaltered, he should simply add to them the
new one of advocating humanism quietly or noisily, his mind would be
rent into two systems, each of which would accuse the other of
falsehood. The resultant situation, being profoundly unsatisfactory,
would also be instable.

Theoretic truth is thus no relation between our mind and archetypal
reality. It falls _within_ the mind, being the accord of some of its
processes and objects with other processes and objects--'accord'
consisting here in well-definable relations. So long as the satisfaction
of feeling such an accord is denied us, whatever collateral profits may
seem to inure from what we believe in are but as dust in the
balance--provided always that we are highly organized intellectually,
which the majority of us are not. The amount of accord which satisfies
most men and women is merely the absence of violent clash between their
usual thoughts and statements and the limited sphere of
sense-perceptions in which their lives are cast. The theoretic truth
that most of us think we 'ought' to attain to is thus the possession of
a set of predicates that do not contradict their subjects. We preserve
it as often as not by leaving other predicates and subjects out.

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

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


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

[130] ['Humanism and Truth' first appeared in _Mind_, N. S., vol. XIII,
No. 52, October, 1904. It is reprinted in _The Meaning of Truth_, pp.
51-101. Cf. this article _passim_. Mr. H. W. B. Joseph's criticism,
entitled "Professor James on 'Humanism and Truth,'" appeared in _Mind_,
N. S., vol. XIV, No. 53, January, 1905. ED.]

[131] _Op. cit._, p. 37.

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

[133] _Op. cit._, p. 32.

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

[135] Compare some elaborate articles by M. Le Roy and M. Wilbois in the
_Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale_, vols. VIII, IX, and X, [1900,
1901, and 1902.]

[136] [Cf. _The Meaning of Truth_, p. 64.]

[137] [Joseph: _op. cit._, p. 36.]

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

[139] For a recent attempt, effective on the whole, at squaring humanism
with knowing, I may refer to Prof. Woodbridge's very able address at the
Saint Louis Congress, "The Field of Logic," printed in _Science_, N. Y.,
November 4, 1904.



No seeker of truth can fail to rejoice at the terre-à-terre sort of
discussion of the issues between Empiricism and Transcendentalism (or,
as the champions of the latter would probably prefer to say, between
Irrationalism and Rationalism) that seems to have begun in _Mind_.[141]
It would seem as if, over concrete examples like Mr. J. S. Haldane's,
both parties ought inevitably to come to a better understanding. As a
reader with a strong bias towards Irrationalism, I have studied his
article[142] with the liveliest admiration of its temper and its
painstaking effort to be clear. But the cases discussed failed to
satisfy me, and I was at first tempted to write a Note animadverting
upon them in detail. The growth of the limb, the sea's contour, the
vicarious functioning of the nerve-centre, the digitalis curing the
heart, are unfortunately _not_ cases where we can _see_ any
_through-and-through_ conditioning of the parts by the whole. They are
all cases of reciprocity where subjects, supposed independently to
exist, acquire certain attributes through their relations to other
subjects. That they also _exist_ through similar relations is only an
ideal supposition, not verified to our understanding in these or any
other concrete cases whatsoever.

If, however, one were to urge this solemnly, Mr. Haldane's friends could
easily reply that he only gave us such examples on account of the
hardness of our hearts. He knew full well their imperfection, but he
hoped that to those who would not spontaneously ascend to the Notion of
the Totality, these cases might prove a spur and suggest and symbolize
something better than themselves. No particular case that can be brought
forward is a real concrete. They are all abstractions from the Whole,
and of course the "through-and-through" character can not be found in
them. Each of them still contains among its elements what we call
_things_, grammatical subjects, forming a sort of residual _caput
mortuum_ of Existence after all the relations that figure in the
examples have been told off. On this "existence," thinks popular
philosophy, things may live on, like the winter bears on their own fat,
never entering relations at all, or, if entering them, entering an
entirely different set of them from those treated of in Mr. Haldane's
examples. Thus _if_ the digitalis were to weaken instead of
strengthening the heart, and to produce death (as sometimes happens), it
would determine itself, through determining the organism, to the
function of "kill" instead of that of "cure." The function and relation
seem adventitious, depending on what kind of a heart the digitalis gets
hold of, the digitalis and the heart being facts external and, so to
speak, accidental to each other. But this popular view, Mr. Haldane's
friends will continue, is an illusion. What seems to us the "existence"
of digitalis and heart outside of the relations of killing or curing, is
but a function in a wider system of relations, of which, _pro hac vice_,
we take no account. The larger system determines the _existence_ just
as absolutely as the system "kill," or the system "cure," determined the
_function_ of the digitalis. Ascend to the absolute system, instead of
biding with these relative and partial ones, and you shall see that the
law of through-and-throughness must and does obtain.

Of course, this argument is entirely reasonable, and debars us
completely from chopping logic about the concrete examples Mr. Haldane
has chosen. It is not his fault if his categories are so fine an
instrument that nothing but the sum total of things can be taken to show
us the manner of their use. It is simply our misfortune that he has not
the sum total of things to show it by. Let us fall back from all
concrete attempts and see what we can do with his notion of
through-and-throughness, avowedly taken _in abstracto_. In abstract
systems the "through-and-through" Ideal is realized on every hand. In
any system, as such, the members are only _members_ in the system.
Abolish the system and you abolish its members, for you have conceived
them through no other property than the abstract one of membership.
Neither rightness nor leftness, except through bi-laterality. Neither
mortgager nor mortgagee, except through mortgage. The logic of these
cases is this:--_If_ A, then B; but _if_ B, then A: wherefore _if_
either, Both; and if not Both, Nothing.

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

What, in fact, is the logic of these abstract systems? It is, as we said
above: If any Member, then the Whole System; if not the Whole System,
then Nothing. But how can Logic possibly do anything more with these
two hypotheses than combine them into the single disjunctive
proposition--"Either this Whole System, just as it stands, or Nothing at
all." Is not that disjunction the ultimate word of Logic in the matter,
and can any disjunction, as such, resolve _itself_? It may be that Mr.
Haldane sees how one horn, the concept of the Whole System, carries real
existence with it. But if he has been as unsuccessful as I in
assimilating the Hegelian re-editings of the Anselmian proof,[143] he
will have to say that though Logic may determine _what_ the system must
be, _if_ it is, something else than Logic must tell us _that_ it is. Mr.
Haldane in this case would probably consciously, or unconsciously, make
an appeal to Fact: the disjunction _is_ decided, since nobody can
dispute that now, as a matter of fact, _something_, and not nothing,
_is_. We must _therefore_, he would probably say, go on to admit the
Whole System in the desiderated sense. Is not then the validity of the
Anselmian proof the nucleus of the whole question between Logic and
Fact? Ought not the efforts of Mr. Haldane and his friends to be
principally devoted to its elucidation? Is it not the real door of
separation between Empiricism and Rationalism? And if the Rationalists
leave that door for a moment off its hinges, can any power keep that
abstract, opaque, unmediated, external, irrational, and irresponsible
monster, known to the vulgar as bare Fact, from getting in and
contaminating the whole sanctuary with his presence? Can anything
prevent Faust from changing "Am Anfang war das Wort" into "Am Anfang war
die That?"

Nothing in earth or heaven. Only the Anselmian proof can keep Fact out
of philosophy. The question, "Shall Fact be recognized as an ultimate
principle?" is the whole issue between the Rationalists and the
Empiricism of vulgar thought.

Of course, if so recognized, Fact sets a limit to the
"through-and-through" character of the world's rationality. That
rationality might then mediate between all the members of our
conception of the world, but not between the conception itself and
reality. Reality would have to be given, not by Reason, but by Fact.
Fact holds out blankly, brutally and blindly, against that universal
deliquescence of everything into logical relations which the Absolutist
Logic demands, and it is the only thing that does hold out. Hence the
ire of the Absolutist Logic--hence its non-recognition, its 'cutting' of

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

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

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

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

I know very well that in talking of dislikes to those who never mention
them, I am doing a very coarse thing, and making a sort of intellectual
Orson of myself. But, for the life of me, I can not help it, because I
feel sure that likes and dislikes _must_ be among the ultimate factors
of their philosophy as well as of mine. Would they but admit it! How
sweetly we then could hold converse together! There is something finite
about us both, as we now stand. We do not know the Absolute Whole _yet_.
_Part_ of it is still negative to us. Among the _whats_ of it still
stalks a mob of opaque _thats_, without which we cannot think. But just
as I admit that this is all possibly provisional, that even the
Anselmian proof may come out all right, and creation _may_ be a rational
system through-and-through, why might they not also admit that it may
all be otherwise, and that the shadow, the opacity, the negativity, the
"from"-ness, the plurality that is ultimate, _may_ never be wholly
driven from the scene. We should both then be avowedly making
hypotheses, playing with Ideals. Ah! Why is the notion of hypothesis so
abhorrent to the Hegelian mind?

And once down on our common level of hypothesis, we might then admit
scepticism, since the Whole is not yet revealed, to be the soundest
_logical_ position. But since we are in the main not sceptics, we might
go on and frankly confess to each other the motives for our several
faiths. I frankly confess mine--I can not but think that at bottom they
are of an æsthetic and not of a logical sort. The "through-and-through"
universe seems to suffocate me with its infallible impeccable
all-pervasiveness. Its necessity, with no possibilities; its relations,
with no subjects, make me feel as if I had entered into a contract with
no reserved rights, or rather as if I had to live in a large seaside
boarding-house with no private bed-room in which I might take refuge
from the society of the place. I am distinctly aware, moreover, that the
old quarrel of sinner and pharisee has something to do with the matter.
Certainly, to my personal knowledge, all Hegelians are not prigs, but I
somehow feel as if all prigs ought to end, if developed, by becoming
Hegelians. There is a story of two clergymen asked by mistake to conduct
the same funeral. One came first and had got no farther than "I am the
Resurrection and the Life," when the other entered. "_I_ am the
Resurrection and the Life," cried the latter. The "through-and-through"
philosophy, as it actually exists, reminds many of us of that clergyman.
It seems too buttoned-up and white-chokered and clean-shaven a thing to
speak for the vast slow-breathing unconscious Kosmos with its dread
abysses and its unknown tides. The "freedom" _we_ want to see there is
not the freedom, with a string tied to its leg and warranted not to fly
away, of that philosophy. "Let it fly away," we say, "from _us_! What

Again, I know I am exhibiting my mental grossness. But again, _Ich kann
nicht anders._ I show my feelings; why _will_ they not show theirs? I
know they _have_ a personal feeling about the through-and-through
universe, which is entirely different from mine, and which I should very
likely be much the better for gaining if they would only show me how.
Their persistence in telling me that feeling has nothing to do with the
question, that it is a pure matter of absolute reason, keeps me for ever
out of the pale. Still seeing a _that_ in things which Logic does not
expel, the most I can do is to _aspire_ to the expulsion. At present I
do not even aspire. Aspiration is a feeling. What can kindle feeling but
the example of feeling? And if the Hegelians _will_ refuse to set an
example, what can they expect the rest of us to do? To speak more
seriously, the one _fundamental_ quarrel Empiricism has with Absolutism
is over this repudiation by Absolutism of the personal and æsthetic
factor in the construction of philosophy. That we all of us have
feelings, Empiricism feels quite sure. That they may be as prophetic and
anticipatory of truth as anything else we have, and some of them more so
than others, can not possibly be denied. But what hope is there of
squaring and settling opinions unless Absolutism will hold parley on
this common ground; and will admit that all philosophies are hypotheses,
to which all our faculties, emotional as well as logical, help us, and
the truest of which will at the final integration of things be found in
possession of the men whose faculties on the whole had the best divining


[140] [Reprinted from _Mind_, vol. IX, No. 34, April, 1884.]

[141] [In 1884.]

[142] ["Life and Mechanism," _Mind_, vol. IX, 1884.]

[143] [_Cf._ P. Janet and G. Séailles: _History of the Problems of
Philosophy_, trans. by Monahan, vol. II, pp. 275-278; 305-307. ED.]


  ABSOLUTE IDEALISM: 46, 60, 99,
  102, 134, 195, 256 ff., Essay XII.

  ACTIVITY: x, Essay VI.

  AFFECTIONAL FACTS: 34 ff., Essay
  V, 217 ff.



  BERGSON, H.: 156, 188.

  BERKELEY: 10-11, 43, 76, 77, 212,

  BODE, B. H.: 234 ff.

  BODY: 78, 84 ff., 153, 221.

  BRADLEY, F. H.: 60, 98, 99, 100,
  107 ff., 157, 162.

  CAUSE: 163, 174, 181 ff.

  CHANGE: 161.

  also_ under KNOWLEDGE.

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

  59, 70, 94, 104, 107 ff., 117 ff.,
  163, 240.

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

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



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

  105, 107 ff.

  DUALISM: 10, 207 ff., 225, 257.

  EMPIRICISM: iv-v, vii-xiii, 41, 46-47,
  Essay XII. _See also_ under

  EPISTEMOLOGY: 239. _See also_ under

  ETHICS: 194.

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

  also_ under RELATIONS, and


  FREE WILL: 185.

  HALDANE, J. S.: 266 ff.

  HEGEL: 106, 276, 277.

  HERBART: 106.

  HOBHOUSE, L. T.: 109.

  HODDER, A. L.: 22, 109.

  HODGSON, S.: ix, 48.

  HÖFFDING, H.: 238.

  HUMANISM: 90, 156, Essay VII,
  Essay XI.

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

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

  IDEAS: 55 ff., 73, 177, 209.

  IDENTITY, Philosophy of: 134,
  197, 202.


  INTELLECT: 97 ff.

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

  KANT: 1, 37, 162, 206.


  KNOWLEDGE: 4, 25, 56 ff., 68 ff.,
  87-88, 196 ff., 231. _See also_ under

  LIFE: 87, 161.

  LOCKE: 10.

  LOGIC: 269 ff.

  LOTZE: 59, 75, 167.

  MATERIALISM: 179, 232.

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

  MILL, JAMES: 43.

  MILLER, D.: 54.

  MINDS, their Conterminousness:
  76 ff., Essay IV.

  MONISM: vii, 208, 267 ff.

  MOORE, G. E.: 6-7.

  MÜNSTERBERG, H.: 1, 18-20, 158.

  NATORP, P.: 1, 7-8.




  OBJECTIVITY: 23 ff., 79.

  PANPSYCHISM: 89, 188.


  PERCEPTION: 11 ff., 17, 33, 65, 78,
  82 ff., 197, 200, 211 ff.

  PERRY, R. B.: 24.

  PHYSICAL REALITY: 14, 22, 32, 124
  ff., 139 ff., 149 ff., 154, 211 ff.,
  229, 235.

  PITKIN, W. B.: 241 ff.

  PLURALISM: 89, 90, 110.

  PRAGMATISM: iv, x, xi-xii, 11, 72,
  97 ff., 156, 159, 176, 242, 261.


  PRINCE, M.: 88.


  PSYCHOLOGY: 206, 209 ff.

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

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

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

  REALISM: 16, 40, 76, 82 ff.

  REHMKE, J.: 1.

  RELATIONS: x, 16, 25, 42 ff., 71, 81,
  Essay III, 148, 268. _See also_ under

  RELIGION: xiii, 194.

  RENOUVIER: 184-185.

  REPRESENTATION: 61, 196 ff., 212
  ff. _See also_ under SUBSTITUTION.

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

  SANTAYANA, G.: 143, 218.

  SCHILLER, F. C. S.: 109, 191, 204,
  249, 260.


  SCHUPPE, W.: 1.


  SELF: 45, 46, 94, 128 ff.

  SENSATION: 30, 201.

  SIDIS, B.: 144.


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

  SPENCER, H.: 144.

  SPINOZA: 208.

  SPIR, A.: 106.

  STOUT, G. F.: 109, 158.

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

  SUBJECTIVITY: 23 ff., 234 ff., 251 ff.

  SUBSTITUTION: 62 ff., 104, 201.

  TAINE: 20, 62.

  TAYLOR, A. E.: 111.


  THINGS: 1, 9 ff., 28 ff., 37, Essay
  III, 209.

  THOUGHT: 1, 22, 28 ff., 37, 213.
  _See also_ under KNOWLEDGE.

  TIME: 27, 94.

  71, 75, 239.

  TRUTH: 24, 98, 192, 202 ff., 247 ff.

  WARD, J.: 157, 162.

  WILL: 165, 184.

  WOODBRIDGE. F. J. E.: 196.

  WORTH: 186-187.

  WUNDT, W.: 152.

The Riverside Press

  U. S. A.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The following changes were made to the text.

  Page 98:
  Yet when so broken it is less consistent then ever.
  Changed to
  Yet when so broken it is less consistent than ever.

  Page 180:
  some comtemptibly small process on which success depends.
  Changed to
  some contemptibly small process on which success depends.

  Note 93:
  XXV aud XXVI
  Changed to
  XXV and XXVI

  Note 101:
  'Does Consciousuess Exist?'
  Changed to
  'Does Consciousness Exist?'

  Note 109:
  either as a syuonym for 'radical empiricism'
  Changed to
  either as a synonym for 'radical empiricism'

  Note 109:
  For other discussions of 'humauism,'
  Changed to
  For other discussions of 'humanism,'

  Note 130:
  'Humanism and Truth' first appeared iu
  Changed to
  'Humanism and Truth' first appeared in

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