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Title: The Will to Doubt - An essay in philosophy for the general thinker
Author: Lloyd, Alfred H., 1864-1927
Language: English
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THE WILL TO DOUBT

AN ESSAY IN PHILOSOPHY FOR THE

GENERAL THINKER

BY

ALFRED H. LLOYD

Truth hath neither visible form nor body; it is without habitation or name;
like the Son of Man it hath not where to lay its head.


LONDON

SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & CO., Lim.

25 HIGH STREET, BLOOMSBURY, W.C.


1907



PREFACE.


The chapters that follow comprise what might be called an introduction
to philosophy, but such a description of them would probably be
misleading, for they are addressed quite as much to the general reader,
or rather to the general thinker, as to the prospective student of
technical philosophy. They are the attempt of a University teacher of
philosophy to meet what is a real emergency of the day, namely, the
doubt that is appearing in so many departments of life, that is
affecting so many people, and that is fraught with so many dangers, and
in attempting this they would also at least help to bridge the chasm
between academic sophistication and practical life, self-consciousness
and positive activity. With peculiar truth at the present time the
University can justify itself only by serving real life, and it can
serve real life, not merely by bringing its pure science down to, or up
to, the health and the industrial pursuits of the people, but also by
explaining, which is even to say by applying, as science is "applied,"
or by animating the general scepticism of the time.

That this scepticism is often charged to the peculiar training of the
University hardly needs to be said, but except for its making such an
undertaking as the present essay only the more appropriate the charge
itself is strangely humorous. One might also accuse the University of
making atoms and germs, or, by its magic theories, of generating
electricity or disease. Scepticism is a world-wide, life-wide fact; even
like heat or electricity, it is a natural force or agent--unless
forsooth one must exclude all the attitudes of mind from what in the
fullest and deepest sense is natural; scepticism, in short, is a real
phase of whatever is real, and its explanation is an academic
responsibility. Its explanation, however, like the explanation of
everything real or natural, can be complete only when, as already
suggested here, its application and animation have been achieved, or
when it has been shown to be properly and effectively an object of will.
So, just as we have the various applied sciences, in this essay there is
offered an applied philosophy of doubt, a philosophy that would show
doubt to have a real part in effective action, and that with the showing
would make both the doubting and the acting so much the more effective.

But it may be said that effective acting depends, not on doubt, but
rather on belief, on confidence or "credit." This will prove to be true,
excepting in what it denies. To be commonplace, to write down here and
now what is at once the truism and the paradox of this book, a vital,
practical belief must always live by doubting. Was it Schopenhauer who
declared that man walks only by saving himself at every step from a
fall? The meaning of this book is much the same, although no pessimism
is either intended or necessarily implied in such a declaration. Doubt
is no mere negative of belief; rather it is a very vital part of belief,
it has a place in the believer's experience and volition; the doubters
in society, be they trained at the University or not, and those
practical creatures in society who have kept the faith, who believe and
who do, are naturally and deeply in sympathy. And this essay seeks to
deepen their natural sympathy.

Here, then, is my simple thesis. Doubt is essential to real belief.
Perhaps this means that all vital problems are bound in a real life to
be perennial, and certainly it cannot mean that in its support I may be
expected by my readers to give a solution of every special problem that
might be raised, an answer to every question about knowledge or
morality, about religion or politics or industry, that might be asked.
Problems and questions, of course the natural children, not of doubt,
but of doubt and belief, may be as worthy and as practical as solutions.
Some of them may be even better put than answered. But be this as it
may, the present essay must be taken for what it is, not for something
else. It is, then, for reasons not less practical than theoretical, an
attempt to face and, so far as may be, to solve the very general problem
of doubt itself, or say simply--if this be simple--the problem of
whatever in general is problematic; and, this done, to suggest what may
be the right attitude for doubters and believers towards each other and
towards life and the world which is life's natural sphere; emphatically
it is not the announcement of a programme for life in any of its
departments.

The substance of chapters I., II., III., IV., and V. in small parts, and
VI. and VIII. was given during the summer of 1903 in lectures before the
Glenmore School of the Culture Sciences at Hurricane in the Adirondacks,
and except for some revision chapters V. and VII. have already been
published--Science, July 5, 1902, and the journal of Philosophy,
Psychology and Scientific Methods, June, 1905.

To Professor Muirhead, the Editor of the Ethical Library, I wish here to
express my hearty appreciation of his interest and assistance in the
final preparation of this volume for publication.

                                              A. H. L.

  THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN,
      ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, U.S.A.



CONTENTS.


  I. Introduction
  II. The Confession of Doubt
  III. Difficulties in the Ordinary View of Things
  IV. The View of Science: its Rise and Consequent Character
  V. The View of Science: its Peculiar Limitations
  i. Science would be Objective
  ii. Science would be Specialistic
  iii. Science would be Agnostic
  VI. Possible Value in these Essential Defects of Experience
  VII. The Personal and the Social, the Vital and the Formal in Experience
  VIII. An Early Modern Doubter
  IX. The Doubter's World
  i. Reality, without Finality, in all Things
  ii. Perfect Sympathy between the Spiritual and the Material
  iii. A Genuine Individuality
  iv. Immortality
  X. Doubt and Belief
  Index



THE WILL TO DOUBT.


[p.001]

I.

INTRODUCTION.


Without undue sensationalism it may be said that this is an age of
doubt. Wherever one looks in journeying through the different
departments of life one sees doubt. And one sees, too, some of the
blight which doubt produces, although the blight is by no means all that
one sees. There is heat everywhere in the physical world, but not
necessarily only arson or even destructive fire. Morals, however, social
life, industry, politics, religion, have suffered somewhat--and many
would insist very seriously--from the prevailing doubt. Moreover, if the
outward view shows doubt everywhere, the inward view is at least not
more reassuring. Who can examine his own consciousness without finding
doubt at work there? We would often hide it from others, not to say from
ourselves, but it is there, and we all know it to be there. Other times
may also have been times of doubt, but our day, as the time to which we
certainly owe our first and chief [p.002] duty, is very conspicuously
and very seriously a time of doubt.

Now there are some, and they are many, who would decry the discussion of
such a thing as doubt, for they see only danger ahead. Doubt they
compare with death or disease, and to dwell upon any of these is idle,
unnatural, morbid. Why not let such things alone, and look only to what
is pleasant, to what is good and true and beautiful? Then, too, doubt,
the confession of doubt, is the royal entrance to philosophy and the
risk of an entanglement with philosophy, which seems to them the source
of much that is harmful, the essence of all that is impractical, is
altogether too great. Doubt for them is even less to be played with than
fire, with which already it has been compared here. Again, as others in
matters political and industrial, so they in matters intellectual and
spiritual resent anything that appears likely in any way to disturb the
standing credit of the country. To doubt is just to join the opposition,
and the opposition is made up of heretics and agents generally of mere
destruction. To treat doubt as real and positively significant, as
having any true worth in human experience, as being even a proper object
of will, is to stop permanently, not the wheels of commerce and
industry, but the wheels of the present life in all its phases. In a
word, perhaps one of the words of the hour, Christian Science has not
wished to be more inhospitable to the reality of disease than have these
believers to the reality and usefulness of doubt.

Yet all who feel in this way are short-sighted. Their contentions, like
those of their cousins, perhaps [p.003] their country cousins, the
Christian Scientists, may have worth for being corrective, but at very
best they are only one-sided. In a fable, never in real life, a man
might get the smell of burning wood in his house and refuse to recognize
the danger because of the inevitable delay to his business which the
alarm of fire would involve; but doubt is not less real nor less
dangerous, nor even less capable, when under control, of useful
applications. Any danger, too, squarely faced is at least half met. Why,
then, be so impracticable, so like characters in fables, as to overlook
or turn one's back upon the doubt of the day, refusing it a place and a
part in real life? The negative things of life can be so only
relatively. Death itself cannot possibly be absolute, and doubt, not
unlike death, indeed perhaps only one of death's messengers, must be
even a gift, or an agent, of the gods. Some things, dangerous when
hidden, are wonderfully serviceable, when recognized and controlled.
Sometimes men really have entertained angels unawares.

And so throughout these chapters, although some may think me and those
who follow me morbid, and although we may have to enter the dangerous
parlour of philosophy, the doubt of our time is to be squarely and
fairly faced. In all candour, we are from the start to be confessed
parties to it, hiding nothing intentionally, and at the same time trying
always to give nothing undue emphasis. The doubt that all seem to know,
that many really feel without perhaps clearly confessing, and that some
confess or even actually boast, we shall face and examine closely,
[p.004] trying as we can to find its true meaning and real worth. In
short, the confession of doubt, of our doubt, and the fruits of
confession are the burden of these chapters.



[p.005]

II.

THE CONFESSION OF DOUBT.


Our confession must, of course, be thorough-going, and can be made so
only through a complete statement of every possible reason that
experience affords for the attitude of doubt. To the end, therefore, of
such a statement we shall consider in this chapter certain general and
easily recognized facts about doubt itself, while in chapters that
follow we shall continue the confession by examining, first, our
customary or "common-sense" view of things, and then the view of
science, and having brought together in each case numerous
incongruities, or contradictions, which ordinarily are at best only
casually noticed or timorously overlooked, we shall find ourselves
facing in a peculiarly telling way, not only certain strong reasons for
doubt, but also some of the real issues that doubt raises. As no issue,
moreover, can be more central or crucial than the meaning of the
contradictions found to pervade our views of things, before completing
our confession we shall allow ourselves some reflections, that should
prove useful to us in the end, upon the possible worth of contradiction
in human experience; for even to casual thinking contradiction, although
good ground for scepticism, suggests some positive advantage and
opportunity; the advantage of breadth, [p.006] for example, of freedom
from special form, or the opportunity of personal spontaneity and
initiative as against the restraints of formal consistency, of class,
and of institution; and if these things, among others, can be associated
with our case for doubt, our reflections will certainly not have been in
vain. Then we shall close our confession by seeking the companionhip of
a great doubter of modern times, and by learning what we can from him of
doubt itself and of the doubter's natural world. And finally, as a
result of all our own efforts, supplemented by his help, we shall be
able to reap some of the fruits for life and thought that a confession
so fully made may fairly claim.

From start to finish, moreover, of this study of doubt we have to
remember that there can be no important difference between what is
possible and what is real. Thus anything whatsoever that can possibly be
doubted is really doubtful. Also, if anybody is amazed to hear mention
of facts about doubt, as if doubt should not somehow submit to its own
nostrum, let him merely reflect that, strangely enough, nothing is quite
so indubitable as doubt, nothing so convincing as the reasons for doubt.
Let me not be too subtle, but to doubt doubt is only to affirm it, and
somehow--whether for good or ill need not now be said--all the negative
things of life possess a peculiar certainty, and are all most easily
proved. A great Frenchman once put the case quite plainly when he said,
after canvassing very carefully the whole field of his consciousness,
that his doubts were the only things there, the only things he could be
quite certain about, and these were so very real that they left him
absolutely [p.007] nothing but belief in himself, in his all-doubting
and ever-doubting self, to rest upon. His was surely a sweeping
confession, and his residuum of belief may not at first sight seem very
promising or very substantial, but quickly, I think, we shall find
ourselves in agreement with him, at least as to the reality and the wide
scope of our doubting, and it is also a possibility well worth
foreseeing that we may even find his belief in the reality of an
ever-doubting and all-doubting self a rock for our own saving.

So, to turn now to those general and easily recognized facts, which were
to be the special interest of the present chapter, in the first place:
_We are all universal doubters_. We are all universal doubters in the
sense that every one of us doubts something, and there is nothing which
some of us have not doubted. Who would be so rash as to say that what a
fellow-being had questioned might not be questionable to himself also,
or that, if anything in his own experience had ever been subject to
question, all the other things might not also be subject to question?
But the merely dubitable is the already doubtful. In this sense,
therefore, not so abstruse and formally logical as it may appear, we are
all universal doubters.

Our life is ever cherishing what we are pleased to call its verities,
some in religion and morals, some in politics, some in mathematics and
science, some in the more general relations to nature, but what elusive
things these verities are! How shallow, or how hollow all of them are,
or at one time or another may become. To take a rather minute case, such
as it is [p.008] always the philosopher's license to make use of, a case
that is, however, quite typical in experience; here is a word--any word
you like--that has been spoken and written by you for years. Always
before it has been spelt correctly and clearly understood, but to-day
how unreal it seems. Are those the right letters, and are they correctly
placed? Is that the true meaning? What has happened, too, to give rise
to these unusual questions? Well, who can say? And who has not
substantially asked every one of them, not merely with reference to some
long-familiar word, but also with reference to much larger things in
life? Self and society, love and friendship, mind and matter, nature and
God have again and again been subjected to essentially the same
questioning. The verities of life, all the way from simple words used
every day to the great things of our moral and spiritual being, have
lost, sometimes slowly, sometimes very suddenly, the reality with which
we have supposed them endowed, and although we may still bravely believe
we find ourselves crying out passionately for help in our unbelief.
There certainly are the verities; not one of them can possibly fall to
the ground; yet these very verities are never quite in our experience.

Still the world has its thoroughly confident people. Every one of us has
met some of those estimable beings to whom doubt seems wholly foreign,
people who assert with trembling voice and sacred vow that their
convictions, political perhaps or religious, are unassailable, and that
they must hold them to the grave. But, whatever may be said of political
convictions, religious convictions have often been [p.009] regarded as a
contradiction of terms. How can one be sure and religious at the same
time? Moreover, positive people under any standard are notoriously as
fearful as they are dogmatic. Fear is often, if not always, the chief
motive of dogmatism, and fear is hardly the most natural companion of
genuine confidence. The part which the emotion of fear has had, both in
the personal life and in the doctrine of the dogmatic among men, would
make a most instructive study.

If, then, dogmatic people are slaves to their fears, while more
thoughtful people, as has not needed to be said, seem to get no reward
from their self-consciousness but the uncertain reward of their doubts,
then only such as live quietly, asserting nothing, depending on nothing,
and even assuming nothing, but simply taking what comes, are left to
represent genuine belief. Yet how many such are there? A few may seem to
approach the ideal, if ideal it be, but the class itself in realization
must be said to be a hypothetical one, and few, if any, of us could ever
really envy or strive to imitate its supposed manner of living; for, in
spite of all the dangers and all the doubts and fears, only the
constantly examined life can ever really lure us. Doubt, besides being a
general condition of life, seems to be also incident to what gives life
worth.

But, furthermore, not only are we all universal doubters; the case for
doubt in the world is, if possible, even stronger; for also--and this is
the second general fact: _Doubt is a phase, nay, a vital condition of
all consciousness_. To be a conscious creature is to be a doubting
creature.

[p.010] In so many ways psychology is teaching us to-day with renewed
emphasis that we are conscious of nothing as it is, and that more or
less clearly we all know our shortcoming in this regard; or again, with
still more directness and emphasis, that for us there is no such thing
as a state of consciousness which does not indicate tension, or unstable
equilibrium, that is to say uncertainty, in our activity. Nor have we
need of the testimony of science to these facts, since common personal
experience is well aware of them. In small things and in great
consciousness transforms or refracts. In small things and in great
consciousness marks a moment of poise between an impulse to do
something, and more or less distinctly recognized conditions or
relations that would put restraint upon the doing of it. Even the law of
relativity, a psychological law only in its definite formulation, in its
idea a simple fact of everyday experience, true for all conscious states
from the crudest perceptions of the organs of sense to the most highly
developed ideas of critical reflection, by binding as it does all the
details of actual or possible experience into a whole, every part of
which acts upon the other parts, points very directly to this fact of
poise and instability, besides indicating also that knowledge never can
be literally or objectively exact, and that at least with some clearness
every knower must know it cannot. How can there ever be even a single
stable or a single finally accurate element in the consciousness of a
creature whose experience, in the first place, can comprise only
related, interdependent parts, and whose nature, in the second place, is
an essentially mobile and active [p.011] one? Moreover, as just one
other way of suggesting the inexactness and uncertainty of consciousness
and the balancing, tentative nature of all conscious life, we always
think, and think properly, of conscious creatures as having will, as
doing what they do purposely or from design. The new psychology,
however, to which we naturally turn, and which again has only formulated
what we can recognize from everyday experience, declares that the
purpose in conscious activity is not a developed, but an always
developing one. Purposive action is action that never finally knows, but
is ever finding out its real intent, purpose being identical with the
progressively discovered meaning of action. A volitionally, purposively
active being is always a seeker as well as a doer. Indeed, any doing
would itself be empty, or idle, if it were not a seeking, and so if it
were not subject to conditions of some uncertainty. In so many ways,
then, through the necessary inexactness of consciousness, through the
unstable equilibrium of all conscious activity, through the law and fact
of relativity, and through the tentative and provisional nature which
must always belong to purpose, we see how doubt must be a phase or
condition of all consciousness.

Illustrations are abundant. Thus, once more to take a somewhat minute
case, which is really more significant for being minute, with regard to
conscious activity being in a state of tension, visual sensations always
involve muscular sensations, and these are incident not only to
expressed, but also to possible, yet restrained, movements. The eyes may
have been [p.012] moved and the head turned, but in spite of the
impulses present in them the legs have not been used to bring the
observer nearer to the object seen, nor have the arms and hands been
raised to secure a contact with it, and perhaps a tracing of its lines,
although some stimulus for such contact and tracing must be always
present as a part of the actual or possible value of the experience. Or,
again, to adopt an illustration used for a different purpose by
Professor William James, so simple a process as the spelling of a word
is complicated with all sorts of diverting and unsettling impulses as
each letter is expressed. Let the word be _onomatopoetic_. Can I really
spell it correctly? And what a gauntlet of dangers I have to run. The
initial letter _o_ tempts, perhaps with childhood memories of the
alphabet, to _p-q-r-s-t_, etc., or to indefinite words or syllables,
actual from my past or possible to my future experience, such as _of,
off, opine, October, -ology, -ovy_, and so on, or, to suggest mere
possibilities, such as _ontic, oreate, ot_, or _ow_; and every
succeeding letter is equally a scene of combat, a place of dangers
met--safely met, let us hope, and triumphantly passed. Worthy the boy,
or the man, who reaches the end unhurt. And what a voyage of
uncertainties, what a course between hope and fear, confidence and
doubt, the spelling of words or the spelling of life as a whole always
is. One's whole vocabulary, real or possible, or one's whole repertory
of acts is more or less directly involved, whatever one does. As to the
tentative nature of purpose, which seems the only other point here that
can possibly require illustration, the right we all [p.013] reserve to
change our minds in the different affairs of life tells its own story.
We never do do, or can do, exactly what we consciously would do; and
recognizing this, men, as well as women, insist on the right of a change
of mind, and sometimes even of conscious misrepresentation or of
disparity between their seeming and their being in thought or in deed.
That such a claim has its dangers does not now concern us; it has also
its opportunities; but the fact of it and the ground for it are quite
evident. Even jurisprudence, for which loyalty to established and
visible forms is peculiarly sacred, has its ways, direct and indirect,
of recognizing that purposes develop, that the returns are never all in,
that any purpose or meaning must sooner or later assume a new form, and
so may even now be other than it seems. Bequests for institutions, for
example, are allowed to continue in force, although, with the demands of
a more enlightened day, the formal conditions under which they were made
have been openly violated. In short--for it all comes to this--"Not the
letter, but the spirit," is an inevitable comment, or at least an
inevitable feeling about everything that is done. A man vaults a fence,
and then, even if he get over fairly well, vaulting is not what it was
for him. He may continue to use the old word, or the same arms and legs,
but with a changed meaning and a changed feeling of limb and muscle, and
so with a new purpose and a new body to control and modify his next
performance. And what is true for vaulting is true also for making boxes
or tables, for writing essays, for talking, for thinking, for founding
colleges or theological seminaries, or finally, for [p.014] what we so
indefinitely call living. An activity such as throughout its length and
breadth ours is, conscious activity that must for ever heed the call:
"Not the letter, but the spirit," an activity that never is, therefore,
and never can be without the elements of the game, since it must ever
wait on its own revealed consequences in order to grow into an
understanding of its real meaning; such an activity, among other things,
cannot but fasten doubt upon us as a most natural heritage. As man is
conscious, to doubt is human. Other things may be human, too, but doubt
is so certainly and conspicuously.

Thirdly, in this presentation of general facts: _Doubt is inseparable
from habit_. Habit is usually associated with what is permanent and
established, but just here lies its undoing. As we usually understand
it, habit really deadens what it touches by leading to abstraction or
separation from actual conditions. Conservative as it surely is in
things important and in things unimportant, in things personal and in
things social, it sets him who is party to it behind the times, for no
act in its second expression, no simply repeated act, no mere habit
could ever be up to date in the sense of really meeting all the
emergencies of its own time. Personal habits make fixed characters;
social habits make customs and laws; religious habits make churches and
creeds; intellectual habits make schools; and of all these products,
which for the sake of the single term we will call institutions, it must
be said, however paradoxically, that in being made they are also
outgrown, for the habitual turns formal and unreal and so unsatisfying.
A growing nature has [p.015] her ways of making even conservatives keep
pace with her. An institution in the sense of an acquired manner of
action, personal or social, can never really be an end in itself,
although to a narrow view it may often seem to be; it is at best only
the manifested means to a newly developed or developing end which must
eventually transform it. In so large a thing, for example, as political
life, the institutes of monarchy have become the instruments of
democracy, and this conspicuously ever since the French Revolution; in
the history of thought, of man's intellectual life, the objective dogmas
of one time have been only the subjective standpoints of the next, the
metaphysics of one time has made the scientific method, the working
hypothesis, of the succeeding time; and in so small a thing as a child's
vocabulary, the oft-repeated and finally mastered syllable _ba_, or some
other equally intellectual, has become in time only one of the means to
a whole word, say _baby_ or _bath_, or even _basilica_ or
_barometrograph_. In all life the thing we get the habit of is only a
tool with which we strive towards something else. Some one thinking no
doubt of Hercules has called the institutions of life a great club which
the irresistible arm of society, always a hero when looked back upon,
swings fatally against the present.

So intimately is change seen nowadays to be related to habit, or
indirectly involved in it, that in technical science a new account of
habit has been formulated. To cite but one case, Professor Baldwin,
says:[1] "Habit expresses the tendency of the organism [p.016] to secure
and retain its vital stimulations," and such an account, placing the
interest of habit in so general and so changeable a thing as "vital
stimulations," is designed to make habit fundamentally, not merely a
tendency to repetition or imitation, but instead a demand for constant
adaptation or differentiation. In the doctrines of inheritance, also,
always moving necessarily in close sympathy with those of habit, a
similar departure has been made. Both habit and inheritance are in fact
seen to belong to life in a world of change, or variation, and they have
assumed what I will style a protective colouring accordingly. The habit
of always being adapted is at least as radical as it is conservative.

With this reform in the account of habit we have not only analogous
reforms, as was said, in the account of inheritance, but also in the
scientific view of character, custom, law, creed, and the institution
generally. Moreover, if in scientific theory we find these new views, in
practical life there are at least signs of the same standpoint. What may
be called a new conservatism--the most truly conservative thing being
taken to be the most thoroughly pertinent or adaptive thing--has for
many years been getting possession of us, and is now quite manifest. Our
political constitutions are amendable constitutions; our religious rites
and doctrines are recognized as only symbols; our theories are only
standpoints.

So, once more, because change is at least an ever-present companion, if
not actually an integral part of habit, doubt must be as real and
general as habit. [p.017] Change must make doubt. Sociologically,
institutionalism must always imply a contemporary scepticism; the
conservative must have an unbeliever for his neighbour. Indeed, to add
an important point, some go so far as to say in general that change,
that is, something new and different, is not only a necessary incident
but also an actual motive in all activity, and when all is said they
seem quite right. Perhaps habit, as always an interest in adaptation,
would imply as much. Certainly novelty is a universal motive, and as for
society there can be no question that it has a very strong predilection
for lawlessness in all its forms. True, it may be objected that at times
men, individually or collectively, seek not something else, but simply
_more_ of something already secured; more money, it may be, or more
learning, or more territory, or more pleasure. There is, however, in
spite of man's many conceits to the contrary, no change that is purely
quantitative. _More_ is also _different_ or _other_. Accordingly, we
both always find, and, what is even more to the point, always seek a
real change whenever we do anything. To speak again in most general
terms, the motion in the outer world, which is the fundamental stimulus
of all 'consciousness, both physically, that is, literally, and
figuratively, is more than merely an outer stimulus; something there is
within the nature of the subject which answers to it with perfect
sympathy and makes it equally an inner motive. Forsooth, could any
stimulus ever produce a response without its being in accord with an
existing motive? Life, then, is a game, and the game of life, doubts and
all, is a real interest as well as a necessity. We are [p.018] creatures
of habit, but we have, and we cherish, no habit stronger or more
essential than the habit at once of adaptation and variation.[2]

A fourth general fact, very closely related to the foregoing, is this:
_Doubt is necessary to life, to real life, to deep experience_. Doubt is
but one of the phases of the resistance which a real life demands. Real
life implies a constant challenge, and doubt is a form under which the
challenge finds expression. The doubter is a questioner, a seeker; he
has, then, something to overcome; he fears, too, as well as hopes.

Were all things settled once for all, were all things clearly known and
freely executed, or were the consequences of the things to be done
always capable of being accurately foretold, there would be no real
[p.019] living, there would be nothing really to do. In such case life
in general, or in any of its different expressions, religion, or
politics, or art, or science, or industry, or morals, if one may suppose
for a moment that any of these differences could ever develop, would
consist in a purely passive condition, a mere fixed status; it would be
a wholly static thing falsely called life; its movement, if movement
there were, could be only the rest or routine of strictly mechanical
motion.

To a real life, then, doubt, as an evidence of challenge and resistance,
is absolutely necessary, and appreciation of just this necessity is
certainly an important part of our present confession, and the
confession is important, because it is sure somewhat to brighten what
heretofore may have seemed a dark horizon. Confession often changes
night to dawn, and here the association of doubt with real living, with
a world in which there is always something to do, awakens emotions that
such words as relativity, and instability, and change, and even game,
have discouraged, or even wholly suppressed. Leasing, perhaps better
than any one else, has given expression to these emotions, and has at
the same time reflected what in his day had certainly begun to be, and
what in our own time very widely and very deeply is, the ideal spirit.
Thus, as he wrote:--

"Not the truth that any one may have or may think he has, but the honest
effort which has been exerted to compass it, makes what is really worthy
in human life. For not in having, but in seeking truth, are those powers
developed, in which alone man's ever-increasing [p.020] perfection
consists. Possession makes us inert, lazy, proud. If God held in his
right hand the perfect truth, and in his left the ever-restless struggle
after truth, and bade me choose, although I were bound to be ever and
always in the wrong, I should humbly select the left, saying: 'Father,
give; surely the pure truth is for Thee alone.'"

This is a splendid utterance, and it has touched a responsive chord in
human nature the civilized world over, not so much, however, for the
humility of the choice as for the zeal in a life of seeking and
striving, or for the idea that knowledge is itself a dynamic thing, a
living, moving function, not a passive possession. The knower is made
also a doubter, and the doubter appears as having, in a sense,
forgotten, without for a moment betraying, the constant doubting within
him. If I may so speak, he has, even while he lacks; such is the
condition of his seeking; such is the way in which doubting is necessary
to real living. Doubt saves from the possession that makes "inert, lazy,
proud," yet does not take away. Doubt makes experience always deep, even
putting consciousness in touch with reality, and it makes life for ever
living.

Still others may be quoted in the same vein. Socrates made life,
particularly mental life, if this may be supposed distinct, essentially
active or dynamic when he identified true wisdom with self-conscious
ignorance, with a power in one of always finding oneself in error, and
in modern times Hegel has done the same thing as effectually, though
perhaps not in general so intelligibly, by finding a principle of
negativity or contradiction the very mainspring of all [p.021]
consciousness, of all thinking. Known truth is at once imperfect or even
false, being necessarily partial, relative, and at best only tentative,
very much, let us say, recalling something already remarked, as an
established form of life is no longer the real life, but merely the
developed means to a revolution, a life that is passing even as soon as
it has come.

For the rest, the positive value of doubt to real life can hardly need
further emphasis. In one form or another the idea, as important as many
may find it commonplace, must constantly recur in these pages. We turn,
therefore, to our fifth, and for the present, last general fact, with
which we shall find ourselves still in sight, perhaps even in clearer
sight of the brighter horizon. We are all universal doubters; doubt
underlies all consciousness; even habit has gloomy doubt, as Horace
would say, sitting up behind; like pain or want, like ignorance or
contradiction, doubt is a dynamic principle, making experience deeper
and ever deepening, and life real and alive; and fifthly: _As man is
dependent and feels dependent, he is a doubter. His widespread, or
rather his universal, sense of dependence begets doubt_. Witness the
fact that doubt shows man a seeker after company; the company of nature,
the company of his fellows, the company of God.

Of course the social impulse, thus to be associated with doubt, is only
one of the phases of its dynamic and life-giving character, for a social
life, a life of dependence on what is without, of real relations beyond
self, must be a life of real and constant movement. Nothing so much as
such relations gives [p.022] vitality. This special phase, however, of
the place of doubt in real life is a very interesting one, and it
suggests, besides, so much that is of positive value as almost to
transform what so far has been in large part a sceptic's confession into
a sceptic's boast.

Thus, in the first place, doubt seeks the company of nature. "Return to
nature!" has time and again in human history been the cry of the human
heart. Has civilization lost its hold, seeming unreal, artificial,
formal? Has morality become hollow? Has a lover suffered the shattering
of his dearest hopes? Has a creed lost its credibility? Have you and I
wearied of our study or our labour, whatever it be, and come to wonder
if it, or anything, is worth while after all? Have friends, ideals, and
God Himself deserted us? We turn, and all people turn to nature. Exactly
so the homesick traveller takes himself homeward, or the prodigal arises
and goes to his father. And your experience and mine, and the poetry of
all literatures, which tells so deeply the experiences of all men of all
times, are a constant witness to the comfort, and forgiveness, and
renewed confidence in self that nature imparts. Nature is our infancy,
in which all things are possible; she is our untrammelled will; she is
infinitely hopeful for us and infinitely kind; her necessity is so wide
and so open that its very law, so different from any human law, is our
greatest opportunity. True, our resort to nature is sometimes, perhaps
in greater or less degree always, by the way of moral dissipation, or
political anarchy, or intellectual suicide, or religious profanity; but
even these dark ways to the home and the great mother-heart of [p.023]
us all have never been hopelessly misleading. If history and literature
and personal experience can be trusted, even they have led to a kind
nature. Have you never failed in anything and become reckless, and then
profited from the very knowledge of yourself which the recklessness
uncovered? Personally and socially recklessness, return to nature that
it is, is always a helpful assistant to nature's great teacher,
experience. Great is the pathos, but also, as it is understood, great is
the inspiration of Rousseau's passionate outcry that his will was
perfectly good. He was incapable of a single wholesome relation in life,
yet, so he said, no man was better than he! Rousseau, philosopher of
revolution, spoke for nature. Out of her great love, nature always takes
the will for the deed--and perhaps she alone should have the privilege
of doing that; for she knows that the deed, however violent, however
bad, is sure to leave at least the will good.

But intellectually, as well as morally or politically, or as well as in
any of the departments of the practical, emotional life, when trouble
comes we turn to nature. Nature has a mind as well as a heart, and when
state, and church, and social tradition have lost their validity and
infallibility, their various formulæ being no longer reasonable to us,
when we have to depose them from their position as our accepted
teachers, then we become scientists, which is to say, intellectual
prodigals. Science, the open-minded study of nature, is only a
homesickness for truth seeking relief. Does the scientist doubt? He is
one of the princes of doubters. He doubts, as in due time we [p.024]
shall more fully appreciate, even to the extreme position of
agnosticism. He doubts all things human that always he may be learning
of nature.

So the companionship of nature for the comfort and pardon which she is
sure to give, and for the deeper knowledge which she is certain to
impart, is a passion of the doubter. True, no passion is free from
dangers; yet this passion, at least this passion, has somewhat of hope
in it.

But, secondly, the companionship of one's fellows is not less strongly
desired. Huddling together in time of distress is by no means peculiar
to the animal world; in human life it has more than once made distress
seem richly worth while. "We have each other" in word or thought has
been the comforting reflection of many a family, or many a community,
when the money has gone, or when in other ways, possibly through a great
fire, or a great earthquake, or the ravages of a disease, afflictions
have come, and "Now we know how others have suffered" has been not less
common. Indeed, it is my own conviction that these two reflections
always rise together. The distress or affliction of doubt, however, is
certainly no exception to the rule. Doubt often separates an individual
from the customary corporate life with which he has long identified
himself, throwing him out of his church, or his party, or his society,
or even his immediate family, but the doubter at once feels his
loneliness, and gets a yearning, never realized before, for social
relations. Benedict Spinoza may have been better than most of us, but he
was not in any other way different, and though maligned and insulted, as
earlier in history [p.025] another of his race had been, for his doubts
and heresies, and though exposed to the dangers of the assassin's knife,
and finally, when other measures failed, with special cruelties
excommunicated by his synagogue, he loved his people, and all men
besides, as few have loved them. Doubt makes one dependent; isolation
gives a sense of loss; and, if ever a solution of the doubt comes, in
the life and consciousness which it enjoins the lost companions, whether
they will or not, are included with oneself. In many ways this is an
important fact; yet it must suffice that we see the affinity of the
doubter for society. Man ever confidently seeks what man has lost.
Dependent man and doubting man must have society.

That doubt, furthermore, not only creates a motive to social life, even
to the restoration of lost companions, but also by weakening the
barriers which have divided some class, a sect perhaps, or a party, or a
nation, or a race, from some other class, puts social life on a broader
and deeper basis, is also an important fact, and full of significance
beyond our immediate interest. Thus, to suggest indeed how those two
reflections mentioned in the preceding paragraph are inseparable,
besides his wish to retain or recover his wonted companions, the doubter
would also associate them and himself with new companions, I venture to
say, as if in a figure, with Gentiles as well as with Jews, and this
gives to doubt, or to those who experience it and adequately use it, a
most significant rôle in the evolution of society, the rôle of mediation
between old friends and new, between the past and the future, the narrow
life and the broader [p.026] and deeper life, what is conservative and
what is progressive; but at least for the present it is again enough if
we see that doubt, not only by its personal losses gives the motive, but
also by its removal of barriers gives the larger possibility of society.

And, in addition to the company of nature and the company of man, doubt,
springing as it does from man's sense of insufficiency, seeks also the
company of God; yet not of the God of any theology. As here conceived,
God is that which lies at the back of nature, and at the back of man in
the sense of being in character broader and deeper than either of these,
and quite superior to any difference between them; he is the single,
all-inclusive, wholly indeterminate reality upon which the doubter
depends, and must depend; he is as nameless and unspeakable as he is
indeterminate and all-inclusive, and he is real and perfect only as so
nameless. To theology, God is determinate; to doubt, imperfect if
determinate. At times, perhaps only half in earnest, or at least not
clearly knowing if he is in earnest or if he wishes others to think him
so, the doubter speaks of nature as his God, of the hills, or the
fields, or the sea, or the sky, or the busy street as his church, or the
great book of the universe as his Bible. At times, with the deepest
emotion and with open avowal, nature and God are fully one to him, and
the poetry, or the science, or the philosophy, to which his doubting
leads him, is veritably a religious revelation. But always his doubting,
as he knows it, as he is honest with it, is an appeal, not merely to
nature as physically a powerful agent in the life he is pursuing, nor to
others like himself who, by sharing, [p.027] may lighten his distress
and enhance his final victory, but also to a full, inclusive experience;
to a life, perhaps like his own, yet indeterminately deeper than any he
has known; to a mind and a heart, such as he knows must be present in
that which surrounds him and moves within him, in knowledge more
enlightened and in emotion more inspired, than his doubting mind and
faltering heart have ever been; and such a life or such a mind or heart,
whatever name it be called by, is God. Can mind appeal to anything but
mind, or heart to anything but heart? And doubt--can it be doubt without
the appeal?

The doubter who refuses or hesitates to speak the name of God may thus
be a protestant, but plainly he is no atheist. A mere name, in any case,
is quite as likely to obscure as to illumine the reality; the
chiaroscuro effect must ever belong to it. Doubt is no road to atheism.
As a way to theism it may be beset with hardship, and its goal may be
quite beyond the horizon; but the doubter is not by nature an atheist;
quite the contrary. As no other, feeling dependent, he is a seeker, and
even a confident seeker after what is perfect. He truly and confidently
seeketh, for he seeketh after what hath neither visible form nor body,
what is without habitation or name, what, like the Son of Man, hath not
where to lay its head. He seeketh, what his very seeking itself is, not
a God, but the life of the God.

       *       *       *       *       *

The general facts about doubt are now before us, and although much needs
yet to be said in explanation, and a further fact is reserved for a
[p.028] concluding chapter, still not so darkly as it began this first
chapter in our confession of doubt has come, perhaps somewhat abruptly,
to an end. We have next, entering more fully and critically into the
conditions of our human experience, to scrutinize closely our ordinary
habits of mind, those common-sense views of things that on the whole
prevail among men. In these ideas, impulsive, unreasoning, above all
often flatly contradictory, we shall find some of the strongest reasons
for our doubting nature.


[1] _Mental Development of the Child and the Race. Methods and
Processes_. By James M. Baldwin. Macmillan, 1895.

[2] Let me add, that if certain people, struggling in the present maze
of educational theory, and objecting, with a zest and a combativeness
that fairly belie their contentions, to the use of interest as the
primal educational motive, if these people would only recognize change
as always a part of interest, their greatest trouble would be removed.
They refuse to have education easy or pleasant; interest, they insist,
must make it so; and doubtless the advocates of interest are in part to
blame for this view; but change, which to my mind is involved in all
interest, includes resistance and struggle; change is ever a challenge
to effort; and, such being the case, an education led by interest is not
necessarily easy or idly pleasant. The real meaning of the interest
theory, at least as I have to understand it, is simply (1) that the
natural child or the natural man always has something to do, and (2)
that education should promote that something. It is far from meaning
that there should be no compulsion or discipline, no pain or
self-denial. Whoever honestly over expected to do, or ever did any thing
without these? The interest theory, then, would not eliminate hardship
or discipline, but, to my understanding, by making education serve
actual life, would substitute a natural for an artificial and externally
imposed hardship. Not hardship, but real achievement makes the educated
man.



[p.029]

III.

DIFFICULTIES IN OUR ORDINARY VIEWS OF THINGS.


If the doubter were brought into court under indictment for his offences
against common sense, against ordinary experience and belief, and the
jury of his peers sitting upon the case were composed, as of course it
would be likely to be, of faithful believers chosen at random from the
different walks of practical life, no better defence could possibly be
offered than a simple statement of the incongruities which the
consciousness of ordinary life is constantly addicted to. True, for some
reason lying deep in human nature, a defence that ends by convicting the
jury of error, is hardly likely to lead to the immediate discharge of
the prisoner; judges or jurymen are not in the habit of taking a rebuff
in that way; but in course of time the prisoner will be justified, and
his justification, however tardy, is all that now concerns us. To his
defence, therefore, and the discomfiture of his judges, but to the
latter without any malice, we turn at once.

And where shall we begin? Our predicament in this defence is something
like that of the small boy, bewildered over the task of "picking up" his
nursery. [p.030] "I can't do it," he says. "There are so many things; I
can't tell which to take first." Poor little fellow! If he halts now,
what will he do when the littered room--I had almost said the littered
playroom--of his later life confronts him? Contradictions under foot
everywhere are certainly not less confusing than blocks, horses, papers,
trains, marbles, picture-books, and the like--or unlike--scattered over
a nursery floor.

Here, for example, in practical life is the natural, physical world. How
real, brutally real, it is; its very law is fate; its forces are no
respecters of persons, inexorably ruling and compelling all alike,
giving life and taking it, full of the grimmest humour, raising hopes
only to cast them down. Is some one rash enough to suggest that things
physical are only so many ideas, real only as states of mind, of God's
mind possibly, in some way coming to consciousness in the senses of men?
The practical man knows a thing or two about that. He kicks a stone, or
strikes his fist loudly upon a table, and so ends the matter, laughing
the mad idealist away. And yet, prestissimo change! What do we hear him
saying now? This brutally real world of physical things and powers is
but a fleeting show; a thing only of space and time. What is really real
and abiding is the spiritual that is everywhere and always. Another
world there is, not to be spoken of in the same breath with this present
world, a world compared with which this is but a mist before the eyes.

In so many familiar ways this duplicity towards what is real is
manifest. People go to church to do such a wonderfully strange thing;
nothing more [p.031] nor less than to save their real souls from an
unreal world, or sometimes to hide a real worldliness under unreal rites
or symbols. "You may think me worldly, selfish, sensuous," says some
one, "and I can not deny that often I do seem so, but this life of mine
is ever only a yearning after the things that are spiritual, for which,
as you see, I pray so earnestly, and which have nothing at all to do
with one's worldly life." Yes, we do see, and particularly we see that
things spiritual are often an impertinence in worldly affairs. The "real
self" never does the things that are really done. Only this, just this
is where the duplicity lies. Again, from some one else, a practical man
presumably and an accuser of the doubter, we hear the following: "Only
the spiritual life is real; look to it that you fear, as I fear, deeply
and constantly the material world hanging like a sword over us all." Can
it be, as would certainly appear, that superstition is still among us,
that so readily we can give reality to unreality, that belief in ghosts
still holds our human minds? Once upon a time--at least once--the
Christian Church rose in bitter resentment because a certain man, by
merely questioning the separate reality of the physical world,
threatened to deprive the holy priesthood, with all its time-honoured
prerogatives, of its heaven-appointed labour. Yet what is to be said of
a church that prefers to think of an independent physical world, by
which man is bound and damned, in order to save for itself the task,
either hopeless or useless, of rescuing him? Labelling a man "rescued"
or "Christian" does not make another-world creature of him. In political
history, too, what [p.032] a paradox it is that kingship by divine right
has always been also kingship by physical might. The practices of an
avowed supernaturalism have always been strangely materialistic.

So, in high places and in low, in the affairs of men now and in the
past, the physical and the spiritual have ever been in a most remarkable
relation; each real in and by itself, but with a most unusual courtesy
also unreal at the slightest motion from the other; each now supreme,
and now wholly subject; each now the whole life of man, and now the very
opposite, the antipodes of all that is human; and each self-existent and
independent, yet never without its real need of the other. Here surely
is contradiction, or vacillation, in experience that is, to say the
least, very confusing to him who reflects.[1]

But, to take up something else certainly not less confusing to the
ordinary mind, "practical," and unaccustomed to reflection, this is a
world of separate, individual things, of chairs, hands, atoms, eyes,
stars, men, stones, books, leaves, rivers, lives, mountains, relations,
notions, distances, days or years, and so on, [p.033] indefinitely and
above all indiscriminately; a world, moreover, into which in part God,
in part man, defying an equally powerful agent of chaos or dissipation,
has put at least for a time a certain kind of order, an order that might
be said to be good enough for all practical purposes. Yet with all its
indiscriminate manifoldness, and with the irregular, uncertain conflict
between chaos and order, it is nevertheless a single world, in short,
just one more individual thing, one more example, perhaps outdoing all
others, of the marvellous license with which human beings are wont to
speak and think of a "thing." Chairs, hands, mountains, men, stars, and
the whole universe, are all "things," and in this world of things, that
is itself another thing, or, should I rather say, _apart from_ this
world of things, that is another thing, there are two, at least two,
discordant powers taking turns at making order and disorder.

Confusion indeed! Nor have I exaggerated it. The loose association of
chairs, distances, and days; the easy assumption of two supreme agents
working against each other; the certain uncertainty about these agents
being in the world or out of it, of it or not of it; and the readiness
with which the whole universe, the all-inclusive thing, is treated as
only one more thing to be included: these habits of the ordinary mind
show a confusion that seems like insanity. Can we even face them safely
and soberly?

For special regard I select just one, perhaps the central one; the habit
of treating the universe, the unity of all things, as but one additional
thing, the whole, as if it were only another part, the complete [p.034]
and infinite as if distinct from or outside of what is finite or
incomplete; or again, in good old philosophical terms, the One as if it
were another and so in effect, but one of the Many. Now some there are,
and their number may be large, who never have thought of the
contradiction and consequent confusion in the notion of a single world
made up of many single things, yet itself another thing, or of the
Infinite as external to the Finite, or of the One as not in and of the
Many, but the contradiction is there, and can scarcely need more than
mention to be seen.

Even in theory, scientific or philosophical, the wholeness or unity of
the many things of the world has sometimes been taken for just one more
thing, as when Anaximander taught that it was "that thing which is no
one of the world's things," or for one of the many things supposed by it
to be unified, as when Thales so naïvely declared all things to be
water. Anaximander and Thales were only ancient Greeks, albeit very wise
and enlightened Greeks, living as early as 600 B.C., but in very recent
times they have had followers. Electricity has been taken as the one
force of all other forces. Our chemists, some of them, have been hunting
down the one element among the rest. Statesmen and churchmen have often
dreamt of one man as somehow in his single person expressing the unity
of all human life, and more than once they have even imagined him
present in the flesh. God, although the Being in whom we, as ourselves
persons, live and move and have our being, has Himself been another
person. Society and its supposed component individuals have made two
orders [p.035] of existence. Life and living creatures; history and its
many events; the solar system and its planets: nature and all her
various kingdoms: these have also been held apart, making amazing
dualisms. But, simply to repeat from above, taking the whole or the
unity of all things as itself an independent thing, as itself one more
thing, is a contradiction that needs only to be stated clearly to be
appreciated. Let me hope that I have stated it clearly.

Nor is this particular conflict in our ordinary ideas yet before us in
all its fatefulness, for--as if to defy the principle of consistency to
the very last degree of its forbearance--we are often, if not usually,
given not only to unifying our world of things in terms of just one more
thing, or of persons in terms of just one more person, but also to
thinking of this one more thing, or person as _sui generis_, as
altogether different in nature and substance. So do we mingle our
duplicity about reality with that about the unity of things. The many,
for example, are physical or of the substance of matter; the one is
ideal or of the substance of mind or spirit. The many persons are merely
human, the One is divine. Strange, indeed, that men should ever take one
more as the unity of all the rest, but if possible it is at least, at
first sight, stranger that this one more should be relegated to a sphere
wholly apart and peculiar. In the madness of such compounded
contradiction there may lurk real method, but of the contradiction and
of the compounding there can be no question.

Even the soul, a something, an entity, that each one of us has been in
the habit of claiming for himself [p.036] and of holding very sacred and
inviolate too, has been subjected to the same way of thinking.
Doubtless, since God has not been spared, we should hardly expect the
soul to escape. We view the soul so materialistically, even while we
insist that it is not material. We say, we think, that it is something
in the body; yet, of course, we are at our wit's end to tell just what
particular place it occupies there. Similarly, God is supposed to be
somewhere in the Universe, yet in no assignable place, and the chemist's
universal atom is somewhere also, though surely not in the same place,
and, wherever it be, waiting with its own, yet certainly a divine
patience that ought to be inspiring, for experimental discovery. But
with regard to the soul, although the life and unity of the body,
although one of the things in the body, the soul itself is not bodily at
all; it can enter the body and is important--who dares say how
important?--to the body, and it can, as at death, leave the body, but
though for a time in, it never is of the body. A strange standpoint
certainly, but men insist that it is quite as true as it is strange. It
seems very much like saying that when you build a house, in order to
ensure it real solidarity, to give it real permanence and integrity, you
should make a special point of putting your bricks or your lumber
together, not with clinging, well-set mortar, or strong pins and
straight-driven nails, but so much more sensibly, because so much
further from what would be like the material bricks or lumber, or like
the equally material mortar or nails, with those real and really compact
things, absolutely continuous or indivisible, or at least indestructible
[p.037] even when disintegrated, empty space and pure uneventful time.
With such space and time there would be union indeed I But, again,
strange as such a procedure in building a house would be, men insist or
at least I can readily imagine their insistence, that houses are built
in that way, and built successfully. The method may seem absurd, but
they insist that it is not madness. Are not abstract plans and such
seemingly unsubstantial things as mathematical formulæ, which are very
near to being made of empty space and time, the real strength and
integrity of all our great modern structures? And the soul, whatever be
said of its being an immaterial thing, is nevertheless, even for being
both immaterial and thing, the very sinew of the body.

Here may be method, then, and sanity, but there is always contradiction,
obstinate contradiction, compounded contradiction! The soul, unity of
the body, is only another thing or part in the body, and at the same
time, though in the body, it is after all not really of the body.
Possibly, perhaps necessarily, such patent contradiction, and, more than
all, such compounding of contradiction, like doubling a negative, make
for what is without contradiction, but this wholesome result is not
consciously intended, and in the face of all, whatever our hopes or our
beliefs, we must feel grave doubts and confess our doubting. Those who
do build better than they know, if enlightened, would not again build in
the same way. Two contradictions may be better than one, but even two
make us wonder.

Closely connected with the contradictions in our [p.038] customary ideas
of reality, and ideas of wholeness or unity, there is the way in which
we calmly take opposite sides in our notions about space and time, and
about that very fundamental factor of our experience--causation. These
are, all of them, so general and fundamental as possibly to seem too
abstruse even for mention in this place, since throughout these chapters
we are courting simplicity, but of space, and time, and causation, only
what is very simple needs to be said. Thus to the ordinary consciousness
how fatally things are separated from each other by conditions of space
and time. Then is not now. Here is not there. Space and time are only
physical and as brutal as all things physical, separating this from that
with a finality that knows no degree. Lovers, continents apart, despair
over the cruel distance. Time tears us ruthlessly from those dear to us.
What is to be, as well as what was, though in the next moment, is
absolutely beyond our grasp. Could anything be freer from dispute than
the reality and the separating brutally of space and time? Yet, almost
at a whisper, all distance and all duration become as nothing. Do not
the lovers write to each other, flatly and passionately denying that
they are far apart? Do we not constantly forestall the future and retain
the past? Indeed, when all is said, a thousand years are as one day, and
all the places of the earth are one. So real, and so vast, and so
physical to us but a moment ago, space and time have now passed into
mere phantoms of the imagination. We live, then, not only in a world
that is brutally spatial and temporal, but also, and at the same time,
[p.039] in a world that is not spatial and not temporal at all; and
living here--or there?--we have again to wonder and to doubt even in our
belief. To our own constant amazement we find that we make our life a
bridge over what would seem to be an absolutely impassable chasm.

As for causation our temerity is not less surprising. Wet and dry moons,
unlucky Fridays, holy and unholy numbers, haunted houses, so-called
providences, free in the sense of indifferently, irresponsibly free
wills and fiat deities with their suddenly made worlds may not be
generally in vogue at the present time, at least among the better
educated, the enlightened and not infrequently conceited classes, but
even among the wise and the consciously informed they have their natural
offspring, and I am not so sure that many of them might not be found
almost intact, at least in the more retired parts of the consciousness
of my readers. To illustrate, for some if not for all of us, this is a
world of many free and independent causes, yet also it is the single
effect of one cause; it is again, our mood having changed, the single
effect of two absolutely unlike beings or natures, each of them an
all-powerful cause; it is a sphere here and now of causal, creative,
productive activity, but it was itself created once for all long ago, at
a date which the exegete hopes--in the equally distant future!--to
determine for us; it contains some things that are only causes and some
that are only effects, or some, or all, that are both causes and
effects; it has parts that are the accepted causes of other parts; it
has causes, those acting now and the one original cause, that are
temporally [p.040] antecedent to their effects; and, not to make the
list longer, it is variously a world of one last effect, of one first
and only cause, of an infinite series of causes and effects, and in
whole, or in part, it constantly shows something made out of nothing or
nothing resulting from something. A wondrous world most assuredly; and
yet at first statement this record of our various notions of causation
may not appear as a very serious arraignment of the consciousness which
it exposes. Moreover some people actually glory in such a wonder as it
presents. But, to be plain, though also monotonous, the uncaused cause
or the effect that is only a part of the whole, or the cause or the
effect that refuses to share in the other's nature, or finally the
causation that is now so individual and so manifold and so effective,
and that was once so single and so complete, is something that must give
any thinker pause. Can a moving body move an immobile body? Can some
things in the universe be mobile; others not? Can the moving body and
the moved body belong to different moments of time? Can motion lead to
rest or rest to motion? But our ordinary ideas of causation would allow,
or even require, an affirmative answer to every one of these questions.

Alas! Shall this labour proceed? Can we afford to continue it? The
defence of the doubter is getting almost too successful; it is becoming
too personal to be pleasant. The task of picking up the room of our
ordinary life grows harder, not easier, as it moves forward. Every thing
that we touch tells of a spirit of violence in our nature. Even the
small boy can not have been more lawless, for his toys were all [p.041]
battered perhaps, but not, like ours, all broken. Can we afford to go
on? Afford it or not, we simply can not help ourselves, for our
self-confidence is already shattered; our attention to the disorder is
already beyond our control; each one of us is the doubter we would
defend.

Here close at hand, where we have to see it, is another contradiction
common in all human experience. It inheres in our conceits about
knowledge. For us, on the one hand, the world we know not only really
is, the tree out yonder or the planet miles and miles away being really
and actually there, but also is just the world which our knowledge
reports to us. What we have knowledge of is in our belief a real thing
in and by itself, and we know it literally and directly, not
figuratively, not afar off through symbols; we know it as it is; we know
a real world, and we know it face to face. Yet, on the other hand, with
all this simple confidence in our knowledge, what are we also given to
saying, or assuming when we do not say it? Even in the moment of our
confidence we humble ourselves with the cry of our utter foolishness,
making our recognized foolishness only a counter-conceit. What but
perfect folly is our knowledge before God's knowledge! "Illusion! The
dream of a few hours or a few years!" is so often the best we can say of
the whole fabric, past and present, of human consciousness. Not now, but
only in the hereafter are we to see reality face to face; now we see
only very darkly, if at all.

Some one here protests strenuously, raising an objection that might very
properly have been raised [p.042] before. Thus, I am told that only
different people, or only the same people at different times, ever hold
two opposite views, whether about knowledge or any thing else; never one
and the same person at the same time holds them both; and so the present
arraignment can not be as serious as it is made to appear. Well, with
this objection I can agree in part, for there is at least a half-truth
in it, but by no means does it tell, either in general or in particular,
that is, with regard to the special case of the conceits about
knowledge, the whole story of double living or double thinking among
men. Indeed the easy way, in which men make the distinctions of society
or the distinctions of time bear the responsibility for what must always
in the end be the conflicts of their personal lives, is but another
illustration of the difficulties besetting their ordinary views of
things. Duplicity of view, like anything else in experience, must always
be more than a matter of different people or different times, for the
simple reason that, whether directly personal or not, it is present in
the environment of the individual person. So, even if those two
positions, confidence in worldly knowledge and religious trust and
humility, for the sake of argument be momentarily associated only with
different persons or social classes or times, our present point will
really be just exactly as pointed, for there is always a third person or
class or time into whose direct single experience the duplicity or
contradiction is bound to enter. Consider, for example, the case of a
child. For a part of the week he is perhaps at school; on Sunday at
church; and the life in which he thus takes part must [p.043] appear to
him, there being in all probability little or no reservation on either
side, to be hopelessly divided against itself. Now is knowledge power;
now hindrance and greatest danger. Now he is to learn all he can; now,
on the other hand, to forget what he may have learned. So is the
conflict about him made his personal conflict, and exactly as in his
case, so in all human experience the individual must share personally
whatever the environment affords.

The individual and the environing society are the closest of blood
relations, though we often allow ourselves, all too easily as has been
said, to lose sight of the fact; they live under the same roof, and rely
for sustenance on the same fare; and while to some the contradictions of
life may be overlooked as personally impertinent and unimportant, being
referred wholly to the environment, they are plainly the unavoidable
heritage and the personal responsibility of every individual that counts
himself a member of the human race. The objection, then, that was raised
does not remove contradiction as a cause of doubt, but merely emphasizes
what in a subsequent chapter must occupy us, the social aspect of
experience.[2] Thus, not only does experience, in ways now coming to our
view, teem with contradictions, and is contradiction a cause of doubt,
but also experience so conditioned is social as well as individual, a
matter of personal relations between man and man as well as a matter of
the single person's inner responsibility. Society in its manifold
classes, in its conflicts and in its history, may help us to see the
whole of experience, the unity [p.044] of experience on all sides and in
all parts, but it never does, and it never can, relieve the individual,
or deprive the individual, of any side or part of what makes up an
experience-whole. Grown men and women may be more definitely set in
their lives and their ideas to certain specific things than children,
but in no one, young or old, can such specialism ever be wholly
exclusive of any of the other things.

To return to our immediate interest, if men are given to being doubters
in their views about reality, spiritual and material; about unity or
wholeness; about space and time, on the one hand fatally vast and
independently real, and on the other formal and illusory; about
causality, so actual and positive now, and yet so complete yesterday, or
ever and ever so long ago; and about knowledge, so perfectly wise and so
thoroughly vain and foolish; if, I say, men are double in all these
different ways, in their moral judgments they seem, if possible, even
more confused, and the confusion, the division against themselves, is
the more serious for being with regard to what so directly concerns
personal life and human fellowship.

To begin with, as will indeed readily appear, the offences of our moral
judgments, which often, if not always, are largely influenced by
religious or rather theological conceptions, are only a peculiar
expression of the two-faced attitude towards causation, human persons or
wills being the causes specially involved. In general the causes of the
universe are of three sorts, those of natural force, those of
supernatural agency, and those of human agency, and although toward them
all essentially the same attitude is [p.045] assumed, it is worth our
while to consider particularly the causation that is commonly adjudged
to belong to the human will and the moral ideas that spring from it.

For the purposes of the moral consciousness we translate the two
conflicting powers of our world, or the spiritual reality and the
material, into two agents of good and evil respectively, each having a
power of doing whatever, true to its peculiar character, it may will to
do, and then, as if in accord with this way of thinking, we find two
distinct selves, a good self and an evil self, within each one of us,
and we also divide the body social into two exclusive classes, the class
of those who are identified with the righteous life and the class of
those given to the unrighteous life, the sheep and the goats, the elect
and the damned. But, to say nothing of the fact that these three ideas
of the two powers, the two selves and the two classes, cannot be made
really to accord with each other, although they possess an outward
agreement, is it not clear that any attempt to take the good and the
evil as two mutually exclusive things, be they spirits or selves or
classes, is to destroy at once the real substance of virtue and the real
value of the consciousness of evil? In practical life this means, what
everybody knows so well, that an isolated, unduly holy righteousness, a
sort of touch-me-not goodness, is bound to be empty, to be only
ritualistic and aristocratic or pharisaical, and in any one of these
respects it appears decidedly unrighteous; while an isolated
unrighteousness, besides having at least the moral worth of a protest
against its counterpart, is in itself exactly like the original [p.046]
sinfulness of the theologian; being unavoidable, it is wholly without
any warranted opprobrium. Indeed, it all but comes to this, that
righteousness as a fixed thing, fixed to a part of the universe or to a
part of the individual self or to a part of society, is really in just
so far evil, and the direct opposite of such righteousness is
proportionately good. Good and evil, then, may not mix well, but certain
it is that contradiction results from the common attempt of men to
regard either as untainted or untempered by the other.

Still, not upon this real difficulty in our moral judgments would I now
lay greatest stress, although it is real enough and important. In yet
another way our moral consciousness is at war with itself. In estimating
the worth of human conduct, so far as this is determined by its
initiation, we are in an almost hopeless tangle. We are more than likely
to think of other people as influenced by their environment in what they
do, of ourselves as quite original and responsible, as independent of
any such influences; or, more fully and more exactly, we are given to
referring our own bad deeds to environment, our good deeds to ourselves,
while for others we are prompted to do just the reverse, referring their
good deeds to environment, their bad deeds to themselves. Such is human
nature--not, to be sure, at its best, but common human nature; and even
when we escape the foregoing personally invidious distinctions, we
still--and this is the main point--treat self and environment as two
naturally conflicting, altogether independent sources of conduct. Two
different and independent sources of anything, [p.047] however, can only
make for conflict and contradiction. If only our courts of law could
judge responsibility either wholly from the determinations of
environment or wholly from those of personal will, or again, if only the
will and the environment could be seen as not so radically opposed, what
a simplification would ensue, and how much freer and more certain
justice would be. To venture on a variation of an aphorism, where
there's another way there is always a loophole; where there's
environment there is always a shifted responsibility; where there's a
"free will" there is always a will taken for some unperformed or
imperfectly performed deed.

So the double origin of conduct offers a very serious difficulty, which,
when it is understood, is not unlike that of the two powers or selves or
classes, but even more is to be said in exposure of our moral judgments.
Thus we have the confident conceit of freedom, of our own freedom in
good or our neighbour's freedom in evil, or in general of man's freedom
to act without regard to the determinations from environment, but we
have also a strange though possibly a fortunate way of qualifying the
very freedom that we claim. We claim freedom only to avow, almost in the
same breath, duties and responsibilities. We have the freedom, but only
the duties make it worth anything. A startling paradox this, so familiar
to us all: "I am free to do all that I ought to do," or, "I am free to
carry out certain necessities of my true life." A startling paradox;
and, above all, a strange way of escaping the necessities of
environment, unless, forsooth, it really opens the door, or supplies a
secret door, by which the [p.048] necessities of environment and the
necessities of one's true life can come together? If freedom demands
law, why should it hold aloof from the natural law, the law of
environment so definitely present? Possibly, then, as once before
suggested, one contradiction in experience may be the corrective of
another, the paradox of freedom and duty only correcting the
contradiction of two sources of conduct, personal will and environment.
In the case, for example, of the disposition to distinguish between
one's own acts and another's, with respect to their initiation by will
or by environment, to mingle duty and necessity with one's own supposed
freedom is equivalent in effect to denying one's neighbour's freedom
because of the restraints of his environment. But such considerations,
however promising for future reflection upon the conflicts in our moral
consciousness, are not of immediate interest. Our doubts may once more
find hope in the reflection that the faults of experience may balance
themselves, but we have no occasion to abandon our doubting as idle or
meaningless. Contradictions that balance each other, errors that are
mutually corrective, are still contradictions, are still errors.

So, to reduce our moral judgments, confusion and all, to small compass,
we are free, others are not; they are free, we are not; and our freedom
is bound by duty, by duty to the moral law, while their freedom, unless
a hopeless lawlessness, is bound by the environment and its law. Again,
good and evil are each unmixed, and moral acts serve two masters--that
is to say, spring from two sources. We may, therefore, [p.049] still
believe in morality--yet how can this be? And freedom--yet how is
freedom possible?

But finally, as last to be examined, there is the idea of law, just now
brought to attention. This idea is a focus for a good many conflicting
views. Witness the familiar argument from the knowledge of law in nature
to fatalism, an argument as absurd as it is widespread, for the bare
fact that we know the laws of nature really emancipates us from the
blind fate to which the argument points. Can knowledge ever mean
anything but freedom? Certainly no law can ever be known unless the
sphere of its operation accords with the nature of those who have the
knowledge. Simply to know is to share in and be at one with whatsoever
is known, and the clearer and more cogent or rational the knowledge, the
truer and realer is this participation or union. The law we know, then,
must have all the meaning and the natural authority of a law of our own
enactment, and so must actually have the sanction of our will. Will, I
say, cannot help sanctioning knowledge, for knowledge is always true to,
because conditioned by, the natural action of the knower. But no such
message of freedom, or say of human opportunity in natural necessity, is
commonly received by men at large from the evidences of law in nature.
Superstitiously they see only fate. Clear knowledge and blind fate!

Nor are we commonly satisfied with only so much superstition. We go
still further and make the case as bad as possible by treating the law
we know as if in its spirit, if not in its letter, it were final. In
other words, we view nature, with some of whose ways we [p.050] have
become conversant, not merely as a source of blind fate, or external
necessity, for our lives, but also as essentially and ultimately a
sphere of strictly mechanical routine. Yet here again we are surely
reasoning beyond our premises--the very essence of superstition--for the
routine we know can never answer substantially, or even formally, to
nature as she really is. Our positive knowledge, our knowledge that
arrives at specific formulæ, even though these formulæ reach the noble
dignity of mathematics, is bound to be in terms of some particular
experience, personal or national or racial; it is relative and special;
it is partial knowledge; and he is superstitious, and does, indeed,
argue beyond his premises, who takes the whole, whose law he does not
know, to be literally analogous to the part, whose law he thinks he
knows, but can in fact know only partially. No whole ever is one of its
parts, or merely analogous to one of its parts; _a_ law never is _the_
law, or even in its lawfulness literally analogous thereto; and
mechanicalism, whether as a popular or a philosophical "ism," has no
justification save just this false analogy.

And the prevalent confusion in the notions of law or lawfulness is of
course reflected in the corresponding notions of lawlessness. Here, as
with other negative terms, men forget that negatives necessarily are
quite relative to their positives. All specific, definitely manifest,
known and positive lawlessness simply must have some place in _the_ law
of things; it can no more be an absolute lawlessness than any human
routine can be supposed final; and, on the other hand, there can be no
positive law whose breaking has not some [p.051] sanction; there can be
no lawfulness which does not warrant some lawlessness. This truth,
perhaps as nothing else could, must show the error in the notion of
mechanical routine as affording an adequate description of the ultimate
nature of things. Where the whole always gives point to the negation of
any of its parts, where _the_ law always sanctions some breaking of any
law, to think of the whole in terms of its parts may be human, but it is
of the human which is prone to err. Those who would still insist upon
seeing only routine in law, and upon judging lawlessness as only
relative to such seeing, might do well, rising above their ordinary
views, to remember with some real appreciation that once upon a time the
law-breakers and the reformer were very closely associated; they were
associated in life, and at the end they were crucified together.
Whatever may be one's theology, there is a deal of food for thought in
those deaths on Calvary and in the several lives which they closed.

Lawlessness suggests the supernatural. So many have promptly concluded
that just as with the knowledge of law in nature human freedom must be
resigned, blind fate taking its place, so anything or anybody at all
supernatural, Satan--for example--as well as God, must once for all
withdraw. If law reigns, God can will whatever he wills only because the
law is so; the law is not so because he wills it; and this in common
opinion only makes him decrepit, without real initiative, dead. Yet,
once more, what superstition! The knowledge of law has never robbed man
of his freedom, nor even slain his God; or this at least: the loss of
freedom or the death of God, for [p.052] which any law that man has had
knowledge of has been responsible, has always been only the forerunner
of a larger and fuller freedom and of his God's resurrection and
glorification. This or that law may rob and may kill, but this or that
law, let me reiterate, never is _the_ law, and why common opinion has to
judge all things in heaven and earth, as if it were, is hard to
comprehend. Neither nature nor God, if these two need to be thought of
as two, is law-bound; each rather, with a meaning which I must hope now
to have made clear, is law-free. The law in which nature is free is as
infinite, as transcendent of any particular human experience as the
ever-developing freedom of man or as the will of God. And God, or the
Supernatural, is not confined to the narrow sphere of what man knows, as
man knows it; this stands only for what man calls nature. God is the
all-inclusive sphere or source of the absolute law, for which knowledge
can be only a constant striving, or which is itself even a party to the
constant striving. Somehow _the_ law must be a living thing, not a
routine: the supernatural must be not nature as she is known, but
nature's fullest and deepest life.

Very emphatically what has just been said about nature or God being
law-free, or about _the_ law being infinite, or not analogous in form or
substance, in spirit or letter, to any thing in positive knowledge, is
no argument for the Jonah story or even for the miracle of the wine at
Cana's wedding feast; and yet time and again people who apparently
should have done enough thinking to know better, to the great
satisfaction of thousands have used the infinity of [p.053] nature's or
God's lawfulness, which is to say the only partial and tentative
character of all human knowledge of law, as a clinching proof of all the
miracles in the Bible. Can they not see that like what is lawless in
general, the miraculous must be in the premises only relative to the
experience of the time? Even chance is not less so. The spiritual
meaning of those miracles may persist, for the miraculous we must always
have with us; but if even our relative, imperfect knowledge stands for
anything, if it be even a tentative knowledge, a working standpoint, the
literal truth of most, or even all of them, disappeared long ago.
Miracles, like laws, come and go; only the miraculous, like _the_ law,
goes on forever.

And this leads to something else, to something also very common, perhaps
the reverse of the foregoing. With what an unaccountable delight many of
us have accepted naturalistic explanations, for example, of the sun
standing still, or of the retreat of the waters of the Red Sea, or of
the Immaculate Conception, or of any of the many other marvels in either
the Old or the New Testament, and have thought that so our old beliefs
are to be preserved. I have myself heard honest and earnest men, even
members of an academic community, appeal to parthenogenesis as a fact in
nature which would at least make the miracle of Christ's birth
scientifically plausible as well as spiritually significant; but such an
appeal, besides being, in my opinion, positively irreverent, is as blind
religiously as it is ignorant scientifically. Cannot such men
appreciate, and cannot all others who do as they do also appreciate the
fact that naturalistic explanation of [p.054] any miracle, if really a
genuine explanation, may prove the fact, but must in just so far
destroy, I do not say the miraculous, which is indestructible, but the
particular miracle?

The lawful miracle, then--lawful, of course, so soon as explained--is
one more contradiction in our prevalent notions about law. That it
exemplifies, too, a habit of mind which is exercised by us in many
directions besides that of interpretation of the arbitrary things of the
Bible can hardly need be said. In life generally the arbitrary is
peculiarly fond of going to law, sometimes to what is called nature's
law, as when revolutionists of all sorts--strikers and radical
reformers--raise the cry of "natural rights," laying down the law as to
what men are by nature, and sometimes to "human" law, as when the
conservatives in government or business with their vested rights, be
these coal mines, oil fields, or political privileges, appeal for
"justice" to the courts or to the military.

But, to say no more, with the lawful miracle, with law the strange
support of what is arbitrary, with this as a very good example of the
duplicity which in general we are all of us wont to allow in our
practical life, the present exposure of our ordinary consciousness must
come to an end. With regard to the real substance of things, or to their
unity, or to the nature of space and time and causation, with regard to
the worth of knowledge, with regard to our human conduct, to its freedom
and responsibility, or finally with regard to the place of law in nature
and in the life of man, our ordinary consciousness is manifestly
inconsistent and vacillating--nay, is grossly contradictory; and we are
[p.055] led at least to suspect that the disorder which we have found is
inherent and essential, having the nature of an original human defect.
Such a defect, however, is cause for doubt; so that man, above all
"practical" man, having inconsistency or duplicity as almost, if not
quite, an uncontrollable habit with him, should be himself a prince of
sceptics.

And yet, although we have indeed found man spending at least his waking
hours in a room that seems disorder incarnate, and although before the
court of practical life the doubter seems thus to have been thoroughly
justified, while his too hasty judges are in turn condemned,
nevertheless the case for doubt is not of such a character as to leave
absolutely no hope for belief. Now and again in the evidence, as it has
been disclosed, have we not felt the presence of something, not yet
given its due weight, that would make man more than a mere doubter and
unbeliever? Have we not been led to suspect that somehow, without loss
of their reality and validity, the most cogent reasons for doubt, even
the contradictions in our views of things, might turn into bases of
belief, that an experience essentially paradoxical may not be as
hopeless as at first sight it may appear, that in all the madness there
is at least a chance of some method? The view of science, however, must
be examined before our attention can be turned definitely upon such a
possibility. Enough if in our present doubting we are still left with a
little hope.


[1] In the rise of Christian Science, against which I have no special
grudge, although I have already taken exceptions to its claims, there is
a special case, special because affecting a single, relatively small
class, of the popular hospitality to contradiction. Thus, the Christian
Scientists would reduce all reality to mind, but at the same time they
busily deny reality to a large group of mind facts, namely and notably,
the ideas of disease. Recently, it is true, according to the newspapers,
their healers have been told to "decline to doctor infectious or
contagious diseases," yet not because such diseases have any reality,
but because the illusion of them is so real as to make the "Christian"
treatment of them both imprudent and impractical. Philosophies and
religions of illusion are certainly weird, uncanny things!

[2] Chapter VII.



[p.056]

IV.

THE VIEW OF SCIENCE: ITS RISE AND CHARACTER.


With science we usually associate accuracy and consistency, and at first
thought we are not likely to expect that the work and standpoint of
science can contain anything substantial enough for the doubter to base
his claim upon; but second thought is our first duty at this time, and
second thought always changes the view, and in this particular instance
it will show science in important respects to be quite as vulnerable as
the unreflective consciousness of practical life, for science also is
honeycombed with contradiction and paradox.

More than once scientists themselves have turned sceptical about their
work and its results. The cry of bankruptcy in science, not merely as a
charge, but also as a confession, has been heard in the land not
infrequently; now perhaps low and uncertain, but again clear and strong.
And why not? Why should the scientist escape the questioning of other
men? Subtle and wonderful as science is, does it transcend humanity?
Surely, when all is said, the scientific consciousness is not formally
different from the ordinary consciousness. The same eye is looking at
[p.057] the same world, only through microscopes and telescopes. The
same mind is measuring the same environment, only with carefully devised
instruments of precision instead of arm's lengths or stone's throws and
rules of thumb. In a word, science is merely the ordinary consciousness
highly developed, not without considerable abstraction, into critically
conscious method and clearest possible perception. Indeed, perhaps
without myself clearly knowing all my reasons, I am constrained to say
that science is related to ordinary perception very much as the
inventor's consciousness of his wonderful flying-machine to the simple
sensations of a bird. The mechanics of flying, so elaborately present to
the former, are nevertheless also present in the latter, while with both
we have the same eye or the same mind looking and the same world seen.
The boasted methods and ideals of the one are but the only half-waking
instincts of the other, and whatsoever is essential to either belongs
also to the other. But, to mark the great difference between them, the
inventor has the disposition to treat flying abstractly--that is, as if
a thing by itself, as if for its own sake; and he goes even farther,
making abstraction of the mere explanation and mechanical expression of
flying; while the bird simply flies, and, if I may hope to be
understood, all things else, the sun and the wind, the trees, and all
living things, and you and I who follow his course are flying with him.

But no poetic soaring such as this can satisfy our present needs. To
understand and appraise the view of science we must trace its rise as
clearly as we can, [p.058] and then critically examine its peculiar
conceits, its own ideal methods and attitudes.

As for the rise of the scientific view, we may well return to the
definition of science given above: the ordinary consciousness highly
developed, not without considerable abstraction, into critically
conscious method and clearest possible perception. Perhaps development
of anything is always at the cost of abstraction; but be this as it may,
science certainly arises through an abstraction, namely, through the
abstraction of consciousness of one's world, through the treatment of
this mere consciousness as something to be cultivated quite for its own
sake; and the motive and the meaning of such a treatment are not far to
seek. Consciousness, to the exclusion or inhibition of direct, overt
action, becomes a matter for abstract, which is to say, exclusive
cultivation, with any serious change, with any upheaval in the familiar
conditions of life. A man--or boy, if you prefer--is taking a
cross-country run, and for a time all goes well; the manner of his going
suffers no interruption, or no serious interruption; but gradually the
undergrowth thickens from low bushes to higher brushwood, and at last,
perhaps quite suddenly, breaking through some wild hedge, the runner
finds himself at the very edge of a stream too wide and too deep for any
ordinary crossing. Thereupon his running, or at least his forward
running, say the running of his "real life," ceases, and looking takes
its place. He is now, in a familiar phrase, "looking before leaping";
yet with his looking there is a good deal of running too, more or less
overt, but also more or less [p.059] instrumental or merely mechanical,
as, going from one point to another, he measures the relations of bank
to bank, or of possible stepping-stones to each other, or hunts for
fallen logs or for shallow places. But, finally, the measurements all
made, the peculiar conditions as fully as possible appreciated, in the
way found to be most feasible he crosses the stream and runs again. And
just in that "looking before leaping," with the accompanying check put
upon the forward running and with the change of the "real life" of
running into merely instrumental action, we get at least a glimpse of
what science is, of the sort of abstraction that its rise implies.

Only science, specifically so called, is more than such a casual, merely
personal study of a new situation. Science is the distinct work of a
distinct class abstractly studying a new situation that has confronted
the progress not of an individual, but of a whole people, and in this
character it gets at once all the advantages and all the conceits that
belong in general to the life of a class. It gets, too, all the
limitations. Science, once more, is not strictly a personal experience,
although in personal experience, like that of the cross-country runner,
we can get a glimpse of just that which may develop into science.
Science is characteristically a profession. The runner withholds his
running for a time and merely looks and studies, yet his looking is only
for a time; sooner or later he will run again; and even while he studies
there is his continued moving about, his instrumental action, as we
called it; but the professional scientist waives all thought of possible
future activity. Although in reality [p.060] his looking is before
leaping, it is not consciously so for him; he is one who under the
constraints of his class merely looks and studies, making of these
processes things quite worthy in themselves.

In other words, to enlarge somewhat on what has just been said, the rise
of the profession of science does indeed involve both the same check
upon the "real life" and the same reduction of activity to a purely
mechanical or instrumental character that we have pointed out in the
case of the runner at the bank of the stream, but a number of different
social classes divides the labour. In general, society as a means to the
expression and development of human activity, be the activity running or
living in a broader and fuller sense, always shows the different phases
or factors of the experience identified more or less exclusively with as
many different classes or groups, and, in respect to the particular case
here under consideration, upon the rise of science society appears to
delegate the work of careful observation and critical thinking to a
separate class, which, as already suggested, gives up any direct
responsibility to the real life. Another distinct class, arising
contemporaneously, is composed of those who do feel directly
responsible, or "practical," continuing the life of positive, overt
action. This second class maintains the vital processes, although in a
more or less consciously instrumental way, since its members have the
lives of others as well as their own lives to support. So society gets
its workers or labourers as well as its observers and thinkers.

The rise of science, then, involves a disrupted society. Moreover, the
division is by no means so [p.061] simple as the foregoing analysis may
seem to have implied. Observing and thinking, for example, have often
made, too, separate sub-classes, and also there have been many distinct
groups among the workers, such as clerks, soldiers, artisans,
road-menders, and tillers of the soil. The simple analysis, however, has
been quite enough to show, what has seemed to need emphasis, that all
the passions of social life, or rather of social caste, are brought to
bear upon the profession of science, giving it the peculiar conceits and
advantages of class or caste, and also imposing upon it the peculiar
limitations. The advantages, among others, are the strength that lies in
union, and the long continuity and the imitation that always ensure an
accumulation of experience and a refinement of method and an attainment
to impersonal, impartial standards; the conceits are exclusiveness,
sense of sanctity or intrinsic worth, and consequent claims to
aristocracy; and the limitations, although possibly already quite
obvious, are hereafter to be pointed out. But whatever the limitations
or the opportunities, it is now our chief concern that the social
conditions of its rise must greatly intensify the abstraction of
science, the treatment of the consciousness of the world, which is but
the sphere of action, the totality of the manifested conditions of
action, as something to be cultivated wholly for its own sake.

Nor is this fact that science is an abstraction, intensified by the
conditions of class life, the only fact to which the rise of science
bears witness. There is something else equally significant--something,
indeed, so intimately involved in this as perhaps not [p.062] properly
to be referred to as another fact at all, being only a further
manifestation of what is already before us. _There never arises
abstraction without duplicity._

Plainly a disrupted society, such as has been seen to be incident to the
rise of science, means also a disrupted life. In general the corporate
life of any single class resulting from the division can be only
partial, I do not say in respect to "real life," since this phrase has
itself been associated with too narrow a meaning, but to human nature,
to human life in its entirety, in its real fulness, in its true breadth
and its true depth. All class life, I repeat, involving as it does
disruption and selection of some particular interest or relation, is
inadequate to any human being, and the life of science is no exception
to this rule. Membership in any class and conformity to its peculiar
life, which is partial and abstract as partial, have never satisfied
anybody, and the life of the professional scientist, again, is no
exception to this rule. Accordingly any abstraction in life, the
isolation of any specific interest, when seen in just the light of its
necessary inadequacy, of its definite, more or less exclusive
partiality, must imply in life a demand for reality and completeness,
and this the more as the abstraction is assertive, as the isolation is
insistent. Simply, the whole life will never brook an untempered neglect
from any of its always self-assertive parts. Plainly, however, as
plainly as a disrupted society must mean a disrupted life for each
resulting group, such a demand can be met only in one way, if the cause
for it continues; it can be met only by some form of duplicity, by some
way in which, however indirectly, the life of those [p.063] concerned
will always really be more than it seems or will always actually imply
what explicitly or formally it appears to exclude. No such narrow life,
in short, as must always characterize any social group, can ever be
without its compensating innuendoes or indirections for the life from
which it is outwardly aloof, and while the peculiar manner in which the
true reality and the wholeness of life are thus conserved will very
naturally always be determined by the particular class or the particular
class-character involved, being of one sort for road-menders and of
quite a different sort for scientific observers, the organization of
society seems bound at every turn to show that duplicity, compensation
as it always is for partiality, is an indispensable condition.
Duplicity, whatever may be its own special dangers, is always better,
being nearer to reality, than narrowness.

Is not the road-mender also a good Catholic, or in some other way,
conventional or unconventional, religiously devout, piously doing, not
his own, but another's work? Does not the scientist give point to the
idea of another and different life, that is to say, of his life of
knowledge not being the whole of life, by the agnosticism which he not
only carefully asserts but also actually embodies as a factor in his
method? The road-mender slaves at his humble task, ignorant and yet
trustful, believing in an infallible wisdom and an absolute power, and
the scientist lives with great enthusiasm to know the world as it is,
but tells us at the same time with no less enthusiasm and with a meaning
that certainly ought to temper his exclusiveness that the object which
he studies and describes [p.064] is nevertheless really unknowable. To
quote Mr. Spencer: "The man of science ... more than any other, truly
_knows_ that in its ultimate essence nothing can be known." Surely there
is meaning for Stevenson's story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in other
fields besides that of morality. Class life must always involve its
members in a protective or compensating duplicity.

But now, whatever in the life of other classes this duplicity, which
conserves the wholeness of life even when formally life is narrow and
partial, ought to be called, in the profession of science it often goes
under the name of dualism. Seen at different angles, it is now dualism,
now objectivism, now agnosticism. In each of these different ways the
scientist, quite outdoing or transcending his profession, recognizes a
sphere of reality or a sphere of activity, that is beyond that of the
knowledge which he makes his special business, and, as is very important
to observe, the peculiar manner of his recognition of this sphere, or
the peculiar character of his duplicity, is relative to just the
abstraction which makes his science what it is. Thus his peculiar
duplicity is one of conscious subject and unconscious, external object,
of observing man and objective nature, of real knowledge and unknowable
reality.

Yet here, before discussing further the relation of dualism to science,
it is well to observe that the positive history of science justifies the
account of its rise which has now been given. The age of science among
the Greeks was coincident with the closing conflict between Greek
civilization and the general life [p.065] of the Mediterranean, and the
age of modern science began, not to attempt a long story, with the
discovery of America. All "looking before leaping" is transitional or
revolutionary, and while, of course, there had been transitions and
degrees of scientific inquiry before, the science of the Greeks belongs
to that very critical transition from Greece to Rome; and modern
science, to the transition, certainly not less critical, from
Christendom to--who can say to what? But not only does history show
science to arise when there is a stream to cross; also it shows the life
of the time, in the first place, to be sharply disintegrated, its
different factors being separately and abstractly expressed through as
many different social groups, and, in the second place, in each of the
groups to be given to double living, to the storm and stress of being
one thing and seeming another. Always an age, conspicuously and
characteristically scientific, has been an age of clearly developed
classes and of a general duplicity in living.

Thus, to give a striking, although possibly too philosophical an
illustration of the duplicity, Democritus, the great materialist and
atomist, and Plato, the great idealist, were contemporaries and equally
were creatures of their day and generation, and their century was the
century of great achievements in Greek science. Moreover, as regards the
coincident organization of society, we know at least of Plato that he
was keenly conscious of the divisions of society into distinct classes.
And in very much the same way materialism and idealism, not to mention
hedonism and rigorism, or naturalism and supernaturalism, [p.066] have
been inseparately associated with the rise and the successes of modern
science. These philosophies, it must be remembered, are always more than
so many conflicting "isms." They are, too, more than the special
conceits, in theory or in practice, of so many separate social classes
or of the great leaders of these classes. In their very differences they
are the definite, the "public" expression of a conflict, or division,
that inwardly affects every individual member, whatever his class or
profession, which the society contains. In the day and generation of
Democritus and Plato were there not well-defined parties, manifest in
all the different and separately organized phases of life--moral,
industrial, political or religious, namely, the parties of the
conservatives and the radicals? And were there not also, as typical
individual characters, each of them revealing to everybody something
present within his own life, the only conventional loyalist and the more
truly loyal reformer, as well as the idle or careless transgressor and
the coldly calculating traitor? A life so divided and so variously
impersonated was certainly teeming with duplicity.

Nor have we yet finished with the evidence from history. An age of
science has always been not merely an age with a stream to cross, nor
yet merely an age of classes and double living, but also an age of a
thoroughly conscious utilitarianism. Whether materialistically or
idealistically, all things have been treated and also looked upon as
means to some end, not ends in themselves. For the disrupted society all
activity has been more or less consciously calculating and instrumental.
As we know, the disruption means [p.067] actual, when not also
intentional, division of labour, and surely there never has been
division of labour without eventual development of a distinct sense of
the various special instruments and activities as utilities rather than
things of intrinsic value. For a time, it is true, the several classes
and their activities may maintain the semblance of conservatism and
independence; but their inevitable duplicity is bound sooner or later to
give a consciously conventional or utilitarian character to the
conservatism, and just this makes the activity of the people
instrumental or only mediately instead of immediately worthy. If, as
some are sure to contend, the division of labour always tends to end,
and often does end, in the formation of castes, and in consequence the
instrumental character of the activities is forgotten, it needs only to
be said in reply that an invitation is then given to some outside power
to step in and to make use of, instead of just treasuring or hoarding,
the developed instruments or utilities. Caste in the organization of
society not only induces absolutism at home, but also, and in this way
is fully revealed its real but suppressed utilitarianism, invites
conquest from abroad. The days of Greek science were, almost
notoriously, days of conventionalism and utilitarianism: witness the
Sophists and their teaching, and the life which they waited upon for
pay; while the surviving conservatism, by which, as cannot be
questioned, the life of the time was blind to its own real mission or
purpose, made possible and even historically necessary, first, the
Macedonian, and then the Roman conquest of Greece. What the Greeks,
being too conservative, though [p.068] utilitarian, failed to make full
use of, another people, less hampered by tradition, finally
appropriated. And as for the days of modern science, these, so far as
unfolded to our view, have not been unlike in kind: witness the
Machiavellism, with which they began, and the spirit of commercialism,
which has characterized them throughout.

One thing more, too, from the facts of history may have our attention,
although possibly this addition is quite unnecessary--the fact, namely,
of scepticism coupled always with a hopeful curiosity. A disrupted
society, dividing the labour of human life, is as sceptical as it is
conventional, and as given to experiment and exploration, which are
never without their sense of mystery, and even to conquest, never
without its risks, as it is utilitarian. Was it curiosity or mere
Hellenic conceit, the sense of adventure or the mere dogmatism of a
Greek, that took Alexander abroad with his armies, or that earlier
turned the attention of Athens to the possibilities of the West? And
which, curiosity or religious and political propagandism, a pagan greed
or a Christian piety, inspired the Western and Southern voyages of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? Which gave rise even to the Crusades?
It would be interesting, if our present purposes only warranted the
undertaking, to trace the forerunning conditions of a period of
scientific endeavour. We could then show both how scientific curiosity
has developed as but one expression of a general interest in
experimental endeavour, in adventure and in conquests of all sorts, and
especially how this interest, with its mingling of doubt and [p.069]
confident seeking, has been preceded by a period of art. Art, appeal as
it always is from the human as expressed in the established ways of some
given social organization to the natural, shows a people sensitive to a
mystery, a real but unseen end, in its developed activities, but not yet
willing to let the experimental and instrumental character of those
activities have free expression. It appeals to the natural, which is of
course the sphere of all adventure, but, still cherishing the human, it
never gets, so to speak, out of sight of home. Science, the successor of
art, shows home, that is, the human and the subjective, left far behind.
But to follow out the line of thought here suggested would take us too
far afield. Let it suffice, then, that we see these two things: how
historically and socially the investigations of science, whatever their
relations to an antecedent art, such as that of the Greeks or of
Christendom in the Renaissance, are but an incident within a general
life of appeal to nature--that is, of exploration and conquest--and then
how the scepticism, involved in the inquiries of science, is intrinsic
to a life that, for reasons now clear to us, has become both
conventional and utilitarian, both formal--or unreal in itself--and
consciously only instrumental. The first of these brings to mind what
was referred to in a previous chapter, that science is man in his doubt
seeking the companionship of nature; and the second will aid us greatly
in understanding the attitude and method of science, to which, having
the evidence of history, we have next to turn.

We have found the rise of science to imply a general abstraction of the
various factors in human [p.070] life, and to be itself, in particular,
the abstraction of the consciousness of nature, nature being the
totality of the manifest conditions of life. This abstraction has been
developed and intensified by the formation of distinct social classes;
and, in the special case of the consciousness of nature, by the
formation of a class of scientists, so called, who cultivate their
science for its own sake. We have found the rise of science to imply
also a general duplicity, evident within the field of science in what is
known as dualism. Duplicity is a natural accompaniment of all
abstraction, and it has, as we saw at least in part, a certain
protective and corrective function, which both the logic of experience
and the social and historical conditions of its expression and
development warranted us in ascribing to it. And, finally, we have found
that in actual life abstraction and duplicity make activity conventional
and utilitarian, that is to say, consciously instrumental or--let me now
say--experimental. In just these conditions, then, the general
abstraction and duplicity, the conscious formalism and regard for
utility, and the sense of experimentation, we have the determinant,
formative influences of science's attitude and method, for any given set
of conditions always makes the method with which the conditions
themselves are met. Socrates, with his method of cross-questioning so
fatal to all ideas that should give knowledge any visible form or
resting-place, was but the spirit of his time, the spirit of radical
inquiry become incarnate and assertive in public places. He was but a
visible, public exponent of the critical examination of life which the
self-consciousness of his time made necessary. [p.071] Indeed, no
organic form, no living creature, ever reflected the character of its
environment more fully, or more successfully effected an adaptive life
than the method, with its searching questions, and its subtle, logical
gymnastic, of that honestly and radically inquisitive Sophist. And the
standpoint and the procedure of science, in respect to the relation to
their environment, are closely comparable with the method of Socrates.

Thus science seeks a complete abstraction of the looking consciousness,
and then with a timely duplicity it looks to a wholly external, natural
world. So in the field of its peculiar abstraction does science take the
character and colour of its surroundings. But, further, it presumes upon
the peculiar forms and conditions of its subjective, looking
consciousness, the activities of the mind, being mediative or
instrumental to the presentation of the external objective world, and it
uses also the activities of life at large, both the bread-and-butter
activities and the mechanical inventions, both the political and the
industrial organizations, as supplementary aids to its observations; for
just science, the looking consciousness, is the end, and this end is
presumed to justify every available means. So, again, does science take
the cue from its environment, expressing in its own way and to its own
purposes the general experimentalism; and this the more significantly
when we remember that, besides being experimental, treating the mind as
an instrument and life's activities at large as only aids more or less
directly pertinent to the mind's work, it is agnostic. Its peculiar
agnosticism not only reflects [p.072] its duplicity, as was before
suggested, but in addition shows how very abstract its knowledge is,
and--I know no better phrase--how timelily adventurous. A time of
science is a time when all things final are beyond; yet also, when all
things present, however mysteriously, are really leading yonder.

Further, science always divides the field of its operations, and so,
besides greatly compounding its abstractness, reflects in its own way,
or, as it were, projects on its own plane, what I will call the
specialism of the contemporary social organization. There is division of
labour in this, but there is also a difficulty, which, among other
difficulties, is hereafter to be considered.

And there is, finally, one more characterization of science which is
suggested by the conditions of its rise, but by something in those
conditions not yet brought into clear view. An age of science is an age
of a rising, although perhaps formally suppressed and disguised
individualism, and quite in sympathy, the method of science is
"inductive," science, though interested in classification, always having
regard for the natural rights of particular things, of single
individuals, reasoning from the particular to the general, as the phrase
runs, not in the reverse order. Individualism has been a much
misunderstood thing, be it a social movement or a logical condition of
inductive thinking. The individual as person or as objective datum has
been greatly abused. But at least for the present, waiving any
discussion of the true character of the individual or any protest that
the individual and the definite or particular must not be confused, I
would only assert, but I venture to assert [p.073] strongly, first, that
behind the conventionalism and utilitarianism of the life of a society
divided into distinct classes, behind the abstraction and the inevitable
duplicity, behind the sense of experiment and adventure, the individual
person is the real power, and secondly, that in induction science has
only translated this real individualism of its time into an attitude or
method for the conduct of its looking consciousness. In this way, as in
those other ways, has science been educated to its peculiar manner.

We have thus seen how science arises, and how its rise gives it a
certain character. But already suspicion of limitations in the view of
science, and so of a case for doubt with regard to it, has come to us.
Abstraction and duplicity both suggest limitations, though these may not
be unmixed. What the specific difficulties are, however, and how far
they really justify our doubting, must be reserved for the ensuing
chapter.


[p.074]

V.

THE VIEW OF SCIENCE: ITS PECULIAR LIMITATIONS.


Limitations or opportunities? Error or truth? In the familiar
illustration the tracks which limit the locomotive to a certain course
are essential to its successful movement, and something of the same kind
may be true of science. A man's vices and virtues are never really far
apart, and, again, the same may be true of science. But for the moment
we are to approach science from the standpoint of its limitations; we
are to see how its own natural ideals, as suggested by our
characterization of the scientific view, are evidence of its inadequacy.
So doing we shall take a most important step towards a thorough-going
confession of doubt.

Among scientific men it is a commonplace that for accuracy and
genuineness or purity, that is to say for complete abstraction, science
must be (1) independent of "life," all the subjective interests, whether
personal or social, the interests of politics, industry, morality, or
religion, being science's most unsettling influences; (2) specialistic,
the "Jack of all trades" in science being anything but _persona grata_
among scientific men; and (3) agnostic or "positivistic," all conceits
[p.075] about what is beyond positive experience, and even all dogma
about what seems really present to experience, being most arrant heresy;
and every one of these ideals, besides being derived from the habits or
instincts, commonly unrecognized and unappreciated, of the ordinary
consciousness, is wholly in accord with the conclusions of the preceding
chapter. The attitude of science, as there disclosed, involved a looking
to an external world--the objectivism; a division of the field--the
specialism; and an experimental, adventurous mind--the agnosticism or
positivism. It involved other things, too, but these three are now
selected, so to speak, as three determining points of science's
circumference. Consideration of them, to whatever results it may lead,
should meet all the demands of the present task. As for the results,
these will show fundamental difficulties, very like to those of ordinary
experience, to lurk in each one of the three ideals. The scientific
consciousness is abstract and just for being in consequence
objectivistic, specialistic, and agnostic it is artificial and unreal,
though perhaps only relatively or not unmixedly unreal, and especially
it is honeycombed with paradoxes and contradictions, with the translated
but not transcended contradictions of ordinary life.

To the examination, therefore, of these difficulties, or limitations, we
must now turn, taking the three ideals in order.


I. SCIENCE WOULD BE OBJECTIVE.

The ideal of a purely objective science is in many ways a great
delusion, for it may effectually blind [p.076] science to its necessary
subjectivism, so far as it gets any substance or content, and to its
necessary formalism, so far as it acts upon a merely external world.
With regard, for example, to the last point, just so far as the ideal of
objectivism is realized, science becomes merely so much technique. By
technique here is meant everything that makes scientific work purely
mechanical. A purely mechanical procedure is the inevitable, the natural
and necessary method of a pure objectivism. Scientists have their formal
etiquette about pre-empted problems or fields of research, their notions
about originality as dependent merely on working a new field--hence the
pre-emption to prevent transgression or theft of originality, their
conceits about bibliographical information, linguistic proficiency and
technical phraseology, their satisfaction over "publication,"
"contribution," "production," and "research," and an almost
Gaston-Alphonse deference of each to each among the different branches
of scientific inquiry; and under technique all these things, as well as
the more familiar matters of method and apparatus and material, are here
included. Physicians, we are told, and not infrequently also their
patients, suffer from a professional ritual and etiquette, but they are
far from being alone in their misery. Scientists, would-be objective
scientists, and all who appeal to them, are a close second. Technique
must have its real uses, but plainly it has its limitations. It is one
of the enabling conditions, a _sine qua non_ of science, if science is
to be objective, but it takes the life out of science. A science that
gets no further, that is only "objective," that is, "pure" and
"inductive" [p.077] is wholly vain, being like a domestic animal which
is only a pet, or rather like a vigorous plant that runs luxuriously to
leaves, never bearing either flowers or fruit. Its much vaunted
observation and experiment may fill a good many pages and a good many
volumes, but material, even material in books, and experiments, even
carefully, minutely reported experiments, are neither roses nor apples.

A fruitful science relates itself to something more than a mere
independent object. A fruitful science involves synthesis, not formal,
but real synthesis, as well as analysis, its decomposed object being
also only the separated details of some organizing activity. Indeed,
however unconsciously, or even however against its own avowed interest
and desire, science has that organizing activity in the real life. The
"real life" has seemed aloof, but science is truly an integral part of
this life. Science's very genesis in social evolution, in spite of, nay,
even because of its abstraction by a distinct class and the assumption
of a professional garb, is witness to this relationship. Again, fruitful
science is practical invention, not abstract discovery, and the real
life of a person or a society or a race is as important to it, as much a
warrant of its conclusions, as any object, however mathematically
described or describable, with which science was ever concerned. As for
the thing invented, the tool or the machine, in general the instrument
of adaptation to environment, this sometimes takes visible, wholly
material form; sometimes it appears as a method in the practical arts or
in the fine arts or in education or government; sometimes it is only an
[p.078] atmosphere or point of view, a habit of mind; but whatever it
is, it is useful, incalculably useful, and its invention as something
that is widely distinguished from mere receptive observation, if this be
even possible, or from mere accurate description, is science's primary
justification.

But this, objects somebody, is sentiment, and sentiment of the sort that
quite destroys science, making real science, serious and accurate
science, quite impossible. Well, it does of course dispense with a
purely objective science. It suggests the idea, perhaps the
uncomfortable idea, that, as in some other departments in life, so in
science, death is a condition of success. Science must die to its
objective self before it is saved; it must lose its whole world to gain
its own soul. Or, to put the same idea differently, if the assertion be
not too much like verbal play, a subjective science is not hopelessly
unscientific. Is a man less interested in having a proper edge on his
razor because eventually he must use it on himself? Nothing but a keen
edge can ever ensure a "velvet shave," and nothing but the truth, the
more accurate it be the better, can ever set anybody free.

Still, all questions of sentiment or of sharp razors or of the accuracy
that liberates aside, we can get support for our scepticism about a
science that, if purely objective, must be also empty and mechanical
from science itself. The consistent evolutionist is obliged to deny pure
objectivity to any scientific knowledge, just as in general he is
obliged to think of all consciousness as never something by itself, but
one of the positive conditions of organic development. To [p.079] be an
evolutionist, and at the same time to think of consciousness as only an
external ornament of life, or in its higher development as the exclusive
privilege of a distinct class, to think of it as an aside in life,
perhaps a sudden result without in any way being also a condition of
development, to suppose science to be solely objective and for its own
sake, is nothing more or less than simply to stultify oneself
completely. Even for the historian, whether avowed evolutionist or not,
whose great business is to remind us that what is here or what is now is
not all, the devotion to science for its own sake, which also in other
times has possessed the minds and hearts of certain men, can be at best
only a local and a passing phenomenon. Finally, apart from the
standpoint of evolution or history, it is to be said that human society
at large is sure to resent what may be styled the aristocratic temper
which pure, objective science is all too likely to acquire from the
exclusiveness of its ritual or technique, or say from its abstract and
academic dress, and the resentment of society is important evidence
always. Aristocratic temper, whatever its direction, is certainly as
desirable in social life as it is necessary; it is incident to the
development of all institutions--political, ecclesiastical, industrial,
ceremonial, educational, and, to add to the familiar list,
epistemological; but the resentment which it is sure to awaken is not
one whit less serviceable to society, ensuring as it does, among other
things, the extension of science, the translation of science into life.

So, to gather the threads together, two difficulties [p.080] have now
appeared as affecting the objectivism of science. The first, that of
burial in technique, gave us our starting-point, and the second has come
to light with discussion of the first. Thus, not merely is a would-be
objective science, through its bondage to technique, made formal and
empty, but also, as perhaps only the other side of the same truth, a
would-be objective science materially--that is, for its scientific
doctrines--and formally--that is, for its motives and methods--is always
in practice dependent upon the demands and sanctions of real life, and
so not purely, or not dualistically, objective after all. There is, in
brief, no other conclusion. Either science must be empty, a matter
merely of dead rites and dry symbols and irrelevant ideas, or it must be
pertinent and practical; and, if the latter, its boasted independence is
gone. A purely objective science seems to get only subjectivity for its
pains.

Yet this conclusion is easily misunderstood. It is far from denying any
meaning to such words as object or objectivity. The object is denied
only as an external independent existence. The object still remains to
experience as possibly of mediative value to its beholders, mediating
between the actual in their life and the possible, between the partial
life and the whole life, the old and the new, the social, which is
always narrow, and the personal. The whole must be always "objective" to
the part, the possible to the actual, the personal to the social; or,
conversely, the "objective," natural world can be only the convincing
witness to the part or to the actual or to the social, not that there is
an independent, wholly external world, but [p.081] that there is a whole
or a possible or a personal. "Truly, we are all one," writes Fiona
Macleod. "It is a common tongue we speak, though the wave has its own
whisper, the wind its own sigh, and the lip of man its word, and the
heart of woman its silence." We are all one. Man and nature, which man
beholds, or the subject and the object, of which the subject is
conscious, are one; but an objective science would hide this from us,
not tell it to us.

But besides burying science in technique, and besides involving it in an
only disguised, albeit a socially significant subjectivity, the ideal of
wholly objective knowledge has also made science conservative in a way
that must have peculiar interest here. Reference is not now made to the
double truth or the double life which an objective science sanctions so
cordially that men can hold so-called advanced scientific ideas without
feeling them in any serious conflict with the traditional teachings of
religion and morality, but to something else perhaps not wholly
unrelated to this, and certainly not less suggestive of contradiction.
While science is commonly supposed to be advanced and radical and up to
date, if anything is, it is so only in a way which calls for a very
important qualification, for it manages to perpetuate, not indeed the
letter, but the spirit of old views. At its best a purely objective
science can give only a new material content, or a new arrangement
perhaps of an old content, to existing and time-worn forms of thought;
it cannot possibly do that in which real progress must always consist,
namely, develop, recognize, and adopt new forms of thought, new
categories; [p.082] it cannot do that without betraying its own ideal of
mere objectivism. Objective science--to give a commonplace example--has
said relatively to a certain doctrine of creation that spirit did not
precede matter, but instead matter preceded spirit, and--except for the
excitement of the drawn battle which such a startling declaration has
precipitated--this can hardly be said to have involved any great
advance. Cause and effect have indeed been made to change places by the
new deal, and perhaps in common fairness it was high time that a change
be made, but no new conception of causation itself has been recognized.
The new creationalism, the materialistic, has no essential advantage
over the old. Again, while deposing the First Cause, an objective
science has made all things causes after the same plan--individual,
arbitrary, antecedent causes; and this is only to multiply indefinitely,
perhaps infinitely, the offensive creationalism. "Not so," says some
one; "there is a splendid democracy in it, and it implies a great deal
more than mere multiplication. Indefiniteness, or at least infinity,
transforms anything or everything to which it is applied. By making all
things causes one forces into science the important principle of the
equation of action and reaction, everything being seen as acted upon as
well as acting, and this principle, as if by turning creationalism
fatally against itself, yields a new standpoint, that of mechanicalism."
Granted, and granted cordially, but has a purely objective science any
right to change its standpoint?

Possibly this does not mean very much. Then approach the matter from
another side, risking a [p.083] reference to one of science's pet
conceits, the "question of fact." It has been for science a question of
fact, of mere objective fact, whether matter made mind or mind made
matter; whether this or that thing is or is not a cause of some other
thing; whether certain very low, perhaps unicellular organisms show
purpose in their activities or do not, are gifted with a natural
tendency to social life, a real interest in their kind, or are not so
gifted; or--to take just one more case--whether the changes in the brain
that precede bodily movement are or are not directed by consciousness,
consciousness being in one case in causal relation with the brain, and
in the other only an idle, external accompaniment, an "epi-phenomenon";
but in each of these questions of objective fact we see the scientist
only standing in his own light, obscuring the view of what above all
else it is important to see. Are mind and matter, cause and effect,
purpose, society, brain-processes and consciousness such
well-established conceptions, are they such independent constants in the
scientist's formulæ, that wholly uncritical questions of fact are all
that one needs to ask about them? Why, when one really thinks about it,
to assume, as the questions of fact of an objective science are made to
assume, that anything either is or is not something else, is about as
blinding and ill-advised as could well be. It has the pleasing form of
open-mindedness, but only the form. It is very much as if some earnest,
yearning truth-seeker should exclaim: "I would see clearly; therefore I
will not open my eyes." No doubt it keeps the scientist busy, eternally
busy, dealing and redealing his facts or data, as busy indeed as the
playful [p.084] cat that so hotly pursues her own tail, but it does not
contribute much that is positive and progressive. The very best that one
can say for it is that it turns the kaleidoscope of human experience,
leading as it usually does to a new arrangement of hard, unchanging
things. To the question, for example, about lower organisms showing
purpose or social feeling in their activity, the scientist, after most
careful experiments, may answer in the negative, and be quite emphatic
in his answer too; but almost at once he--or some one for him--will
appreciate that mankind, when scrutinized and experimented upon in the
same way, under the same instruments and through the same laboratory
methods, is similarly deficient; and then, somehow, the wind is taken
out of his sails, since social feeling and purpose refuse to be so
easily disposed of. In this case, as in all cases, the question of mere
objective fact simply returns, as importunate as ever, for another
reckoning, with Shelley's cloud silently laughing at its own cenotaph.

And what is the difficulty? Once more the difficulty is in the
assumption, so natural to an objective science, of fixed conceptions.
Are purpose and social feeling so fixed in their nature, and above all
so well understood, that their presence or absence can be established by
an experiment or two or ten thousand conducted on strictly objective
principles? No conceptions are fixed, and instead of questions of fact
we should have, what a strictly objective science cannot have, questions
of meaning. Thus, not: Are low organisms, or any organisms, social or
purposive? but: What, if anything, do the processes of their [p.085]
lives testify as to the real nature of society or purpose?

The conservative character of objective science, or the view-point in
its question of fact which the conservatism determines, is the chief
source of the negative attitude of science so familiar to all and so
often an object of complaint. To take, perhaps, the most widely
interesting case, for science to suppose that God either is or is
not--because he must either be or not be the particular thing men have
thought him--is to beg the theological question altogether. Indeed, for
this question of God's existence and for any other question of objective
fact a negative answer is almost, if not quite, a foregone conclusion,
since the very putting of the question is, _ipso facto_, evidence that a
new idea of the thing inquired about--of God, perhaps, or purpose or
society--is at least just below the horizon of man's consciousness, and
so that the old idea has already lost its validity. Nothing ever is
where you seek it, or what you seek in it, for the simple reason that
your conscious seeking has changed it. Why, then, look--perhaps with a
telescope after a God in the skies--for what you should know you cannot
find? Why despair when a question meets a "no" of its own dictation? The
real questioner lives in a living world, in which all things change and
die, yet only for rebirth, while the "objective" questioner simply
cannot see that the negative of his answer can be only relative to what
is already passing.

In so many ways, then, a would-be objective science is open to
criticism, and affords in consequence a cause for doubt. Only
subjectivity can make it fruitfully [p.086] and worthily scientific.
Only a change in the form of its question can make it substantially as
well as formally progressive. Only a tempering of its negative answers
to a merely relative meaning can make it honest. It is looking at what
is not, and in a way which is artificial, and it sees everything only in
the clear light of its own shadow. Surely to be scientific is human; to
be objective is to rival the lover's unselfishness.


II. SCIENCE WOULD BE SPECIALISTIC.

But, secondly, there is the scientist's ideal of specialism, which is at
once not less earnestly cherished and not less strikingly at constant
war with itself. What specialism for science means is known at least in
a general way to everybody, and that an objective science must be made
up of numberless independent inquiries needs only mention, since the
objective world, if really innocent of all personal or subjective
relations, is necessarily manifold and discrete, being made up of a
number of wholly separate details, and being approachable in every one
of its parts from a number of wholly separate standpoints. The objective
world apart from a subject is like a workshop without a workman--a
collection of unused and so unconnected tools and materials each one of
which may have an infinite number of uses; and the objective scientist
views it very much as a stranger, perhaps a savage--may I be forgiven
that mark--might view the lifeless shop, seeing now this thing, now
that, but never the living unity of all the things. So, to repeat, as
soon as the self or subject is removed and the world is turned
objective, all things and all views of things must fall [p.087] apart,
and science as the observation of such a world can be only "special."
Not so clear, however, or at least not so commonly appreciated, is the
peculiar fallacy and contradiction of specialism to which attention is
asked here. Once more is science to be seen as in a sense standing in
its own light, since it cannot be at once special and directly and
literally true and adequate.

To begin with, specialism makes vision, the mind's vision as well as the
sensuous vision, dim or distorted. It may even be said to induce a
species of blindness or, as virtually the same thing, to create in
consciousness curious fancies, strange perversions of reality, seen not
with the natural eye at all, but with the imagination, always so
ingenious and so original, and one might almost add so hypnotic, in its
power of suggestion over the senses. In ways and for reasons neither
unknown nor unappreciated by most men, specialism even closes one's eyes
and makes one dream. It makes the specialist among physicians see his
special ailment in every disorder, and every disorder in his special
ailment, and this so truly that merely to consult him may be to fall his
victim. True, he may never be, perhaps can never be, wholly wrong, and
his transgressions, conscious or unconscious, have often helped
discovery, but nevertheless his situation, not to say that of his
patient, is full of humour, and always among other troubles he is under
the error of partiality or one-sidedness. And in science generally the
specialist always does and always must dream. His dreams may be waking
dreams, but he is always transgressing his own proper bounds without
ever [p.088] clearly comprehending that he has transgressed. Nor, be it
admitted, can this necessity of dreaming be a wholly unmixed evil to
science. However unfavourably it may reflect on the final, literal
validity of any special science, it only shows nature, or reality,
preserving her unity against the attempted violence of specialism. It
shows that in spite of the specialist being all eyes for his own
peculiar object, the mind that is within him and that is above all
else--such, apparently, is the nature of mind--responsible not
exclusively to the special and sensuous, but to the all-inclusive and
essential, and is therefore bound to conserve for experience the
interests of an indivisible universe in every particular thing, leads
him, devotee that he is, patiently repeating his sacred syllable, into
most wonderful visions. For the sake of inclusiveness and reality his
mind projects his would-be special consciousness into regions of strange
subtlety and marvellous logical construction; as Oriental priest or
Occidental scientist he is a specialist, yet not without a mind, or a
real, ever-present world, which refuses to be special, and as he dreams
he comes to see, yet knows not that he sees, the whole universe. A
seeing blindness, then, is this specialism; a monomania too, but, of
course, conventional and respectable.

Mathematics and physics and chemistry and biology and psychology, not to
say also the social sciences, all depend upon the far-seeing mystical
visions of the mind, if not of the eye, upon the subtle, logical
constructions which their would-be scientific specialism, their desire
to know all things narrowly, forces upon them. Each one may be special,
but each as it [p.089] gains precision and as it becomes truly an
account of the facts, under the guidance of an exacting mind that at any
cost must present the whole to consciousness, conserves within itself
the common universe of them all by developing under what is called the
"scientific imagination" all sorts of indirections, disguises,
abstractions, logical constructions for the things and view-points of
the others. Each to be veracious has no choice but to be also voracious,
and when, for example, a physical scientist insists on seeing his world
only physically, while in reality it is of course, to say no more, a
world of chemical process also, and even of vital and mental character,
he is sooner or later constrained to admit to his thinking what above
were called abstractions or logical constructions, but what also pass
under the name of "working hypotheses." These are formally true to his
physical standpoint, but any outsider in order to explain why they are
hypotheses that _work_ must call them compensating or conserving
conceptions--in short, logical constructions that are, or that in part
involve, substitutes for the neglected points of view, being, as it
were, the secret agents of a universe refusing to be divided. To
characterize them in just one more way, a science's working hypotheses,
results as they are of science's blind but brilliant dreaming, many or
all of them, are doors in the panelling by which the other sciences are
quietly admitted to a room seemingly tightly closed to all comers. Every
science, and this the more as it becomes scientific, must entertain all
the others, however unwittingly. Tennyson's "flower in the crannied
wall," so often plucked, is nothing in [p.090] all-inclusiveness when
compared with a well-developed special science. No science, physical or
psychical, biological or social, ever does or ever can live to itself
alone. It may will to, but it does not and it cannot. All the others
live with it and for it--nay, they all live in it.

Yet in actual practice, what are these working hypotheses that work
because they are compensating conceptions or doors in the panelling? No
veracity without unrestrained voracity is interesting as a formula, but
how verify it? Verification, or illustration, is now imperative.
Illustration, however, is very difficult for a reason which the
scientists now on trial must allow me to mention. The scientists know
too much about the sciences, or at least of them, while I know too
little. Still, as too much knowledge is often the source of obscurity,
and so only a form of ignorance, my situation is not altogether
hopeless. Thus, while it is true that the scientists are likely to
insist, even in the face of a mind bound to preserve the unity of an
indivisible universe in all the varied studies and conclusions of
science, that physics is only physics and chemistry only chemistry and
biology only biology and psychology only psychology, and while also all
illustrations must come from the field of their special studies, and may
therefore only set them more firmly in the wilful blindness of their
specialism, still the principle of a conserving mind, or an eternally
conserved truth or an indivisible reality, is a disturbing influence
which they cannot evade. Then, too, I am forgetting and allowing them to
forget a very important fact in scientific work to-day. In these [p.091]
times the running together or merging of different sciences, as if
through something of the nature of a chemical reaction, is a very
familiar phenomenon. It is as familiar, although not so loudly heralded,
as that of the railroads and industrial companies; and it has been
taking place with such persistence and confidence as actually to suggest
a natural affinity, each of the sciences involved having the rich
experience of discovering itself already in the others. This fact, then,
must make illustration less difficult, since, in a way that must appeal
to the scientist as no merely theoretical considerations can, it proves
or goes very far toward proving what is to be illustrated. Moreover,
specific illustration is hardly necessary in the sphere of the different
physical sciences, or again, in that of the social or the psychological
sciences, for within each one of these groups the affinity but just now
referred to has been very clearly exemplified, as in the interesting
case of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, which nowadays are one
science, not three, and which can be held apart only on methodological
grounds, not metaphysically. Illustration, accordingly, appears, after
all, to be needed only for the specialism that separates the physical
and the psychical sciences.

Physiological psychology and physically experimental psychology, both of
them suggestive of nothing less incongruous than seething ice, are sure
to come to mind at once; but also there is a mathematical psychology,
comparable with a developmental mechanics and biometrics in biology, and
hardly a single field of science, however apparently distant and alien
in nature and interest, has not contributed something [p.092] to
psychology or to epistemology, the general science of knowledge. But now
it is likely to be objected by some one that just because sciences,
whether in clearly related or in widely separated fields, are useful to
each other, just because they can serve, as they do, in the rôle of
methods of each other, they are not necessarily in any real and natural
affinity. May not their association be purely one of utility, involving
no surrender of special individuality and requiring in any case only
temporary relationship? The question is absurd. Any means that really
serves an end must have something in common with the end it serves; and,
again, an end that really sanctions a means, whatever the means be, must
itself be, at least potentially, which is after all to say essentially,
in and of the means employed. Different sciences, then, even physics and
psychology, or natural science and theology, cannot be even temporarily
methods of each other without partaking in some way, under some disguise
or other, through some peculiarity in their conceptions or in the
relations of their conceptions, of each other's subject-matter.

In view of this fact of mutual participation of nature and idea among
the sciences that use each other, I have myself conceived, and in
another place have given expression to, what appropriately may be called
a physical psychology or epistemology.'[1] This new hybrid science is
especially concerned with nothing more nor less than those substitutes,
disguises, or [p.093] indirections, really present in all the physical
sciences, for the peculiar nature, for the peculiar sort of unity,
intensive instead of extensive or qualitative instead of quantitative,
or say also even vital and spiritual instead of physical, which is
always associated with mind. In conservation of matter, energy, what you
will, in plenitude, in motion as only relative and so as always under a
principle of uniformity and constancy or even immobility, in motion too
as inclining to vibration, which suggests poise or tension, or to
rotation, in which we see rest as well as motion, and finally, not to
extend what might be a long list, in the infinity of space and time or
of quantity, the physical sciences have hidden entrances for the silent,
usually unnoticed admission of what is psychical. But I may seem to be
jumping too far, to be presuming too much. Then put the case in this
way--not quite so direct, but to the same goal. All of these
conceptions, so necessary to a "working" physical science, need very
little examination to be seen to be treacherous to the physical
standpoint and its peculiar categories. One might as well try to make
water unsupported assume definiteness of form as to conceive the
conservation of energy or plenitude or the relativity of motion in the
character of what is physical, or at least of what is properly and
conventionally physical. Being treacherous, then, to the physical
science that has conceived them, they are, as was said, doors for what
is not physical; hidden doors, perhaps, but certainly doors to be opened
at will; and by them mind is bound to enter the physical world and its
sciences. To those familiar with the history of philosophy, the
speculation [p.094] of the early Greek thinkers, notably Anaximander,
Parmenides, and Anaxagoras, will afford illustration of the physical
view running, in spite of itself, into treacherous conceptions, and
eventually reaching the discovery of their treachery and with it the
idea of mind or _Nous_.[2]

So for science is the material world, what properly it is often said to
be, a sort of dark mirror of man's inner life, of his psychical nature.
Physical science as consciousness of the outer material world is not,
and has itself shown that it cannot be, merely and exclusively physical.
By virtue of its working hypotheses, which are as secret doorways, it is
psychical also. Though darkly and indirectly it is our human
self-consciousness. Perhaps it is our self-consciousness rendered
impersonal or the self seen through the mirror of not-self or through
the disguise of what a photographer would call a "negative"; and, if it
may be so described, we are reminded of Burns:--

     O wad some power the giftie gie us,
     To see oursels as others see us!
     It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
                And foolish notion.

Only the bonnie Robert himself was too much of a specialist in poetry to
see that natural science was the very thing he prayed for.

And just as there is thus a physical psychology, so [p.095] in like
manner there is a psychological or epistemological physics, which in its
turn is concerned with the indirections, or doors in the panelling,
present in all the psychical sciences, for those very physical things
quantity and matter. The devil will have his due; even an optimistic
theology has to recognize him. And psychology has a sensuous self, the
self of the purely sensuous consciousness, which has always involved it
in a curious psychical atomism, a projection, in a word, of the physical
on the plane of the psychical. Sensationalism, too, as a psychological
theory in the history of thought has always been associated with
materialism.

With regard, then, to the separation even of the psychical and the
physical sciences, which obviously has at its base the distinction
between mind and matter, we observe that our principle of affinity and
mutual participation still holds. By a sort of projection or
reproduction mind and matter both appear, the one openly, the other in
disguise, in each kind of science. However unawares, the physical
entertains mind; the psychical matter; and specialism, so far as
standing for anything more than scientific method, has to withdraw from
its last stronghold. The very dreaming of the scientific imagination is
its undoing.

For other evidence against the integrity and adequacy of specialism,
showing how mind defies specialism and conserves its indivisible
universe, there are the following simple but certainly interesting
facts. All the different sciences, however special and however
apparently alien in subject matter, are wont to use the same general
methods--as, for example, the laboratory or experimental method or the
historical [p.096] method, the fatal consequences of which to the cause
of pure specialism may easily be inferred. History is famous for
overcoming differences. The common interest in mathematics must also be
mentioned, for mathematics, through its latest developments in danger of
turning into a pure logic, is quite independent of all those material
differences that separate the different sciences. It is formal and
universal, not special; so that the special science that would also be
mathematical appears somehow to be at least in aim as universal as it is
special. Perhaps mathematics more than anything else has fed the
voracity which we have seen veracity to exact. Has it not been the chief
agent in the virtual annihilation of the barriers between physics and
chemistry? This particular mingling of the special sciences has been
mentioned here already, but mathematics is threatening the party-walls
of all the other sciences also. Further, what are we to infer from the
idea that all sciences seek law? Certainly law is not special as science
has seemed to be. Somehow law is not many, but one. Many laws can only
be different phases or cases of one law. The very essence of law is to
be one and single and all-embracing. To put the case theologically,
could any one suppose that God made the laws of chemistry and sociology
and psychology as so many separate and independent enactments? On such a
supposition he had been a strange God indeed, lacking the very thing,
unity of being and character, which men have come to associate with
divinity, and what theology demands of God, science, even against its
own specialism, must demand of its object. Again, [p.097] the way in
which by implication, when not openly, one science is given to handing
over its hardest problems to another is very instructive as well as
amusing. Not many years ago I was present at a joint meeting, a
good-natured and doubtless honestly ambitious conference of biologists,
physiologists, and psychologists, and the addresses then made have often
reminded me of one of Thomas Nast's famous cartoons: A closed ring of
political grafters, none other than the notorious Tweed and his
followers, each pointing to his neighbour and putting on him the
responsibility of a very embarrassing situation. "Find the rogue" was
the artist's inscription; but with apologies for the association, we can
easily change it to "Find the special science." And, lastly, in this
list of the simple evidences against an adequate specialism there are
the conspicuous analogies other than those of common method or common
interest in law, which are always easily traced among the sciences, even
the sciences in the opposite camps of matter and mind, of any particular
time. Atomism in physics is contemporary with atomism in psychology and
with individualism in political philosophy; a monarchical politics with
an anthropomorphic, creationalistic theology and an also monarchical
physically centred astronomy, whether heliocentric or geocentric; and a
Newtonian astronomy, which really makes a law or force instead of an
individual body the centre and control of the solar system, with
democracy or constitutionalism, and with inductive instead of deductive
logic and naturalistic instead of dogmatic theology; so that at no time,
whatever the scientist's special interest, whatever his [p.098] special
syllable, can he fail to have at least a formal sympathy with others.
Such analogies among the sciences, so often recognized and so
absorbingly interesting to the students of the history of thought, if
not exactly doors in the panelling, may be said to make the panelled
partitions at least translucent if not unsubstantial and transparent.

But the most important fact in illustration of our case against
specialism is yet to be considered, and unfortunately it takes us where
to some the waters may seem dangerously deep. Not only for reasons
already given and emphasized is the special science a misnomer, a
contradiction in terms, except in so far as specialism be taken merely
as an incident, not without its humour, of scientific method, but also
for the same reasons (and chiefly because the truth and reality of the
universe are bound to be conserved) every special science must sooner or
later develop its doctrines either into direct paradoxes or into tenets
that oppose and contradict each other. Thus, as has been shown,
specialism in science is itself a paradox, and, as now asserted, every
special science assuming precise form and real validity becomes a home
of paradoxical or contradictory doctrines. Indeed, these doctrines just
through their opposition appear be the most effective agents of that
compensation for neglected points of view, or conservation of all points
of view, which we are insisting is for ever forced upon the scientific
specialist. In the cases of physical epistemology and epistemological
physics we have already seen doctrines working to this end. In those
cases the real treachery to the avowed [p.099] standpoints lay in
virtual when not open contradiction. And, for the general principles, is
it not quite clear that nothing so surely as contradiction in any given
point of view, or in the specific doctrines developed under it, can
serve the interests of any other points of view? I have heard it said,
but by whom originally I do not know, that a paradox or contradiction
was only the mind on tiptoe struggling to look over a very high wall.

The point is just this. The special science, because special or partial
and because at the same time courting scientific character or validity,
that is, conformity with reality, must be relative, formal, abstract,
artificial, unreal, but also for exactly the same reason it must
contrive to admit to its conceptions other view-points than its own. Its
own peculiar view-point is relative, but that it may attain actual
validity it is bound to overcome its relativity by admitting, secretly
perhaps yet not less truly, other points of view; and paradox or
contradiction is the natural door for such admissions, the original
view-point being tenacious to the last. Physics says: "I will be physics
through thick and thin; I will be physics though the heavens fall and
though dreadful paradoxes arise"; and in like manner psychology cries
aloud: "I will be psychology though I suffer from a splitting dualism
for my pains." Have you, gentle reader, never held and held and held to
some particular notion about things, modifying the details perhaps
little by little, but always imagining yourself strictly loyal to the
old, old view, and then suddenly discovered your consciousness alive
with contradictions? If you have, you know, possibly [p.100] too well,
the natural history of every special science, and also you can
sympathize deeply with the hen and her cherished chicks that proved ugly
ducklings. The special science, I repeat, must be hospitable, however
grudgingly, to strangers, though at the expense of becoming thoroughly
divided against itself. Such hospitality is an obligation--call it
logical if you will, or moral or metaphysical, for the name matters not
if it only suggests coercion--which is not less binding upon the
scientific spirit than upon the spirit of racial unity, always urgently
present in you and me. You and I may be so special or exclusive as to
drive strangers from our doors, but an impulse to call them back and
give them entertainment always follows--an impulse that is only the
necessary reaction of the expulsion. Humanity is indivisible in spite of
our asserted exclusiveness, and nature is indivisible, too, in spite of
specialism. Partiality of any sort, along any line, in any field, can
never long persist without, though often darkly and indirectly, though
by the way of bold, unrecognized, or unconfessed paradox, receiving from
outside all that it would exclude. I am not merely repeating. At first,
we saw only that the scientific imagination brought to the special
science as its working hypotheses certain conserving or compensating
conceptions; then, that these conceptions involved treachery to the
science that harboured them; but now we are face to face with the fact
that their complete, their most effective form is the paradox.

Would that I had the ability to write with the penetration and the
clearness of statement that the [p.101] subject should certainly elicit,
upon the strange equanimity with which mankind, in science or in
practical life, receives and faces a direct negative or an open
contradiction. Perhaps the habit of easy division into positive and
negative, the ready resort to dichotomy, explains the mystery; perhaps
the fact that negation or opposition is and can only be in kind, that
there never is or can be any real change or need of change in a mere
negation, is at least an important factor in the case; perhaps, again,
the very hopelessness of the dualism, which a flat, unequivocal negation
plainly involves, is also to the point; but, beyond all peradventure, we
do accept the direct negative with a patience, even an indifference,
that may greatly assist our natural conservatism, whether of thought or
life, but that on being recognized certainly does arouse our wonder.
Good and its opposite evil, true and false, real and unreal, unity and
plurality, life and death, the indivisible and the divisible, rest and
motion, plenum and vacuum, immaterial and material, actuality and
illusion, lawfulness and lawlessness: these and so many other opposites
are the common stock-in-trade of our living and thinking, and we accept
and use them with a complacency that cannot easily be exaggerated. Yet
the negative in each and every one of them holds the future of the
universe in the palm of its hand. And the special scientist before his
inevitable paradoxes is as conservative and as complacent as the rest of
us.

But it is one thing to say, or even to reason out cogently and
satisfactorily in every way, that the [p.102] special science, if both
persistently special and honestly scientific, must be sooner or later
inwardly contradictory and treacherous to itself, and it is quite
another thing to show the contradiction in actual cases. The actual
cases, however, are more easily found than many are likely to suppose,
and at mention they may even seem like forgotten memories, like things
which at some time we have noticed but become callous towards. Thus the
atom is through and through a self-contradiction, being itself only a
part of a divided reality, yet at the same time itself real only because
indivisible; and a science harbouring such an atom can hardly be said to
be unmixedly physical. The vibration, too, already referred to here as
motion in poise or at rest; infinity as one more quantity that is
significant because not quantitative; the sensation, a component element
of consciousness that cannot possibly be composite; the plenal physical
medium, which can be physical only if displaceable by other material
things, and so plenal only if not physical, and which has served besides
as an immobile yet infinitely elastic basis of motion or its
transmission; and, to give just one more instance, in moral and
political science the person, a self-existent, actively free being or
entity whose every deed as well as whose every thought is responsible to
something, being adaptive and therefore social, social with other
persons and with nature, and whose every virtue implies dependence and
an existence shared with something else: these are all also
self-contradictions. And in view of them who must not see how the
special sciences are always more than special, ever correcting [p.103]
in ways that may be unappreciated by themselves their partiality of
view, ever responsible to the totality of things even while they would
observe things only under selected view-points. Such contradictions,
once more, show mind loyal to what students of logic are familiar with
as the "universe of discourse." Even in science you cannot discourse
about anything without at least implicitly discoursing about everything,
although in order to do so you must speak in such paradoxes as the atom,
the person, the biologist's "vital unit," the vibration, the plenum, and
the like indefinitely.

Nor is the scientist the only dreamer of paradoxes among men. Ordinary
practical life, as we have seen, teems with paradoxes. But, for purposes
of illustration, not to say also of giving greater breadth and depth to
the view, a reference to the situation in the religious consciousness
will have peculiar value here. A religion that supplements reverence for
a personal God, working miracles and caring for the elect, who even
nowadays are more or less elect, with belief in a devil, even nowadays
more or less personal, is clearly a blood relation to science, and it is
besides by no means so unnatural or irrational as is often declared,
particularly by the scientists. Its two errors, just because opposed,
conserve what is real, and no science can claim more than that. Indeed,
a science, notably a special science, like a theology, might well be
described as a system of mutually corrective errors, of abstractions
that, because abstract, distort the reality of things, but that also
because being at difference with each other and eventually [p.104]
falling into contradictory and so counteracting pairs are at least
parties to what is real and true. By hook or crook, by the hook of
abstraction or the crook of contradiction, every science gets in touch
with the universe as a whole, and so even with its errors is a "working"
science. The errors of many a religion, by their working together, have
not failed to save men.

So we may return to the assertion that in its specialism, as well as in
its demand for objective knowledge, science is self-contradictory, and
with this conclusion established the exposure of science already offers
a very strong case for the doubter. Yet it does this only to the extent
and in the sense that contradiction warrants doubt. After all is said,
have we been only exposing science? Has attack been our only procedure?
Do we not find, as we reflect, that in our exposure there has also been
something very near to defence? Or, once more, through the science to
which we have taken exception have we not seen a science in which we
could believe? In the examination of science's objectivism we saw that
technique buried science, but--though we did not say this in so many
words--that there might be a resurrection. If fruitful in inventions
serviceable to life, science was justified in spite of its cultivated
objectivism, and the objectivity itself, besides an aid to accuracy, has
further significance as possibly an earnest of wider social
relationship, of broader and deeper life. The question of fact, too, if
appreciated and so made subordinate to the question of meaning, was even
allowed, and science, although at once formally conservative [p.105] and
materially negative and destructive, seemed after all to be the promise,
so to speak, of a new dawn for the very things denied. And now in what
has been said of the specialism of science, the same turning of the edge
of attack is all but manifest. Every special science is narrow and
relative--it is in the form of an unreal dream; but reality somehow
gives form to the dream, for there are always the compensating
conceptions. The contradictions by which the compensation has been
effected are, then, interpretable not more as causes of doubting science
than as reasons for confidence in it. Thus, to be tedious again, the
special science is relative and formal; it is a peculiar system of
ingenious abstractions that in so far are also errors; but its formal
character includes also contradiction; its errors are so related as to
correct and balance each other; so that, even in the face of our
necessary scepticism about it, science has been evident to us, as also
was the consciousness of ordinary life, as somehow always building
better than it knows or than its methods or ideals and doctrines viewed
only from without would lead one to expect. Moving in it we have
certainly felt the presence of, something, not yet called by name, which
is very like a principle or power of validity, preserving the reality of
things even in and through the relativity and contradiction under which
the things are seen. While the letter of our knowledge, even of our
scientific knowledge, must ever have an indeterminate future; while rest
or stability, ultimate reality or consistency is quite impossible to it,
still its inner, active spirit seems a source of faith that is
inviolable, that cannot be shaken. Different [p.106] quantities, such as
four and two, and sixteen and eight, do not make the same sum, much less
are they the same digits; but they are in the same ratio, and similarly
the truth of science would seem to lie in the ratio, the working
together, of the errors of science. Outwardly and materially changing
with time and with people, assuming ever new forms and comprising always
new doctrines, science nevertheless, as an active force, as a positive
resultant, is at least now conceivably always the same and applicable to
the same life. Even the Babylonians of an ancient day successfully
predicted eclipses, the very errors of their astronomy working together
for truth, exactly as the heresies of pagan religion seem to have
balanced each other to the preservation and the development of the life
which we of the present day and the Christian civilization are pleased
to call our own.

Accordingly the science we have to doubt is also manifest to us as at
least a possible object of faith. The very causes of our doubt before
our very eyes have turned, or are in process of turning, into possible
bases of belief, and our confession of doubt as it proceeds is proving
ever more worth making. We are trying to be such honest doubters. We are
indeed such penitent believers.


III. SCIENCE WOULD BE AGNOSTIC.

Still we have, thirdly, the agnosticism of science to consider and
appraise. Agnosticism confines knowledge to actual positive experience,
and in its form of "positivism" to an only tentative acceptance of
actual experience, and it is thus in effect an admission of [p.107] just
those limitations which have been found to belong to science as
objective and special. Objectivism and specialism have both shown
science to be standing in its own light, or at least to be standing in
the way of any direct and positive knowledge of reality. Whatever they
make possible to our virtual as distinct from our positive
consciousness, whatever indirectly or implicitly may through them belong
to our conscious life, formally and visibly, positively and directly, we
cannot know reality. In a word, science must and does recognize an
unknowable, or at least an unknowability in things, and agnosticism is
accordingly important among the three determining points of science's
circumference. But here is now our problem: Does science put the right
value upon, does it ascribe the right meaning to, its agnosticism? Is
the implied scepticism of the sort that we can cordially accept?
Especially, does science have any due appreciation of the negative, not
to say of the suggested dualism, in the opposition between the knowable
and the unknowable?

Now both objectivism and specialism plainly involve aloofness, which is
perhaps only another word for what in the preceding chapter was called
abstraction. By the first of these two "isms" science is held aloof from
life; by the second, through the many divisions, from itself, that is to
say, part from part. Men who would be scientists withdraw, as we hear
them boast, from affairs, and as they withdraw it is also as if they put
on distorting and even discolouring glasses, through which in one and
another "special" way they would behold the "objective" world. Their
withdrawal [p.108] is thus not merely physical; it is also mental. To
look out of the window one must turn one's head and lift one's eyes and
adjust both head and eyes in other ways; but looking in general, whether
from the needs of an objective or a special view, also demands certain
pertinent adjustments, and the demanded adjustments make the resulting
experience just so far aloof, just so far discoloured and distorted.
Granted that these terms can be only relative in significance. To be
aloof from something is to have it equally aloof from you, and you
should be no more discredited by the separation than it. To be distorted
and discoloured is to be so only with regard to something that in its
own peculiar way may be equally transformed. Such relativity, however,
cannot deprive the differences involved of real significance; it can
only emphasize the general instead of the narrow, local application of
the terms found to be relative. What is relative is not unreal; it is
simply shared, like cousinship. So science, the looking of science,
means real aloofness and real disfiguration.

The truth of this has already been apparent to us in a general way, but
it will be worth while here to be more specific. The space and time, for
example, in which scientists observe things are widely different from
the space and time of will and action. In ordinary life a difference is
felt between the world we know and the world we live, but the extreme
professional attitude of science greatly widens the differences. For
science space and time are quantitative, divisible, formal,
mathematically correct, and independent of what is in them, their
reality or qualitative [p.109] value to active life being hidden or at
least only very indirectly presented--I suggest, in the constant
opposition of their finiteness and infinity--while for will and action
they are qualitative, indivisible, inseparable from what is in them. Who
ever did anything in a composite, divisible space and time? Action in
such a sphere would be hopelessly jerky; with Zeno's flying arrow it
would just always rest _in statu quo_, though its _status in quo_ might
have an indefinite series of positions. Again, the scientists reduce
causation to mere uniformity of co-existences or sequences, which is no
real causation at all, being only so much passive existence or
mechanical process, while will or action is causation, the positive
interaction of things, the active relation, the vital unity, of what was
and is and is to be. It is true that here, too, the causation of real
life is darkly presented by science in a constant opposition between a
single first cause and an eternal series of causes, for such an
opposition makes real causation in an important way quite transcendent
of the mere differences of time; but, setting this concession aside, who
ever did anything in a world either of one cause active long ago or of
an infinite series of causes? And, once more, science needs elements,
while will or life is the eternal denial of elements or anything like
them. Says a well-known writer:[3] "It is one of the greatest dangers of
our time that the naturalistic (or scientific) point of view, which
decomposes the world into elements for the purpose of causal connection,
interferes with the volitional point of view of real life, [p.110] which
can deal only with values, and not with elements." The danger involved
will occupy us in a moment, but the bondage of science to elements, to a
composite world, to a thoroughly "decomposed" reality, will hardly be
questioned. Through contradiction, again, as in the chemist's component
atom, itself not composite; or the biologist's "vital unit," which bids
fair to be the master paradox of the day, science may darkly and
indirectly preserve the world of real life, the world that is neither
one element nor many, but in this case as in the others the indirection,
after all is said, only emphasizes the aloofness.

So science is aloof, and in being aloof it disfigures and defaces
reality, and the argument for agnosticism is consequently unassailable.
No one more effectively has shown this than Immanuel Kant, although one
may question Kant's final appraisal of the fact. Here certainly is no
place for an exposition of the Kantian philosophy, but, briefly and
simply put, that philosophy has characterized space and time and the
relation of cause and effect, not to mention certain other very general
data of experience, as the _a priori_ forms of all valid, objective
knowledge, and being translated this is to say that these so-called
forms are the enabling attitudes of the merely looking consciousness or
the peculiar glasses which, as it were, the mind puts on whenever it
turns just to look. The typical Boston girl, according to the
cartoonists, is never without her glasses. In like manner the typically,
professionally correct looking consciousness, the observing, scientific
mind, is never without those enabling attitudes. Do you ask if they are
then only subjective attitudes? [p.111] They are subjective only as they
are relative. They are subjective only as they express the aloofness of
the scientific observer. And they are subjective, lastly, only in so far
as can be consistent with Kant's further characterization of them as in
every instance imbued with essential opposition or "antinomy." Remember
that an attitude that harbours opposition is always tip-toeing to
overcome the bounds of its own natural vision. Such an attitude cannot
be unmixedly subjective.

But what now is the danger of science's agnosticism, of science's own
admission that being "objective" and "special," or being under the
constraint of certain enabling attitudes, or being at best only
tentative in all its doctrines, it is not and cannot possibly be
formally realistic? One might imagine, or expect, that confession of its
limitations would be good for the soul of science, and in truth we shall
certainly find some advantage resulting from the confession, but even
science's agnosticism is faulty in a serious way. The writer quoted
above has told us that the great danger always threatening science is
that the scientific will interfere with the volitional point of view,
and this is equivalent to fearing, in the interests of science, that the
scientist will forget his agnosticism and try to render what he cannot
know in terms of what he does know, or that the man of affairs will look
to science for his programmes of action. Such a fear, however, may play
to the professional conceits and the professional isolation and
abstraction of the scientific point of view, but it is very far from
grasping the true import of the conflict between knowledge and
unknowable [p.112] reality. I should myself assert, in partial if not in
complete opposition to Professor Münsterberg, that science's very
natural danger is that the scientific and the volitional point of view
will be kept apart, that the professionalism and the formalism and what
Kant called the phenomenalism of science will prevent their
interference. At least, this danger is just as great, and just as
seriously a danger, as the other. Most people know well enough that
keeping science and life or theory and practice apart has the effect of
making the former lose itself in a highly morbid intellectualism, and
the latter in the dead monotony, of a mere existence, sometimes
presumptuously styled "practical life," but such a result seems not to
trouble either Professor Münsterberg or the conventional scientist whose
cause the vigorous professor has espoused. In other regions,
fortunately, a formal disparity is not accepted as arguing to a natural
divorce, but is even considered, let it be said, a reason for
association; and as for the disparity between science and will, it is
quite true that life without science is lifeless and that science
without life is meaningless.

Perhaps the crowning fault of the agnostic scientist is his lack of
humour. He takes himself too seriously. The lover, when his fair one has
formally disagreed with him, rejecting his suit with her outspoken "No"
and promising lasting friendship and good-will even to assurances of
assistance in his next venture, takes hope, smiles grimly within
himself, and feels sure still that she and he, however disparite, are
meant to live together for better or worse. But the rejected scientist
takes the unknowable's "No" as if it [p.113] were final, and then,
retiring to his study or laboratory, proceeds, though in a morbid,
abnormal way, to mingle the scientific and volitional standpoints every
time he writes a line or makes an experiment. We watch him as he goes,
and find his case not without its humour. If the true lover upon being
rejected were satisfied thereafter with caressing the lady's photograph,
then he and the agnostic scientist would be in the same class.

But, as is needless to say, I am not writing a novel. So, romance aside,
unquestionably the forms and doctrines of the scientific consciousness
are peculiar, being, as has been shown, logically subtle, imaginary and
innocent of direct practical realism, being, in short, the inhabitants
of a world quite their own, and to impose them intact upon active life
cannot fail to bring disaster, the usual disaster of a misfit. Yet, let
us bring to mind, in the first place, that the scientific consciousness
is not essentially different from consciousness in general, and that
consciousness in general deals, and always must deal with artificial
forms, with symbols, constructions, and transformations; and in the
second place, that it always knows with some measure of sophistication
that what it deals with is symbolic or constructed. Conscious creatures,
from the moment they begin to draw breath, are trained to see one thing
objectively and to understand or construe quite another thing for active
expression. There is no visual sensation without muscular sensation, and
most men, if not all men, have really learned in the long years of their
own and their race's experience to get along without _seeing_ [p.114]
and yet also without foregoing the sensations in their muscles! Man's
long training, in a word, has taught him to use what he sees as not
direct reality, but only a symbol of reality, and so in volition always
to allow for the "practical" unreality of the objects before his
consciousness. The mere words bread and butter, for example, or even the
visible things in a restaurant window, have never brought satiety to a
hungry child, nor do I myself fear that they ever will. Moreover, the
long training that is the surety against danger, and that at the same
time has made man keenly awake to the value as well as the humour of
symbolism, is just what has rendered the high development of
professional science possible, and is also what makes possible and
properly controls the application of science to practical life.

It may now be asserted that the facts are not in accord with the view to
which I have just given expression, that sometimes, and very of ten too,
the forms and doctrines of science are imposed without modification or
translation upon practical life. Thus, though the names for edibles
themselves as present to the eye--or to any other sense--are not normal
substitutes for food, nevertheless some people, whether from poverty or
from indigestion, have fed on them, just as they have taken long
journeys with maps, time-tables, and guide books. In education, too, the
formal conditions of science have suggested object-lessons and pure
induction; in political organization we have had programmes of extreme
elemental individualism, of lawless democracy, and of abstract communism
and Christian Socialism; in religion God [p.115] has been like a thing
seen, perhaps a tree walking or a man working, whether with hoe or rake
or with other implement, perhaps a trident, and belief has been
identified with an articulate dogma or formula; and many a realistic
novel, treating the details of life as a scientist might treat them, or
many a psychological novel, more problematic than artistic, has been put
upon the market. But what can all this mean, undoubtedly true as it is,
save that science belongs to life, yet is applied to it with difficulty
and only under conditions of conflict? In the case of the edibles,
poverty or illness, both of them incidents of conflict, is responsible
for the unnatural substitution, and in cases of education, politics,
religion, and literature, the substitution is equally a makeshift which
the conditions of conflict impose upon life. An individualistic
programme will not work, nor will a purely socialistic programme work.
Mere induction will not educate. No visible God ever was divine, and no
articulate creed ever was true. Life is a game throughout; its vital
character, its very integrity is its experimental character; it is not a
settled, abstractly perfect thing. Life is dynamic, not static.
Accordingly it must move forward by its mistakes, or by storm and stress
of the incongruous and misapplied, being inspired, not by somebody's
complacent optimism, but by a sacrificial, always heroic idealism; and
its scientific practices, however truly a mixing of things formally
incongruous or disparite, are just aids to its reality. Moreover, those
science-formed practices are always in some measure sophisticated. Human
nature is rather a fine thing in its way, as [p.116] many a man has
flattered himself and his kind by saying. Witness the homeless,
ill-clad, starving child feeding over the odorous grating and before the
well-stocked window of the restaurant, and feeling, if not actually
saying: "As long as I cannot have and eat, it is good to smell and see."
Witness, also, the educator or the statesman or the priest or the
novelist. Each knows his makeshift and feels some of the humour of it,
and in his closet, when not before his public, acknowledges the violence
to which he is lending himself.

And another fact, besides that of the actual applications of science,
which, however violent, prove the need as well as the dangers, and
besides the sophistication, perhaps also the sense of humour, which
always accompanies the applications and at least tempers their violence,
must also be mentioned. Those science-formed programmes always go in
pairs. Individualism and socialism, realism and mysticism, Epicureanism
and Stoicism, orthodoxy and heresy are inseparable, socially and
historically; and the effect of such pairing is plainly to correct
whatever of violence the sense of symbolism and the sophistication and
the humour of the time may be unequal to. Thus in the movements and
programmes of society for any given misfit there is always a
counter-misfit. Possibly human life, at least as socially organized, is
only a competition of misfits, its programmes coming, not through the
acquired supremacy of one side or the other, but through the constant
mediation, the balancing and interacting of the two, and the misfits are
perhaps exclusively the gifts of science or at least [p.117] of the
observer's consciousness generally, and man is at once serious and
humorous enough to impose what science gives on the real life of his
fellows, as a ready-made clothier might on a stray countryman; but is a
city, then, to have no Hyam, and is the life of society also to dispense
with the gifts of science because they are imperfect? There are worse
things than clothes not made to measure or than the men who sell or buy
them. There is the life that never changes its old clothes for new.
There are the clothes that never get on the market at all.

Accordingly the interference of the scientific with the volitional point
of view is, to say the least, not the only danger which the scientist or
the practical man needs to recognize. There is also the danger that the
disparity between science and life, or between knowledge and the
unknowable, will be construed to mean that the two are never to live
together. Science may be innocent of any direct accord with reality,
being in form quite innocent of a real realism, but after all, whether
by itself or in its various applications or renderings in human life, it
is so innocent only in a qualified sense, only with reference to the
form of its specific doctrine and attitudes taken individually. As
itself a living whole, part acting upon part, each abstraction corrected
by some counter-abstraction or perhaps by some inner self-opposition, as
conscious too of its own conditions and limitations, as sophisticated
and even humorous, both for all logical purposes and for all purposes of
applicability in the life of society it is realism itself. As harbouring
what above was called, in so many words, an [p.118] inner active spirit
of veracity or power for reality, a constant agent of validity and
applicability, it is itself a party to the real life.

But return to the idea of the divorce of science and life, which is such
an easy conclusion of agnosticism. If divorced, it was said, they are
lost, the one in a morbid intellectualism, the other in the dead
monotony of mere existence. Now, in view of the fact that many have
found such a divorce to possess the highest ideal value, it seems worth
while to remark that after all is said the separation can be only
apparent, not real. Even if we neglect wholly the writing and the
experimentation of the scientist, as volitional as they are scientific,
and the practical consciousness, moral or prudential, of the disciple of
the "real life," as scientific as it is volitional, we shall find such
to be the case. We know men who have what may be styled, and what
sometimes is abusively styled, a double life. They have their science,
perhaps their laboratories and their books and their own pet doctrines,
and they have also their social affiliations in business and in politics
and in religion; and, whether it be ideal or unideal, admirable or
reprehensible, their life certainly does seem double, because their
sociology and their business, or their political theory and their party
ties, or their biology and their religion simply will not mix; but their
apparent duplicity has apparently little or nothing to rest upon. It may
count as two, numerically, but such counting never makes being. Men
should count less and think more. On the terms of such a numerical
separation, as was said, the science can be only formal, the life only
dead; but such a [p.119] science and such a life make one existence, not
two; and, however amusing the conclusion may be, it is nevertheless true
that the science, for just what it is, has been applied, making the life
just what it is. Are scientific technique with its aloofness and logical
abstractions and a life that in its own special, affairs can be only
conventional and ritualistic, or say routine in the study or the
laboratory and routine in the church or market-place, are these so
different as really to be, whatever the appearances, independent and
distinct? They may count as two for being in just so many different
places, but the man, scientist or practitioner, is always necessarily
with himself, and in this sense never in more than one place, so that in
character and value the two routines are one and the same. Moreover, the
ennui which together they are sure to induce must end sooner or later in
a common cry for help, in a passion for reality that will turn each
toward the other with an irresistible appeal.

Once more, then, there is danger for science not merely in the
interference, but in the obstinate independence of the scientific and
the volitional point of view. A protected science may have no less, but
also it has no more justification than a protected industry. Competition
with life and will may often bring science low, degrading its methods
and impairing its professional success, but protection involves at least
equal risks. Professor Münsterberg--but may he forgive me my Homeric
epithets--is a too zealous epistemologic protectionist.

The difficulty as to the agnosticism of science may be presented in
another way. Dismissing all thought [p.120] of either interference or
divorce and all thought of the scientist forgetting his agnosticism or
taking it too soberly, we may say that the scientific agnostic, being
under the spell of the scientific way of dealing with things, is
disposed to treat the unknowable as if it were but one more thing or
fact among all the other things or facts with which he is wont to deal.
The world for him is then composed of two departments or groups, which
like a good scientist he classifies and labels, the knowable and the
unknowable; and nothing could be simpler or more natural. Though the
point of what follows may be lost in its appearance of mere wordiness,
so to speak, the world of his interest, of his formal knowledge,
includes, among the other things, that which he knows to be unknowable,
and with the inclusion and the knowledge of unknowability he imagines
his responsibility to the unknowable both to begin and end. Or, again,
the agnostic scientist regards the unknowable as something apart from
the knowable, as something not for him to know and also not having any
vital, intrinsic relations to what he does know, but something
nevertheless objectively presentable to a creature with knowing
faculties altogether different from his. The unknowable is thus for him
still the object of a looking and thinking consciousness, yet never of
his looking and thinking consciousness; it is knowable, and formally
knowable, yet not to him, not through any of the forms of knowledge, the
enabling attitudes, at his command. And nothing, I say once more, could
be simpler or more natural. But, properly and professionally scientific
as it may be to give to agnosticism this turn, it is very [p.121]
decidedly an excellent example of professional blindness, being a sort
of _reductio ad absurdum_, of the scientific point of view, for plainly
it treats the unknowable as a matter, first, of knowledge--the scientist's
knowledge of its unknowability, and as a matter, second, for
knowledge--the knowledge of the creature with the different faculties.
Surely such treatment is not honestly agnostic. Science, therefore, if
it would be honest as well as scientific, must forget its
professionalism and take the negative of the unknowable in another way.

In what way? In making reply to this question I must resort to a
distinction, which I have frequently found useful, between the dogmatic
and the merely instrumental. Thus agnosticism may be dogmatic, as the
conventional scientist would hold it, flatly declaring for an
unknowable, or it may be instrumental, esteeming the unknowability in
things, not merely as relative to the existing conditions of knowledge,
but also as a constant demand upon science that it never rest in itself,
that it for ever treat its results as only a means to some end. So
viewed an instrumental agnosticism is also teleological, but not in any
sense of a fixed and static telos. Telic character or purposiveness and
fixity are like oil and water. Whatever the traditional theologian may
think or say, they simply will not mix.

Of the two kinds of agnosticism, the first hardly calls for further
treatment, for it is plainly that which has been recently examined and
found to be more scientific, or at least more professionally scientific,
than fully and personally honest, and the second is [p.122] very nearly
akin to positivism, but must be scrutinized closely, for it certainly
leads beyond the usual bounds of positivism. The positivist in science,
as has been indicated above, accepts only actual positive experience and
accepts that only tentatively. The working hypothesis is thus the master
of his mind. What he knows, however well established in his actual,
positive consciousness, is at best only relative and mediative. But--and
just here appears the defect of his position, or just here we see him
still only the professional scientist--the mediation which absorbs his
interest is merely one of formal knowledge; what he knows always leads
him just to more knowledge; his formulated hypotheses as they are tested
are but aids to new formulations: whereas, besides this mediation, there
always is another at least equally significant, for knowledge under the
very conditions of its rise and formulation must for ever be a means to
something besides mere knowledge. Recognition of this other mediation,
accordingly, is all-important to any final appraisal of the meaning of
agnosticism, to an appraisal that is justified just through being
superior to the special interests of formal and professional science. Is
it not one of the functions of the various negatives in our human life
really to save life from the narrowness of its various professional
abstractions, and is not the attitude of agnosticism but one of these
negations?

And now, if for a paragraph or two I may be even offensively abstruse,
the conditions of our positive experience, of our actual knowledge, are
such, and are commonly recognized to be such, that there must always be
an unknown. Every working hypothesis [p.123] by implication points to an
unknown. It is equally true, however, that the conditions of positive
experience are such that there is no fixity to this unknown; and the
unknown changes in consequence, both in possible content and in possible
quality or value, with every change in knowledge. But _always_ an
unknown which is _never_ the same unknown must mean something more than
merely a yet-to-be-known; yes, it must mean even more than an
infinitely, eternally remote yet-to-be-known, for its being always, or
its being infinitely distant, simply makes it something besides positive
knowledge actual or possible. It must mean something which, though not
knowledge, is nevertheless in knowledge, now and always; something
served by all knowledge but itself other than any knowledge; something,
then, which exceeds or transcends whatever the formal enabling
conditions of knowledge are capable of presenting, but is itself
intimately and vitally involved in the presentation; or, once more,
something which is not at all in the character of a separate unknowable
thing or sphere of things, nor even of a separate part in the things
known or knowable, but is in the character rather of an unknowability,
perhaps in a sense a relative unknowability, belonging to the very
things and to every part of the very things that are known or, let me
say, inhering in the bare possibility of all knowledge. Must there not
be a sense in which just that which makes knowledge possible is itself
quite impossible to knowledge? Who makes a law must be superior to the
law, or "legally supreme," and what makes knowledge possible can hardly
be fully and directly an object [p.124] of knowledge. Given actual,
positive knowledge, then, and there must always be not merely an
unknown, but also an unknowable; an unknowable, however, that is in and
of the knowledge, not in place or in character a thing by itself.

I said I should be abstruse, and I have not yet finished. In fully
appraising agnosticism we need to consider at close range another idea
of the positivist. Thus for the positivist knowledge is not a having,
but a getting--on the principle that unto him that hath shall be given;
not a knowing, but a questioning and seeking; not a being, but a
becoming--that has its ground in a being so real as to be without fixity
of form. And this is plainly equivalent to making movement and action
essential to the very nature of the knowing mind or to making knowledge
dynamic instead of static, and infinitely plastic--even like life
itself, that is always greater than its cross-sections or specific
forms. But in general to an active nature nothing can ever be quite
external; to a truly active nature there can be no essential
impossibility. For reflect. The mere existence of anything external or
of anything impossible would in just so far remove and deny the
intrinsic character of the activity; in just so far it would set the
supposedly active being in fixity of life and definiteness of form. For
an essentially active nature, therefore, all things--all things in
heaven and earth--are both present and possible, and so, specifically,
if that active nature be the knowing mind there can be no unknowable
that is at the same time alien and altogether impossible to the knower.
Even the very forms of the knower's knowledge must for ever compass
[p.125] pass more than they may visibly present. The knowing itself in
its own right and nature must be more than formal knowing, or than the
"objective," "special" science, in which the formal knowing has its
professional realization. And the knower, as he knows, in and through
his knowledge must always be compassing just that which is not
impossible to him, but only unknowable--that is, impossible merely to
his direct, formal knowledge. Is the inedible or the invisible or the
impenetrable or the unbearable or the illegible or even the
unintelligible ever wholly impossible? Such negatives, and in fact all
negatives, besides saving life from the narrowness of its various forms,
do this positive thing: they open the door of life's wider, nay, of
life's infinite opportunity or possibility, and at the same time they
render those various definite forms really mediative or instrumental,
making them parts in an essentially purposive existence. With just this
meaning, then, a meaning larger and deeper than that usual to
positivism, the attitude of the agnostic is instrumental and
teleological. Agnosticism simply endows the knower--must we not even put
our conclusion so?--with a wider freedom than that of knowledge, and yet
also makes his knowledge both share and serve the wider freedom that is
given.

Instead, then, of pointing to a known "unknowable," before which either
some non-human creature or some human vice-regent of such a creature is
not obliged to be so knowingly humble, instead of establishing the
conceit that knowledge or science is wholly for its own sake and so of
divorcing knowledge and real life, instead of making castes out of the
social [p.126] classes of those who look and those who do, the
unknowable must be taken to point to the necessary unity of knowledge
and life, of theory and practice, to the fact that all looking is
incident to a running and before a leaping, that all knowledge is
responsible to life, and that only life, however directly unknowable,
can ever inform knowledge. It even suggests I think with Carlyle that
"the end of man is action, not thought, though it were the noblest."
Yet, in truth, though its own emphasis may thus exalt action, it cannot
mean any depreciation of thought or knowledge, only their enlistment in
the service of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this point it would be interesting to show in detail how action--that
is, volition or application to life as central to the meaning of
agnosticism--is not only the logically appropriate nor yet only the
sentimentally ideal, but also the inevitable, the inner and actually
real motive, the natural outcome of the scientific standpoint in each
one of its three attitudes. Such a showing might follow historical and
sociological lines, or it might appeal to psychology or it might be
abstrusely logical, but I can ask attention only to a few suggestions of
so general a character as not to be easily classified.

The natural consequence of objectivism is something like that attributed
by many to modern militarism, since it ends by inducing the very thing
it claims to prevent. An objective science discloses the mechanical
nature of man's environment, besides making man himself also a good deal
of a machine. But a machine, whether environment or personal being, is
always a [p.127] tool whose fine, accurate adjustments are just so much
presented opportunity that by a sort of hypnotism turns the scientist's
consciousness into that of an effective agent in the world. Somehow a
real machine must move, and in the case before us with the movement the
asserted distinction between looking subject and seen object collapses
hopelessly. Witness such a collapse, as the runner, who has been
studying the stream before him, takes his leap, or in history as an age
of self-consciousness, conventionalism, and utilitarianism, is followed
by the rise of Napoleon. So does objectivism pass over into action. As
for the special Science, it may be impractical, because partial, but we
have seen how at least formally it loses its partiality, becoming even
all-inclusive, indirectly compensating for its narrowness of view and so
becoming virtually co-extensive with all its associates in science. The
dividing partitions may still stand, but only as unsubstantial forms
wholly transparent and ineffective, so that the undivided universe is
really present to consciousness. The undivided universe, however, as
present to consciousness, is a call for will, since it cannot be fully
realized in any formal consciousness. The natural decline of an asserted
specialism, then, or the development of specialism into a mere form
without substance, into a virtual universalism, makes science
applicable. It makes science applicable, for in the first place it gives
freedom from the bondage of mere special technique, just as, for
example, the decline of religious--or irreligious?--sectarianism, a form
of specialism certainly, is sure to free religion from the bondage of
ritual, and in the second place, as was the [p.128] fate of objectivism,
it makes the distinction between self and not-self, subject and object,
man and nature, only a formal one, since the real unity of the objective
world is exactly that in which the self has its true realization. In
like manner a religion turned non-sectarian shows man truly living and
moving and having his being, not aloof from God, but in God. Thirdly,
whether because of the freedom from technique or ritual or because, as
the waters of science become quiet with the union of its many streams,
the objective world does clearly mirror the image of the self, the
decline of specialism, like the decline of sectarianism, brings what
some are pleased to call the liberation of the human spirit. The
psychologist would call it the development of knowledge into will--in a
word, the application of science, and the historian would record it as
the dawn of a new era. Psychologically and historically the human spirit
is liberated and nature is let loose at the same time. Details can
always be observed objectively and specially or separately; the whole,
on the other hand, is bound to draw the observer into itself and so to
change the observation into motive and will. And, lastly, as for
agnosticism, suffice it to say, in addition to what has been said, that
the suppressed passion for reality to which agnosticism must always
testify ensures in good time the assertion of the volitional as distinct
from the merely scientific point of view. Whatever this may mean
psychologically, historically and sociologically it means that a time of
agnosticism leads to all sorts of applications of science, such as
those, for example, in legislation and in industry. In morals [p.129]
and religion, too, the same wish and will to use the results of science
shows itself, as in the social settlements, in scientific charity, in
the "institutional" church, and in the university extension movement.
Agnosticism, marking, as it always does, dissatisfaction both with the
uninformed and with the conventionally informed life, and also rendering
mere formal knowledge, however logically correct and thinkable, unreal
or artificial, calls for a larger freedom of life through the mediation
of knowledge.

But interesting as such reflections as the foregoing are, and
interesting also as it would be to undertake an account of will in
general in its relation to a consciousness which in so far as scientific
is always artificial and symbolic, and is in particular, as we have
found, always a poise between opposing points of view,[4] I must bring
to an end this rather lengthy examination of the standpoint of science.
If I have not already tarried too long, the special task of this volume
certainly does not warrant further attention even to so important a
department of human experience.

In conclusion, then, it is now quite apparent that science is a fruitful
field for the doubter. Science lacks self-sufficiency. Socially it means
the rise of a caste, and logically it involves abstraction and
consequent division against itself. Its most cherished ideals, as shown
in its attitudes and methods, are chimerical, or impossible. In general
and in particular it has a [p.130] paradoxical standpoint, being not
less given to contradictions than ordinary consciousness.

But, as must be added, the case for the doubter of science has led also
toward a belief in science. Not infrequently in the course of the
foregoing discussion it must have seemed even as if belief rather than
doubt were the controlling motive. A little child has said that faith
consists in "believing what you know to be untrue," and our present
state of mind cannot be far from such a faith. Actually the science
which we may believe in is the science of which we are also confirmed
doubters. We doubt the formal attitude and the formal doctrines just
because they are abstract, phenomenal, paradoxical, but at the same time
we have to believe in the spirit--there seems to be no other word
available--as an ever-present agent of validity, because, in spite of
all, the very incongruities save these formal doctrines from their
apparent artificiality and abstraction, and put them in touch with what
is whole and real. And if, as was suggested, the scientific
consciousness is only the specially developed consciousness of ordinary
life, then we have gained also a new confidence even in the unreflective
paradoxical consciousness of everyday life. Yet, that we may more fully
comprehend what this means, we shall next consider at some length the
possible value of the defects in experience which have now been
observed. Ideas, which have appeared heretofore as little better than
hints or suggestions, can then be presented in clearer form.


[1] See an article: "Epistemology and Physical Science--A Fatal
Parallelism," in the _Philosophical Review_, Vol. VII, No. 4, July,
1896.

[2] See articles: "Pluralism: Empedocles and Democritus," in the
_Philosophical Review_, Vol. X, No. 3, May, 1901; "A Study in the Logic
of the Early Greek Philosophy--Being, not-Being, and Becoming," in the
_Monist_, Vol. XII, No. 3, April, 1902; and "The Poetry of Anaxagoras's
Metaphysics," in _The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific
Method_, Vol. IV, No 4.

[3] See Münsterberg's _Psychology and Life_, p. 267. Houghton Mifflin
and Co., 1899.

[4] For an interesting account, mainly psychological in standpoint, of
will as involving such a poise, see Münsterberg's _Grundzüge der
Psychologie_, Vol. I, chap. xv., Leipzig, 1900.



[p.131]

VI.

POSSIBLE VALUE IN THESE ESSENTIAL DEFECTS OF EXPERIENCE.


An original sin, or an essential defect, must somehow be for some good
purpose. At least, if a general faith in the ultimate propriety of all
things has any ground to stand on, such must be the case. The sin or the
defect cannot be unmixed; its very originality, its essentiality, must
line it, though it be the blackest of clouds, with some silver. Theology
has sometimes forgotten this, but an honest doubter cannot afford such a
lapse.

Yet before examining the possible worth of the original defects of
experience, or, as some might regard the present enterprise, before
attempting to give the devil himself a "character," we must recall the
various steps of our general undertaking as it has progressed so far. We
have been, in the first place, occupied with a thorough-going confession
of doubt, with the greatest possible candour hunting down all the
reasons for the attitude of doubt which experience affords, and so far,
in the second place, we have found doubt justified, whether for good or
for ill, because of its potential when not actual universality among
men, of its character as a condition of all conscious life, of [p.132]
its importance to real active life and deep experience, of its intimacy
even with habit, and of its natural sense of dependence and consequent
impulse to companionship with nature, man and God, but more than
all--and this was the special interest of the last two chapters--because
of the paradoxical and self-contradictory nature of all human
experience. As regards the last point, our ordinary consciousness, the
often-boasted consciousness of common sense, was found to harbour a
widespread, very persistent duplicity towards such vital things as
reality, wholeness or unity, space and time, the causal relation,
knowledge, moral freedom and natural law; and science, to which many
when dislodged from their ordinary standpoint have been accustomed to
retreat with greatest confidence and hope, was examined with similar
results. Science was found in its rise to involve abstraction of
interest and disruption of life, and in its avowed point of view to
be--suppose I say at this point--impossible but contradictory. So, in a
word, as a clinching argument for doubt, as an argument that at least on
the surface has less of hope in it than any of the others, we are face
to face with the bare, hard fact that in the very nature of human
experience, besides the relativity and instability and subjectivity,
there dwells a spirit of positive violence. Contradiction is just one
phase of the error to which all men are said to be addicted. As a
background for the inconsistent theologian, the fickle woman, the
shifting politician and other equally double-faced monsters, we see
both-sidedness, individually and to a certain extent socially, to be a
basal habit of human nature, [p.133] and if the doctrine of original sin
is tenable at all, in just this fact it would appear to have its
strongest support. _Humanum est errare_ may be translated: Man is most
human when hopelessly divided against himself.

But just here our confession of doubt has reached a critical stage;
since in experience apparently at its very worst, as if in a medley of
discords we have caught a promise of real harmony, and so something from
which to get genuine hope. In the very habit of duplicity or
contradiction we have again and again had suggestion of an agent of
validity, a power for adequacy in experience, which would hold even a
phenomenal, relative, partial experience to a real world. In short,
really the strongest reason for doubt is possibly a ground of belief;
or, as was said in substance at the close of the foregoing chapter, the
very experience of which we are already confirmed doubters is, after
all, just the experience which we seem to see our way to believing in.

Since the time of the great Leibnitz, and probably since the time
self-conscious man drew his first breath, all genuine optimism has
caught its most assuring vision of what was good, not in something quite
apart from what was evil, but in and through evil itself, as if what is
evil must be ever building better than it seems or than it knows. Very
much as mathematics has viewed the negative quantity as an integral part
of the whole system of quantities, so in the person of
Leibnitz--statesman, historian, scientist, mathematician, and
philosopher--and I imagine in the person also of you or me, though we
may not claim the same [p.134] authority, the human mind has been wise
and deep enough to see evil, representing all the negative things of
life as an organic part of the best possible world, even of the world
created by an infinite God. At least since Leibnitz's time, I say,
optimism has generally justified itself, not by denial of evil in the
world, but in and through evil. Not long ago a young man who was perhaps
more profound and reflective in his habits of mind than wise in his
manner of statement, said to me that the most spiritual truth as yet
disclosed to him was the identity of God with the devil. A shocking
declaration, of course; yet, to say the least, not very far from the
very spiritual idea, welcome to most, if not to all, that the conviction
of sin is the beginning of salvation, or that the consciousness of
ignorance is the very ground of wisdom. And here, similarly, belief
within doubt, not belief apart from doubt, or validity and reality only
in a contradictory experience, not aloof from a contradictory
experience, is the sum and substance of what our confession has
certainly been leading towards.

Nothing, it is indeed true, so blasts a man's assurance as to have his
ideas and arguments on a certain matter, or on matters in general,
exposed as defective, and worst of all as positively inconsistent, and
with his discomfiture human nature must always entertain the warmest
kind of sympathy. In fact, upon just this sympathy I have been depending
in the development of the argument of this book. But human nature,
however sympathetic, is really superior to any momentary discomfiture,
and most if not all men sooner or later come to value highly [p.135]
even their once discomfiting inconsistencies. "I am glad," we seem to
hear a fellow-being say, "that after all, in spite of myself, I did
recognize the other side. You abused me and called me double; yet so
doing you were double too. I see now that my duplicity saved me, not,
however, for your view or for another's, but for the both-sided and
true, which we both shared and served"; and exactly such a reflection on
the inconsistencies of experiences, in their less or in their more
fundamental manifestations, is the burden of the present chapter. Again,
to one who complained that with every breath he took he had to
contradict himself, respiration being as necessary to his breathing as
inspiration, just as in walking falling is as necessary as rising, we
might properly and satisfactorily reply: "You are really alive, sir,"
and just this answer is also quite pertinent to any who might be
disposed in their doubting to despair over the essential duplicity of
human experience. Is not experience more than any one idea or any one
ideal? Being really alive, is it not infinitely more than this or that
thing, than this or that place or time, than this or that power or will,
than this or that point of view? And, if more, what so surely as
universal duplicity and self-opposition can ensure at once its vitality
and its integrity?

I am not forgetting or wishing my readers to forget that there are other
defects in experience besides this of self-opposition, besides
experience's habit of never failing to induce its own conflicts; but no
defect seems to me so central or so conclusive as this, and none is at
the same time so clear in its testimony to the intimacy of doubt and
belief. [p.136] Subjectivity, relativity, phenomenality, artificiality,
partiality, and instability--certainly an imposing and appalling list,
though logically I must suspect it of being at least a
cross-division--are all noteworthy defects; but supposing the list exact
and complete, we must recognize that all these either beget
contradiction or are begotten by it. Contradiction is just the life or
the heart of the interesting family to which they belong, and so in
applying our thinker's stethoscope to that heart we shall have
determined the hold upon life of the whole race.

Now, there are five things, some of them already foreseen, that seem
worth saying here of the essential habit of self-contradiction, and they
seem worth saying because so effectively and so comprehensively they
warrant the conclusion that even upon our strongest reason for doubt we
may rest a genuine case for belief.

Thus, for the first of the five, contradiction incites and even in
itself implies movement; it requires, or positively it is, action. As a
mode of thinking, as a logical form, it is the way, perhaps the only
possible way, in which the mind can, so to speak, make a cross-section
or take a picture of activity or give the semblance of fixity, the
formal appearance of static nature, to what is dynamic. The photographer
trying for a portrait of reality might ask it only to look pleasant, but
the logician, for whom reality was essentially dynamic, would demand
manifest opposition, for in no other way could his art, limited to
conditions of rest,[1] [p.137] be equal to its subject. Where experience
is contradictory, then, there is movement, whether for that which is
known or for him that has the knowledge. In your character or mine, so
like a lover's unselfish selfishness in its apparent inconsistencies, in
our double views about reality or unity or law, in a
subjective-objective science, in an agnostic philosophy, in all these
the contradictions are only the marks of essential unrest, of necessary
movement, that make the picture possible. For a world of opposites there
can be no peace. The very things opposed are themselves fluent and
unstable, and that third something, the _tertium quid_, a picture of
which the opposition tries to be or to which the things opposed
necessarily point, belongs, as Alice in Wonderland seems to have
discovered, to yesterday or to-morrow, never to to-day.

But, secondly, contradiction, at least as here understood, is an
expression, or in experience a means to the expression, as well as to
the maintenance, of real unity. In general this is because real unity
cannot take sides, and so can never reside in anything that is, but must
rather be served by the co-operation of all things and in particular by
their mutually corrective or balancing differences. This no doubt will
appear to some readers as just one more example of a philosopher's
impossible subtleties, as a mountain with its top in so rare an
atmosphere that the common man would not dare to climb it if he could.
Yet, suppose together we rise to the heights of this seeming
impossibility by a little unprejudiced study of the conditions,
remembering that the summits of very wonderful mountains, plainly
impossible of ascent, have often been reached [p.138] from the other
side, and that difficulties of breathing are often due to a needless
exhaustion. To take a first step, then, contradiction is only
difference, or contrast, at its limit. Naturally there is some
opposition, some mutual resistance, in all difference, in that, for
example, between one man and another, or one thing and another, between
religion and art, red and green, or warm and hot, and often the
difference or the opposition seems very slight; but contradiction, so
called, is only this difference abstracted and unrestrained--it is
difference at its worst or best, difference as only opposition, or, once
more, difference where any possible unity of the things opposed has lost
all material ground or all chance of actual, visible form, and has
become, accordingly, at most merely an empty, abstract principle.
Contradiction, then, is difference so wide that unity seems wholly
betrayed rather than served or maintained. A real unity, however,
requires for its realization just the freedom from material form or
ground which such extreme difference would force upon it. It therefore
gains instead of losing reality by passing into the world of the
materially and visibly empty and abstract, or, say, by leaving behind
any hope of a finite residence and entering the sphere of the infinite,
to which difference, or at least contradiction, so cordially invites--or
expels--it. And, this being true, we can see how unity is served or
maintained, as was said, by the contradictions of experience.

Commonly men have an idea that differences mean, or point to, unity, but
they are more likely to suppose that the unity is by mere contrast or
antithesis than [p.139] clearly to recognize that it is a most intimate
fact of the differences themselves. They will even see in a number of
things only so many varying aspects of some one thing, and will go so
far as to look upon the aspects as actually enriching and deepening the
unity, but they still fail fully to appreciate how the real unity is
immanent and immediate in the differences. Again, in all their thinking
they contrast, and may consciously observe that they contrast, only
objects or people that really have something in common, comparing, on
the other hand, only such as in some way are manifestly different, and
in their practical affairs they compete only with those who with them
are parties to one and the same life, a fundamental sympathy, indeed,
being a necessary condition of their rivalry, and actually and actively
hate only the beings whom because of a common humanity they might love;
but here, too, their appreciation lags behind the fact.

In life generally, moreover, in small things and in large, extremes do
have the habit of meeting. A man's virtues are so near to his vices. The
widest variations in things are only relatively at variance. Even what
is cold is somewhat warm. Nothing is absolutely anything. In history a
single ideal, rising to influence, has always divided men into two
opposing camps. Witness the fact of bipartisanship, not in politics
alone, but in all of life's interests. Democrats and Republicans,
Radicals and Conservatives alike have loved their country and honoured
their country's flag and, regardless of party, their country's heroes or
patriots. Epicureans and Stoics--in recent times or long ago--have found
the same life worth living. The [p.140] Roman Law and the Roman Holiday,
working together, like the right and the left hand, different yet in
sympathy, made the great empire. Two men, furthermore, in active, open
conflict are in truth at serious difference with each other; but, as
they might even say, if their conflict were in the form of a debate,
where words instead of fists or pistols were the weapons, in the bare,
unapplied principle involved, or say in the abstract, in the final
success of whichever is the "best man," they do and they must agree.
Simply throughout this life of ours there has been and there can be no
idealism without conflict and no conflict, whatever the issue or the
manner, without common weapons, which means, too, without some common
relationship and some common interest. As for the idealism, too, what is
it but a demand for real unity? And the common weapons, or for quite
general purposes, the common forms in which a conflict or an opposition
is expressed, as if the hiding-place of unity, perhaps a sleeping unity,
only indicate in the very differences a basis, a potential of agreement,
even an earnest of an underlying and sometimes awakening accord. So,
truly, in life at large extremes do meet. But commonly men recognize at
most only that they meet, without realizing that their difference is
intrinsic to a real unity.

Where unity is real, then, there must be infinite difference, and
infinite difference is just what the contradictions of experience impose
upon experience and make it responsible to. Infinite difference gives to
everything an opposite and to all things unity; to every man a rival and
to human society, as a whole, solidarity. Against the material it sets
the spiritual; against [p.141] the particular, the general; against the
subjective, the objective; against the living, the dead; against the
lawful, the lawless; against the caused, the uncaused; and to all these,
the spiritual and the material, the subjective and the objective, the
living and the dead, the lawful and the lawless, the caused and the
uncaused, it gives place in a perfect unity; not, of course, in any
material unity, since such unity could not be perfect, but nevertheless
in a real unity.

For our first step, therefore, in the ascent of that "impossible
subtlety," contradiction is only difference at its greatest limit; for
the second, difference in general, whether partial or extreme, marks an
underlying, or more precisely an indwelling unity; and for the last
step, real unity is served, not betrayed by difference. Moreover, the
wider the difference, the nearer it be to positive contradiction or
opposition, the more conclusive and effective is the service. Remember,
real unity can never take sides; in the world of things it must be
always both-sided. It cannot be here or there, now and then--be the then
in the past or in the future, this or that. In the words, used of truth,
perhaps an appropriate refrain for this book, it can have neither
visible form nor body, neither habitation nor name; like the Son of Man,
it cannot have where to lay its head. The particular opposition of life
and death affords a peculiarly serviceable illustration, for it is, of
course, at the bottom of many of the most searching paradoxes of our
human experience. Real life cannot be confined to any single organic
form or to any single group of organic forms. In fact, it cannot be
bound even to the organic as commonly distinguished from the [p.142]
inorganic world. So for the biologist, very much as for the theologian,
whenever life takes a residence, death must ensue sooner or later. Life
and death, then, as opposites, become the medium of real life. But not
only have we here a helpful illustration, also we have a suggestion that
should prevent an easy misunderstanding. In general, as so plainly in
this special case, the opposition, so necessary to reality in
experience, to a real life or to any real unity, can itself be complete
and effective, not through any single instance of extreme difference,
not through the opposition of just two distinct things, but only through
an accumulation or summation of all possible instances, so to speak,
from difference at zero to difference at infinity. In fact, a real
opposition or rather a truly infinite difference, could be only in such
a sum. Not the single climax of death, but the constant dying, to which
it is only a climax, is what makes real the opposition of life and death
and makes this the medium, as was said, of the real life. Death must
constantly condition all the movements and processes of life: it must
have all possible degrees. And, in like manner, extreme difference at
large, just to be real itself and to make for real unity, must be in and
through all possible degrees of difference. In other words, the perfect
opposition, or contradiction, upon which reality depends, like the
perfect death, is rather a continuum than the wide gap, or chasm, which
so many have thought it; it is a graduate difference, not a single
cataclysmic difference. Difference in gradation or degree, I have
sometimes heard it said, is not real difference; but this statement,
though by no means without warrant or meaning, is [p.143] misleading.
Surely a cataclysmic difference, a "difference in kind," can be only one
finite case of difference; the negative, or opposition, in it can be
only relative; whereas, when in degree, difference becomes necessarily
infinite. Accordingly, as we must not forget, from this point on through
the remainder of this book, the contradiction of which we have been
thinking and which we have found infecting experience at every turn, is
not, what at first and even second thought it may have seemed, just an
opposition of two things; between its lines, as it were, it is inclusive
of, or maintained by, all the manifold and various things in life and
consciousness; it is the completed, short-circuited sum of an infinite
series. An infinitely many-sided world is the only world that can claim
real unity, and a world of such real unity is the world to which the
habit of contradiction, which we have observed, relates our human
experience.

So far, then, in estimating the possible value of this central and
essential defect of experience, we have found that it implies action and
that it makes for, or testifies to, real unity. Now, thirdly, perhaps
only to enlarge upon what has just been said, contradiction is an
absolutely effective correction of narrowness or partiality or
relativity or one-sidedness in life or consciousness, and so it makes
experience not abstract, but realistic. This is in truth only another
view of the worth of contradiction to integrity and vitality, to unity
and reality, but it would emphasize, what is very interesting at least
to the metaphysician, and cannot fail to be of some interest to the
moralist and the theologian, that where there is real unity there
[p.144] is also true reality. Only the One is. The One and Being are the
same. There can be but one substance, as also but one God. So men have
said in effect throughout the ages, and where they have conceded reality
or substantial character to manifoldness, the concession has simply
concealed a reassertion, but with fuller and deeper meaning, of the
intimacy of unity with reality. What makes for real unity or wholeness,
then, must impart realistic character, giving actual contact and
intimacy with just that of which, so to speak, the world is made. Now
individual things or ideas always show life suffering in some measure
under tangential digressions from the circle of its real wholeness, and
only opposition can save them or can preserve the reality to which they
both belong and contribute. Has not Emerson, among many others, declared
with a cogency and a depth of meaning which quite defy the
superficiality and levity attractive to a few, that mere consistency is
narrow and confining? Any particular view-point or idea or ideal, any
particular thing or activity, simply needs an opposite to balance the
abstraction or digression which being particular must always involve.
Particularity, specific individuality, is certainly a necessary
condition of real worth in life, but with an equal necessity there could
be no life, no conservation and wholeness of life if the particular,
individual things stood unchallenged in the world, and no realistic
experience, if experience were not thus paradoxical and divided against
itself. Life, therefore, gets not only movement and unity from the
contradictions that lie at the very heart of experience, but in getting
unity it gets also contact [p.145] with reality, and the three together
may be summed up in the one word poise. Montaigne marvelled at the
hopeless folly of mankind as compared with the wisdom of God, but man's
folly is divided against itself and so imbued with God's wisdom; and
with countless others he saw the ideas of man to be only subjective and
unsubstantial and irresponsible, but man's ideas, though fanciful and
illusory, though subjective and imaginative, work against each other for
what is real and substantial. Man's ideas co-operate for their own
correction and so for communion or intimacy with a character that is not
less substantial or responsible than that of God himself.

And so, fourthly, the contradictions of experience make experience
supremely practical. They make it practical just because they make
realistic, or substantial, an experience which without them would be
abstract and only relative and "phenomenal." Possibly this is the
hardest thing of all to apprehend, or at least to express
satisfactorily. Yet the fact, to which I keep returning, that only the
both-sided in everyday matters or in science or in any form of positive
experience can accord with reality and its wholeness, is assuredly quite
to the point. In practical life there always are, and emphatically there
always must be, two sides, to every thing, to every question. In
practical life, too, or at any rate in all effective activity, there
always is, and emphatically there always must be, something very like to
leadership; but any truly practical leadership, any leadership that is
all along the lines of life, be it of things, ideas, persons, or social
classes or parties, can never be confined to a [p.146] single individual
representative, but must be instead a leadership of many. No thoroughly
practical leadership, I say, can ever be on one side or the other, but
instead of being one-sided it must be both-sided, or rather, infinitely
many-sided; it must be between or among all the different and opposed
individuals; it must lie, perhaps in a sense sleep, in rivalry and
competition. There can be no visible leader, whose leadership is wholly
practical, whether of things or realities--for the metaphysician--or of
ideas or categories--for the logician--or of persons or classes--for the
statesman or the moralist or the theologian. Metaphysical reality, the
truly practical and realistic knowledge, the political supremacy which
is complete and inclusive, or the wholly moral life or the divine life
must forever be secured, not through a single manifestation presiding
over the others, but through the divided labour of them all. Yes, real
leadership, like real unity in general, is a divided labour; it is a
labour that effects successful co-operation through its very differences
and conflicts: for reality, a labour perhaps of different "elements" or
"entities"; for knowledge, of different ideas and standpoints; for
morals, of different standards; for politics, of different parties and
platforms; for divinity, of different Gods; and for life at large, a
labour of infinite differences, which means also a labour of opposites,
that at once develop and correct each other to the glory of that which
is real and practical.

It would be peculiarly interesting to examine further this principle of
a practical, truly realistic experience ensured to human life through
the inner [p.147] conflicts of experience. The history of morals and
ethics, for example, notably of the perennial conflict between hedonism
and idealism, could not but cast a good deal of light upon it; and the
history of political struggles, or the history of the great
controversies in science--such as that between vitalism and
anti-vitalism or that between atomism and energism; or in philosophy,
between dualism and monism; or in theology, between naturalism and
supernaturalism, would also be most illuminating; while, also perhaps
appealing only to the few, in the logic of the negative, as it has
developed from the earliest times, or in psychological theory--for
example, in the dispute of the advocates of the innervation theory and
the afferent theory, or in Hering's theory of vision, or, again, in the
life and movement of any one of the time-worn paradoxes of popular or
scientific or philosophical ideas, one might expect to find suggestive
illustration. In philosophy, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Zeno, Socrates,
Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel have all found negation, or contradiction,
necessary to any adequate account of reality. Explorations, however, in
their teachings or along any of the paths that were suggested, would
lead us too far astray.

Fifthly, then, not only do the contradictions make experience realistic
and so practical, but also they make it essentially social. A life or an
experience that is contradictory has (1) movement, (2) unity or
integrity, (3) reality and poise, and (4) practicality; and then it has
besides, as if the medium through which these four things are sustained,
(5) social character, society being only the visible expression, the
[p.148] outer realization, of the both-sidedness, of the infinitely
differential unity or the divided labour, which an active, yet
thoroughly self-controlled, truly realistic, practical experience
requires. In a former chapter, it will be readily recalled, an impulse
to social life was found to be intimately connected with the attitude of
doubt, and here clearly we are confronted with only another view of the
same fact, since contradiction has become our most cogent reason for
doubt and is now seen to require the social relations. An individual
whose experience is ever divided against itself is, _ipso facto_, a
social character, his social environment, whether in its narrowest or
broadest manifestation, adding nothing to his nature or to the struggles
of that nature, but only making the division against himself constantly
and manifestly real. The social environment, as it were, just proves the
man, his struggle and all, to himself. Some have agreed that the
individual consciousness contained nothing on which to ground a positive
case for society, for direct positive social interest; but so long as
man's experience is necessarily paradoxical or contradictory, so long as
man is divided against himself, or as the labour of life and reality is
a divided labour, the case for society and for personal interest in
society is clear and conclusive. A basis for society lies in the very
nature of experience. Society is not something added to individuality
from without.

Let us here beware of easy sentiment. Let not our thinking conjure false
sweetness and light. Experience is truly and essentially social; the
individual was not meant to dwell alone; but herein is no immediate
[p.149] cure-all, no promise of an unperturbed brotherly love, of a life
for one and all of simple peace and blissful quietude. On such a plan
society would hardly suit the individual with whom, and with whose
natural experience, we have become acquainted. To speak with the
extravagance of a counter-sentimentalism, the individual of our present
acquaintance is forever spoiling for a fight. In the life of the society
to which he belongs; in the life where he watches for his incoming ship,
there must always be hate and evil in all their forms, lawlessness and
destruction, illusion and error; but--and just here sentiment, the
sentiment of a really searching optimism, called once before a
sacrificial and heroic optimism, may find some assurance--never an
unmixed hate, never a wholly idle destruction, never an unmeaning error.
Can anything, indeed, that has another thing against it--that has, in
short, an opposite--ever be itself unmixed? The good or the evil in
society, being always opposed, is always also shared. So few people
recognize, or appreciate, what a great mixer opposition is. Death is the
passing only of inadequate or unworthy life. Hate witnesses only a false
love; sin, a pharisaical righteousness. Destruction marks an imperfect
construction. And in all its forms, evil is not so much something in and
by itself as an exposure and reproach of what is supposed to be
unmixedly good. Public crime, for example, is not so local as it
appears; it is only a generally, widely private vice made locally
manifest, and the respectable and law-abiding, who adjudge it evil, are
bound to feel as if adjudging and condemning themselves. In a word, the
individual's natural society [p.149] is never without evil, but in all
its forms the evil has somewhat of good in it; and although social life,
not less than individual life, must be one of conflict and discord,
nevertheless, because the various factors or factions, however opposed,
can never be unmixed, because the members of society must all be good
and bad, right and wrong--I almost said living and dead
together--instead of being hopeless for having evil in it, the life of
society is so much the more worth living. Shallow sentimentalism may not
so esteem it, but we need give little thought to shallow sentimentalism.

So our use of the word "society" is not sentimental. Society means
conflict. It is just the natural sphere of life and reality as for ever
a divided labour, as for ever divided and laborious--divided even
between the powers for supposed good and for adjudged evil, and through
the conflicts, in which the division is expressed, what is true and good
and vital is being forever kept real. Or, to repeat, society is the
natural medium through which movement, unity or integrity, poise and
reality, and practicality are secured and realized in human experience;
it is that which makes the individual's division against himself
manifestly real and positively and progressively effective for a life,
yes, for his life, at once of vitality and perfect wholeness.

But now that the five things are said, now that the contradictions of
experience have been seen to serve experience by giving it movement,
unity, poise, practical reality and social character, somebody is sure
to remark facetiously that on the evidence contradiction is something we
should all cultivate assiduously, and [p.151] that henceforth to face
both ways, the butt of so much opprobrium, should be one of man's
greatest ideals; in brief, that the inconsistent creatures in politics,
morals, and theology are the coming examples for mankind. Verily the
devil has been given his promised "character." But, alas! in the spirit
of such startling humour one would have to conclude also that because
crime has beyond all question been a means of social development, being
all-important to the awakening of the social consciousness and
conscience, all men should at once take thought and find it their duty
to turn criminals; or, again, that because death has a fundamental part
in the order of nature and is, moreover, of greatest spiritual worth and
significance, we should all morbidly seek it, being successfully
righteous only by being suicides. True, we do need to recognize the
positive function of crime in the progress of civilization, or in the
history of law, and also to be aware of crime as a possibility in our
own lives, and we need to be ready to die and to feel besides that dying
we are far from losing all that is worth having, but to court crime or
to seek death would certainly be to deprive either of the very worth
which has made it significant. And in much the same way we may very
profitably recognize contradiction or controversy, whether personal or
social, as a necessary condition of all valid experience, but not on
that account are we to cultivate what is contradictory, to be always
blindly spoiling for a contradiction. Like crime or death, if directly
courted, contradiction would lose its peculiar effectiveness. The
both-sidedness or the all-sidedness, which at once develops and
conserves human life, is only [p.152] that which is maintained with a
tenacious, even with a would-be consistent loyalty to each and every
side.

So, although grossly misused if directly courted, this defect of
experience has its place, even its ideal value, in experience, and what
on the surface seemed an almost if not quite hopeless reason for doubt,
has truly become all but transfigured, seeming now a source of real
assurance. With Heraclitus of old, only perhaps seeing even more than he
saw, we can glory in a world of strife. Doubting all things, we can yet
believe that all things work together for what is real, for what is
good.

But let me now put the result, so far secured, of our confession of
doubt in a new way. For a life in which every thing has an opposite,
every idea a counter-idea, truth very plainly, as has indeed been
frequently said, cannot be a specific consciousness nor reality a fixed
thing. Truth is not a creed, but a spirit. Reality is not a thing, but a
life. And for being a spirit truth is only the more realistic? For being
a life, reality is only the more substantial. Perfection, too, even the
Perfect One, with whom we associate the true and the real, is no
particular separate being in a certain established exclusive status, at
once infinitely and passively excellent, but a power ever dwelling in
the strife that makes for movement and poise. For being such a power,
too, he is only more surely perfect, only more certainly infinite and
excellent.

Such terms as spirit, life, and power are confessedly somewhat dangerous
terms to use. Especially the first is liable to misunderstanding. Yet,
whatever [p.153] common usage may be, when I say that truth is not a
creed but a spirit, that reality is not a thing but a power, the
reference is directly to that agent or principle of validity which has
been found to hold our experience, naturally so faulty, to contact and
intimacy with the real world. A spirit of truth, a principle of validity
there is, to which the very faults of experience give witness, and in
view of this we who doubt, who doubt the particular things, the creeds
and the objects generally, the definite forms and ideas, the habits and
standpoints of our everyday life or our scientific theory, may yet
believe; we may believe in the real spirit, or power, which makes all
things parties to the divided labour of a real life.[2]


[1] This limitation is shown, for example, in the logical principle of
identity.

[2] The worth assigned in this chapter to the contradictions of
experience involves a standpoint which apparently is at variance with
that of Mr. F.H. Bradley, whose book, _Appearance and Reality_, has
occupied such an important place in the philosophical study and
controversy of the last ten years. Of course, here is not the place for
final criticism of Mr. Bradley, since the present examination of doubt
is no such scrutiny of experience as his; it is far short of what would
make a complete philosophical argument. Nevertheless, a word or two
expressing the nature of the difference between his view and the view
advocated here can hardly be impertinent. Thus, if I read him rightly,
Mr. Bradley has argued from the paradoxes of experience to the complete,
hopeless phenomenality of experience, while in this study of doubt the
argument has been from the paradoxes of experience to a thoroughly
realistic experience. Again, Mr. Bradley's Absolute is able to include
the phenomenal, the relative and contradictory, only because this is so
unsubstantial as to offer no resistance, while here there has not even
been any question of inclusion. _All experience_, our position has been,
_is informed with reality; its very contradictions hold an otherwise
phenomenal, relative, changing experience close down to a real world_;
and this position, I repeat, is at variance with what Mr. Bradley has
_seemed_ to say. See, however, a short article, "Relativity and
Reality," in the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific
Methods_, Vol. I, No. 24, November, 1904.



[p.154]

VII.

THE PERSONAL AND THE SOCIAL, THE VITAL AND THE FORMAL IN EXPERIENCE.


Contrasts such as those in the title of the present chapter, the
personal and the social, the vital and the formal, or instrumental, are
always dangerous to clear thinking, and yet in spite of the danger no
thinking can avoid them. They can be only relatively true; the terms in
which they are couched cannot fail, sooner or later, from one standpoint
or another, to make an exchange of the very things to which they apply,
since opposition, as must be remembered, is always a most effective
mixer, and therefore they can only punctuate the naturally chiaroscuro
character that belongs to all articulate thinking. Nevertheless, used
with self-control, they are distinctly serviceable.

In our recent dismission of the value of the essential defects of
experience, and particularly when we came to associate social character
with the habit of contradiction, a contrast of the personal and the
social was very plainly implied, and some special attention to this
contrast, I feel sure, will help us to comprehend more fully what was
said at the time, and will be of great advantage also to our general
purpose. It was [p.155] said that society was nothing alien, or
additional, to the nature of the individual, that a basis for society
lay in the very nature of experience, that so long as man was divided
against himself and the labour of life and reality was necessarily a
divided labour, the case both for society and for personal interest in
society was clear and conclusive; but this was not fully to define the
parts that are played by the individual person and the social group in
the development and maintenance of human life. Some, for example, would
fear more for the safety of the individual or the person than for that
of society; and just in recognition of their fear, we honest doubters,
who are now also at least potential believers, must look to our
defences.

Long ago Plato drew an analogy of the soul or self, of the human
individual, to society, and so, too, Aristotle, though not to society,
but much more broadly to all nature, and the one analogy or the other
has had a good deal of fascination, not to say intellectual inspiration,
for thinking men ever since. Yet, so far as I am aware, at least one of
the implications of the idea has never been fully stated or appraised,
and this is much to be wondered at, since there is involved a strong
case for both the personal and the social in the maintenance of
experience.[1]

Plato found reason, will, and sensuous nature in the individual and
analogously a thinking or law-making class, an official or military
class, and an industrial or [p.156] appetitive class in society; and
Aristotle, in very much the same way, found the parts of the individual
soul analogous to the vegetable, animal, and rational kingdoms of
nature, and either of these analogies is simple enough and reasonable
enough to be formally understood, if not at once wholly appreciated,
with its mere statement. Still, in order to be sure of appreciation, in
order especially to get the reflected light on the relation between
individual and society, we must look to the facts and conditions which
are presented very closely.

To begin with, such an analogy, dealing as it does with the relation of
a part to the whole, has and should have, for a reason not hard to find,
the freedom of the city of logic. Other than logical approval of it
might be cited. Biology and sociology and psychology might be called in
to give testimony. And out of the past, the more recent past at least as
known to the historian of philosophy, Leibnitz with his _lex analogiæ_,
or for that matter with the general import of his monadology, might be
appealed to. But without tarrying for assistance from these quarters,
highly respectable though they are, I make a simple, yet perhaps timely
and--with apologies for so much emotion--soul-satisfying reference to
the logic in the case, for after all biology and sociology and
psychology are always under the restraints of logic, as well as
alliterated with it; nor does the evidence of logic depend on mere
technical acquaintance with given sets of facts. Thus, in these
enlightened days, to say nothing of Plato's time or Aristotle's, how can
the true part of anything ever dare [p.157] not to have an analogy, even
a "part-for-part" or "one-to-one" correspondence to the whole in which
it is comprised? And--this being, as in due time will appear, quite as
important--how can a whole, be it society or nature or anything else,
ever have parts without having also, actually or potentially, parts
within its parts? In fact, given any divided whole, and the division,
however far it may be carried, will always involve at least these three
typical factors: (1) The individual as the part still undivided, though
at the same time necessarily inwardly alive with the self-same
differential operation to which it has owed its origin; (2) the
group-part or class, which for the convenience of the adjective form may
be known also as the faction, and which was so important to Plato in his
analogy of the individual to a class-divided society; and (3) the
all-inclusive whole. And among these factors in all possible ways--that
is, even between individual and individual, or individual and group or
group and group, as well as between either individual or group and
whole--an analogy in terms of all the various elements of the original
differential operation will persist. Such, almost truistically, though
also perhaps somewhat subtly for ordinary purposes, is the logical
condition of division or differentiation. Difference, like its limit
opposition, is thus a great mixer, and division can be no mere
separation or isolation of parts. The saying comes to my mind from
somewhere, that though division may reveal distinct vertebræ, the
vertebra always conceal a spinal cord.

Analogy, however, although thus universal, although [p.158] applicable,
as said, in all of the possible ways, must itself share in, must be
quite under the spell of, the differentiation; it must have as many
various forms as it has expressions. In every expression the relation
must indeed be one of analogy, but it can never be of the same order or
degree. That of the individual to the group or faction must be
qualitatively distinct from all others, say from that of the individual
either to another individual or to the all-inclusive whole. Nor can the
much used and frequently abused distinction between small and large
writings, as when history is taken as a large writing of personal
biography or a social institution of some special phase of personal
character, adequately represent the differentiation here in mind.
Consider how various, internally and externally, are all the terms among
which the analogies obtain. Thus, as of direct interest here, factional
differences are bound to be sharper or wider, they are inevitably more
deeply set and more openly exclusive of each other than individual
differences, and in consequence the faction is, not indeed absolutely,
but characteristically special or particularistic. Perhaps because of
its intermediate position between the individual, which is the whole
implicitly and potentially, and the completely inclusive environment,
which is the whole actually and definitely or explicitly, it is, so to
speak, significantly only one among many, instead of being, as in the
case of each of the extremes, many in one. It conspicuously appropriates
a particular character, and while not excluding any of the other
characters which are incident to its own special production, it includes
these on the whole only in a negative way, in [p.159] the way in which
opposition includes what opposes it or action the reaction it always
implies or in general any different thing the thing or things from which
it is different. The extremes, however, as was said, are each "many in
one," though in different ways. The individual, being still only
potentially divided and being, as it were, the latest residence of the
primary operation, is always in some measure directly and positively
active with all the different factors of the operation, and this in
spite of the restraints of any particular class-affiliation, and the
whole, though macro-cosmic with respect to the microcosmic individual,
is at the same time qualitatively distinct, as distinct at least as the
explicit from the implicit, the actual from the potential. Whatever a
merely formal logic might say, a real logic requires that at most
microcosm and macrocosm are only metaphors of each other. Even their
difference of size would be quite enough to differentiate them at least
as sharply as the difference of size differentiated imperial Rome from
her prototype the Greek City-State. Can the whole and the part be one or
many or many in one, can they be real or alive or conscious, can they be
material, can they be personal, can they be anything whatsoever in
qualitatively the same way? Men have often seemed to think so, but
without any good reason. The faction, then, the individual and the
whole, are qualitatively different expressions of the elements of the
operation that has made them; and their relations, always dependent on
analogy, must be various accordingly.

But now, to leave these questions of logic and to turn directly to the
case for both personality and [p.160] society, no idea can be more
immediately useful to us than that of what is often styled the unity of
experience. Of course this unity, as it is real, must meet just those
tests of reality, or of a real unity, that we have already remarked, but
within the limits of a definition the unity of experience is neither
more nor less than the totality of human relations. It is the
experience-whole comprising all the phases of human nature; in other
words, all the actual or possible relations of man to nature in general,
or all the manifold states and activities, stages and events, however
different, however seemingly contradictory, in human life. A real unity,
as we know, being denied local habitation and a name, is necessarily a
thoroughly differential unity; and human nature is analyzable in an
indefinite number of ways. It is, to illustrate, physical, mental, and
spiritual, or more elaborately, it is athletic, industrial, political,
intellectual, moral, æsthetic, and religious, and in its social life has
developed institutions answering to these different phases of itself. It
is, again, lawful and lawless, old and young, conservative and radical,
sympathetic and selfish. But whatever the mode of analysis or division
or dichotomy, the unity of experience embraces all the elements,
aspects, or relations that are discovered. In a word, even in the
language of the simple logic indicated above, the unity of experience is
only the all-inclusive whole, but here without regard to any distinction
between what is actual or explicit and what is potential or implicit,
out of which has sprung the differential operation that has made human
society and human history, that has given rise to a manifest [p.161]
social life, to the social class or faction and to the individual
person.

And the person as the real individual, as the part that is still
undivided, and that is therefore in itself quick with the differential
operation, is thus the living, integral exponent of the unity of
experience. He is, above all, its unformed or untethered vitality. In
him every phase or part of what is possible in human nature moves with
some power. He is religious, political, industrial; or spiritual,
intellectual, and physical; or good and bad, conservative and radical,
all in one; and characteristically he is each and all of these without
the restraints of such visible forms or rites as now and again may
become instrumental to their expression. Hence the familiar idea of the
universality, which is identical with the indeterminate character, of
any side of human nature; of the political side, for example, or the
religious or the physiological, of the lawful or of the lawless. Not any
particular political status, nor any particular religion, nor any
particular body is universal, but the political or the religious or the
physiological is universal--as universal, to repeat, as it is
indeterminate. Not any particular lawfulness or lawlessness, but the
lawful or the lawless is universal. Personally, just to sum up what has
been said, all individuals are all things in one, and this idea, as it
is understood, should correct that erroneous treatment of individualism,
whether as a movement in the life of society or even as an incident of
the scientific method of induction, to which reference was made in the
discussion of the rise of science.[2]

[p.162] But the story of personality cannot be told by itself. Whatever
the person may be characteristically, he is never that alone, and before
any estimate of all that he is or of all that enters into his life can
be attained, attention must be turned to society, the other horn of our
present interest, and particularly to the social class or faction. If
the person in his peculiar character is general or all-inclusive with
reference to the unity of experience, the factional life is special,
particular, or partial; it is one-sided and outwardly exclusive.
Sociologically as well as logically factional differences are, as has
been suggested, wider and sharper than individual or personal
differences. Personally all men are free, socially approachable, liberal
in thought and act; not so factionally. Judged from its classes society
is even a hot-bed of specialism, its classes always tending to become
castes, and of hostility, its differences inducing open conflict. An
illustration of this we have already seen in the rise of the profession
of science.

Whence, to emphasize at once a most important conclusion, the typical
relation of the person to the class is not, as so often said or implied,
that of the particular to the general; instead it is that of the general
to the particular, of the whole to the part, and significantly that of
the vital to the instrumental. Yet, to say no more than this would be a
serious mistake, for at least in two ways this statement must be
modified. Doubtless the required modifications are directly consequent
upon the nature and origin of the relation, but nevertheless they need
to be carefully observed. Thus, logically and sociologically [p.163]
factional differences are not merely wider and deeper; just because more
definitely set, they also imply higher development. Factional life may
be special, but through the strength that union gives and the power and
efficiency that spring from repetition and imitation, it attains a high
degree of skill and insight. Again, factional life, like that of
corporations, lacks soul; it tends to become formal and mechanical and
in the sense that this indicates it is static. Hence its instrumental
character. Between individual and class there is a difference very like
that between impulse and habit, or organic life and mere physical
process, or function and structure, or say human nature in terms of its
life-principle, of its distinctly dynamic character, and in terms of its
establishments or institutions. Accordingly the relation of the person
to the class is indeed that of the whole to the part, but of the whole
in a state that is formally undeveloped to the part more or less highly
developed, and of the whole as a living, functional activity, the
differential operation of the unity of experience, to the part as an
institution or instrument.

From all this it appears that the labour involved in the maintenance and
development of human life is divided between the person and the social
classes in some such way as follows. The class life stands for analysis
and special development and establishment; personal life for synthesis
and vitality. The factional life of the class is specialistic, and reaps
for human nature all the familiar advantages of specialism; the personal
life is general or universal, and saves human nature from the disruption
and the stagnation to [p.164] which specialism and its formal
establishment always tend. The factional life is mediative and
instrumental; the personal life is initiative and purposive. And while
so to define the distinction between person and class, or in general to
regard their relation as one of whole to part, even with the
qualifications that were promptly added, may involve some unavoidable
abstraction, and so some limitation of the view; nevertheless the view
is as real and significant at least as the conditions upon which it
rests. Even though persons may be differentiated from each other in an
indefinite number of ways, no two being personal, materially, in the
same way, no two having the same factional restraints, still the
relation of whole to part, subject only to the distinctions of
development and of dynamic or static character, remains significantly
the typical relation of the person to the class. The person may be only
a part of the class, as parts are merely counted, but in interest and
possibility, in the fullest reach of his vitality, the person is larger
than the class. And, if this be the typical relation, then not only is
the story of the person seen to be inseparable from that of the class,
but also there is clearly a real place in social life at once for the
person and for the class. Factional life lacks completeness and
vitality, and personality, the living, integral expression of the unity
of experience, supplies these defects. True, a conflict of classes or
factions may always be counted on, since the unity of the total life,
which of course includes the classes, will prevent their ever being
indifferent to each other, and this conflict will make for both
completeness and vitality, but [p.165] negatively, indirectly, always as
if from outside. Only through the person can vitality and completeness
be secured positively and directly and immediately. Personality, on the
other hand, lacks definiteness and practical efficiency, and only the
special mechanical life of the class can supply these needs. So in the
two together we see a most indispensable co-operation.

The person, furthermore, because of his particular class affiliation,
with the attainment in the way of skill and insight which this imparts,
is always naturally under constraint not merely to overcome the
specialism, but also to apply the special training beyond the immediate
sphere of its development to all sides of the nature that is within him.
Out of the depth and breadth of his personal character, bounded only by
the unity of experience, he must ever react against the narrowness and
the factional ritual, and taking this ritual--or special professional
technique--to be valid mediately rather than immediately, in spirit
rather than merely in letter, must ever seek to translate his factional
experience, its skill and its insight, to all parts of human life. Only
so can he be true both to his special classification and to his personal
wholeness.

But an insistent question: Is such translation possible? On the
possibility the case for either personality or a class-divided society
must finally depend. On the possibility hangs also the worth of this
case to the general argument of this book. Logically, there certainly
can be but one answer, and that an affirmative one, since analogy, the
primal condition of translation, must be universal [p.166] among the
parts of any unity as well as between any part and the whole. No two
parts, it is true, can be literal, prosaic reproductions of each other,
but metaphors of each other all parts are bound to be, and any part and
the whole must also have this relation of the metaphor, so that any
acquired, more or less highly developed power of thought or action,
however special and however technical, may and must have meaning
throughout the whole life of the person or of humanity. Accordingly,
with the acquired freedom of any part, the metaphors, relating part to
part, may, if not must, flash to the remotest regions of the person's
experience-world. The left hand, with its unconsciously developed power,
of course usually unexercised, of mirror-writing, affords only a very
crude illustration of what this implies, and a very imaginative
illustration is in the flashing of the morning light as it reaches
height after height of the beholder's outstretched world.

The conclusions of logic in this matter have sometimes been questioned,
if not defied. Quite properly, it may be, many people, and particularly
many among scientists, have been in the habit of distrusting the leading
of mere logic in the solution of their problems. But in this particular
matter I think that no scientist has ever succeeded in making out a
negative case. A few have tried to do so, have thought themselves for a
time successful, and then in the end, though not without some
reservation, have gone over to the other side. Probably their
undertaking has been inspired by the extravagant views sometimes
entertained, as when money-getting is supposed to educate [p.167] people
to an appreciation of music and art, or a ready memory for one class of
things to imply the same facility in acquiring a memory of another class
of things, or skill in the use of tools to make a good dentist, or
physical self-control or intellectual sincerity to ensure moral
truthfulness. Whereas, if it could be remembered that no special
training could ever be literally applicable beyond the particular sphere
of its attainment, the relation of part and part of human nature being
only analogous and metaphorical, and that in any scientifically observed
case special training, when artificially acquired, or when a result only
of a suggested and merely imitated routine, can hardly count as
conclusive evidence, the problem would lose much of its interest, and
science would be ready even to accept the logical solution. Logically,
then, the translation is possible, and scientifically there is no real
evidence against its possibility.

As to the translation being positively natural or necessary, as well as
possible, the suggestion may not be impertinent that whatever is truly
possible must be also real; that is to say, certain of realization or
rather somehow and somewhere, in some manner and in some degree already
in expression. Even the possible can never have been made out of, or
sprung up out of, nothing. Moreover, the translation here spoken of,
wherein one developed side of life flashes its message, more spiritual
than literal, to another side or the other side of life, plainly can
require nothing unnatural. It exacts only that all the different
elements of our nature and experience, whether as personally or as
factionally manifested, shall be [p.168] forever true to their origin.
The apparent obstacles to translation certainly cannot be obstacles on
the ground of the analogies of the various parts being only metaphorical
instead of literal, for already in the original differentiation that has
made person and faction, that has separated the parts, these have been
overcome. The very nature of the person is their overcoming. The unity
of experience must persist assertive and inviolable, whatever the
divisions of experience. The distinct vertebræ must always contain a
spinal cord that has a common origin with them.

And it remains to be said that since the person is thus at once the
living integral exponent of the unity of experience and the member of
some class or faction, translation is his most characteristic activity.
In this translation, too, we see him a leader, or a party to real
leadership, by nature. In it lies his true genius. Indeed, this
translation is just that which makes the great leader or the great
genius, for through it the person is ever showing himself superior to
his class and training, and to the formal institutions that have brought
him up. Factional life, as we know, develops through imitation and
repetition, but personality through invention under guidance of the
flashing analogies. Invention, too, the application of special
development beyond the sphere of its origin, is only the psychological
term for what sociologically is leadership. In the theory and in the
practice of art, morals, religion, politics, science, and all the other
special sides of experience, the factional and the personal are ever to
be distinguished in this way--the one imitative, the other inventive.
Witness [p.169] the familiar antitheses between the typical and the
vital in art-expression, the formally ideal and the really pleasant in
morality, the legal and the sovereign in politics, the orthodox and the
spiritually alive in religion, technical skill and originality in
science, and so on. These antitheses are all very important to the
understanding of human experience, particularly of its history, but they
are frequently seriously misapplied. More than anything else they show
the personal ever asserting its superiority over the factional; the
living whole, over the developed, established part; and always in order
that the whole, overcoming the exclusiveness of the part, may translate
and appropriate its acquirements.

There is thus a case for personality hidden in that historical analogy
of the individual to its group-divided environment, whether society or
nature, and there is also an equally strong case for society as
something distinct, as something that has its own peculiar work to do.
The rôles, too, that belong to personality and society are as distinct
and as real, besides being as organic to each other, as in general are
whole and part. But the person, at once a corrector of partiality and a
leader, a distributor of special development, holds a conspicuous place
and moreover takes a part that just because of his essential superiority
to the definite and formal is of the greatest moment to our conclusions
as to the nature of all positive experience. All positive, formal
experience we found defective even to the extent of paradox or
contradiction, but personality, characteristically, must be superior to
this defect. Personality must bridge all [p.170] the divisions of
experience, all the gaps in society, all the chasms of history. It must
be, though perhaps one may not safely use the word, the very incarnation
of that spirit of truth, that principle of validity and power for
adequacy, which has already come to our notice more than once.
Factionally experience is relative, phenomenal, divided against itself;
factionally, too, it is at once formal and contradictory; but personally
it reaches beyond the forms and contradictions, and is directly in touch
with what is true and real. So the contrast between the personal and the
social, the vital and the formal, shows itself quite parallel to that
between the real and the phenomenal, the true and the paradoxical.

A business man says to a friend: "Personally, as you know perfectly
well, I should prefer to do what you ask, but professionally I simply
cannot, for you know also that business is business." A preacher
declares: "Personally I should just like to speak out clearly and
without restraint, but my church will not let me." Personally the
soldiers in opposite camps exchange many courtesies, but factionally,
professionally, they meet with rifle and sword on the battlefield. The
father punishing his offending child says: "This hurts me more than
you." And, in general, personally there are no divisions of life--all are
all things together, and restraints that separate man and man are
lacking; but factionally there is always restraint, and open conflict
and inner inconsistency are unavoidable. The person is thus the medium,
not of an abstract universality, but concretely, through his factional
training and his leadership, of the universal life.

[p.171] And, finally, the life of the person is gifted with a great
faith, for it is in touch with an untethered reality; but, factionally,
life is a constant doubting, for it is constantly narrow and it is a
constant contending. So are faith and doubt as close to each other, as
inseparable, as whole and part, as person and class, and with this
conclusion we seem to have won for the doubter the right to say
confidently: "My doubts cannot destroy me; I am; even in me there dwells
the power that makes for reality; even in me, in spite of the very
defects that the conditions of my social life impose, there lives the
spirit of truth. Nay, even the social life itself, when mine as well as
social, is also real and true."


[1] This paragraph, and many of the paragraphs that follow it, except
for considerable revision and adaptation, were published some time ago.
See an article, "The Personal and the Factional in Society," in the
_Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods_, Vol. II,
No. 13, 1906.

[2] Chap. Iv., p. 72.



[p.172]

VIII

AN EARLY MODERN DOUBTER.


I referred in an earlier chapter to the great Frenchman who boldly
declared that his doubting was all that he could be certain about, but
that this, being so very real, being indeed universal, left him a belief
in himself, although only in his always doubting self. Descartes' belief
in himself has interest for us, for while his thinking followed lines
somewhat different from our own, he seems to have reached nearly, if not
quite, the same very personal conclusion, namely, the right of the
doubter to say: "I am."

Descartes was born in Touraine in 1596, and for the larger part of his
life he was at least nominally a resident in the Paris of Louis XIV,
Montaigne, and the earlier Jesuits. He was educated at a school of the
Jesuits in La Flêche, and in the course of his mature life he published
works of importance not merely in philosophy, but also in science and
mathematics. His _Meditations_ and _Search after Truth_ are easily first
among his contributions to philosophy. He died in 1650.

Yet not exactly with the Descartes of positive history, but with
Descartes as a doubter, as perhaps the most notable progenitor of the
modern confession [p.173] and the modern use of doubt, are we now
directly concerned; for without the license of this broader view we
might lose a large part of the advantage of the centuries that lie
between Descartes' time and our own. He had many disciples, and these
disciples uncovered much in the Cartesian philosophy that Descartes
himself failed to see, or saw only imperfectly. He was not without
faults, too, some moral and some intellectual, if the two are separate,
and these faults we shall not consider, though the conscientious
historian should never play to the sentimentalist by disregarding them.
But with our present task we can afford to forget the faults; just as we
cannot afford to lose the interpretations and corrections of the
disciples. With interests as vital and personal as ours, we seek
something more than matter of fact. Our interest is very near to that of
the historical novel, but needless to say, this book is an essay in
philosophy, not a novel. Past men and past times can be really useful to
us, only if, belonging as we do not to the seventeenth but to the
twentieth century, we really use them. What we ourselves are able to
find in any period or in any human career is always truer or realer,
possibly in a sense it is also better history, than what lay on the
surface at the time or than what was seen, however profoundly, even by
contemporaries. So much better did Descartes and all really great men
build than they knew or even willed.

Descartes came into European life at a crucial moment. The period of the
Renaissance, with its rediscovery of the old world and its stirring
vision of the new, had culminated in the Reformation, not [p.174] merely
in the religious reformation that set Protestant against Catholic, but
in the reformation that appeared in every department of man's life--in
art, literature, and science, in morals and in politics, as well as in
religion. Man asserted his independence of established authority in any
form. Man, not king, not pope, not even God, became the real centre of
the universe. Justification by his own faith was simply overflowing with
a meaning that knew no bounds in his experience.

But the birth of Descartes was fifty years after the death of Luther,
and by the time he had reached his intellectual majority, as might well
be expected, the Reformation had changed from a spiritual
enthusiasm--whether among those who were its great leaders or among
those who, not less devoutly, were bent on summarily checking its
progress--into a practical, thoroughly worldly situation. The two
opposing parties, without exaggeration, seem to have settled down to
real business, and not less in the thought of one than in that of the
other the end justified any means.

The society of Jesus was definitely organized and began its notable
career in 1640, and although its members, the Jesuits, have given to
history many wonderful examples of devotion and heroism, Jesuitry itself
is synonymous with the extreme materialism to which the Roman Church
resorted in its desperate defence against the Protestants. And on the
other side, men became not less sensuous and worldly, giving as good as
they got. They simply met, or opposed, like with like. Reading the
history of the time with [p.175] its controversies and jealousies and
intrigues and persecutions, one can only conclude that the honours were
about even. If Catholicism felt justified in her acts of sensuous
brutality, of almost hellish violence, which culminated in the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, Protestantism was made the specious, yet not less
welcome, excuse for worldliness, general materialism, and sensualism out
of the Church and in it. Any religious reform, or reform of any sort,
must always bring an unscrupulous lawlessness with it, and the great
Reformation was by no means an exception to this rule. Extreme
humanists, naturalists, atheists, sensationalists, social and physical
atomists, Machiavellists, sceptics and opportunists of all sorts,
swarmed in every capital of Europe, and especially in Paris.[1]

But the extravagant, more or less unconventional things of any time are
often the best signs of its inner life, since in them we see a few men
boldly, if not prudently, stepping over the bounds of custom, and
sometimes even of decency, and giving expression to what is actively
present, though often suppressed or concealed, in the lives of all. Thus
contemporary with Descartes, and from one side or another expressing the
materialism of his day, there were at least three very significant
movements, all of them endorsed by parties, of course under different
names, from both of the contending churches, or from their outside
echoes or reflections, and all of them at least in some degree when not
in great degree beyond the bounds of common conventional respectability.
These [p.176] movements in one church or in the other, or in neither, as
the case might be, were, first, a scoffing scepticism; second, a
dogmatic mysticism; and third, a most visionary gnosticism.

1. Vanini (1585-1619) in Italy, Montaigne (1533-1592) in France, and
Bacon (1560-1620) in England, among many others that might be named,
were more or less extravagantly, not mere doubters, but satirical, often
derisive, scoffing doubters of everything in human life. Conceit of
knowledge, whenever asserted, in church or state, in everyday
consciousness or in science, was declared idolatry and held up to
constant ridicule. Could man's wisdom at its best be anything more than
a blinding folly?

2. And religion, the religion of a few, as if in acknowledged sympathy
with these sceptics, surrendered everything but God--God being more a
longing than an actual fact; a spirit than a positive thing or person.
Even within the Catholic Church the Oratory of Jesus, a society
energetically opposed for good and sufficient reasons by the Jesuits,
was organized in the interests of a purified, truly spiritual
Christianity; and among those who had broken with the Catholics appeared
new sects of many names, such as the "Friends of God," "Collegiants,"
and the "Brotherhood of the Christian Life," but with one ideal, the
direct untrammelled worship of God. "God is," they proclaimed in so many
words; "and God, just God, is all. Church and creeds and rites and
priests are hindrances, not helps, to true religion." This attitude,
commentary as of course it was on the conditions of the day, had almost
more satire in it and more doubt than any of the words [p.177] of the
most active scoffers; it was so unconscious; so quietly and so piously
it picked up the crumbs that the scoffers left. Indeed, the sceptics and
their devout, pure-minded contemporaries, Pierre Charron (1541-1603) and
Jakob Boehme (1595-1624), both advocates of religious purity against
theology and sensuous ritual, must be said not to have engaged in
separate activities, but to have shared the labour of a single activity.
Scepticism and such mysticism are but two sides of the same shield.

3. But with the scoffing scepticism and its complementary counterpart,
the dogmatic mysticism of religion, there was associated also a most
visionary gnosticism. Thus the science of mathematics was heralded as a
key to all the secrets of the universe. A few simple applications of
mathematics to physical phenomena had been successfully made by the
scientists--for example, by Galilei--and ere long certain men in the
world of the intellectual life went wild over the possibilities of
mathematics. Obliged, as soon they were, to abandon every other field of
knowledge--theology, politics, material science, tradition, and
convention--they needed but little encouragement to give themselves
heart and soul to this last resort. Their enthusiasm for mathematics
doubtless had a deeper source than this simple account of its rise would
suggest, for an intellectual atmosphere in which just such a purely
logical, abstract science would develop was the natural product of
medievalism; but Galilei's successes may be said to have precipitated
the movement, and in any case for many mathematics became, both in its
principles and in its method, an intellectual [p.178] cure-all, and in
consequence not only were remarkable advances made in the science
itself, but men went to the extreme of applying the methods and the
formulæ of mathematics in every conceivable direction. Religion,
morality, and politics, as well as natural science, were all subjected
to mathematical treatment. Among the surviving monuments to this
activity the _Ethics_, so called, of Benedict Spinoza (1632-77) is
certainly the most noteworthy; a work of five books on God, mind,
emotions, bondage, and freedom--each with its special quota of axioms,
propositions, corollaries, scholia, and the like, and the procedure of
the whole amazingly consistent with that of Euclid. Excuse, also, a
personal reminiscence. I can myself recall how in the enthusiasm of a
first course in geometry I formulated a Euclidean proof of the
proposition: Knowledge is power. I, too, had my axioms, my special
demonstrations, my corollaries, and my final Q.E.D.'s. But any
present-day resort to mathematics or its methods is only a shadow, or an
echo, of the movement of the seventeenth century. At that time it was a
movement of last resort and all the passion of a deceived intellect, of
a mind given over to the most far-reaching doubts, and a disappointed
faith, once more acquiring hope, was present in it. The truths and
methods of mathematics--what but veracity incarnate, the very mind of
God made manifest to mankind!

Nor, furthermore, does it take much reflection to appreciate that
mathematics was after all a very appropriate form for credible knowledge
to take in a time of scepticism and of religion turning to purism.
[p.179] Trustworthy knowledge of actual things--that is to say, real
concrete knowledge--being held impossible, there was nothing left but
knowledge of the strictly formal relations of things. Formal principles,
just like those of mathematics, are altogether innocent of the confusion
in actual things and persons, in particular events and current issues;
and accordingly in the seventeenth century, just by reason of this
innocence, they were peculiarly timely. Doubt seemed quite unable to
touch them; controversy was turned to agreement before them; and even a
truth-loving God, so to speak, could appeal to them in support of his
right to rule the minds and the lives of men. You and I might question
the reality of the things we count or the justice of the ratio between
our wealth and the wealth of certain others in the world, but we could
not easily question that two and two are four, or in matters of wealth
that one thousand and two thousand dollars are in the same ratio as two
million and four million. Such knowledge as this may not settle any
actual quarrels that we have, for example, over the number of acres we
own or the taxes we pay or the prices charged by our butchers or
grocers; but what of that? The quarrels are idle any way, and our
mathematical wisdom, being exact from the start and self-evident, is a
basis of perfect agreement between man and man and men and God.

In short, mathematics is exact and universally credible just because it
is so empty and so logically formal, being always "in the abstract," in
that ideal, wholly blessed region, where there is no disputing, where
all men readily admit anything that can be [p.180] suggested; and its
being exact for this cause made it the only credible knowledge for
Descartes' time, a time at once of scepticism and mysticism. With
Vanini, then, and Charron, who were separately engaged, as was remarked,
in a single activity, we may associate the mathematicians of the day,
among whom none were more distinguished than Descartes himself and the
members of the Cartesian school. To Descartes we are largely indebted
for the Analytic Geometry, and Pascal did important work in the Theory
of Equations.

In rough outline we now have the times of Descartes before us, and with
deepened meaning I may say again that Descartes came into European life
at a crucial moment. Materialism was rife, not merely theoretically
among a few scientists and philosophers, nor practically in some
isolated class of dissipated human beings, but really and more or less
openly everywhere in the whole life and feeling of society. Even the
devout played into the hands of the worldly by their very purism. And an
accompanying doubt, cropping out significantly, now in positive
irreverence, now in mysticism, now in intellectual formalism, appears to
have thoroughly possessed the minds of men.

There was, too, in Descartes' day a growing sensitiveness to the
paradoxes of man's experience which have occupied so much of our
attention. Nothing was what it seemed. One writer boldly declared--not
much later--that France, nay, the whole world, could not be happy until
all should turn atheists. The boast of Louis XIV, "I am the State,"
whether literally made or not, was hardly less startling. The sensualism
of [p.181] the Catholic Church or the Pharisaism of the Protestant was
flagrantly paradoxical, and was keenly felt to be so on all sides. Men
turned doubters perforce, and in the fact that with their scepticism
rose also a movement at once of individualism and cosmopolitanism, we
cannot fail to see how the course of history illustrates the conclusions
of a previous chapter. The time was one in which through its humanism,
or its cosmopolitan individualism, civilization was to reap the harvest
from the medieval organization of society.

Descartes, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his training at a school
of the Jesuits, seems to have caught the spirit, the real meaning of his
time, getting behind the mere letter of their instruction and of their
point of view. Only mathematics gave him any satisfaction, and he left
the La Flêche school in the first place conscious that he had learned
little or nothing, in the second place curious about the possibility of
men ever knowing anything, and in the third place evidently through the
influence of mathematics strongly prejudiced in favour of introspection,
or of thought conducted independently of things, as the only possible
way to certainty. This education, then, and its outcome, true as it was
to the life of the day, fitted Descartes for his life work, which was
nothing more or less than the erection of a system of philosophy on the
basis of a thorough-going confession of doubt.

Descartes entered upon his great task by taking his day at its word. St.
Paul, addressing the Athenians, reminding them of one of their own
temples, and quoting their own poet Aratus, was not more tactful.
[p.182] Thus, as if speaking directly to the sceptics about him,
Descartes doubted everything, because he found, not only in his own
consciousness, become too reflective for implicit belief, but also in
the wide experience of his race, that everything was dubitable. He
doubted church and state, science and society; and he went even farther
than this. Also he boldly doubted mathematics, so long his own support
and the reliance of many others in his time. He did not know surely that
there might not be an evil spirit in the universe, a spirit of
deception, which even in mathematics was obscuring the mind's vision,
making it see things not as they are, but as they are not. Deception was
real enough and obvious enough in life at large to make such a suspicion
as this at least plausible. Moreover, the notion of an agent of evil in
the world had been a commonplace for centuries. It was just a part of
that medieval training. So although nothing could be said with certainty
either way, the plausible mischance had to be faced; mathematics went
the way of all doubtful knowledge, and man was left with literally
nothing but his doubt, his universal doubt. "_Dubito_," said Descartes;
"to doubt is my inmost nature"; and speaking so he at once marked the
first step in his reasoning, so important then and now, and in the
simplicity and directness of real genius reported a great, deep fact of
his own experience and of that of his time.

But universal doubt is a _real_ experience, being real just because
universal. Nothing ever is real that is not universal. What is always
and everywhere is just the mark of something that really is substantial.
A real [p.183] experience, however, real because universal, be it of
doubt or of anything else, means a real self, so that in the always
doubting self Descartes found reality, or a real self; and this always
doubting self he further characterized as a thinking self. In other
words, the real thinker was for him the universal doubter, and,
contrariwise, the universal doubter was real, a real thinker, a real
self. Before Descartes' time, to speak generally, men had identified
reality with fixed condition or possession, with specific knowledge or
established power or definite prerogative, divine or human, and truth
was an object of faith rather than thought, say an unchanging programme
for life rather than a pure principle--there is such a wide difference
between a principle and a programme! But Descartes, as we have seen,
identified reality with loss or privation, with such an empty-handed
thing as doubt; he recognized no self but the thinker, and no thinker
but the doubter. We always feel the pathos of those who, suffering
constant privation, find and often declare that life is very real, and
yet the sense of reality that comes in this way--namely, in the way of a
privation that denies reality all residence in positive experience--is
especially strong, and the pathos we feel is certainly not all.
Something else hard to name appeals to us, too, and changes the pathos
into a nobler because a more positive feeling--good will, perhaps, or
honour--since the persistent holding to reality commands a deep respect.
Yet, putting this more positive feeling apart, only the pathos of
Descartes' real self, real because a thinker and thinker because a
universal doubter, can occupy us now. Enough if we see that [p.184] the
reality was as indubitable as the universal doubt, the self always being
real up to the reality of its experience, and that the pathos is not
more for him than for the sceptics and mystics and mathematicians of his
time. But, again, in the Latin words, burdened, as so often the Latin
has been, with the experience of all Christendom: _Dubito, cogito; ergo
sum_. I doubt, I think; I as doubter and thinker am.

That "I am" seems a sort of epitome of the humanism, not to say of the
pathos of the humanism of the time. Man had lost everything but his own
self, his lacking, longing, always seeking self. Montaigne put the
situation plainly when he said in so many words, that portrayal of self
was the beginning and the end alike of physics, the science of outer
reality, and metaphysics the science of all reality. Man had been left
with his mere self, robbed of beliefs and traditions, and abandoned by
everything but his doubts and the empty companionship which these
afforded, but to that, an unshaped thing with an undefined activity,
real only for what it did not have, he clung tenaciously and often
enthusiastically. And Descartes spoke for him: _Knowing that I have
nothing, I am_.

But in this self that was real only because always lacking, always
doubting, Descartes found a priceless treasure. Every one is familiar
with the principle of Christian theology, that the conviction of sin is
a real promise because the actual beginning of salvation, and every one
has some appreciation of this principle. It is a principle, too, that no
priest ever made or could ever unmake, belonging as it does to the very
nature of conscious creatures. In like manner, [p.185] then, Descartes
recognized in the consciousness of doubt, or say of intellectual error,
the real promise, because the actual beginning or even the very presence
of veracity in knowledge. The doubter, conscious of error as he must be,
was never without and never by any possibility could be without a sense
for truth, an idea of veracity. Doubting all things he must yet believe
in truth. Plato said centuries before that mere opinion, however false,
was nevertheless always in love with true knowledge, and this Platonic
love Descartes found in the doubter's conviction of error. In Plato's
spirit Descartes insisted that doubt was a constant yearning for truth,
a persistent faith in it. Doubt was informed with truth, with the idea
of truth, very much as one has the "idea" of a thing that one cannot
master. Man might be a doubter of all things, then, but in spite of his
doubt he must believe in the reality of things, not exactly in the
individual reality of each and every thing, but in reality in and among
all things. For him, doubting and self-conscious, there must dwell in
the world a realizing nature or power, an agent of perfect veracity,
checking any experience from being altogether deceptive. And, for the
present, to narrow our attention to a single phase of the doubter's
natural idea of veracity, as Descartes reasoned about it, truth and
everything that goes with truth, perfection and absoluteness in all its
phases, could not be solely human if to doubt was human. They must, in
consequence, be divine. So God, a spirit of truth and righteousness, was
real, as real as the real self of always doubting but ever truth-loving
man. _Dubito, cogito; ergo sum: etiam_ [p.186] _Deus est. I doubt, I
think; as thinker and doubter I am: and what is more, God, veracity
incarnate, is also_.

And here begins or began a great controversy, nor can the issues of it
be said to have been wholly settled even to-day. What did Descartes
understand when in this way he proved to himself the existence of God?
Was only the God he seemed to have lost once more restored to him, and
restored intact? Did he merely justify, and so return to its old place
of authority, the traditional theology of his day? Was his doubt, as
some would view it, not his own genuine experience, but simply the
conceit and pretence of method? These questions need an answer, for
their answer affects not only Descartes' regained religion, but also his
regained real world in general. So many have been disposed almost to
laugh outright at the simple-minded Descartes for his doubting
everything from matter and mind to God, only in the end to get
everything back. They have seen him as one chasing the verities out by
one door only to welcome them with outstretched arms as they run in at
another that had been left open for their return; and this view of him
has been strengthened by the fact that conservatives in religion the
world over have made Descartes their victim by appealing to his proof,
borrowing for themselves his philosopher's robes, as if these could be
easily assumed and as easily put off. But as to the justice of such a
view there is little if any good evidence. Matter-of-fact history is not
our first concern here, as was said; yet, whatever may or may not have
been uppermost in Descartes' mind, the doubt of his day was both general
and very [p.187] genuine, and the final worth and validity of his
thinking lies wholly in that, not in his or any one's mere logical
gymnastic or verbal strategy. Moreover, for reasons which hardly need to
be given, the strong probability is that, notwithstanding his well-known
lack of courage in openly living up to or even thinking up to all the
consequences of his reasoning, he did feel in his philosophy not a mere
recovery of what had seemed lost, nor a cunning apology for the old, but
the birth of a new point of view; and, if this possibility should be
verified, among other things the conservatives, who have been borrowing
so much support, have been little if any better than parasites. Still,
even the probabilities in the case are relatively insignificant to us,
since the people of the time and of later times, and we ourselves from
the scepticism and mysticism of the seventeenth century, have learned to
think of God with a fulness of meaning never attained before, as--what
shall I say?--not a definite truth, but the living spirit of truth; not
a passive perfection, but a perfect activity; and not even a divine
person, in the sense of one more separate being of consciousness and
will to inhabit the universe, but the moving and conserving power of all
personality--the very active principle of reality present in the
vicissitudes and conflicts of our existence. And, such being the outcome
of history, we have to take it as really the meaning of the great
Frenchman's formulæ. We put aside the controversy, then, with the simple
reflection that results in history or anywhere else are at least very
hard indeed to conceive if they are anything more or less than realized
motives [p.188] perhaps the realized motives of a man or men building
somewhat beyond their clearest knowledge. Whatever has come about must
always be what more or less clearly men have been feeling after.

The God whom Descartes really proves to his time, and still more
positively to us, must surely be the God not of a satisfied
unquestioning believer, but of the universal doubter who loves truth and
whose doubting and loving make him the always curious thinker; a God
without visibly or even quasi-visibly fixed or specific character of any
sort, since with his nature set to such a character, tethered like a
beast to a stake or like the sun bound to an orbit, he would not be and
could not be divine enough--which is to say, veracious or perfect
enough--for a universal doubter's curiosity; a God, then, who has the
divine character of true infinity, who is, too, a spirit in fact as well
as in word. Infinity certainly cannot belong to a being that is apart;
such a being would at once belie his nature; and "spirits," divine or
human, must not be supposed to be, like Elijah, the merely translated
beings of this visible and tangible world, for they can belong only to
the invisible and the intangible, which is in this world and of it, in
its knowledge, in its love and strife, in its changes of all kinds, in
its work and in its suffering. Yes, a truly living God, living here and
now, is the God of Descartes' proof; the God of just that world of
movement and conflict, of poise and reality, to which the differences
and above all the contradictions of experience, as examined by us in
preceding chapters, have already borne witness. Let us recall how we
were able to say that the very conflicts of human [p.189] experience
were the wisdom of God. And if this all amounts to saying, as apparently
it does, that only Descartes' universal doubter, who loves truth too
much ever to claim its final possession, can believe in a real God, then
we have reached something that will surely repay the most careful
reflection.

Some have criticized Descartes for what they regard as a fallacy in his
reasoning. He jumped, they claim, without any real warrant, from the
idea of a thing as his premise to the actual existence of the thing as
his conclusion, from the idea of veracity, so necessary in the
consciousness of the doubter, to the substantial existence of a
perfectly veracious being, as if, to use their time-worn analogy, the
idea even of the very smallest sum of money would make the money itself
materialize in somebody's pocket. But, whether or not Descartes fully
understood his own thought, this criticism is very superficial, and it
gets only a specious cogency from the same matter-of-fact history that
we have already pushed aside. No idea, however clear, however necessary
even to the consciousness of a doubter, of perfect truth could ever
conjure into existence the unworldly, independently existing,
spiritually and intellectually isolated God of the Middle Ages; and for
that matter one might say, I think quite pertinently, that money not in
the pocket is something less than real money, or--which comes to the
same end--that the idea of money, if the pocket be indeed empty, must
imply some sense of the emptiness as well as of the money; and with such
an implication the idea taken for its full meaning is no such conjurer
as Descartes' critics have chosen to imagine it. After [p.190] all the
"mere" ideas, or the "mere" things in general, that appear in
controversies, are only ingenious ways of packing the jury. An adequate
idea--that is to say, an idea taken just for its full meaning, for what
it denies as well as for what it affirms, for the complete universe of
its discourse--does and must answer to existence; yes, and to
substantial existence too. So, again, the God that Descartes by the
doubter's idea of veracity proved to his time and to us, if not also as
clearly to himself, can have been no mere substantial existence wholly
outside the doubter's life and consciousness. In such case the universal
doubting would indeed have been only the insincere verbal strategy of a
conservative, the conceit of purely artful method, and the jump objected
to would have been quite necessary. But Descartes' God answered to just
the idea of truth which a universal doubter could honestly entertain; to
truth realized only in and through doubt; a God, living in and with the
seeking, struggling consciousness of the doubter.

Furthermore, for a being, call him doubter or thinker or what you will,
whose very nature in deed and in word is awake to a sense of lack and is
in consequence making a continued outcry: "Never this, but always
something else, something fuller and realer, something including and
using this, something maintained by the very conflicts of this,"--for
such a being very plainly there never can be anything that is wholly and
hopelessly beyond, that is not potentially and so actively real in him;
there can be no outer nature, but an including and developing nature,
and no transcendent God, but an indwelling, ever uplifting, [p.191]
forward-bearing God. Exactly such a being was Descartes' real self, the
self of his I _am_--"I as thinker and doubter am"--and this self had
need neither of struggling with nature nor of wrestling with God in
order to get one or the other on its side, for in its doubt, in its
constant confession of incompleteness, even--though this is a flagrant
paradox--of its own reality as in a sense always outside or beyond
itself, it had won the supreme victory at the start. Negatives are
always such very sweeping, comprehensive things; and to be, so to speak,
one's own negative, to be real and lacking, is somehow to include all
things within one's own life and interest. If I may apply an ordinary
phrase in an extraordinary way, to be always "beside oneself," always
doubting, always wanting, always striving, or to be, in the words of
earlier pages, ever and always divided against oneself, is to have
enlisted man and nature and God for ever in one's service.

There is truly such a difference between programme and principle 1 It is
the difference between medievalism and modernism, between supposed
finality and recognized and asserted movement, between supernatural
authority and the authority of natural growth. Enthrone a programme, and
it is arbitrary and exclusive; it claims, as it must, the sanction of
another world; it hopelessly divides human nature as personally embodied
or as socially organized; it makes life and its sphere irrational and so
dependent on a blind faith: but a principle, enthroned, draws all things
into itself, using to its own constant realization even the changes and
differences of life, making faith [p.192] and reason lie down together,
and transfiguring both a brutal nature and an inhuman God by revealing
them as not indeed formally but vitally rational, and not indeed
mortally yet humanly alive. In Descartes' proof of God we see the birth
of modernism; the programme deposed; the principle set in the place of
authority.

Finally, then, Descartes did not simply restore what had been lost.
Though we have been regarding only the religious aspect of his
philosophy, we can see in general that, just as not the old God, but
nevertheless God, remained to the doubter's life, so also not the old
verities at large, yet nevertheless the verities, or not the old
reality, yet nevertheless reality, remained also. Man, after all his
doubting, even because of it all, was enabled to return to the world of
all those "isms," the all-pervading materialism, the scoffing
scepticism, the dogmatic mysticism, and the intellectual formalism, with
a new spirit, a spirit of real confidence, a spirit of hope, a spirit of
life, that just by reason of its wants and conflicts believes itself not
only very real but also fully worth while.

And travellers to-day visiting the streets of Paris or going anywhere
the doubting and despairing world over, would do well to imagine
Descartes, as the modern doubter, travelling and thinking with them.


[1] See an article by H.C. Lea in the _American Historical Review_,
January, 1904, "Ethical Values in History," especially p. 238 seq.



[p.193]

IX.

THE DOUBTER'S WORLD.


The doubter's world is a world in which, as we journey, we shall
discover four features that are especially noteworthy and that accord
fully with the principles of Descartes as well as with the findings of
our own confession of doubt. Thus, in the order, or suppose I say in the
itinerary, here to be followed: (1) Reality, without finality, in all
things; (2) perfect sympathy between the spiritual and the material; (3)
genuine individuality; and (4) for whatever is indeed real, immortality.


I. REALITY, WITHOUT FINALITY, IN ALL THINGS.

Doubt is only a particular state, or phase, of consciousness, and it is
worth while to observe that any state of consciousness whatsoever, any
attitude of mind, must assume or postulate something real. Indeed, this
assumption of reality is so positive that no consciousness is ever
without some will to believe, while no will to believe is ever without
some real object believed in. Can there be smoke without some fire, or a
seeming without some being? Were either of these things possible, then
by the same token there could also be a willing without some doing or a
wanting without some having. To be conscious of something, [p.194] then,
means not only that something is assumed and, if assumed, willed to be,
but also that something really and truly is. Of course, the
consciousness is; but, however subjective, the consciousness must have
more than its mere subjectivity, than its mere seeming or wanting or
willing, being in some way genuinely objective or grounded in reality.
In a word, all consciousness implies and demands, postulates and
possesses, a real world; possibly not just the world formally presented
to it, but nevertheless reality, and reality, too, in which somehow the
presented world has a place and part.

This may or may not be axiomatic, but at the very least it is very near
to being axiomatic, and, near or far, it quite agrees with the
conclusions to which, although along somewhat more specific lines, our
own thinking and Descartes' thinking have been constantly pointing. As
Descartes might have said, there is no consciousness without a
thoroughly warranted "I am," and no "I am" without an also thoroughly
warranted "The world of my consciousness is and is objectively real."
But in implications about reality the doubter's consciousness differs
from the believer's consciousness; not by any mere denial, for
unqualified denial must be wholly alien to honest doubting, and the
doubter is himself a believer, but by a peculiar assumption as to what
the reality is. Simply doubter and believer, so far as they may be taken
as independent characters, do not live in the same real world. Thus, for
the distinct believer--that is to say, for the specifically dogmatic
believer, for him who is, or who for the moment may be supposed to be,
[p.195] tenaciously and immovably loyal to some specific body of
doctrine and to some specific manner of life--reality is always tethered
to some stake; while for the doubter it is too real and too free to
suffer any such bondage, being infinite and all-inclusive. For our
doubter, at once fully self-conscious and honest, no possible experience
can ever be in itself real and final, nor, on the other hand, can any
possible experience ever be altogether unreal and illusory. His reality,
I say, must be at once free and all-inclusive. Indeed, it could not be
either of these without being the other. For him nothing is _the_
reality, just because all things must belong to reality. For him, again,
the world's reality is nowhere, just because everywhere; in no defined
thing fixedly and completely, just because in all things--in them not
merely distributively, it is true, but as they work together; and
invisible and intangible, indeed generally unknowable, just because any
consciousness is necessarily limited to the definite and inadequate
mediums, or forms, of positive knowledge.

So the doubter has a real world, but his own real world. Moreover, in
the great freedom of its reality we see how all things taken
individually or distributively, must be, as the word is used, only
"relative"; and in the perfect inclusiveness, how nothing, however
"relative," can ever be unreal. Relativism and scepticism have been
perenially associated, but relativism is not a nihilistic, but a deeply
realistic philosophy; it is just the sceptic's natural realism. All
things are "relative," but only because reality is at once free from
anything, and yet inclusive of all things. What is relative is [p.196]
thus not flatly unreal, as is often supposed, but significantly both
real and unreal or neither real--not real to itself alone--nor
unreal--not without its part and place in whatever is real. The sceptic,
though always a relativist, is thus also a most profound realist, and
the nature of his realism must help us greatly to our view of the
doubter's world.

Moreover, Descartes and his followers were also nativists or
intuitionists, and, at least for the freer interpretation here
permitted, their nativism was of a peculiar order, and it involved,
accordingly, a world which was real in a peculiar way. Usually nativism
has stood for the assertion of certain inborn and so necessarily valid
and unchangeable ideas or characters or powers; as when men contend that
particular ideas of God are unassailable because immediately intuited as
a part of man's very being, or again when men declare a particular
genius to be born, not made, or insist that a voice of conscience born,
not bred, in them, tells them explicitly to do and even to make others
do this or that specific thing, to live and make others live in this or
that specific way, to accept and make others accept this or that
specific programme of politics, morals, or religion. Furthermore,
nativism of this prevalent type not only has claimed final validity for
what is thus inborn--or given independently of the changing conditions
of experience--but also has commonly punctuated this claim by viewing
the inborn, or the intuited--for example, the dictates of conscience--as
direct, immediate, unequivocal signs and mandates of God himself. Genius
has been not human, but divine. The intuition at large has [p.197]
passed for nothing more or less than a supernatural revelation. But such
an understanding of the innate, though serviceable beyond measure to the
"specifically dogmatic believer," and though implying too, as of course
it should, the natural, appropriate world of such a believer, does not
agree with the principles of Descartes.

Such an understanding of the innate can imply only a world not merely of
definite, substantial reality, but also of definite, substantial
unreality. How real to some people, how definite and substantial the
"unreal" is; how brutally fixed and yet how alien to what they are given
to finding real. They are nativists of the conventional type, and for
them the negatives of all things are as fixed and as really or as
substantially not this or that as the positives to which what is innate
for them bears its special witness. Their world, in short, is a world of
tethered error as well as tethered truth, of hopeless, unmixed evil as
well as a wholly untainted, unassailable--and why not say also
hopeless?--virtue, of absolute and effective lawlessness as well as an
unswerving law, of a free and omnipotent devil as well as a free and
omnipotent God; for, in simplest language, the rule is a very poor one
that does not work both ways. A world, however, which is so constituted,
calls emphatically for revision of the view that imparts its character
to it. Where the unreal is as real as the real, the evil as effective as
the good, the false as conclusive as the true, there is certainly need
of some second thinking. As some good Irish philosopher might put the
case, if just this is wholly good or true or real, and just that is
wholly [p.198] evil or false or unreal, then _the_ good or _the_ true or
_the_ real cannot be exclusively just this, _the_ evil or _the_ false or
_the_ unreal cannot be exclusively just that, and _the_ innate,
responsible for a world so made, cannot be just in terms of certain
fixed ideas or characters or powers. When, forsooth, has the manifest
existence of evil in any form, of intellectual or moral error, of
political anarchy, of religious heresy, or even of natural violence, not
shaken man's conceits about what is and what is right? The very
conceits--and this the more as they are definite and assertive--help to
make the manifest evil, very much as a definite law has its part in
making a particular crime, and the evil so arising, as it is distinctly
manifested, cannot fail to assail and unsettle the conceits.

According to the Cartesian nativism, on the other hand, particularly as
it was developed by such men as Malebranche and Spinoza, the innate,
which is always at once the final appeal of man's conceits and the
conclusive witness to what is absolutely real, was indeed one with the
divine or supernatural, but it was perhaps just by reason of its truly
divine or supernatural character and origin untethered. How could the
universal doubter be born with a specific knowledge or a specific
programme of anything, when the definite or fixed, the specific in any
quarter whatsoever, must always be a possible object of doubt? Only the
purest principle, or spirit, is impregnable against the attacks of the
sceptic. To doubt such a principle is indeed only to enhance its
importance. The sceptic, then, the universal doubter, is born only with,
and what is more he cannot be born without, a real [p.199] interest and
constant faith in truth, in true knowledge and right action, but no
special experience can ever compass the length and the breadth, the
depth and the height of this interest or this faith. He has a native
love for truth and righteousness, a belief in them, as real and as
inviolable, as universal and as necessary, as his doubt; but the very
doubting in him forever saves both the truth and the righteousness from
being destroyed by satisfaction or crucified by any final embodiment. He
loves and he trusts with all his heart, and he lives in a world that
forever serves the truth and the righteousness of his love and faith.

So, taken at least for what he promised, or for what he said between the
lines, Descartes was a nativist without the nativist's disastrous
bondage to form and creed, to fixed character and specific programme. He
was a nativist, but for him the innate lacked its self-destructive
definiteness; it was just a spirit or principle, or what I have also
called a life or power, ever present not in some, but in all experience,
and so at once sanctioning all things, and, because able to find
perfection in none alone, each single thing being relative, sanctioning
also a constant conflict between things as good or true or real, and
things as bad or false or unreal. Whatever is relative is necessarily,
so to speak, both-sided or divided against itself. The relativity is
such conflict. Before the judgment-seat of the innate, in short, all
things, being relative, must be parties to conflict both individually
and collectively, nor is their conflict anything but an old story to us.
All the paradoxes of experience have been evidences of it. The conflict
apart for the present, however, the meaning [p.200] of Descartes'
nativism is just this: truth in all experience, reality in all things,
and reality, or truth, a principle, not a programme. Just this, too,
discloses to us the nature of the doubter's real world.

In the last chapter we saw in particular the idea of God which the
universal doubter would naturally and consistently entertain and
cherish. We saw how in the proof of God Descartes, deposing the
programme, set the principle in the place of authority, and how in
consequence God became identified with all that was human, with all the
seeking and striving, the hoping and despairing, the erring and the
suffering, of man's life. God's nature just drew all things into itself;
the very conflicts of life were his perfection; the incongruities of
experience were his infinite wisdom. But the doubter has a metaphysics,
or cosmology, as well as a theology; Descartes lost and regained a world
as well as a God; and the doubter's metaphysics, or cosmology, proceeds
from this simple creed: _Reality in all things_. So runs the creed's
supreme article, and its two important clauses are these, equally
familiar to us: _Reality without form or residence_--real as a spirit,
not a programme, and: _Nothing finally and fixedly real in itself, yet
all things working together for what is real_. With this creed clearly
in mind, moreover, we may look out upon the world and see things that
possibly we have never seen at all, or not seen so clearly before.

We see that just because reality is so profound, so spiritual, and so
inclusive, just because nothing can be absolutely real in itself, all
things must be "relative"--this we saw before, but have we ever quite
understood [p.201] stood the meaning of relativity?--and must be
relatively _at once real and unreal_. Perhaps I am still adding little,
if anything, to what has been said already, but distinctly and
emphatically the real world can comprise only things that individually
are relative, relatively real or good or true, and that being thus
relative secure their place and part in absolute reality only by being
also relatively unreal or evil or false. The very conflict of the
relative _ipso facto_ puts it in perfect unity with the absolute. And
so, seeing this, we see not only a world of relativity and consequent
conflict, but also a world whose universal relativity makes for a
genuine absoluteness, and whose conflict can never be in vain, but
instead is always realizing and effective. Thus, all things relative,
that is to say all things at once real and unreal, good and bad, true
and false, are in the constant service of the absolute; and then, only
employing again the language of religion and, if not exactly
interpreting, at least adapting some well-known lines:

     All service ranks the same with God--
     Whose puppets, best and worst,
     Are we; there is no last or first.

All things, serving reality, are whatever they are together; yet could
not be that, were there not a constant conflict in and among all things.
All men serving God are whatever they are together; yet, in like manner,
could not be that were human society not a sphere of conflict harsh and
unceasing.

So we find ourselves well upon our way in the world of the doubter--and
what a world it is! No [p.202] finality, because so much reality.
Conflict, forever necessary to its effective realization. Relativity,
that is to say finiteness, of all things, of all things in it, just for
the sake of its own true absoluteness, just to conserve its own actual
infinity.

And, also, in such a world human life, individually and socially, gets
new interest and vitality. There is given to human life so much
fellowship, and yet, at the same time, so much hostility and
competition. Society and the individual, though neither loses its own
peculiar importance, are so vitally intimate with each other. We cannot,
however, enlarge now upon this point. Another consequence of the
peculiar realism of the sceptic has a more pressing interest.

Is our universal doubter naturally and honestly an evolutionist or a
creationalist? Of course, he may be neither, or he may be one or the
other with a meaning different from that usually recognized. Terms like
these are so very hard to control. Conceivably the doubter, a very
versatile character always, might even be both evolutionist and
creationalist. But, as the terms are commonly used, he must be said at
least to have his face towards an evolutional and away from a creational
view. The difference, again, is seen in that between principle and
programme. An evolutional world is the working out of a principle; a
created world, of a programme--the fixed design of some specified being.
True, one may speak with much significance of persistent, continuous
creation, of a creation active at all times and in all things, and it is
to the point that the Cartesians made much of a doctrine that was very
near to such a notion; but a truly continuous creation [p.203] could be
only an orthodox substitute, or disguise, for evolution. A truly
continuous creation could be bound by no programme; by definition it
could have neither date in time nor location in space. And, what is of
even greater moment, a continuous creator, ever present and ever active,
could never be more or less than the persistent reality of the world
itself. How could he be aloof or different? So have we come, once more,
to the immanence of God as a necessary idea of the sceptic.

The doubter's world, then, is the scene, as realistic as you will and
perhaps we may say, too, without unwarranted enthusiasm, as bright
beneath the morning sun, of the ever present, ever active life of God
or--with the same meaning--of an evolution which we may call God or
nature as we please. From this thought, too, if only we remember that
nothing is unreal and no experience is without some contact with
reality, there is but a step to the idea that God and man are actively
parties to one and the same life. To repeat from above, the conflicts of
human life are the perfection, the perfect living of God. God is, nay,
God's life is, not what some, but what all men do, and the doubter's
world is just the world, the world of things always relative, the world
of constant conflict, in which alone this can be true.


II. THE PERFECT SYMPATHY BETWEEN THE SPIRITUAL AND THE MATERIAL.

But we pass to the second feature of this world in which we are
journeying, namely, to the sympathy of the spiritual and the physical.

[p.204] As a matter of course the sceptic, by his peculiar attitude of
mind, must imply something with reference to the relation of the two
worlds, or the worlds commonly supposed to be two, the spiritual and the
material, and because for him the reality cannot be exclusively one
definite thing or any number, small or large, of definite things, all of
them independent and exclusive, he must imply in the world of things, be
these two or as many as you please, that they always work together for
whatever is real. Such an implication at first hearing may or may not
appear to be a pregnant one, but at least it suggests that in some
genuine way there must be sympathy between the two things, the two
worlds--spirit and matter, mind and body. These two must work together
for whatever is real.

But by this necessary sympathy between the spiritual and the material is
not meant a mere parallelism so called. Thinkers, present and past, have
tried to be satisfied with such a meaning. To be quite real, however,
sympathy must be substantial even to the point of unity, not formal.
Some friends, and even some married people, are parallel, life matching
life at each and every point, but not positively and vitally
sympathetic. Still, in parallelism, the very name for which is fairly
indicative of its import, there is a convenient approach to the meaning
here intended. Moreover, our Cartesian philosophers were much given to a
theory of parallelism in their views of the relation of the two spheres
of mind and matter; their specific doctrine of continuous creation,
already referred to, was parallelistic; and they found the human mind
and [p.205] the human body, though distinctly two, still "parallel."
Then, too, in more recent times, parallelism has been in evidence,
figuring conspicuously at least as a working standpoint in the
psychological laboratory, and figuring also, I venture to add, as an
important assumption in philanthropic work. Accordingly, although the
term itself does convey a good deal of its meaning, I shall try, in
words as simple as possible, to show exactly what the theory of
parallelism is. This done, we shall be able to see, or think through
parallelism to sympathy of a more genuine and a more vital sort.

As was said, the doctrine of continuous creation, holding as it does
that the mental and spiritual life of God and the constant changes in
the natural world, the world said to be of his creation, are always in
accord, God in his relation to the world being, so to speak, always up
to date and having his attention on every place and part, is distinctly
a parallelistic doctrine; but, quite apart from any theological
reference, parallelism asserts that all states, or events, in the two
spheres of body and mind, of spirit and matter, are (1) equally real and
substantial, and (2) perfectly harmonious and consistent, in just the
sense that always in connection with any condition or change in one
realm there is an accompanying condition or change in the other,
although (3) between the two there exists and can exist no causal
connection whatever. Obviously to make either, whether by what is known
as causation or in any other way, the producing and wholly determining
condition of the other, or of anything in the other, would be at once to
unsettle the equivalence or balance of their reality, and _equally real_
[p.206] _they must be_. Thus, in more detail, mind is denied any
independent part in the production or determination of anything in the
material realm, and matter is in no way the source of what transpires in
mind. Each is, so far as the other is concerned, quite its own master.
Each is absolutely without any arbitrary influence, any influence not
natural or sympathetic or co-operative, upon the other. So to speak,
neither imposes on the other a "must" that is not at the same time
already the other's "would." In other words, any state in one is always
the occasion, but, so far as an independent causation goes, the wholly
passive occasion of something quite pertinent occurring in the other. Is
there an idea, a state of consciousness; then, corresponding, there is
some real thing, some physical object adequate to the idea. Is there an
act of will; then, corresponding to it, some movement in the material
world. Were the relation different from this, were mind and matter ever
independent causes, not merely coincidents or perhaps co-operative
causes, of each other, then, as is worth adding, besides the disturbance
of the equivalence of reality, already referred to, there would be
implied a fixity of plan, or manner of action, and a definiteness of
possessed power in the nature of the supposed causes, and these
implications would also give offence.

Yet in the world of our journeying there must be causation--on some
plan--of some sort. Parallelism, though sometimes supposed to be more
sweeping, is really and consistently a denial only of isolated,
independent causes. It denies, not causation, but causation as ever
localized or with an exclusive residence. [p.207] In very much the same
way certain political ideas, growing to explicit expression
contemporaneously, have denied, not sovereignty or power, but an
exclusively localized sovereignty or power, as in the case of absolute
monarchy or of an absolute institution, whether church or state.
Parallelism, or at least the inner meaning of it, simply imposes certain
conditions on a still real causation. These conditions, too, necessarily
involve a significant, even a revolutionary change in the nature and
value of any cause, but beyond peradventure they are unavoidable
conditions. Thus, every active thing having any part in the causation of
the world must always be only one among other active things, each also
with some part. Then, secondly, all active things must co-operate, in,
if not actually through their differences working together and
harmoniously for what is real. In short, they must be "parallel." And,
lastly, as something not formally asserted by parallelism but still far
from incongruous with it and, as seems to me, even demanded by its inner
meaning, all active things must be always acted upon as well as acting.

To give a single illustration, though this may be quite superfluous,
parallelism would view the life of a skilled labourer at work in his
shop as a process in two parts. On the one hand, the environment,
comprising not merely all the tools and materials, but also the body of
the workman, moves as a mechanism, each part flying to its appointed
task consistently with the particular thing to be done; and then, on the
other hand, the mind and the will of the mechanic, not by any
independent _ab extra_ causation, but [p.208] nevertheless at every
thought or sensation coincidently and pertinently accompanies the
environment's mechanical movement. Each process is consistent within
itself, not following nor yet preceding, but accompanying the other in
perfect step. What makes the environment so tractable or the mind so
practical? The credit here has usually been given to a _tertium quid_,
to God, who is so made more a mediator than a creator. God is the Great
Paralleler. But the third condition that was to be met--how about that?
Are the workman's mind and his environment each at once acting and acted
upon? Are their two processes virtually one instead of two? and is the
mediation accordingly, just in the fact of such unity instead of in some
being acting as if from without? So far as the formal theory goes, as
was said, this third condition is not fulfilled, but the theory cannot
be understood as opposed to such unity; rather it is a first step and a
long step towards an appreciation of it. The formal theory, alike in its
assertion of the parallelism and in its view of God as mediator rather
than positive creator, is an effective attack, consistent, as we have
seen, with the demands of an honest, thorough-going scepticism, upon the
fixed, independent, arbitrarily creative cause in any form. It does not
openly assert causation in any other sense. Seeming quite oblivious, for
example, of causation as action with an accompanying reaction, or of
what I should style an organic or differential causation. But, besides
making and needing to make no denial of this, it all but opens the door
to recognition of such a view.

In such manner, then, as simply and as briefly as [p.209] I find myself
able to put the case, runs the theory of parallelism; with its equal
reality and its non-interference of two distinct but thoroughly
correspondent agencies or substances, certainly a theory of a formal,
rather than genuine and vital, sympathy. Metaphysically it is dualism
still persistent. But one needs only a little insight, and perhaps also
a slight leaning towards the gruesome, to see that it is dualism--at
least the dualism of the medieval type--already in a shroud. Even
dualism demands, and should always be allowed, its funeral service and a
decent burial. With the passing of dualism, however, the sympathy
becomes more than merely formal. Two things always equally real cannot
be really two, and a perfect parallelism, though satisfying to certain
cherished traditions in philosophy or theology, is so saturated with
unity as to be almost, if not quite, at the point of precipitation.
Without attempting, therefore, any further appraisal of parallelism
metaphysically, we may turn to what will seem more practical.

Looking or thinking through this metaphysical theory we can see that it
is equivalent to a declaration that the physical and the spiritual in
human life, or in life at large, are meant for each other. Perhaps in a
somewhat stilted fashion, but nevertheless beyond any chance of
question, it is a philosophy that makes man and nature always accordant
and adaptable, and coming as it did in the history of thought near the
beginning of the modern period, it can lay claim to this meaning on
historical as well as on logical grounds. Its value to philanthropy,
too, perhaps only another sign of its modernism, is easily [p.210]
detected, since it supplies just such tangible means as the material
conditions of life for the accomplishment of philanthropic ends, and its
service to scientific psychology, plainly an indispensable service, lies
in its making the physical nature a medium, not merely for the
expression, but also for the study of what is psychical. As for its
relation to the argument of this book, it is simply dualism meeting; or
trying to meet, the demand, in the first place, that reality itself
should be indeterminate--_always a tertium quid_--and, in the second
place, that the things that are definite, be they material or spiritual,
should work together for reality. Under the same demand, be it said,
atomism could stand only if supplemented by some doctrine of assumed
unity or co-operation among all the elements--as, for example, by
Leibnitz's doctrine of pre-established harmony.

But, furthermore, looking and thinking through the theory of
parallelism, we can see something of special significance for the
doubter's world. Men often forget that new relations of things mean new
things, or at least new characters for the old things. Thus, mind and
matter, or man and nature, if become, or found to be, parallel, are no
longer the mind and the matter, the spiritual man and the physical
world, that they were. The two things, just by their complete
correspondence, are changed in a most important way. That they must be
changed is quite evident, but how to state exactly what the change is is
not easy. That the change, too, must be in the direction of their more
vital union is evident to us, but again the precise description of it is
difficult. Still, I submit that the [p.211] effect of correspondence,
whether this be natural or imposed, is to make the things concerned, in
the present instance the spiritual and the material, at once dynamic and
teleologic in character and function. Moreover, they are dynamic with
the same reality and teleologic for the same end. To correspond to
something, as parallelism makes matter and mind correspond to each
other, is not, and cannot be, simply to have a certain character,
self-contained and generally static; it is, and apparently it must be,
to have a constant call to action, a constant motive to go beyond self,
and so to make one's nature mediative or instrumental. Wherefore, if
this be in truth the effect of correspondence, in our doubter's world
mind appears as a thinking, not a mere knowing, and matter as a moving,
not a mere being; and the thinking and the motion are instrumental, or
mediative, to the same end, to the same reality. All of which, moreover,
being translated, means, on the one hand, that in our doubter's world
man is free to think to some practical purpose, and, on the other hand,
that the material world will serve both his thinking and his purpose.

As to the first of these, the freedom of thought, mind by being relieved
from all danger of any _arbitrary_ interference from the physical world,
has at once the conscious right of independent procedure and the
positive assurance of its thinking, thus free and independent, being
quite practical or applicable; for plainly the freedom is in, not from,
the material world. Nothing possible to thought, no consistent chain of
reflections upon experience, however abstract, can possibly fail to be
exemplified in the [p.212] natural world, or--as Hegel said, giving more
direct expression to the same idea--the real is rational and the
rational is real. The applicability of thought to life, therefore, the
real utility of looking well before leaping, the ultimate service even
of the most technically scientific theory is what we see from our
present observation-tower, and the splendour of the view hardly calls
for remark. Man is free to think, to think in his world and about it;
and his thought is always incarnate; it is an unfailing mediator between
him and the life of the material world about him. "Well begun is half
done" is an old saw, and for human conduct a great truth, but "Well
thought is well done" is even greater, if not older. Think clearly, and
the fulfilling act, the overt expression of your thought, is already
ensured. A thoroughly developed plan finds its execution, as it were,
already provided for; such is the perfect sympathy between the mental
and the physical world.[1]

Now, however, that we have observed the complete freedom of the thinker
in the doubter's world, now that we see the thinker free, not only to
develop his thought abstractly, but also to expect that the conclusions
which he reaches will be exemplified in his [p.213] world and so to be
able to apply them there, we are in great danger of serious
misunderstanding. Thought is indeed free, but the truly free thinker is
no single individual developing some particular point of view, although
even such a one must always have some part in the freedom of thought.
Free thought is deeper than any of its formal expressions and broader
than the positive experience of any of its exponents; it belongs to the
life of mind as present throughout the whole sphere of all conscious
life; and the single individual has part in it only when his actual,
articulate thinking is supplemented by his conscious doubting of his own
peculiar standpoint, his treatment of this as only tentative and
mediative, and his consequent appeal to thought as always deeper and
broader than just what he sees, or--amounting really to the same
thing--only when his thought is mingled in social conflict and mutual
accommodation with that of others. In the doubter's world the thought
that is at once free and fully applicable is social--just as we know
doubt to be social; that perfect applicability, so essential to truly
free thought, simply cannot belong to all thinking, or to all thoughts,
distributively and indiscriminately, to all specific thoughts and ideas,
_though all must be capable of some application, more or less enduring_,
but only in the first place to the thinking that, like pure mathematics,
is exact and general simply because strictly formal and abstract,[2] and
in the second place to the thinking that when material and concrete,
when dealing, with actual affairs and definite practical relations,
makes up for its consequent [p.214] relativity and subjectivity by inner
paradox or contradiction, in so far as individual or personal, and by
open opposition and controversy, in so far as it is social, and assumes
accordingly only the value of a means to an end.

Much has been said in earlier chapters[3] of the paradoxical nature of
human experience. There was seen to be among men no knowledge without a
contradiction, and the ever-present paradoxes of experience were
recognized as causes of thorough-going doubt. But, although at first
sight seeming to blast man's ordinary experience, and his science also,
these paradoxes were eventually found also to give to experience
movement and poise, reality and practicality, and to involve the
individual in a life that was as social as it was real, and thereupon
they became as certainly reasons for faith as causes of doubt; they were
witnesses to a principle of integrity and validity, a spirit of veracity
moving through all experience. Accordingly, once more, our truly free
thinker, the thinker whose thought is thoroughly applicable to life, is
such a one as lives for and with this principle of validity or spirit of
veracity, having his every thought informed with it. He is not the
single individual, holding tenaciously to some specific standpoint, but
the doubter ever using what he sees and knows, and in using appealing
beyond what he sees and knows, or he is even the social life that only
more directly and explicitly embraces and uses the views of all
individuals, these views always working together for what is true and
real; or, lastly, he is the truth-spirit itself which is ever superior
to [p.215] anything that is either merely individual or merely social.
The free thinker is just the honest doubter; a believer in what he knows
or thinks, but only as a working view to something else; and,
consciously, a social being, through controversy sharing with others the
practical experience of what is real.

With regard to the peculiar case of mathematics, which is widely
applicable because formal and as exact as formal, it seems enough to say
that while mathematics has very properly become the ideal of all
knowledge, not excluding such sciences as psychology and sociology, the
final value, the peculiar applicability of mathematics, lies in its
character as a general attitude or method. It is not strictly a science,
but the ideal method of science. Doctrinally, that is, as to any
specific intellectual content, there can hardly be said to be any pure
mathematics, any final body of formula absolutely exact and fully
applicable. Has not doctrinal mathematics had a history? Has it now no
promise of future changes? But whatever has a history--can this be quite
"pure"? Have even those axioms, which once upon a time you and I learned
to respect for their self-evidence, been free from the criticism and
revision of the mathematical experts? Then, too, taking any particular
formula from so-called applied mathematics, such as that simple but
altogether typical one of the lever, what do we find? An equation is
said to exist between the product of the weight by its distance from the
fulcrum, and that of the power by its distance from the same point, but
in application this formula can never be fully exemplified. The fulcrum
never is a point. The perfectly homogeneous lever, so [p.216] necessary
to the equation, is unattainable, if not also unthinkable. There can
never be complete absence of friction, nor perfectly ideal suspension of
the weight or application of the power. And the necessary atmospheric
disturbances, even in a "vacuum," to say nothing of the difficulties of
absolute measurements, are not less fatal. Only as method, therefore,
which really means as procedure according to standards of strictest
accuracy and of highest logical consistency, or as closest, most
constant loyalty to a spirit of truth, not as doctrine, can mathematics
be said to be freely applicable. Mathematics seems to me to be at the
very heart of the working hypothesis. Its tests of accuracy are such as
forever save science from anything like doctrinal dogmatism.
Historically there is much significance in the fact that our doubter,
Descartes, was almost the inventor of the Analytic Geometry, and that
this and the Calculus, which came afterwards, and which we owe chiefly
to Leibnitz and Newton, comprise rather a methodological than a
doctrinal mathematics. With their invention and development the
application of mathematics to material facts, or it would be better to
say to the investigation of material facts, took tremendous strides. So
Descartes, who doubted mathematics only because it was not satisfying
doctrinally, regained in this case, as in that of his God or his
material world, not exactly what he had lost. Alike in mathematics and
theology he lost doctrine and creed; he won method and life. And, to
return, with reference to the relation of mathematics to the free
thinker, nothing can be clearer than that this science, at least
sometimes so called, as [p.217] a method or attitude exacting clearest
possible procedure and highest logical consistency, is the very
principle of veracity, upon loyalty to which the freedom of thought must
always depend. Like this principle, too, mathematics--so much more truly
than any other discipline--is superior to anything that is either merely
individual or abstractly social.

So, looking and thinking through the theory of parallelism, we see how
thought is Bet free. Man is free, as was said, to think always to some
practical purpose. Secondly, then, with regard to the material world,
said to serve his thinking and his purpose, this in its turn is
liberated also; it is liberated for a life of its own law and order.
Nature, the material world in general, is no longer the victim of
arbitrary changes. Such changes as spring from the occultly creative
acts of the spiritual world, or more exactly the spirit-world,
represented by God in the character of an extraneous being, by a
personal devil or by those minor spirits or powers of light or darkness,
often if not usually described as objects of superstition, no longer
interfere with nature's orderly course. She is left, unmolested, to be
just her natural self, consistent and persistent in the way prescribed
by her own inner being. And then, while subject to no arbitrary
interference, she is herself never given to interference, but is, on the
contrary, in her own right, essentially at one with that other world,
the world of the thinker. Poets have ever fondly sung of nature's
sympathy with man, and her sympathy deep and abiding is exactly what we
now observe, nor can any poem too loftily give expression to it.

[p.218] And what, in more detail, of this sympathetic nature--of this
ideal world, or perfect home, of thinking man? With much interest we
certainly might trace all the aspects of its character corresponding to
the different phases of the thinker's life, but discussion of them all
would take too much of our space and might seriously tax an already
tried patience. So we shall confine ourselves to one thing alone. The
truly free thinker was said to be one who believes in what he knows or
thinks, but only as a working view to something else. No thought of his
could ever compass the fulness of truth within him. What, then, of
nature?

Corresponding to the thinker's positive knowledge, to the specific law
or order, which at one time or another he finds manifest in his world,
there is the well-known, but often misunderstood, character of nature as
a great mechanism, moving of course under the law. But corresponding to
his only tentative acceptance, though always trustful use of what he
knows, there is the much neglected character of nature as not an idle,
unproductive mechanism, always doing exactly the same thing, but, if I
may so speak, a moving, developing, ever-productive one, serving some
end larger and deeper than the known law. Nature must indeed be a
machine if the thinker's knowledge demands uniformity or law, but an
instrument of something other than her mechanical self, in short, not a
merely revolving, but an evolving, always productive machine, if the
knowledge itself is never final.

The material, mechanical character of nature, as I have said, is often
misunderstood. The real meaning of it is lost, and with serious results.
In the first [p.219] place, it is taken as if it involved a wholly
external, physical nature, and in the second place it is taken as if it
represented this nature only as moving through its changes _according to
a certain law_ and as having in consequence nothing to do but keep up
the dead, strictly "mechanical" existence of its law-fixed character and
incidentally involve man in the tireless turning of its fatal wheels.
But nothing could be more superficial, or even more needlessly
superstitious, than this. Obvious facts are overlooked or, if seen,
forgotten. The simplest demands of a truly scientific mind are slighted
so inexcusably. Could any law of an alien, external nature ever be an
actual or possible object of knowledge? And could such law as is known
--of a nature not alien--ever have any but a relative value, a
provisional mediate character? Nature may be a machine, but the law of
her moving is never identical with any law in positive knowledge, though
what is known is always informed with the law of her moving; and this is
to make her more than a mere machine. Again, no known law is ever _the_
law, and under _the_ law nature must be qualitatively different from
what under the known law she appears to be. To neglect this difference,
then, is seriously to misunderstand the mechanical character of nature.

Yet some one promptly objects that I am not at all fair to the common
understanding of mechanicalism. I am told that no one ever thinks of
nature as revolving strictly in accord with any known law. All men who
give any thought to the matter concede that the really ultimate law must
be not anything that is known, but only what is yet to be known, and is
[p.220] merely like in kind to such laws as men have cognizance of. This
interesting concession, however, quite fails of its purpose, since it
does not meet the real difficulty here in question. It shows
mechanicalism, not indeed bound to any particular knowledge, but
nevertheless still conceiving the final lawfulness of nature _after the
analogy_ of a particular law, the merely known or unknown or unknowable
character of which matters not at all. The analogy is what misleads. The
analogy only serves to deaden what really lives.

When will men cease to think of the whole after the analogy of the part?
Of _the_, as if it were _a_? When will God cease to be only another
person? And the universe only another thing? And the lawfulness or unity
of all nature only another formula? This or that formula may show nature
a mechanism as smooth running and as blindly given to dead routine as
could be imagined, but nature is ever more and other than known formulæ
of men, and as more and other, or say as answering to the free spirit of
truth that moves in the thought of men, she is as free in her real
lawfulness as she is infinite. By reason of her infinity there is no law
that she may not break. _A_ law may make her a mechanism, dead and idle;
_the_ law makes her an organism living and productive. How a
positivistic science, making all knowledge wait on actual experience,
and accepting all knowledge only tentatively, can ever be
mechanicalistic or appeal to the ordinary understanding as an argument
for the mechanicalistic view of things is hard to conceive. If one
reasons from known forms to uniform activities, must one not also reason
from the always provisional [p.221] and developing knowledge to
productive activities? Must not the mechanism evolve into something
more, adding something to man's life, realizing something for all life,
enlarging even the nature of God himself?

Once more, therefore, corresponding to the law that men may know and
that they can know only as their working hypothesis, there is nature, a
mechanism moving and herself at work, while corresponding to the great
living fact of nature's final lawfulness, or to the thinker's sense of
truth as a spirit or principle, not a form or creed or programme, there
is the constantly, genuinely productive life of nature, the mechanism,
as has now been said several times, ever evolving beyond its form and
law. Her law is not a law, any more than the thinker's passion for truth
can be finally satisfied by a formula or than God's continuously
creative life can ever culminate in a single finishing act. The
doubter's world, in short, or so much of it as is said to be material,
is not law-bound, but law-free:[4] an organism, not a mechanism; and
upon the value of this vision of nature, upon the theoretical or the
practical value, whether to science or to philosophy, to morals or to
religion, to politics or to industry, it seems hardly necessary to
dwell. But, to add a word or two in very general appraisal of it, such a
nature, served as it is by every law, by every mechanical action, yet
bound to move, is active always from design; its life is essentially
purposive. Not that it serves the purpose of anything, or any being,
beyond itself, but in every part and movement it is itself always
maintaining an end, the end of its [p.222] its own untethered reality.
In words used before, and applied alike to the spiritual and the
material, it is at once dynamic and teleologic.

Such a nature, be it especially observed, is the basic condition, if not
also the very inspiration of our modern industrialism. This industrial
age, struggling against the old-time militarism, in its religion, in its
art and in its literature, in its leisure and in its labour, in city and
in country, is an age of machinery; of machinery in all the manifold
forms demanded by all the various departments of human life, not of
wheels and belts alone; an age of the conscious employment, for human
purposes, of the resources of all sorts, the materials and the forces
which the natural environment affords. Freedom, not slavery, is
recognized as man's ideal portion, and in order to ensure the freedom,
not human nature, but physical nature is mechanicalized; or, with the
same intent, all the formal means, or instruments, of life are taken as
incidents of environment, not as essential to man. So is industrialism
supplanting the old-time militarism that sought, in all the relations of
life, to identify the human with the instrumental. Witness the values
now put upon theories and creeds, upon rites and institutions, upon
personal habits and social laws. All of these, to begin with, are means,
not ends; and, further, they are means whose devising--so man is
insisting, as never before--must be, as near as possible, true to
nature. The sovereign conviction of this age of industrialism appears to
be that the only sure way to human freedom is the way of nature;
employment of such instruments as she can supply; obedience to such law
as she may disclose.

[p.223] But many have found this age of industrialism insufficient. It
seems to them so materialistic. It would view things so much from the
standpoint of cold naturalism. The attitude of _laissez faire_ as
meaning "Let nature do the work," has so widely possessed the minds of
men. If only we could get back some of our former idealism and regard
nature as once more subject to some supernatural will! Despair like
this, however, is blind and as needless as blind. Dependence on a
lawful, mechanical nature can bring to human life no loss of what is
truly ideal and personally worthy. Instead, it brings constant gain, for
the knowledge of law and the making of machinery do not rob men of
personal opportunity, but rather make the opportunity for personal
achievement only the more manifest. A mechanical nature is always for
man, not man for a mechanical nature; and its movement is always
productive for man. If, then, industrial life has tended, as it has been
supposed to tend, towards materialism and fatalism, the reason can lie
only in the blindness of such as refuse to see clearly this visible
fact. Not merely something always doing, but something always that man
is doing is the definite message of a nature that ever manifests herself
under the form of law. To the thinker, in no uncertain syllables, she
says: Go forth and do. And our age of industrialism, if hearing this
bidding, will lose its unnatural materialism, and find itself quick with
a moral and religious instead of a narrowly practical and commercial
motive.

So in the doubter's world are the spiritual and the material genuinely
sympathetic.


[p.224]

III. A GENUINE INDIVIDUALITY.

Besides the reality, without finality, of all things in experience, to
which we gave our first attention in this chapter, and the perfect
sympathy of the spiritual and the material, which we have just seen to
give new dignity to the intellectual life, making thought free, and new
worth to the life and movement of nature, making nature not lifelessly
mechanical, but mechanically productive; besides these two features of
the doubter's world, there still remain two others to be observed by us.
For the first of these there is the fact of a genuine individuality.
Different persons, as well as different things, possess a substantial
worth to the real and the true. No one may be either real or worthy by
himself, but no one is unreal for being dependent on others. The
persons, like the things, that work together for what is real, find the
service its own reward. Reality, having no exclusive resting-place must
itself be dependent. It is dependent on an infinite multiplicity of
differences. Therein lies the person's chance for individuality; nay, it
is his right to it and assurance of it.

Before the days of Descartes, to speak generally, the typical individual
in human society--and let me say also, though at the expense of running
into a rather violent metaphor, the typical individual in any class or
group whatsoever--was the soldier, a creature of another's will, doing
only another's work, and having reality only by virtue of characters so
apart from individual peculiarities as actually to imply existence in
another world. The individual, in other words--if [p.225] at once real
and worthy--was then an unearthly being. For a being so constituted, or
living as if he were so constituted, the creationalistic theology and
the analogous monarchical politics were of course largely responsible,
since in their different ways they took individual independence of
action from the general run of mankind. They imposed on men at large a
certain uniform of life and belief, and then, as it were, appeased them
for this suppression with a doctrine of another life in a world yet to
come. Plainly, then, the time was not one when personal individuality,
except as it was referred to the other world yonder and apart, was
recognized as of much positive worth. Under the regime of prescribed
routine, of life with regard to the hereafter, and of mysterious powers
of all sorts, more or less in good standing in the realm of the
unworldly, personal individuality, though in itself not without some
honour, was valued chiefly and primarily for the different conditions,
the different relations to the things of this world, and the different
views of these things, which men succeeded in overcoming, or rather in
completely denying and eschewing. A worthy individuality was thus
secured rather through self-denial than self-expression; through the
vassal's devotion to his lord, the gallant's submission to his lady, the
courtier's humility before his king, or the saint's self-abasement
before church and heaven. Just think a moment of resting your claim to
distinct personal worth on the mere fact of what you have eschewed or
escaped being in some way different, perhaps more worldly, more
dangerous, and more powerful, from what some others have eschewed or
[p.226] escaped, and you will be able to appreciate the main ground of
the ideally significant distinction between man and man in the days
before Descartes.

But with the advent of the doubter's view of life absolutism and its
appropriate other-worldism melted away like snow beneath a noonday sun,
and upon their going self-denial ceased to be the cardinal virtue and
the chief ground of an approving self-consciousness. Authority came to
be placed not in a visible form, but in an abstract principle. Law
became superior to laws; monarchy to monarchs; divinity to Gods; truth
to truths, and righteousness to rites and habits. The abstract
principle, too, instead of being, as many might imagine, a wholly
shadowy thing, real only to the logician, stood for something vital and
substantial, for something wholly real, for an inner spirit or life or
power in the very things of experience. Authority, henceforth refused to
any specific thing, whether person or manner of life, institution or
formal belief, became a prerogative of all things together, of all
persons or all manners of life or all creeds; and, residing in the
working together of them all, it made personal worth consist no longer
in the denial of individual characters and relations, but in honest
assertion and open use of them. As some have liked to describe the
change, the "universal individual," the individual as an authoritative
and heaven-made type, that dictated a life and a belief to others
generally, passed away, and in its stead, instead of unity as itself an
individual, instead of an incarnate type, came unity as in the relation,
or the activity maintaining the relation, of all individuals. Instead of
a single planet, for [p.227] example, as the controlling centre of the
heavenly bodies, came the unity of the solar system through the force or
the law of gravity. Instead of a monarch or a book or a city the
self-sufficient ruler of human life and human thought, came unity
through the ballot; through freedom of thought--always loyal only to a
real unity and in being thus loyal also always tolerant; and through all
sorts of like means to individuality. The "universal individual" died,
and there arose, as it were, out of his grave the living unity of
manifold individuals, each one different, yet each quite essential.

And the change brought a transfiguration. It was as if the human soul
had entered a new body, or as if the human body had received a new soul.
Not least among the significant evidences of the new life were the rise
of the study of history and the awakening of a keener and more practical
interest in men and things the wide world over. With its valuable
accounts of the manifold experiences of different peoples and different
times, at last seen to be real parts even of the life present and at
hand, the study of history became wonderfully absorbing and inspiring;
and not less valuable than this travel in time was the travel in space,
the real travel or the imaginary, which accompanied it. Furthermore,
such ideas as balance of power and preservation of the worth and
integrity of the individual nation, and division of labour and right of
free speech and of political and religious liberty, developed into most
powerful influences in the life and consciousness of society. And, to
return definitely to the single person, he found himself, not in spite
of, but because of his [p.228] special place and special standpoint, an
active participant in the effective life of his time. Instead of being a
mere soldier as before, he found himself a mechanic; certainly the
proper inhabitant of a mechanically productive nature.

Doubtless the term soldier lends itself more readily to philosophical
generalization than the term mechanic. Perhaps, too, distance in time
lends enchantment to the view, for the day of the soldier was, while the
day of the mechanic is. The day of the soldier has reached the stage of
romance and reflection, while the day of the mechanic suffers from what
is commonplace and prosaic, from the associations of a particular life,
from dust and smoke and factories, from tools and utilities. Yet the
mechanic must be the romantic figure of the future. He is the typical
individual of these modern times, of these times of the free because
practical thinker, and of a nature not lifelessly mechanical but
mechanically productive. Forget the grimy hands and the noisy machinery,
the overshadowing smoke and the apparent absorption in mere utility, and
think only of the man, who in his best moments feels himself
individually responsible and capable, who believes in himself as having
at once a peculiar and a necessary part in the real life of his time,
and who expresses himself through some skilful mastery over the
resources of nature, applying to them the principles his own thinking
has uncovered, and using her machinery to the ends of his own nature,
which, as we have seen, is bounded only by the "unity of experience."

Remember, too, the mechanic of our modern world is [p.229] not the
factory labourer alone. Wherever in social life, whether in political
activity or in industrial management, in educational methods or in
religious effort, there appears a man who appreciates the need first of
observing natural conditions and finding natural laws, and then of
acting only in accord with the suggestions of the laws discovered, just
there is the mechanic, the responsible agent of a law-free but always
lawful nature. The soldier as creature of this world was only a passive,
wholly material part of a mechanism which depended for its movement upon
some outside power or will; but the mechanic, be he humble labourer
skilful in the use of tools, or political leader supporting no law that
is not, so far as can be known, in accord with natural life, or
religious reformer loyal to life as it is, shares positively in the
activity that makes the machinery go and in whatever this activity
produces.

And yet one thing more must be said. Just as before we had to view free
thought in the light of a divided labour, the individual sharing in it
only as he treated his own peculiar experience as hypothetical, as a
means to an end, not merely an end in itself, or as he was subject to
the restraint and correction of the different experiences of others, so
now we must recognize that effective activity, not less than true
thinking or than realistic experience, is also necessarily the labour,
never of one alone, but of many. The successful mechanic--in other
words, the fully responsible agent of a law-free nature--is never an
isolated creature with merely such a sentimental concern for his
neighbours as might spring from the recognized chance [p.230] of meeting
them in that world of the hereafter, where all are to be equal and where
love and peace are to supplant the present hate and rivalry; he is, on
the contrary, one among others, different from him, it is true, and
often very positively at variance with him, but engaged with him in a
single activity and achievement. His difference works not against, but
with their differences for thoroughly controlled, truly effective
activity. As things are real, though never final, so men, at work in the
world, are individual and individually important, but never alone.

The facts in the case, logically and practically, appear to be somewhat
as follows: The individual's view-point, and the special machinery by
which he undertakes to realize it, can be only tentative or provisional;
they have the character, and usually he knows that they have the
character, if I may use a somewhat extravagant term, of makeshifts; and,
such being the fact, he is bound always to be in a state of constraint
or tension, in a relation of suspense towards them and towards the
environment to which they refer or belong. He feels a positive
resistance, a something disposed to counteract what he would do, and of
course the feeling means that he is really party to a growing life, not
established in a completed life. Suppose a view-point, or a machinery
that was perfectly applicable, that worked perfectly, that never did and
never could give out, that might not even very suddenly go all to
pieces, and that therefore put no strain nor uncertainty upon him who
held or employed it; could such a view-point or such machinery be of any
service to a growing life, to productive [p.231] activity? Most
certainly not. Tension, or a strained relationship, is necessary to
every individual's conduct and to every individual's ideas. But this
strain, to be real, just to accomplish its own purposes must be not
merely of a person with his own ideas or with the outer world to which
the ideas refer, but of a person with other persons; not merely of
conscious man with a mechanical nature, but of conscious and
mechanically active man with other conscious and mechanically active
men.

It is now an old story for us, but an important one, that there must be
society. A genuine individuality requires society. Society is a medium
not by which something is added to individual life, but by which
something in individual life is kept real and manifest. By maintaining,
as it were always from without, the natural tension of individual life,
it ensures to the individual the constant growth that is his legitimate
inheritance. The doubter is a social creature. The free thinker
accepting his ideas only tentatively, though at the same time using them
hopefully, sure that they will lead somewhere, is a social creature; and
the mechanic is a social creature, being one with others for whom life
is not routine but growth, and among whom the growth in which each has
his part induces constant tension, the tension of difference, the
tension of opposition and competition, the tension of mutual correction
and compensation, the tension, finally, of reality refusing to be bound.
Not the individual's provisional standpoint, nor yet the machinery that
he employs and that sooner or later must go to pieces, not these alone,
I must therefore reiterate, make the individual effectively [p.232]
active in a growing world, make him a worthy creature doing the work of
nature or of God; these have their place and part; but constant relation
to other individuals, the objects not less of hate than of love, not
less of rivalry than of friendship, is also essential.

In the so-called material world all things, in and by themselves unreal,
get reality, yes, get individual reality, only as through their very
differences they work together for what is real. In the world of mind,
or thought, if this can be imagined apart from the world of things, all
thoughts or ideas, in and by themselves untrue for being subjective,
relative, and partial, get truth only as also through their differences,
so tense and interactive, they work together for what is true. And,
likewise, in the world of persons, if indeed this can be imagined apart
from the world of thought, all individuals, call them now mechanics or
what you will, though in and by themselves without personal worth or
real individuality, without freedom or immortality, get genuine worth
and are assured even immortality only as shoulder against shoulder they
work together for a life that is true and real, worthy and genuine.

But in an earlier chapter, dealing with "The Personal and the Social,
the Vital and the Formal in Experience," a different argument for
individuality was insisted upon. Then the person was individual because
of his independence of particular form; now he is so because a real life
demands the particular and different, with which he is assumed to be
necessarily identified. Then he was the "living, integral exponent of
the unity of experience," free with the [p.233] genius of universality,
now he is one among all the particular conflicting elements of that
unity--or at least of the reality to which that unity refers. So there
appears to be even an inconsistency in my thinking. Yet, I venture still
to think, the inconsistency is only apparent. Certainly it should be
remembered that the person's asserted genius for universality was not
for the universal in an abstract sense, in the sense of the universal as
something by itself and apart from particulars; rather it was for a
constant enriching of the universal through particulars, for the
translation of any one particular relation and experience, which had
reached a higher state of development, to all the other actual or
possible relations of life; and this can mean only that the universal,
in which the personal individual has a place, is not denying or
betraying, but always holding and lifting up to itself all particular
factors or elements in the unity of experience or of reality. Simply,
though perhaps abstrusely too, the universal is just all the
particulars; unity is always in and through difference; and there is,
therefore, without inconsistency, a case for individuality from either
side. Indeed, the life of the individual being, as was said, always in a
tension or strain of difference, of opposition and competition, is bound
to have, it can be real only as it has, both a particular form and a
genius for universality. Not in the sense of that conventional theology,
crudely dualistic and unthinkable, but in a sense that is not to be
gainsaid and that may give some meaning even to the conventional
theology, every individual is real only in having a body and a [p.234]
soul. The soul of a man is only his genius for universality, but for a
universality that works through, not that is independent of, the
particular.

So the difference between this chapter and the former chapter is merely
one of emphasis. The double character of the individual, however, as it
is now before us, starts an inevitable question. Is the individual as
immortal as real? If he is immortal, does the immortality belong to both
sides of his character, to his body and to his soul, or only to one?
And, admittedly, this question offers more serious difficulties than the
suspicion of inconsistency. How can it be met?


IV. IMMORTALITY.

To write a useful essay on immortality has long been one of my
ambitions, and, as regards the views in that essay, my faith and my
reason alike have so far brought me to this thesis: _Whatever is real is
immortal_.[5] "A most meagre contribution to the subject," I hear some
one exclaim. But is it so very meagre after all? "A most gloomy
contribution," says another, "for evil, and above all death, are real."
But is it so gloomy? Remember, not even death can be real alone.
Possibly, too, the meagreness will seem less and the gloom will be
illuminated if the need of the real being also the ideal, is brought to
mind. That the real must be ideal, that the world must be so [p.235]
constituted that the law of whatever is good will prevail in it, has
been a faith manifested among all men and expressed through history in
countless ways. True, no particular experience ever satisfies it. Not
even the particular things we adjudge to be best are adequate to it, and
the things we think evil, the suffering and the hardships of all kinds,
the always tragic death and the too often offensive life, seem its
eternal rebuke. Yet the faith remains, and you and I and all others are
forever calling out to it. Our very doubts are its altars; our honest,
rational thoughts, as they are uttered, are prayers; perhaps the only
prayers to which we have any right.

So the real, which must be also the ideal, is immortal; and this, quite
apart from any particular questions about the body or the soul, makes a
world to live in and to hope in, whatever happens. Of body and soul,
too, it says something. These, in just so far as they are real, are
immortal, and any real relation between them is immortal also, for the
conclusive test of immortality is just reality, reality here and now.
Whatever is real in your life or in mine, whatever reality our present
personality may possess, be it physical or spiritual, be it both or
neither of these, that and only that is immortal. That and only that,
however, let it be said again, is now or never. The most serious error,
so it seems to me, in all the controversy about immortality, is the
notion, or the superstition, that something that is real now can pass
away, or that something real in the future is not real, not freely real
now. With this error corrected, of course at the expense of certain
attempts to bind reality to [p.236] something that is visible, if not to
the natural eye, at least to the eye of the mind, man has nothing to
fear. Reality will hold him to itself, will support whatever truly
inheres in his friendships or his family ties, in his best hopes or in
his personal conceits, for ever and ever. Reality can never betray what
it has ever harboured.

And the whole trend of thinking in this book has been to make the
reality here spoken of a most hospitable harbour. So innate to all
experience is the spirit of truth, the principle of veracity, that life
can have no absolute illusions. True, life also can have no positive
knowledge final and exact, so that all things definitely manifest are
only relatively true or real. All things definitely manifest, whether to
the consciousness that looks without or that looks within, are mixedly
true or false, real or unreal. But just this impossibility, now so
familiar to us, at once of absolute illusion and of absolute knowledge,
is, as said so often, a condition of _the_ true and _the_ real, and it
means in this place that nothing which is ever defined, which is ever
hypostasized or apotheosized, which in any way is erected into a thing
or nature quite by itself, possessing determined or determinable
qualities, can ever be said to be either mortal or immortal, since it
must be as truly one as the other. It must be significantly, but never
purely and exclusively either. Not this hand of mine nor that picture on
the wall, not this body which, so to speak, I seem to wear, nor that
soul, which you or I imagine to be in the body and more or less loosely
connected with the body, is unqualifiedly immortal. Nor yet [p.237] is
any of these unqualifiedly mortal. Still, again, there is immortality,
and an infinitely hospitable immortality, which the hand and the whole
body and the soul, be it yours or be it mine, all have a place and a
part in. There is immortality, and, besides those things that were just
named, divinity is also immortal. But even a God dies, this being just
one of the things that make him God. Any man, then, or any being, or any
thing, may say, "I am immortal." No one, however--to speak now only in
words directly applicable to man--may say, "My body is immortal," nor
even, "My soul is immortal," if, so speaking, he means only what he
seems to say. Body and soul alike, if two separate things, are _both_ of
them at once living and dying. They are equally mortal or immortal, for
only so, as two things, can they belong to the real self. Can parts, be
they two or many more, ever be unmixedly what the whole is? There is
immortality, then, yet nothing, not the body nor the soul, is wholly or
selfishly immortal. Reflect, to take an illustration from the practice,
if not from the conscious thinking of men, how through the centuries of
the dualistic view of human nature, the saving, or the losing, of the
separate soul has been a keen human interest, and how the separate body,
living, has been neglected and despised, and, dead, has been cherished
and honoured. Yes, man's immortality is deeper, and it is more
hospitable, than any distinction, be this invidious on one side or on
the other or be it not, between the physical and the spiritual. Even in
the case of the spiritual, _the_ cannot be _a_.

The soldier and the mechanic have been mentioned [p.238] as types of
personal individuality appropriate respectively to the medieval and the
modern period, to the period of the "universal individual," on the one
hand, and of unity realized, not through a type, but through the working
together of different individuals, on the other. The type was of another
world; the living unity is here and now in this. For the mechanic, then,
death is not what the soldier has found it, and immortality is different
too. But how fully to describe the difference, and how above all really
to appraise it, I do not clearly know. Perhaps there is not enough of
the poetic in my nature. The soldier, as the political historian or as
the philosopher sees him, has had his appreciative poets, but the
mechanic has been little sung. The mechanic's death, however, and the
life following it, afford a theme that some poet of the future, let me
hope, will be able to do justice to. The soldier leaves this for another
world, by his violent death only fulfilling his extreme subjection here.
The mechanic, somewhat like the tools which he employs, actually
continues with the always productive life of this world, by his death,
natural rather than violent, even contributing to, as well as sharing
in, what is produced. Not less than the soldier's is his after-life an
appropriate fulfilment of his earthly career; each gains through death
the natural reward of his life's service. But though I find myself so
unable to say what I would, to express either in prose or in poetry all
that I seem to feel, there is just one thought that I must try to
articulate, and that will certainly assist the understanding of the
difference between the two deaths or the two after-lives.

[p.239] Soldiers are companionable, of course, but they live less in and
with each other than in and with the will which they serve or than in
and with the separate world which at any moment may suddenly take them
to itself. Their lives, accordingly, or their deaths, are aloof from
each other, and are brought together only through their common
subjection or their common destiny, through something which is without.
But the mechanic is social in his own nature, in his own right. The very
reality, too, of the world in which he works is, as in so many ways we
have seen, maintained only by a divided labour. It is, then, a reality,
or a labour, that bridges the chasm between one man's life and
another's, as well as between all separate lives and the unity of all
life. It makes the many lives "parallel" and harmonious--nay, it makes
them actively and vitally sympathetic. Not, as is certainly true, at the
expense of any one's real individuality, for each man has his place and
his part, real and immortal, and not one falls unnoticed or unguarded to
the ground; but, nevertheless, whatever all have and do, they have and
do together. They live-and-die together. There is, in a word, but one
death, as well as but one life, the life or the death, which all share,
and which accordingly is definitely and specifically nowhere and
nobody's. And in the light of this supreme unity, while any live, none
can be merely dead, or while any die, none can be merely alive or living
to themselves or their time alone. And, living and dying together, in
and with each other, all are parties to the immortality of what is real.

So, again, there is immortality for mankind--the [p.240] immortality of
him whom I have called the mechanic. There is immortality, mine and
yours and ours. We die, but not as dies the soldier, who leaves this
life for another quite apart, securing there a companionship denied him
here; we die a death that is never death alone, and we die as we live,
in a companionship that is real now and throughout all time.
Furthermore, our death is always, or always may be, self-denial, and
self-denial, too, in its supreme moment, the moment of its greatest
achievement, but our self-denial is also very different from that of the
soldier.

There is immortality, then, but what results has all that has now been
said for the interpretation of history, for our feelings about the life
and death of our fellows, and for the relevant doctrines of
Christianity?[6]

We commonly think of history as the passing of persons, nations, and
civilizations. Men come and go, but history goes on for ever. To be
sure, history accumulates, as if its gifts from humanity, innumerable
treasures, books, relics, institutions, buildings, machinery and the
like, but the donors, as we are wont to think, are lost to it, remaining
as ideal influences perhaps, but not as vitally active in the life they
once assisted. This common view, however, must now seem wrong. The past
must ever persist in the present, and not as an aside in some other
world, nor yet as merely so much ideal influence, but vitally as a party
to the present. Those that were must also live now. Have we their
literature? Yes, and their consciousness [p.241] too. Their
institutions? And also their life. Their achievements? And their power
and will. Altogether too fanciful, some one thinks; but give it meaning
from what has been said here especially about individuality. In the real
world there can be but one life and one death, and we individuals,
whatever our century, divide the labour of them both. Even our present
life and consciousness and our will must be said to belong, in return,
to those who have gone before; for it is wrong, it must be wrong, to
think of the life of the past and the life of the present as two lives,
as independent and perhaps even different in kind. Not those that are
now gone once lived and we live, but they and we are living, they in us,
and we with them; they in the world of our life, not in a world yonder
and apart. They live in us, to suggest a simple analogy, that is perhaps
more than a mere analogy, very much as our own past selves, our infancy
and our youth, are alive with us and in us to-day. If a physical
scientist can see the same force in the military weapons and engines of
ancient times that he sees in those of our own time, if a sociologist
can find the same social phenomena then and now, may not the historian
regard the older life in general and the newer life as not less
intimate? Did different winds blow in 1492 from those that blow to-day?
Was it a different sun that shone in 500 B.C.: from that which shone in
A.D. 500, or which shines, or tries to shine, to-day? We do not deny
that the animal nature is still alive in us as well as around us,
although at the same time we suppose it to belong to a very early period
in our development. Why, then, should we exclude what is [p.242] so much
more recent? Because it is too distinctly human to be so robbed of its
temporal independence, of its own date and place? That is certainly a
strange reason in view of the fact that men have insisted on erecting,
in their minds, for the human nature that has passed away, a place which
is altogether timeless and eternal. Why not dignify human nature, then,
by making it, and all that it bears, eternal in its own natural life,
not in a sphere that is unnatural? It is sheer materialism, in letter or
in spirit, either to entomb the historic past, as some would, in books
and monuments of all sorts, or, as others would, to lay it aside in a
so-called immaterial world. Who does either of these things forgets how
the books are written and how the monuments are erected, and how in
general the things of the past come to be. The future is always a party
to whatever is done. The men who have ever achieved anything have always
been, in their character and in their work, as if made by the future,
"ahead of their times." An uncanny phrase, unless one can think of the
deeds and men of any time as in a vital unity with the deeds and men of
all times. A man is great only as he identifies himself with some social
force, with some actual movement of his day, fulfilling it out of a long
past, bringing it to focus and so making it definite and manifest, and
as the life around him which gave him birth, adopts his will and repeats
his achievement. History has many cases of human societies repeating in
their lives as a whole the careers of great men. Only it is not
repetition exactly; it is resurrection and continuation. Great men make
history, but they make it only because they [p.243] are alive in it
before their birth and survive in it, in its doing and in its thinking,
after they die.[7] Would history be even thinkable without such
continuity? Could we honestly call it history? What good American to-day
is not, convinced that he has a share in what Washington and Lincoln
accomplished years ago, and also--and this one may, or may not,
regret--in the doings of Benedict Arnold and Booth? And, to put a very
practical question, would it not be well if in the popular consciousness
great men, good and bad, were really identified with history instead of
being treated as fixtures outside of it? Make them separate fixtures and
you make them oracles, the spirits of quite another world, with which
the demagogue, as if a medium, can excite the people; but identify them
in a vital way with history and they must grow with it, speaking quite
as much out of the present conditions as out of the past. Hero-worship
is too often idolatry, and for my part the literalism of it is only
"spiritualism" trying to be respectable. Every extravagance, of course,
has to have its lawful or conventionally respectable expression.

But what, now, of friendship and family ties? Can we view these in the
same light? I think we would; I think we can; I think we must. True, it
is easier to speak in this large, "philosophical" way of history and of
the men who have had part in it, inventing and effectively using the
machinery that has enabled its progress, than of such matters as
friendship and [p.244] family. In these latter matters the heart more
than the mind is addressed. Still, the relations of friendship and
kinship are not themselves born, nor do they die and all friends abroad
and kin at home live and move and have their being only in these. Does
it destroy or even weaken the meaning or the reality of friendship to
have it said that the relation is as universal as particular or local,
and as eternal as temporal? Is a relationship worth less than any one of
its manifestations? Why, the universality of the relationship gives
meaning or reality to any manifestation. Friendship, then, or kinship,
for this person or that, cannot be separated from the experience in
general. Separate it, and one's friends or kin surely do die, remaining
after death, like the characters of the older history, as only ideal
"influences," or as unearthly spirits that sometimes idly chatter. But
in reality, friendship, or kinship, is one, not merely many, all of its
members labouring together for, and forever surviving in, what it truly
is. The friends, then, or the kin that lived, live still. In others
about us? Yes; and in ourselves too; or rather in the relation of man to
man or in the unity of all that lives. Not literally in others, then,
although the meaning intended was a genuine one, nor yet literally in
ourselves, for nothing crudely like transmigration of souls is in my
mind, but--to repeat--in the living relationship of friends or kin.
There is indeed a truth in transmigration, as also in other related
notions; witness all the facts of inheritance, of historical succession
or continuity, of social growth and personal character, of evolution;
but it is the truth, or is near to [p.245] the truth, of a reality that
is conserved even in its changing. The soldier of the past, let me say,
at his death was "translated," but the mechanic of to-day is transmuted.
The latter word may be stranger and harsher in sound than the former,
but there is truly less violence and more honour in its meaning. So,
again, friends and kin that ever lived, live still. Friendship and
fatherhood and motherhood and all the relations of kin, nay, all the
relations of life, that make our individuality real, that make it
personal, that make it social, that make, it natural, have been from the
beginning, live now, and must survive forever, and by their survival
hold for the present and the future life all who have ever been. Where
would faith go, and where worth and responsibility, if birth really
created and death destroyed, or if birth were a coming from no one knows
where, from a realm unlike and apart, and death the return? Birth cannot
create or introduce; it can only express, revealing and realizing. Death
cannot destroy or "translate"; it can be only fulfilment at a crisis.

The mere wordiness of a philosopher! Possibly. And yet Christianity has
very nearly implied, if indeed it has not actually said, and said or
implied again and again, exactly the same thing. To science, I know, we
are peculiarly indebted for the conception of the organism, or the
organic, which enables us to bring together the universal and the
individual, the eternal and the temporal, the omnipresent and the local,
without losing the worth or the reality of either, and of course--for so
they would not be together--without erecting separate quarters, or
worlds, for their [p.246] occupation; but, when all is said, science has
only applied at large the very special and personal doctrines of
Christianity, and has therein helped Christianity to a better
consciousness of itself. The Resurrection, the Immaculate Conception,
the Divinity, the Immediacy of the Kingdom, the Sacrifice, and the
Brotherhood of Man are doctrines which one and all testify quite
directly that our real individuality, our real being, lies not in a
separate existence of any sort, here or hereafter, but in the abiding
relations of the actual life now. In these the Christ resides, the
always living Christ. What else can the following mean? "In as much as
ye have done it unto one of these, my brethren, even these least ye have
done it unto me." And again: "For whosoever shall do the will of my
father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and
mother." The living Christ, one of the dogmas of our day, is more than a
fancy and more than a dogma, and for no one so truly as the scientist,
the evolutionist. Christ was too great, too deep-lying, too far-reaching
in human history not to be more. The letter of Christianity, we are
often told, has got to go, but it is quite as true that the real letter
of Christianity has got to stay, has yet to come: the real letter, I
say, not the parody of a mere physical appearance and reappearance
nearly two thousand years ago. If Christ was really not born as men are
born, if he did not really die, if truly he still lives in and with our
lives to-day, if Christianity honestly means the brotherhood of humanity
and the divinity of man, then simply the Christ was more than a pagan's
messenger from another world, and [p.247] more than the creature of a
single moment in history or a single place; also he reveals to us more
in ourselves than any of these things, and instead of resorting to such
notions as parthenogenesis and trance to explain the birth and the
resurrection, we must rather recognize in him, and in ourselves, an
individuality that has, not in spite of, but because of, birth and
death, a share in, a place and a part in the immortality of what is
real. Now I am not a good preacher, plainly, nor am I exactly a
sympathetic theologian, and also I know too well the defects of argument
through scriptural quotation; but I have to hope, as personally I
believe, that in the foregoing paragraph, given in conclusion to the
discussion of immortality in the doubter's world, I have suggested what
at least is not an unchristian appreciation of Christianity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our journey in the doubter's world here comes to an end. All things are
real, yet none final. The spiritual and the material in life are
sympathetic even to the point of being vitally at one with each other,
thought being free and practical, and material nature being lawful but
law-free, and mechanical but productively so, and being in her
productiveness definite opportunity, not blind necessity, to human life.
And, the "universal individual" being dead, having returned to the other
world from which he came, all particular individuals have real and
personal shares in the life that is, in the work that is ever to be
done. Living or dying, the individual, as we have found him, is the
mechanic of to-day, not the soldier of yesterday.


[1] The last few sentences seem like a paragraph from some psychologist
of the day. My colleague, Professor W.B. Pillsbury, for example, has
just published a book on the attention, in which appears the following
statement: "It seems that the problem of voluntary activity is largely,
if not entirely, a problem of the attention ... . The processes which
are effective in the control of a man's ideas are _ipso facto_ in the
control of his movements," and this, besides being the current
psychology, is quite in accord with our doubter's vision: "Well thought
is well done." (See _Attention_, chapter ix. London, 1907.)

[2] Chap. VIII., pp. 177 seq.

[3] Chaps. III., IV., V., and VI.

[4] See also an earlier discussion in this book, chap. III., pp. 49 seq.

[5] Two preliminary efforts have already been put in print. See the
Appendix, "A Study of Immortality in Outline," to a book: _Dynamic
Idealism: An Introduction to the Metaphysics of Psychology_ (McClurg,
1898). See, secondly, an article: "_Evolution and Immortality_," in the
_Monist_, April, 1900.

[6] Except for a few changes, the next few paragraphs are taken from my
article, "Evolution and Immortality," in the _Monist_, April, 1900.

[7] In a small book, _Citizenship and Salvation, or Greek and Jew_,
published some years ago, I have tried to show this of Socrates and
Christ.



[p.248]

X.

DOUBT AND BELIEF.


     There was once a brook that ran, at times slowly, at times more
     rapidly, through fields and woods, under trees and over rocks. At
     every chance, whatever the obstacles in its course, it fell, much
     or little, as it could; but impatience and uncertainty filled its
     life as the minutes and the hours passed. Had life nothing more in
     store for its troubled waters? Was this groping downward all? Were
     the memory and the accompanying hope, which haunted every thwarted
     move, of no avail? Would true fulness of life never be attained?

     But a great moment for the brook came, rewarding it at last,
     bringing assurance in place of threatened despair. A precipice
     intervened, and the waters fell hundreds of feet; a glorious fall
     --spray, sunlight, colour, eloquence.

     "Now," spoke the brook from the deep, smooth pool below, "now I
     have lived; now I know that my life was real and that my life was
     good, for I have found myself, I have found my world; and I have
     found them where I thought them not. And, speaking so, the brook
     flowed on contented.

The confession of doubt, which we set out to make with all possible
candour, is now nearly concluded even to the harvesting of the promised
fruit. The confession began, as will be remembered, with recognition of
certain general and easily demonstrated facts, of [p.249] which there
were five, as follows: (1) We are all universal doubters. (2) Doubt is
essential to all consciousness. (3) Even habit, though confidence be the
horse, has doubt sitting up behind. (4) Like pain or ignorance, doubt is
a condition of real life. (5) And the sense of dependence, so general to
human nature, gives rise to doubt, although also, like misery, it always
seeks company--the company of nature, of man, of God. Then, after this
beginning, which left us by no means so hopeless as might have been
expected, we proceeded to try the doubter, nay, to try ourselves, first
before the court of ordinary life with its ordinary views of things, and
secondly, before the court of science, and, in both trials, we found the
doubting justified. Alike in ordinary life and in science, even in
science where such a result was perhaps hardly to be expected, we found
what at least seemed like illusion and what certainly was paradox, and
almost against our will we had to conclude that a spirit of
contradiction and duplicity and vacillation dwelt at the very centre and
the very heart of our human experience. This spirit of violence, too, as
the evidence of its presence accumulated, bade fair to dispel whatever
hope our confession had left us. Yet out of the evidence there gradually
did appear a reason for deepest assurance, and in the end our fear, not
our hope, was dispelled. Contradiction was seen in its very nature to
possess positive value. It was seen to protect experience, even while
experience was specific and concrete, definite and individual, against
any fatal digression or partiality of view. It was deeply conservative,
corrective, and [p.250] compensative in its effect, but it was all this
without ever being merely negative or destructive towards anything,
since its own efficiency required persistent individual differences. To
experience it gave movement, constant unity or wholeness, realistic
value and poise, practicality, and, lastly, social expression. And we
were able, accordingly, to conclude, in so many words, that both
ordinary life and science, so given to duplicity in their standpoint and
in their ideas, were really building well, far better, indeed, than they
seemed or than they clearly knew. Contradiction, in short, as we came to
see it, meant unity, but not an empty, abstract unity; it meant unity
rich and real with an infinity of differences; and so what had at first
appeared an uncompromising reason for doubt turned, right before our
doubter's eyes, into an unassailable ground of belief, making the very
world which we had been so uncertain about a world for an inviolable
faith. But truth, we saw at once, could no longer be identified with a
formal idea, known or unknown or unknowable; reality could no longer
have the character of a fixedly constituted thing, whether such a thing
were present in experience or not; and perfection, even the perfection
of God, could no longer be a mere status, a passive possession of
certain characters, attributes, or prerogatives. Truth became, as was
said, in want of a better word, a spirit; reality was a life; perfection
was a power. And thereupon, with the new view thus afforded us, coupled
as it was especially with the sense in which personally a man could
claim reality for himself and yet be party to the factional life of
society, we were able to turn to [p.251] Descartes, an early modern
doubter, a father confessor of many doubters, and, overlooking some of
his shortcomings in thought and character, to appreciate both the use
that he made of doubt, the intimacy that he, too, found between doubt
and faith, and the world of reality, of most vital sympathy between the
material and the spiritual, of genuine, personal individuality, and of
immortality, through which he led us, doubter, universal doubter though
he was. That great Frenchman, as we were enabled to understand him, got
back the world, the self and the God which he seemed to have lost, but
he got them all back transfigured. He got them back, not by denying and
excluding what appeared negative and treacherous in their nature, but by
facing this and using it, by accepting it and turning it even against
itself. The very Paris to which he returned as believer was the same
Paris, the Paris of doubt and of evil in all its forms, that earlier,
hopeless and despairing, he had put behind him. And, once more, his
experience was ours, and so helped us to interpret and deepen ours,
quickening the value of our own previous discovery that within the very
sources of doubt lay the real bases of belief. Our own doubted world of
what was relative and artificial, and above all contradictory, had
already turned, without loss of anything that was in it, into a world of
reality and belief.

And so, for this concluding chapter, as but a sort of focussing of what
almost from the beginning has been borne in upon us, but especially at
the close has been rich in reality and meaning, we have a sixth general
fact, which may now be added to the original five. [p.252] _We believe
through our doubts; we believe, not in something apart, but in the very
things we doubt_. To this fact really inclusive of all the others, or if
not to this fact at least to this conviction which we have achieved
here, we shall now turn, and in our concluding chapter we may even
forget, or retain only as the appropriate background, many of those more
special or more technical details that from time to time have occupied
us. After so much, that to some, if not to all, who have followed me to
this place, may have appeared open to the charge of being mere theory,
certain simple, very practical considerations, appealing quite as much
to the emotions as to the reason, can hardly be out of place. Those who
are already satisfied, who foresee only repetition, who are themselves
without emotion, or who consider anything like the drawing of a moral to
be as useless as it is inartistic, need read no further.


I.

We believe in the very things we doubt. Doubt, this is to say, can
destroy nothing. It only calls for closer scrutiny, for wider and deeper
view, for greater achievement. Its effect is only to make over, renew,
or fulfil what has already been and must ever remain an object of faith,
and so doing it keeps the old faith alive. It questions all things, but
properly, consistently it raises, not questions of mere existence or
reality, but questions of meaning and worth, and whatever it truly
questions it always quickens. Have [p.253] we not found that with its
inborn and insatiable passion for truth doubt must believe in
everything, and that to satisfy this passion, since all things must work
together for what is real and true, it must reject nothing but seek even
the universe in everything? All things, from the momentary sensation in
your little finger, or the tree yonder on the lawn, to the personality
of God or the divinity of Christ as an idea in the consciousness of
millions of people, all things are; they are in experience; they are
unassailable realities of experience; but--and just this is as far as
the truth-loving doubter, the doubter who is honest with his own
self-consciousness, can go--what really are they? _What are they?_ is
such an honest question. In this question, too, there is more reality
for the things inquired about even than in any man's assertion that they
are this or that they are that. But the question _Are they?_ would be
downright treachery. We doubters, then, believe, but would ever know
what we believe; we have, yet would realize every possibility that what
we have affords.

Doubt, I repeat, destroys nothing. From time to time certain doubting
people have called their prophets impostors, and have imagined
themselves able to put the impostors out of the way, but, as history has
always shown, only with the result of reviving among themselves and
often of awakening in the minds and hearts of others the sense and
conviction of just that for which the offensive impostors may have
suffered violent death. Even history's petty impostors, too, as well as
those who have proved heroes and great leaders, have always had their
justification. An [p.254] absolute impostor has never been. Again,
certain people have cried illusion and unreality at things political or
moral or even at things physical, but only in the end to feel, and to
make others feel, first, their evident narrowness, if not their actual
dishonesty, and then their need of a more hospitable idea of what is
valid and real. Nothing can be, or ever has been, unreal. And, in
general, doubt of a thing or a person or a God only needs its own
conscious assertion to turn actually into an appeal from its particular
object to the ideal or spirit or principle for which the object had
stood, and upon this appeal even the object that has been for a moment
condemned is justified and glorified. Thus, doubt may deny or depose or
put to death, but as it is honest it also realizes or restores or
revives. Through doubt the sensuous, which is the particular and
visible, is ever becoming spiritualized; even this corruptible puts on
incorruption and this mortal puts on immortality. Or, in these words, if
we doubt we may reject the object, the letter, but we cannot reject the
letter without accepting and asserting the spirit, and we cannot assert
the spirit without recalling and exalting and even worshipping the
letter. The rejection makes for universality by casting down the
barriers of the particular experience of time or place, of person or
nation, of the Greek perhaps, if again I may look to history, or of the
Jew or of the Christian, while the recall and the worship make for
definiteness. Without the previous rejection the worship could be only
idolatry. So, as Descartes will be remembered virtually to have said,
doubt is innately loyal to reality in [p.255] everything, and just
through this loyalty the world it spurns, the world of God and man and
nature, is for ever called back, a real world once more, because a
realized, a spiritually realized world. Why forget, as so many seem to,
that reality is an achievement; achieved it may be, as with the brook,
even by a great fall?

But have you ever climbed a mountain up and up and up, through thick
woods, over rough, almost impassable trails, into clouds dense and
chilling, stormy and angry, over treacherous snows and frightful cliffs,
and come out at last on the very top to see both earth and heaven,
yourself between, the clouds dispersed, the hardships and dangers all
forgotten, the whole world real and yours? Well, that is doubt become
achievement. Have you worked at some problem of everyday life, or a
problem of science or philosophy, patiently or impatiently applying all
the rules and precepts at your command, trying every resort known to
you, and in final desperation many you only guess at, and then, when
failure seems almost certain, caught a glimpse of the real meaning and
the real way, attaining to an insight that reveals a new world to you?
That, too, is doubt rewarded. Have you ever visited, perhaps more
curiously than reverently, some great Catholic cathedral, or, better
still, some temple of the far Orient, and watching the worshippers
there, suddenly had a vision of religion as greater and deeper than any
Protestantism or even than Christianity? That, again, is doubt's
achievement. Have you ever suffered a great heartrending disappointment,
let me say a great personal loss, and [p.256] found it seemingly
impossible to return to the routine of your former life, but
nevertheless, almost imperceptibly, come into a sense of presence and
gain from the very thing that seemed taken from you? That, once more, is
doubt without its sting, robbed of its victory. Doubt means sacrifice,
often enormous sacrifice, but always a more than equal gain. The light
that casts the shadows of doubt, when one can face it, and really does
face it, as, for another example, in this book we have been trying to
face it, is so splendid and so uplifting.

So, a third time, doubt destroys nothing; it only makes reality forever
an achievement and belief a constantly active life. The fact, now no
stranger to us, that doubt is social, also shows this. Doubt is social,
as has been said, since by its isolation it makes the longing for
company, and by its greater freedom the larger opportunity for company;
and since also the very contradictions or controversies which arouse it
are never merely individual, being always social also, and social
relationship means effort and sacrifice, and is accordingly a peculiarly
interesting witness to the losses that doubt must suffer for its greater
gains. Doubt, in short, shows belief, working not merely for the reality
of all things, but also for the love of all men. As social, then, as
working for the love of all men, doubt involves sympathy. Yet not an
easy, passive sympathy. A restless, labouring, always growing sympathy
is the sympathy of the doubter; a sympathy that makes all it covers
labour and grow also. Does it hurt your business to doubt it
sufficiently to make you able to sympathize with the interests of
[p.257] another? To this question Adam Smith gave a timely answer when
at a critical moment in industrial history he found in sympathy a
condition of successful competition. Does it hurt your politics, if you
can lose enough of the partisan's conceit or the jingo's bombast to
sympathize with the other parties or the other nations? The value of
real independence in politics is one answer, and the idea of federation
among competing states, or of international polity as a basis of
successful national life, is another. Does it hurt your understanding to
outgrow your own profoundest ideas and see some validity in the
doctrines and formulæ of others? Does it hurt your Christianity to make
concessions to another's Christianity or to the worship of any land or
any time? The reading of the last great book, or the visit to the pagan
temple, is an answer. Simply the doubter the world over, social being
that he is by nature, imbued as he is with a living sympathy, must
recognize, and must labour to maintain or achieve, the unity of
humanity. For him just this is God, or truth, and it is worth far more
than anybody's religion or than anybody's rational formulæ. It must
stand, too, both as the universal authority which both religion and
reason have over the lives of men and as the motive or living principle,
or spirit, by which particular religions and particular formulæ, however
serviceable, are forever unstable.

But doubt, which is thus social and imbued with a living sympathy, and
which though requiring sacrifice does not destroy belief, but only makes
belief active and reality an achievement, may be viewed here in still
another way. It shows mankind using or spending [p.258] instead of
either hoarding or throwing away any of the resources of knowledge and
faith, of developed habit and personal association, which life
accumulates. Some doubters, as men say in the business world, invest
what they have; some speculate. Some are conservative, even timorous;
some are very rash. Yet doubt as expenditure is necessary to all who
would enjoy the proper, natural increase of their possessions, and while
the rash, be they transgressors or reformers, sensualists or
materialists, or equally impractical idealists, at a throw may win or
lose great riches of mind or spirit, the timorous and
ultra-conservative, the "practical" and conventional, are not less
dependent on chance. There are the new rich, too, and the aristocratic
poor, and both remind us strongly that the real use of what we have is
not only a duty, but also a very sober duty. To hoard blindly or spend
rashly is to risk unwisely, perhaps to lose all, or, if to win, to win
idly; while to use well, to doubt clearly and honestly, to doubt even in
one's belief, to doubt only for fuller meaning, for broader and deeper
life, for richer companionship, is personally to earn lasting spiritual
treasure.

Modern science, whose knowledge comprises merely working hypotheses, the
means to truth, not truth itself, or if truth, then only a living,
growing truth, affords one of the best examples of this. Modern science
is a great faith, a great belief, but only because it is a life, not a
status or possession, only because it is a constant spending, a constant
using of knowledge, that earns interest, even compound interest, as
regularly as the years go by. And experience in [p.259] general, as well
as science, is also a great belief, and also only because always
doubting and so always using and always earning.

Doubt, in a word, is more than a necessity of experience; it is
distinctly a duty. Experience itself is but another name for that hard
master who says to every unprofitable servant: "Thou wicked and slothful
servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I
did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the
bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with
interest. Take ye away therefore the talent from him and give it unto
him that hath the ten talents."


II.

That doubt is only the expenditure of the treasures of life for future
gain human history bears witness in a striking way. Times of a general
scepticism among any people have always been also times of
conventionalism and utilitarianism towards all things great and small.
To employ again a word used before, this means that life has come to
regard its establishments of all sorts as only "instrumental," not
final. Of course, conventionalism and utilitarianism are commonly
decried, just as the accompanying attitude of doubt is commonly decried;
but the fears, though not altogether idle, are usually short-sighted,
for there is gain ahead. In a certain community, for example,
patriotism, morality, and piety, long identified with specific forms and
customs and doctrines, have come at last to seem quite unsubstantial. A
rising cosmopolitanism perhaps has undone the first, sensationalism
[p.260] or naturalism the second, and mingled ritualism and secularism
the third. But however unsubstantial all three may appear in
consequence, they are nevertheless retained as still useful, as means to
some end, being at least good things to wear or to assume in any way,
and from the change, though it appear so like decline, the community in
the end is most decidedly enriched.

How can this be? In answer, let us beard the very king of the race of
the conventionalists and utilitarians in his forbidding den.
Machiavelli, with his teaching that the end always justifies the means,
and his open advice to the leader who would be successful, to make a
point of at least seeming loyal and good and pious, shows a typical
mingling of the sceptic and the utilitarian in sacred things. Moreover,
what Machiavelli taught was also common practice in his time, and soon
became a principle of brilliant statesmanship all over Europe. And to
add meaning to his case by associating it with others, conspicuously in
Descartes' time, as we have observed, and also in Athens at the time of
the Sophists, and in Jerusalem when the Pharisees flourished, the same
standpoint was much in vogue; while in our own times we do not need to
look far to find it. Education, social life, politics, religion abound
in it, for the tribe of the Machiavellists is no more a lost tribe than
it is one that began with him whose name it bears. If the name is too
offensive to some by reason of its connection with a particular
character and a particular period in Italian history, for Machiavellism
they may substitute institutionalism, certainly a more innocent term at
first sight; but the offensiveness, though hidden, [p.261] or
half-hidden, still remains a part of the fact with which we have to
deal. The meaning of institutionalism is just that of some asserted end
justifying any available means, and so under cover of its peculiar
conceits sanctioning violence. Watch any institution and see how one or
another of life's objects of devotion is become, or fast becoming, a
mere utility. The institution makes life mechanical, and doing this it
is as treacherous as it seems loyal to the treasured things of life, the
developed ideas and established customs; it is even as sceptical towards
them as it seems faithful; and in the spirit, if not in the letter, of
Machiavellism it shows them no longer implicitly worshipped, but in use,
which is to say, "put to the bankers," and so robbed of their character
of sacred treasures. And as for Machiavelli himself, it may be worth
while to remember that with all his offensiveness he has undoubtedly
been very much maligned, and that to any student of history he seems
only a very apt though an unpleasantly outspoken pupil of the most
powerful institution of his time--the Roman Church--for which things
moral and religious had certainly become effective instruments of very
worldly ambitions. So in Machiavellism or in institutionalism, the name
now being indifferent to us, we see worship passing into use; we see
sacred things become secular, or things supposed final becoming only
instrumental; and we see, therefore, what appears like loss or
decline.[1]

[p.262] But can there be anything besides loss or decline? This again is
our question, and the answer now comes quick and decisive, whether we
are thinking of Machiavelli or the Sophists, of the old-time Pharisees,
or of those in our own life. Decline and even fall never tell the whole
story of anything, and just because they mean use, even secular use.
That men must worship is surely true, but also men must and do use, and
the use, in spite of the strain of the offence and resistance which it
is sure to arouse, brings profit always. Use, secular use, may imply
sacrifice of the letter or the established form, but it always leads to
liberation of the spirit. In scepticism, therefore, and the coincident
conventionalism and utilitarianism towards sacred things, in the
institutionalism which harbours all these, though often darkly and
secretly, we may always read, what in truth history has again and again
exemplified, the throes of birth, the birth of the spirit. Must it not
be that any visible institution, be it ecclesiastical or industrial or
political or educational or ceremonial, just because an institution
designed in some way to serve an active, growing life, is always an
outgrown, falling institution? As in the case of the Roman Church in the
days of Machiavelli, an institution upon its establishment actually
justifies its enemies by its own practices, while the enemies, so
justified, do but lay it bare, exposing its hidden thoughts and ways,
forcing reform upon it, and perhaps in the end themselves "remaining to
pray."

So is the spirit born, and so do we see in the personnel of
society what a wonderful triumvirate, working [p.263] for the real
growth of human life with a power that nothing can resist, is made by
the avowed sceptic, the loyalist, always secretly conventional and
utilitarian, and the reformer, the great spiritual leader. Even
Machiavelli in his most offensive pronouncements must have felt
something between his lines which expressed would have transfigured
their meaning, not to say also his reputation, greatly, and, consciously
or unconsciously, he was certainly a party to the development of what is
best in modern life. As for the Sophists, whether we see them as
sceptics or conventionalists, did they not have Socrates among them?
Between them and him, when all is said, the difference was only that
between talent and genius, between great formal ingenuity, which always
means opportunism, and really vital insight, which, shattering
opportunism with its own weapons, means loyalty, not to existing forms,
but to the spirit dwelling in the forms. Much in the same way, too, the
Jewish Pharisees had Jesus, a contemporary, who did but recognize and
earnestly teach what they were really practising, namely, the utility of
the law, or the law for man, not man for the law. Only what for them was
merely a selfish opportunity, absorbed as they were in the vested
interests of their time and generation, was manifest to him--who was a
genius and who used for real gain the talent which they hoarded--as a
great spiritual fact, as a universal truth, bringing opportunity and
freedom to all men under all law, not to some men under one law. Thus
they were institutionalists; he, by merely turning their narrowness into
a principle of all life, became a reformer, and, indebted to them as he
was, he could [p.264] forgive them even when they opposed him. Genius
always forgives; the spirit always recalls and cherishes the letter that
has given it birth.

So the institution as an historical fact, whether we see it with the
eyes of Machiavelli or with those of a pope, with the eyes of Protagoras
or with those of Socrates, with the eyes of the Pharisees or with those
of Christ, may show worship turning into use, the sacred becoming
secular, but it shows also the life of society becoming enriched; it
shows investment for future gain; it shows doubt, not destroying
anything, but achieving only what is real; it shows the life of the
spirit.


III.

No period of man's earlier doubting can be more interesting than that of
the centuries just prior to the Christian era, when the peoples of the
Mediterranean contributed so much, directly and indirectly, to the
preparation for Christianity and to the discovery, or revelation, which
finally came and in due time changed the ancient to our modern world.
What the preparation was has already been indicated, at least partially,
in the references that have been made to the Sophists and to the
Pharisees. Christianity has been only the interest, the earned
increment, or rather should I not say the compounded principal, of the
scepticism, of the formalism and the utilitarianism which beset the
Greeks and the Hebrews, to mention no others, as their peculiar
civilizations were merging into the larger and deeper life of a great
empire. In their several lives the demand came, and came, too, from
within, not merely from without, as in all life [p.265] it must come,
for use of their gathered treasures, whether spiritual or material, and
the rise of Rome was but the result of that demand satisfied, of the use
realized. As for the scepticism, this with all its incidents made the
use possible, made it possible for the peoples to give or relinquish
what they had to the larger life to which they all belonged, while the
religion of Christianity spiritualized for them all the resulting
empire.

Those wonderful races of the Mediterranean, who achieved--at least some
of them--such great things in all that counts for civilization, became
at the last most extravagant sceptics, not only formulating, but also
very generally living up to, the conviction of ignorance and
forgetfulness of reality. Everything which their long past had gathered
for them they resigned--or let me say crucified--and themselves they
threw, as if with an investor's recklessness, upon a world of chance or
fate, upon a world seemingly of empty forms in all human relations, a
world of disguises for license and of mere conceits of moral power and
religious piety. Sensuous mysticism and pantheism, formalism of all
kinds, Stoicism, Epicureanism, legalism, and cosmopolitanism were
crosses upon which one people and another, one class and another, nailed
their long-cherished devotions, their love of God and man and nature, of
temple and family and country. A great doubting, then, was truly theirs.
A great sacrificial offering was their preparation for Christianity. In
a way, with a completeness that seems to have no parallel in history,
they put their talents to the bankers--despairing, of course, but hoping
also, [p.266] if only their doubting, when it came, may be supposed as
genuine as their earlier believing. From the North and from the East and
from the South their good men came, and their rich and their wise, and
laid what they had at the feet of the life that was new born.

People read their histories so differently. The pagan doubt, the
Christian revelation and belief, the conversion of the pagan world to
Christianity, the Renaissance, in which the conversion was in a sense
reversed, and the Reformation mean such different things to different
people. Some must still have it that paganism, or pre-Christianism,
ended in absolutely blind despair, in the avowal of complete failure--as
if such despair or failure could ever find words for its own utterance;
that Christianity came into a hopelessly pagan world wholly from
without, came into a world of nothing but unmixed doubt, and brought
with it nothing but unmixed belief; that the conversion was a sort of
conquest, by a power all its own capturing the pagans, so wholly
unnerved as to be quite incapable even of a futile resistance; that the
Renaissance, restoration as it was of the pagan life and thought, was at
best a great condescension on the part of Christendom and at worst an
unfortunate return to the pagan idols; and that in the Reformation the
Christian Religion Militant did but retreat upon the Bible as its
impregnable fortress. But such history can hardly be our history here.
For us the rise and the progress of Christianity have had quite a
different character. To strike at the foundation of that whole structure
the pagan doubting was too articulate. It was, also, too earnest. It was
too genuine. The races did indeed resign, as with [p.267] an investor's
recklessness, all that they had, but their recklessness was not unmixed.
Their doubting had hope in it as well as despair. It still loved the
spirit of what had been even when it betrayed the letter. It had its
martyrs, too, as well as its suicides; its sense of life as well as its
enervating fear of death. Say what you will, then, a great, warm,
yearning belief dwelt within it. And so, just because the pagan doubting
was too earnest and too genuine and too articulate, because it was, in
truth, a great sacrificial offering, the crucifixion on Calvary was also
too true to life at Athens and Alexandria, as well as to life at
Jerusalem, and the resurrection of the spirit was too true to life at
Rome; they were too true to mean anything but fulfilment and
achievement. Everywhere, in every place and in every department of life,
the letter had been rejected; but everywhere also--and this, nothing
else, was the true conversion to Christianity--the spirit was accepted.
Acceptance of the spirit, too, meant that in good time the letter would
be restored, as indeed at the Renaissance it surely was.

Christianity, therefore, came when the times were ripe for it. It came
not from without, but deeply from within the pagan life of the
Mediterranean. Moreover, if in this way, not in that other way, we must
read the rise of Christianity, then we must read both the Renaissance
and the Reformation under the same light. The Renaissance, as was just
said, brought a restoration of the letter; but, necessarily, of the
letter under the light of the spirit, of the letter transfigured. The
Renaissance, so dramatically manifested in the Crusades, was only
Christendom returning to its [p.268] birthplace. With its crusades to
Jerusalem, to all the old capitals, to the pagan ideas and institutions,
to the ancient languages and literatures, Christianity rediscovered
itself in the past, winning back in this way some of its childhood,
curing a homesickness that a worldly church had made it feel, securing
for itself such a deep experience as comes to a man who, after years of
wandering and forgetting, has returned to the home of his infancy. And
as for the Reformation--if indeed this was a retreat, shall we say, of a
defeated religion upon the Bible, its supposed impregnable fortress--we
need only to remember the pagan origin, the Hebrew and the Greek
inspiration, and the Roman atmosphere of that sacred book.

And of the relation of Christianity to paganism, just one thing more.
The Christian revelation, so wonderfully portrayed and enacted in the
life and character of Jesus, was only an idealization, a spiritual
interpretation, of the very present, the thoroughly actual life of the
time, of the life that the pagans, doubting but believing, despairing
but also trusting, resigning all but hoping for more, had already
brought upon themselves; a life of self-denial, of common, universal
humanity, all men being "members one of another," and of perfect faith.
Perhaps the self-denial was bravely concealed in an accepted subjection,
but it was not less real. Perhaps the common humanity was military and
imperial, yet it also was real. Perhaps, too, the faith was blind and
fatalistic, but it was nevertheless faith. Can faith go farther or do
more than fatalism? The pagans, then, had become Christians in fact or
status, and Christianity came, breathing [p.269] life into the bare
fact, into the self-denial, and the broad humanity and the faith, and
made these not the mere phases of bare fact or condition, but motives
and ideals, manifesting them heroically in a single human life, and so
in the form and with the power of a personal discovery of self.

Where genuine doubt is the God is always born.


IV.

To come down to more recent times, for open belief in what they doubted,
for doubt well controlled in its expenditure, for doubt as raising
questions of meaning rather than the more radical questions of reality
and existence, perhaps no people of Christendom has been so conspicuous
as the English. Of course, as has been remarked, expenditure may often
become too conservative, and the question of mere meaning may encourage
casuistry; and into the pits of undue conservatism and casuistry the
English have certainly fallen more than once, so that certain critics
have even found them, and in some measure the Anglo-Saxons generally,
given over to hollow disingenuous living. In English political life, for
example, the attitude during the conflict with the American colonies in
the eighteenth century affords a conspicuous illustration of this, and
intellectually and religiously English life, has its chapters of an
unfortunate reserve. But although no good and honest American can fail
to find objectionable solecisms, some of them decidedly British, in the
formulated and manifested life of the Anglo-Saxons; nevertheless English
history is a very obstinate argument in behalf of the English temper.
Frenchmen, though [p.270] so neighbourly to England, have been
conspicuously more radical than the English in their doubts and
problems, and in consequence have been at once more reckless and more
vacillating in their solutions. The English, always so practical,
throughout their history have held to their world as primarily real and
consistent, and have therefore neither lost themselves whether in fear
or in hope of some other sphere, nor been only fickle servants of this.
Consistently and constantly they have sought only the ever more
effective use of what they had, of what they found about them. Not
revolution, then, but evolution has been the keynote of their history.
Their other world, in practice, has meant other parts of this--witness
their colonial activity as well as their missionary enterprises--or only
other in the sense of deeper and fuller expression of this--witness the
testimony of so many of their historians. Macaulay, for a classic
example, dwells at some length and with much emphasis upon the English
people's genius for a progressive conservatism, remarking that in
religion and politics and social life they have given up less of their
past than any other people, and yet at the same time have kept in the
forefront of modern progress. It may be contended that this was truer in
Macaulay's day than at the present time, but there is enough truth in it
now to give it point.

Instead of courting doubt as if it had worth in itself, the English may
be said on the whole to have courted candour. Candour does not exclude
doubt, but it is never merely negative, and for this reason it is
peculiarly normal and wholesome, although of course having its own
dangers. To be candid, in the [p.271] sense of the word here intended,
is to accept what is, which in lack of a better term we may call nature,
and to insist only on seeing this, and living up to it, deeply and
fully. The doubting French have appealed to truth and righteousness or
reality as only an innate conviction, and so have easily missed the
possible realism of such conviction. Descartes made just such an appeal,
and though he did indeed gain, or rather regain, a real world, the
reality did not quite receive even from him, as we have seen, its full
due of closeness and intimacy with human life. Rousseau, later, made the
same appeal, finding his own personal will intrinsically good, but his
philosophy, though a passionate, uncontrolled belief in reality, was
taken, not unnaturally, as a call to revolution. But the simple, candid
English, on their side of the Channel, have appealed, not primarily to
anything abstractly within the self, not to a mere ideal or sentiment or
subjective belief, but to reality embodied and palpable--in a word, to
nature, the great all-inclusive sphere of candid experience. In France,
again, nature has failed ever to be a thoroughly practical thing, a
positive, directly interesting, wholly pertinent situation. It has been
a cry, of course, sometimes of alarm, sometimes of hope; a great
enthusiasm, too; a dream; an ideal--if not unideal--substitute for the
present life; a sphere often, too often, quite opposed to God and
government and organized society; but never, or almost never, a present
responsibility to be clearly recognized and calmly measured; never, or
almost never, a part and parcel of the present life; never, or almost
never, something that lives in and [p.272] through God and government
and society. In England, on the other hand, so differently, if Bacon and
Locke and Berkeley and even David Hume may be trusted; if Shakespeare
and Coleridge and Wordsworth, or Hobbes and Burke and Blackstone, or
Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer are representative; in England nature
has ever been very real and very present; not outside of manifest
English life, but actually incorporated in it. How else understand
English deism; the _laissez faire_ economics; the peculiar nature and
growth of the English constitution; the pragmatism of English science;
the sun-warmed atmosphere of English literature; the nature-homage and
bodily vigour of English recreation? How else account for the English
people's progressive conservatism?

The most radical doubt must eventually appeal to nature and, what is
more, must sooner or later bring man to live with nature practically and
responsibly, intimately and sympathetically; but candour, like the
candour of the English, that never doubts without at the same time
believing, lives ever with her. Perhaps the English people need to have
what they seem never to have had--though the Armada threatened something
of the kind, and the loss of the thirteen colonies, or even the Boer war
was, not without its value--a great, overpowering disaster, a deep
all-searching despair; yet, be this as it may, their part in the
struggle of a life that must always doubt in order to grow is always
instructive and is often inspiring.


[p.273]

V.

The sceptic has been referred to here as a member of a wonderful
triumvirate, and, leaving now the field of historical illustration, we
must return to that characterization. The other members of the
triumvirate were the loyal defender of the formal law and the great
spiritual leader. All three were said to be parties to the real life of
the spirit, and the sceptic seemed to have a co-ordinate part with the
others in this life. But was I not conceding too much? Certainly there
are many who will wish to protest. Yet I was only making the doubter and
the believer face each other squarely and honestly. _Both_ are parties
to any reform. No leader or true reformer ever can neglect or betray the
contentions of either. In the organizations of society professional
conditions may hold the two characters apart, but vitally they always
belong together. If truly we must believe in what we doubt, how can
there fail to be between them, not indeed a shallow and sentimental
sympathy, but a deep, heroic sympathy that is always superior to the
differences of the disrupted life, of a professionally organized
society, without betraying them?

At once opponents and companions--this is the truth about the doubter
and the believer. Consider how taken alone neither would be quite
justified, while together both are justified. Perfect approval or, for
that matter, perfect disapproval, can belong to neither singly, not to
you or me in our doubting, even though we fully confess, nor yet to him
who hides his doubts in an outward show that [p.274] almost deceives him
as well as others. Of course in all matters as well as in this of
intellectual honesty, the conceit of individual righteousness or
individual possession is a very strong one, but it is "easier for a
camel to go through a needle's eye" than for a man who is anything or
has anything to himself alone, to enter into any kingdom. Is not life
everywhere a movement and a struggle? And who is there, rich or poor,
law-abiding or lawless, righteous or unrighteous, faithful or
treacherous, believing or doubting, who can stand aloof, or who needs to
stand aloof, and say to himself: "I personally, within my own nature,
have no part in the struggle; for good or for ill, I am just what I am,
and with him that is against me I have and can have no dealings"? The
doubter, then, and the believer may have to look askance at each other;
the looking askance may be quite appropriate to the conflict in which
each has and must feel his social rôle, but, at most and worst, they are
only jealous lovers. They may be given, and profitably given, as much to
quarrelling as to gentleness, but they love still, and, to borrow part
of a line from a familiar college song, their battling love affords just
one more view of that which "makes the world go 'round"--instead of off
at some tangent.

Should some one awake to new views come to me and ask which I would have
him do, break away from his traditions and all that they involve or hold
to them, I could only say, in the first place, that, whichever way he
turned, he would have some, though only some, justification, for he
could not be either right or wrong exclusively; in the second place,
that his decision [p.275] not only must be made, and made strongly, one
way or the other, but must also be his, not mine; and in the third
place, that no decision should ever be an absolutely final settlement.
Decisions are only means to action, and as such they can settle nothing
finally. They are not even protocols of peace, often being, on the
contrary, merely signals for firing at closer range. Sometimes I know
they seem even like real treaties, providing the terms of a permanent
harmony, and they appear to determine just where the parties to them
really stand. But, after all, they do but bring the conflict home,
making it domestic or personal instead of settling it. So once more to
my inquirer I may say only this: Choose; fight; fight fair; fight with
yourself as well as with your enemy; with your belief, not merely with
his dogma; or with your doubt, not merely with his dishonesty. So
fighting you and he will truly be at once opponents and companions.


VI.

Is life, then, only a comedy? Is it no better than one of those
well-conducted duels that save the honour of all, concerned but bring
injury to no one? Let me say, in these last pages, that life appears to
be three things, to which I should like to call attention. It truly and
seriously is a comedy; secondly, it is poetic; and lastly, it has all
the gravity and earnestness of duty. Its very tragedy comprises all of
these. An old teacher of mine, a much respected and somewhat
old-fashioned professor at one of our larger universities,[2] [p.276]
once published a book entitled, _Poetry, Comedy and Duty_. Exactly what
his reasons were for associating these apparently incongruous phases of
life I do not recall, but the man and his title have remained pleasantly
and significantly in my memory, and the reasons which follow, in
substance if not in form, can not be very far from his.

Thus, as to the comedy of life, we need only to reflect that where
extremes always meet, where there is always conflict, but conflict of
such a nature that the parties to it not only may change sides, but also
in a genuine sense are always on both sides, in such a life politics
cannot be alone in making strange bedfellows, but the opportunity for
comic situations must be unlimited. A life in which reality has no
residence, and truth no place where to lay its head, in which fools may
utter wisdom and the wise may speak folly, in which reformers are easily
confused with transgressors and death itself is said to be life, is
bound to be richly and deeply humorous. Of such a life there can be no
understanding, into it there can be no insight, without the keenest
sense of humour. To say no more, that doubter and believer are
companions as well as opponents, is cause for a deal of merriment--at
least among the gods.

But life's comedy is also a poem, and no one save a poet can truly
comprehend it. Even a metaphysician must be not merely a humorist, but
also a poet; perhaps he must be more the poet than any other. Poetry is
the portrayal of life through suggestion of harmony, or poise, among its
conflicting elements. Nor can life be seen, or known, in any more direct
[p.277] way; only the balance of opposites, which always makes the poem,
can possibly present it to our ken. Commonly men feel this when they
insist that all portrayal of life, or of reality in general, must be
dualistic. Dualism, be it the theologian's or the moralist's or the
metaphysician's, the statesman's or the scientist's, never is and never
can be anything but so much poetry; richly and deeply significant
always, and always alive with what is real, but always poetry, never
prose. Can a reality, that is real only if, to the forms of experience,
it is always a _tertium quid_, can such a reality ever be present to any
other than a poet's consciousness? Reality is not knowable face to face;
it is beyond the reach of positive knowledge; though dwelling in, and
informing all knowledge, it can never come to the surface of knowledge;
for so, to its own betrayal, it would take sides and get a habitation
and a name. True, by analogies one may conceive it, as the religious man
thinks of God's personality, or as the philosopher thinks of the unity
of his world, or as the scientist thinks of nature's law; but the
analogies are always so many tethers, and are accordingly necessarily
partial, whereas no whole can ever be quite in kind with any of its
parts. We may conceive reality, then, by the use of analogy--that is, by
projecting what we do know of one or another side of life beyond its
natural sphere; but such projection, at least for him who has both
insight and humour, who feels the limits of his knowledge and the
grandly transcendent way in which he has used his knowledge for the
crossing of some chasm, and the solution of some conflict in his life,
is poetry. For [p.278] him who is lacking in both insight and humour,
who sees just what he sees and no more, who insists on making reality
accord literally with his own formal experience, it is only prose. Prose
is simply formally consistent experience, experience that is wholly
bound to some determined standpoint, and, being this, in what it
presents--that is, in its subject-matter--it is always, not adequate and
inclusive, but partial and narrow and one-sided to reality. Prose, in
short, sacrifices wholeness, that is to say, depth and breadth of view,
to mere formal consistency. Poetry, at least in its subject-matter, is
above formal consistency and above partiality. Through its very license
poetry bears the message of what is real and whole. Poetry forever
prefers reality to prosaic peace.

So life is a comedy, rich and deep, and it is a poem, realistic and
inclusive. It is, finally, a serious duty. To many, stern and oracular
in their moral sense, the character of duty will seem not to fit at all
well into a life that is always humorous, and that is never real and
complete without being also poetic. But it does fit. Duty, they hold, is
quite too sober ever to be mingled with humour or comedy, and quite too
precise and explicit, too plainly prescribed, and in its spirit, when
not in its letter, too legal ever to appeal to a poet or to be in any
way associated with what appeals to him. But tell me, is the Puritan's
notion of duty an accurate one? Is it the highest notion? Is it even
profoundly moral? Has duty no chance at all on any other plan? In a
word, are humour and poetry truly fatal to real duty? Why, even such
questions must make the stern rigorists among us hope just a little,
[p.279] though also these good men may still fear, for the relief that
the questions seem to promise. Perhaps they mingle their hope with fear,
only because, as I feel quite sure, they forget that comedy and poetry
always bring more than mere relief. The real comedy and the true poetry
of life are altogether too deep to do only that. They do indeed bring
relief from the rigour and prosaic consistency of any specific programme
or uniform, and so to any man they are always welcome, though he
continue to suspect them of being wrong; but they bring also a
responsibility that is fuller and larger and harder than the formal
precept or prescription. Should the rigorist ever love his enemies? Not
if he would be consistent. Should he ever find hope in what he fears?
Should he ever laugh at his own manifest smallness? Yet these are real
duties; they are great, transcendent duties; and, richly humorous as
they are, only a poetic consciousness can ever appreciate them and truly
feel their living obligation.

For this, our life of comedy and poetry, which is real only as it is
both, no principle can come nearer to the very foundation of duty than
just the principle, deeply true: _Whatever is, is right_. Men have
laughed and men have wept over this truth. Was ever more perfect
mingling of doubt and belief? Was ever greater jest? Or more tragic
fact? But truth it is; _the_ truth of all duty; and it is life's eternal
comedy--the alpha and the omega, too, of life's own poem.


[1] As a positive event in history, belonging to the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries, Machiavellism was symptomatic of the great change
of the period. Cherished institutes, whether of politics or economics,
of art or morals, of the spiritual life or the intellectual life, were
becoming instruments. Thus, democracy was supplanting monarchy,
Protestantism Catholicism, modern science scholasticism, etc.

[2] The late Professor C.C. Everett, of Harvard University.



INDEX

  A

  Abstraction, of science, 58, 107; and duplicity, 61
  Agnosticism, 75, 106; special dangers of, 111, 117; dogmatic and
      instrumental, 120; as call for action, 125; as passion for real
      life, 128
  Analogy, among the sciences, 97; of individual self to environment, 155;
      of universal to particular, 33, 220
  Anaxagoras, 94
  Anaximander, 34, 94, 147
  Anti-vitalism, 147
  Aristotle, 155, 156
  Atomism, 97, 102

  B

  Babylonians, 106
  Bacon, 176
  Baldwin, 15
  Belief, as unquestioning, 8, 194; and doubt, 53, 105, 107, 130, 133,
      192, 248
  Biology, 88, 90, 104, 110
  Boehme, 177
  Body, and soul, 227, 237; immortality of, 141, 234
  Bradley, 153 n.
  Burns, 94

  C

  Candour, of the English, 270
  Carlyle, 126
  Catholicism, 175
  Causation, 39, 82, 83, 109, 205
  Change, and habit, 15; as motive, 17; of purpose, 11
  Charron, 177, 180
  Chemistry, 34, 36, 88, 90, 91, 110
  Christ, 51, 246, 263
  Christianity, and immortality, 240; preparation for, 266; different
      views of history of, 266
  Christian Science, 2, 32 n.
  Class, the social, 62, 126, 162; relation of, to doubt and belief, 171
  Comedy, 275
  Companionship, with nature, 21, 71; with man, 24; with God, 26
  Contradiction, in ordinary views, 30; in idea of reality, 30;
      of unity, 33; of space and time, 38; of causation, 39; of
      knowledge, 41; of morality, 44; of law, 49; as of value in
      experience, 4, 37, 131; and dualism, 101; as corrective of
      narrowness, 100, 116, 143; as meaning action, 136; as realizing
      unity, 137; as securing reality and practicality, 145; as
      requiring society, 147; as not to be cultivated for its own
      sake, 151; as related to person and class, 170
  Conventionalism, 66, 260
  Creationalism, 82, 202
  Crusades, 267

  D

  Death, 141, 151, 239
  Deduction, 97
  Democritus, 65
  Development, special, transferable, 165
  Descartes, 6, 172, 196, 251, 254
  Dichotomy, 101
  Dogmatism, and fear, 9; and belief, 194
  Doubt, as widespread, 1, 7; actual, if possible, 6; as essential to
      consciousness, 9; and habit, 14; as making life real, 18; and
      feeling of dependence, 21; as Basking company, 21, 255; as mediator
      between old and now, 25; and atheism, 27; and belief, 55, 105, 130,
      133, 192, 248, 273; as investment for gain, 259; and candour, 270
  Dualism, 64, 101, 147, 209
  Duplicity, of science, 61; of life, 118
  Duty, 47, 278

  E

  Education, and interest, 18 n.
  Emerson, 144
  Energism, 147
  England, peculiar scepticism in, 269
  Environment, as source of conduct, 46; social environment and personal
      individual, 169, 231
  Epicureanism, 116, 265
  Epistemology, 92
  Evil, and good, 45, 133, 150, 276
  Evolution, 78, 202, 246
  Experience, unity of, 160
  Experimentalism, 68

  F

  Fatalism, 49
  Fear, and dogmatism, 9
  France, peculiar scepticism in, 271
  Freedom, of will, 47; of thought, 211, 227

  G

  Galilei, 177
  Genius, 168, 196, 263
  God, Descartes' proof of, 181; fallacy in D.'s proof of, 189;
      D.'s idea of, 186, 190; sceptic's idea of, 26, 187, 190, 203;
      death of, 237; birth of, 269

  H

  Habit, and doubt, 14
  Hebrews, 25, 264
  Hedonism, 64, 147, 265
  Hegel, 20, 147
  Heraclitus, 147, 152
  Hering, 147
  Hero-worship, 243
  History, standpoint of, 79; of Christianity, different views of, 266
  Hope, even in doubt, 13, 19, 37, 48, 53, 105
  Horace, 21
  Hypotheses, working, 89, 93, 258

  I

  Idealism, 65, 147
  Illusions, 2, 23 n., 254
  Immortality, 141, 234
  Impostor, the, 253
  Individualism, 72, 116
  Individuality, 155, 165, 224
  Induction, 72, 97
  Industrialism, 222
  Infinity, 52, 102, 142
  Institutions and institutionalism, 16, 59, 260
  Interest theory, in education, 18 n.

  J

  Jesuits, 172
  Jesus, 51, 246, 263
  Jews, 25, 264
  Jurisprudence, standpoint of, 13, 47

  K

  Kant, 110, 147
  Knowledge, contradictory views of, 41; of law, and freedom, 51, 212;
      and the unknowable, 106

  L

  Labour, division of, in special relation of person and class, 163;
      division of, in experience, 232
  Law, standpoint of, 13; courts of, 47; contradiction in idea of, 49;
      and nature, 51, 218
  Lawlessness, 51, 141, 261
  Leadership, 168, 196, 263
  Leibnitz, 133, 154, 210
  Lessing, 19
  Louis XIV, 172
  Luther, 174

  M

  Macaulay, 270
  Machiavelli, 66, 261, 263
  Malebranche, 198
  Materialism, 65, 147, 175
  Mathematics, 88, 91, 96, 133, 177, 215
  Mechanic, the, as social type, 228; peculiar death of, 238
  Mechanicalism, 82, 218
  Method, Socratic, 71; historical, 95; experimental, 84, 95;
      mathematical, 96
  Miracles, 53, 246
  Monism, 147
  Montaigne, 172, 176, 184
  Münsterberg, 109 n., 112, 119
  Mysticism, 176

  N

  Nast, 97
  Nativism, 196
  Nature, return to, 22; relation of science to, 23, 56, 74; and
      God, 26, 203, 271; sympathy of, 23, 203; and law, 51, 220;
      as mechanical, 217; English and French views of, 271;
      knowledge of law of, and freedom, 49, 212
  Necessity, in conduct, 47; superstition of, 49, 212
  Negativity, 3, 20, 37, 83, 85, 94, 101, 125, 133, 147
  Newton, 97

  O

  Oratory of Jesus, 176

  P

  Paradoxes, in ordinary consciousness, 30; in science, 75, 98; in
      religion, 103
  Parallelism, 204
  Paris, 172, 192, 251
  Parmenides, 94
  Pascal, 180
  Person, nature of, 155, 165; relation to reality, 170, 184;
      relation to doubt and belief, 171; part in society, 169, 231
  Pharisees, 262
  Physics, 87, 90; epistemological, 94
  Pillsbury, 212 n.
  Plato, 65, 155, 156
  Poetry, 276
  Positivism, 73, 106, 122
  Practice, and theory, 113
  Principle, and programme, 183, 191, 194
  Programme, and principle, 183, 191, 194
  Protagoras, 264
  Protestants and Protestantism, 174, 268
  Psychology, 10, 87, 91, 210, 212 n.; physical, 92
  Purpose, 11, 83, 84

  Q

  Question of fact, in science, 83

  R

  Radicalism, 66
  Realism, of doubter, 193; of believer, 193; in contradiction, 143
  Reality, double views of, 30
  Reformation, 173, 266, 267
  Relative, the, 10, 136, 199, 200
  Relativity, law of, 10, 136
  Religion, and scepticism, 27, 184, 189, 268; as paradoxical, 103
  Renaissance, 173, 268, 267
  Rome, 267
  Rousseau, 23, 271

  S

  Scepticism, 176, 265, 269
  Science, as a return to nature, 23; like ordinary consciousness, 57;
      as confessing to limitations, 56; defined, 58; as abstract, 58;
      as a "looking before leaping," 58; and duplicity, 61, 129; method
      of, and environment, 71; specialism of, 71, 84; as inductive, 72;
      objectivism of, 75; technique of, 76; and real life, 80, 125, 128;
      as conservative, 81; and question of fact, 83; as negative and
      destructive, 83; specialism of, 71, 86; "mergers" in, 91;
      physical, as self-consciousness, 94; as paradoxical, 75, 98;
      agnosticism of, 106; aloofness of, in ideas of space and time and
      causation, 108, 109; application of, 114; scepticism of, 23, 258
  Sin, original, 131
  Skill, special, as transferable, 165
  Smith, Adam, 257
  Socialism, 116
  Society, as sought by sceptic, 21; as related to individual, 42, 165,
      171, 231; and science, 23, 60; division of experience in, 60;
      as real to lower organisms, 84; as medium of conflict, 147
  Society of Jesus, 174
  Sociology, 88
  Socrates, 20, 70, 147, 263
  Soldier, the, 228, 238
  Sophists, 66, 262
  Soul, contradiction in idea of, 35; and body, 227, 237; immortality
      of, 141, 234
  Space, 37, 38, 108
  Specialism, blindness of, 87; in social organization, 71; of science,
      71, 86; dreams of, 87; artificiality of, 87, 97; contradictions
      due to, 63, 98; passing of, 128
  Spinoza, 24, 147, 179, 198
  Spirit, reality, or truth, as a, 152; of veracity, 105, 133, 170, 214
  Stoicism, 116, 265
  Supernaturalism, 32, 52, 147
  Superstition, 49, 218

  T

  Technique, 76, 119; special, as transferable, 165
  Tennyson, 89
  Thales, 34
  Theology, 26, 131
  Time, 37, 38, 108
  Training, special, as transferable, 165
  Truth, spirit of, 105, 133, 170, 214

  U

  Unity, contradiction in idea of, 31; as expressed through
      contradiction, 137; of experience, 160
  Universality, of doubt, 1, 7; of human characters in general, 161
  Utilitarianism, 66, 261, 263

  V

  Validity, spirit of, 105, 133, 153, 214
  Vanini, 176, 180
  Vitalism, 147

  W

  Will, nature of, 11; freedom of, 47; to believe, 193; in relation
      to agnosticism, 121, 125

  Z

  Zeno, 109, 147





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