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Title: Philosophical Studies
Author: Moore, George Edward
Language: English
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PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES

By

G. E. MOORE, Litt.D.

_Hon. LL.D. (St. Andrews), F.B.A._

_Lecturer in Moral Science in the University of Cambridge
Author of "Principia Ethica"_

LONDON

ROUTLEDGE & KEGAN PAUL LTD

BROADWAY HOUSE: 68-74 CARTER LANE, E.C.4

1922



CONTENTS

     I.   THE REFUTATION OF IDEALISM
     II.  THE NATURE AND REALITY OF OBJECTS OF PERCEPTION
    III.  WILLIAM JAMES' "PRAGMATISM"
     IV.  HUME'S PHILOSOPHY
      V.  THE STATUS OF SENSE-DATA
     VI.  THE CONCEPTION  OF REALITY
    VII.  SOME JUDGMENTS OF PERCEPTION
   VIII.  THE CONCEPTION OF INTRINSIC VALUE
     IX.  EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL RELATIONS
      X.  THE NATURE OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY


_Those of the papers in this volume, which have been previously
published, originally appeared as follows_:--

I. "The Refutation of Idealism" in _Mind,_ N.S. Vol. xii, 1903.

II. "The Nature and Reality of Objects of Perception" in _Proceedings
of the Aristotelian Society,_ 1905-6.

III. "Professor James' 'Pragmatism'" in _Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society,_ 1907-8.

IV. "Hume's Philosophy" in _The New Quarterly,_ November, 1909.

V. "The Status of Sense-Data" in _Proceedings of the Aristotelian
Society,_ 1913-14.

VI. "The Conception of Reality" in _Proceedings of the Aristotelian
Society,_ 1917-18.

VII. "Some Judgments of Perception" in _Proceedings of the Aristotelian
Society,_ 1918-19.

IX. "External and Internal Relations" in _Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society,_ 1919-20.



PREFACE


All the papers contained in this volume, except the two ethical ones
(VIII and X), have been previously published; and of those which have
been previously published all, except that on "External and Internal
Relations" (IX), are here re-printed without change. They were written
at various dates between 1903 and 1921, and all are here printed in the
order in which they were written, except that VIII on "The Conception
of Intrinsic Value," which was written earlier than VI and VII, has
been moved out of its proper place in order to bring it nearer to IX
and X, to both of which it is closely related in subject.

All, except IV and X, were primarily intended for an audience
familiar with the writings of philosophers; but I hope that they may
nevertheless prove intelligible even to those who have read little or
no philosophy, since I make little use of technical terms, and, where I
have done so, have done my best to explain in ordinary language exactly
what I mean by them. The tone of X is somewhat different from that
of the rest, because it was written as a lecture for the _Leicester
Philosophical Society_, with regard to which I was informed that I must
not assume any previous acquaintance with philosophy in most of the
audience. It accordingly bears marks throughout of the kind of audience
for which it was intended.

An attentive reader will easily discover that some of the views
expressed in some of the papers are inconsistent with views expressed
in others. The fact is that some of the views expressed in some of the
earlier ones are views with which I no longer agree; and I feel that
some apology is needed for nevertheless republishing them exactly as
they stood. In all cases, except one, my excuse is that the mistaken
views in question are so embedded in the form and substance of the
papers in which they occur, that it would have been impossible to
correct them without practically substituting new papers for the old
ones; and that, in spite of these mistakes, the old papers, as they
stand, still seem to me, on the whole, to say things which are worth
saying in a form which, however defective it may be, I doubt my
own ability to improve upon. The only case in which I doubt whether
this excuse applies is that of the first paper--"The Refutation of
Idealism." This paper now appears to me to be very confused, as well
as to embody a good many down-right mistakes; so I am doubtful whether
I ought to have included it. But in this case I have another excuse:
namely that it is a paper to which a good many allusions have been made
by contemporary writers on philosophy; and I was told that, for some
readers at all events, it would be a convenience that it should be
re-printed along with the rest, if only for the sake of reference.

I said above that the only one of the previously published papers,
in which changes have been made, is IX on "External and Internal
Relations." In this case the changes are not due to any change in my
views, but to the fact that, in that part of the paper in which symbols
are used, I tried, when it was first published in the _Proceedings of
the Aristotelian Society,_ to use the symbols adopted by Whitehead and
Russell in _Principia Mathematica,_ and used them also without giving
an explanation of their meaning which would be sufficient for readers
not acquainted with that work. The symbols in question are symbols
which it is difficult for printers to reproduce; and I have, therefore,
thought it better, on this occasion, to use another set of symbols,
which seem to me to be adequate for the limited purpose I had in view.
I have tried to give an explanation of their meaning, which will
enable anyone to understand them; and I have taken the opportunity of
rewriting some of the parts of the paper in which they occur in a way
which will, I hope, make some points clearer than they originally were.

I have to thank the Committee of the Aristotelian Society for
permission to reprint the large number of papers (viz., II, III, V,
VI, VII and IX), which originally appeared in the _Proceedings_ of
that Society; and the Editor of the _New Quarterly_ for permission to
reprint the article on Hume's Philosophy (IV), which appeared in that
Journal in November, 1909.

G. E. MOORE.

CAMBRIDGE,

_January_, 1922.



Philosophical Studies



THE REFUTATION OF IDEALISM


Modern Idealism, if it asserts any general conclusion about the
universe at all, asserts that it is _spiritual._ There are two points
about this assertion to which I wish to call attention. These points
are that, whatever be its exact meaning, it is certainly meant to
assert (1) that the universe is very different indeed from what it
seems, and (2) that it has quite a large number of properties which it
does not seem to have. Chairs and tables and mountains _seem_ to be
very different from us; but, when the whole universe is declared to
be spiritual, it is certainly meant to assert that they are far more
like us than we think. The idealist means to assert that they are _in
some sense_ neither lifeless nor unconscious, as they certainly seem
to be; and I do not think his language is so grossly deceptive, but
that we may assume him to believe that they really are very different
indeed from what they seem. And secondly when he declares that they
are _spiritual,_ he means to include in that term quite a large number
of different properties. When the whole universe is declared to be
spiritual, it is meant not only that it is in some sense _conscious,_
but that it has what we recognise in ourselves as the _higher_ forms of
consciousness. That it is intelligent; that it is purposeful; that it
is not mechanical; all these different things are commonly asserted
of it. In general, it may be said, this phrase 'reality is spiritual'
excites and expresses the belief that the _whole_ universe possesses
_all the qualities_ the possession of which is held to make us so
superior to things which seem to be inanimate: at least, if it does not
possess exactly those which we possess, it possesses not one only, but
several others, which, by the same ethical standard, would be judged
equal to or better than our own. When we say it is _spiritual_ we mean
to say that it has quite a number of excellent qualities, different
from any which we commonly attribute either to stars or planets or to
cups and saucers.

Now why I mention these two points is that when engaged in the
intricacies of philosophic discussion, we are apt to overlook the
vastness of the difference between this idealistic view and the
ordinary view of the world, and to overlook the number of _different_
propositions which the idealist must prove. It is, I think, owing to
the vastness of this difference and owing to the number of different
excellences which Idealists attribute to the universe, that it seems
such an interesting and important question whether Idealism be true or
not. But, when we begin to argue about it, I think we are apt to forget
what a vast number of arguments this interesting question must involve:
we are apt to assume, that if one or two points be made on either side,
the whole case is won. I say this lest it should be thought that any of
the arguments which will be advanced in this paper would be sufficient
to disprove, or any refutation of them sufficient to prove, the truly
interesting and important proposition that reality is spiritual. For my
own part I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not suppose that
anything I shall say has the smallest tendency to prove that reality
is not spiritual: I do not believe it possible to refute a single one
of the many important propositions contained in the assertion that it
is so. Reality may be spiritual, for all I know; and I devoutly hope
it is. But I take 'Idealism' to be a wide term and to include not
only this interesting conclusion but a number of arguments which are
supposed to be, if not sufficient, at least _necessary,_ to prove it.
Indeed I take it that modern Idealists are chiefly distinguished by
certain arguments which they have in common. That reality is spiritual
has, I believe, been the tenet of many theologians; and yet, for
believing that alone, they should hardly be called Idealists. There
are besides, I believe, many persons, not improperly called Idealists,
who hold certain characteristic propositions, without venturing to
think them quite sufficient to prove so grand a conclusion. It is,
therefore, only with Idealistic _arguments_ that I am concerned; and
if any Idealist holds that _no_ argument is necessary to prove that
reality is spiritual, I shall certainly not have refuted him. I shall,
however, attack at least one argument, which, to the best of my belief,
is considered necessary to their position by _all_ Idealists. And
I wish to point out a certain advantage which this procedure gives
me--an advantage which justifies the assertion that, if my arguments
are sound, they will have refuted Idealism. If I can refute a single
proposition which is a necessary and essential step in all Idealistic
arguments, then, no matter how good the rest of these arguments may be,
I shall have proved that Idealists have _no reason whatever_ for their
conclusion.

Suppose we have a chain of argument which takes the form: Since A is
B, and B is C, and C is D, it follows A is D. In such an argument,
though 'B is C' and 'C is D' may both be perfectly true, yet if 'A
is B' be false, we have no more reason for asserting A is D than if
all three were false. It does not, indeed, follow that A is D is
false; nor does it follow that no other arguments would prove it to
be true. But it does follow that, so far as this argument goes, it is
the barest supposition, without the least bit of evidence. I propose
to attack a proposition which seems to me to stand in this relation
to the conclusion 'Reality is spiritual.' I do not propose to dispute
that 'Reality is spiritual;' I do not deny that there may be reasons
for thinking that it is: but I do propose to show that one reason upon
which, to the best of my judgment, all other arguments ever used by
Idealists depend is _false._ These other arguments may, for all I shall
say, be eminently ingenious and true; they are very many and various,
and different Idealists use the most different arguments to prove the
same most important conclusions. Some of these _may_ be sufficient to
prove that B is C and C is D; but if, as I shall try to show, their 'A
is B' is false the conclusion A is D remains a pleasant supposition.
I do not deny that to suggest pleasant and plausible suppositions may
be the proper function of philosophy: but I am assuming that the name
Idealism can only be properly applied where there is a certain amount
of argument, intended to be cogent.

The subject of this paper is, therefore, quite uninteresting. Even
if I prove my point, I shall have proved nothing about the Universe
in general. Upon the important question whether Reality is or is not
spiritual my argument will not have the remotest bearing. I shall only
attempt to arrive at the truth about a matter, which is in itself quite
trivial and insignificant, and from which, so far as I can see and
certainly so far as I shall say, no conclusions can be drawn about any
of the subjects about which we most want to know. The only importance
I can claim for the subject I shall investigate is that it seems to me
to be a matter upon which not Idealists only, but all philosophers and
psychologists also, have been in error, and from their erroneous view
of which they have inferred (validly or invalidly) their most striking
and interesting conclusions. And that it has even this importance I
cannot hope to prove. If it has this importance, it will indeed follow
that all the most striking results of philosophy--Sensationalism.
Agnosticism and Idealism alike--have, for all that has hitherto been
urged in their favour, no more foundation than the supposition that
a chimera lives in the moon. It will follow that, unless new reasons
never urged hitherto can be found, all the most important philosophic
doctrines have as little claim to assent as the most superstitious
beliefs of the lowest savages. Upon the question what we have _reason_
to believe in the most interesting matters, I do therefore think that
my results will have an important bearing; but I cannot too clearly
insist that upon the question whether these beliefs are true they will
have none whatever.

The trivial proposition which I propose to dispute is this: that _esse_
is _percipi._ This is a very ambiguous proposition, but, in some sense
or other, it has been very widely held. That it is, in some sense,
essential to Idealism, I must for the present merely assume. What I
propose to show is that, in all the senses ever given to it, it is
false.

But, first of all, it may be useful to point out briefly in what
relation I conceive it to stand to Idealistic arguments. That wherever
you can truly predicate _esse_ you can truly predicate _percipi_, in
some sense or other, is, I take it, a necessary step In all arguments,
properly to be called Idealistic, and, what is more, in all arguments
hitherto offered for the Idealistic conclusion. If _esse_ is
_percipi,_ this is at once equivalent to saying that whatever is, is
experienced; and this, again, is equivalent, in a sense, to saying that
whatever is, is something mental. But this is not the sense in which
the Idealist _conclusion_ must maintain that Reality is _mental._ The
Idealist _conclusion_ is that _esse_ is _percipere_; and hence, whether
_esse_ be _percipi_ or not, a further and different discussion is
needed to show whether or not it is also _percipere._ And again, even
if _esse_ be _percipere_, we need a vast quantity of further argument
to show that what has _esse_ has also those higher mental qualities
which are denoted by spiritual. This is why I said that the question
I should discuss, namely, whether or not _esse is percipi_, must be
utterly insufficient either to prove or to disprove that reality is
spiritual. But, on the other hand, I believe that every argument ever
used to show that reality is spiritual has inferred this (validly or
invalidly) from '_esse_ is _percipere'_ as one of its premisses; and
that this again has never been pretended to be proved except by use of
the premiss that _esse_ is _percipi._ The type of argument used for the
latter purpose is familiar enough. It is said that since whatever is,
is experienced, and since some things are which are not experienced by
the individual, these must at least form part of some experience. Or
again that, since an object necessarily implies a subject, and since
the whole world must be an object, we must conceive it to belong to
some subject or subjects, in the same sense in which whatever is the
object of our experience belongs to us. Or again, that, since thought
enters into the essence of all reality, we must conceive behind it, in
it, or as its essence, a spirit akin to ours, who think: that 'spirit
greets spirit' in its object. Into the validity of these inferences
I do not propose to enter: they obviously require a great deal of
discussion. I only desire to point out that, however correct they may
be, yet if _esse_ is not _percipi,_ they leave us as far from a proof
that reality is spiritual, as if they were all false too.

But now: Is _esse percipi?_ There are three very ambiguous terms in
this proposition, and I must begin by distinguishing the different
things that may be meant by some of them.

And first with regard to _percipi._ This term need not trouble us
long at present. It was, perhaps, originally used to mean 'sensation'
only; but I am not going to be so unfair to modern Idealists--the
only Idealists to whom the term should now be applied without
qualification--as to hold that, if they say _esse_ is _percipi_, they
mean by _percipi_ sensation only. On the contrary I quite agree with
them that, if _esse_ be _percipi_ at all, _percipi_ must be understood
to include not sensation only, but that other type of mental fact,
which is called 'thought '; and, whether _esse_ be _percipi_ or not, I
consider it to be the main service of the philosophic school, to which
modern Idealists belong, that they have insisted on distinguishing
'sensation' and 'thought' and on emphasising the importance of the
latter. Against Sensationalism and Empiricism they have maintained the
true view. But the distinction between sensation and thought need not
detain us here. For, in whatever respects they differ, they have at
least this in common, that they are both forms of consciousness or, to
use a term that seems to be more in fashion just now, they are both
ways of experiencing. Accordingly, whatever _esse_ is _percipi_ may
mean, it does _at least_ assert that whatever is, is _experienced._
And since what I wish to maintain is, that even this is untrue, the
question whether it be experienced by way of sensation or thought or
both is for my purpose quite irrelevant. If it be not experienced at
all, it cannot be either an object of thought or an object of sense.
It is only if being involves 'experience' that the question, whether
it involves sensation or thought or both, becomes important. I beg,
therefore, that _percipi_ may be understood, in what follows, to refer
merely to what is _common_ to sensation and thought. A very recent
article states the meaning of _esse_ is _percipi_ with all desirable
clearness in so far as _percipi_ is concerned.

'I will undertake to show,' says Mr. Taylor,[1] 'that what makes [any
piece of fact] real can be nothing but its presence as an inseparable
aspect of _a sentient experience_.' I am glad to think that Mr. Taylor
has been in time to supply me with so definite a statement that this
is the ultimate premiss of Idealism. My paper will at least refute
Mr. Taylor's Idealism, if it refutes anything at all: for I _shall_
undertake to show that what makes a thing real cannot possibly be its
presence as an inseparable aspect of a senient experience.

But Mr. Taylor's statement though clear, I think, with regard to
the meaning of _percipi_ is highly ambiguous in other respects. I
will leave it for the present to consider the next ambiguity in the
statement: _Esse_ is _percipi._ What does the copula mean? What can be
meant by saying that Esse _is_ percipi? There are just three meanings,
one or other of which such a statement _must_ have, if it is to be
true; and of these there is only one which it can have, if it is to
be important. (1) The statement may be meant to assert that the word
'esse' is used to signify nothing either more or less than the word
'percipi': that the two words are precise synonyms: that they are
merely different names for one and the same thing: that what is meant
by _esse_ is absolutely identical with what is meant by _percipi._
I think I need not prove that the principle _esse_ is _percipi_ is
_not_ thus intended merely to define a word; nor yet that, if it were,
it would be an extremely bad definition. But if it does _not_ mean
this, only two alternatives remain. The second is (2) that what is
meant by _esse,_ though not absolutely identical with what is meant by
_percipi_, yet _includes_ the latter as a _part_ of its meaning. If
this were the meaning of 'esse is percipi,' then to say that a thing
was real would not be the same thing as to say that it was experienced.
That it was _real_ would mean that it was experienced and _something
else besides_: 'being experienced' would be _analytically essential_
to reality, but would not be the whole meaning of the term. From the
fact that a thing was real we should be able to infer, by the law of
contradiction, that it was experienced; since the latter would be
_part_ of what is meant by the former. But, on the other hand, from the
fact a thing was experienced we should _not_ be able to infer that it
was real; since it would not follow from the fact that it had one of
the attributes essential to reality, that it _also_ had the other or
others. Now, if we understand _esse_ is _percipi_ in this second sense,
we must distinguish _three_ different things which it asserts. First of
all, it gives a definition of the word 'reality,' asserting that word
stands for a complex whole, of which what is meant by 'percipi' forms
a part. And secondly it asserts that 'being experienced' forms a part
of a certain whole. Both these propositions may be true, and at all
events I do not wish to dispute them. I do not, indeed, think that the
word 'reality' is commonly used to include 'percipi': but I do not wish
to argue about the meaning of words. And that many things which are
experienced are also something else--that to be experienced forms part
of certain wholes, is, of course, indisputable. But what I wish to
point out is, that neither of these propositions is of any importance,
unless we add to them a _third._ That 'real' is a convenient name for a
union of attributes which _sometimes_ occurs, it could not be worth any
one's while to assert: no inferences of any importance could be drawn
from such an assertion. Our principle could only mean that when a thing
happens to have _percipi_ as well as the other qualities included under
_esse,_ it has _percipi_: and we should never be able to _infer_ that
it was experienced, except from a proposition which already asserted
that it was both experienced and something else. Accordingly, if the
assertion that _percipi_ forms part of the whole meant by reality is
to have any importance, it must mean that the whole is organic, at
least in this sense, that the other constituent or constituents of it
_cannot_ occur without percipi, even if percipi can occur without them.
Let us call these other constituents _x._ The proposition that _esse_
includes _percipi,_ and that therefore from _esse percipi_ can be
inferred, can only be important if it is meant to assert that _percipi_
can be inferred from _x._ The only importance of the question whether
the whole _esse_ includes the part _percipi_ rests therefore on the
question whether the part _x_ is necessarily connected with the part
_percipi._ And this is (3) the third possible meaning of the assertion
_esse is percipi:_ and, as we now see, the only important one. _Esse_
is _percipi_ asserts that wherever you have _x_ you also have _percipi_
that whatever has the property _x_ also has the property that it is
_experienced._ And this being so, it will be convenient if, for the
future, I may be allowed to use the term '_esse_' to denote _x alone._
I do not wish thereby to beg the question whether what we commonly mean
by the word 'real' does or does not include _percipi_ as well as _x._ I
am quite content that my definition of 'esse' to denote _x_, should be
regarded merely as an arbitrary verbal definition. Whether it is so or
not, the only question of interest is whether from _x percipi_ can be
inferred, and I should prefer to be able to express this in the form:
can _percipi_ be inferred from _esse?_ Only let it be understood that
when I say _esse,_ that term will not for the future _include percipi_:
it denotes only that _x,_ which Idealists, perhaps rightly, include
_along with percipi_ under _their_ term _esse._ That there is such an
_x_ they must admit on pain of making the proposition an _absolute_
tautology; and that from this _x percipi_ can be inferred they must
admit, on pain of making it a perfectly barren analytic proposition.
Whether _x_ done should or should not be called _esse_ is not worth
a dispute: what is worth dispute is whether _percipi_ is necessarily
connected with _x._

We have therefore discovered the ambiguity of the copula in _esse_ is
_percipi,_ so far as to see that this principle asserts two distinct
terms to be so related, that whatever has the _one,_ which I call
_esse,_ has _also_ the property that it is experienced. It asserts a
necessary connexion between _esse_ on the one hand and _percipi_ on
the other; these two words denoting each a distinct term, and _esse_
denoting a term in which that denoted by _percipi_ is not included. We
have, then in _esse_ is _percipi,_ a _necessary synthetic_ proposition
which I have undertaken to refute. And I may say at once that,
understood as such, it cannot be refuted. If the Idealist chooses to
assert that it is merely a self-evident truth, I have only to say that
it does not appear to me to be so. But I believe that no Idealist ever
has maintained it to be so. Although this--that two distinct terms are
necessarily related--is the only sense which 'esse is percipi' can have
if it is to be true and important, it _can_ have another sense, if it
is to be an important falsehood. I believe that Idealists all hold this
important falsehood. They do not perceive that _Esse_ is _percipi_
must, if true, be _merely_ a self-evident synthetic truth: they either
identify with it or give as a reason for it another proposition which
must be false because it is self-contradictory. Unless they did so,
they would have to admit that it was a perfectly unfounded assumption;
and if they recognised that it was _unfounded,_ I do not think they
would maintain its truth to be evident. _Esse_ is _percipi,_ in the
sense I have found for it, _may_ indeed be true; I cannot, refute it:
but if this sense were clearly apprehended, no one, I think, would
_believe_ that it was true.

Idealists, we have seen, must assert that whatever is experienced,
is _necessarily_ so. And this doctrine they commonly express by
saying that 'the object of experience is inconceivable apart from the
subject.' I have hitherto been concerned with pointing out what meaning
this assertion must have, if it is to be an important truth. I now
propose to show that it may have an important meaning, which must be
false, because it is self-contradictory.

It is a well-known fact in the history of philosophy that _necessary_
truths in general, but especially those of which it is said that
the opposite is inconceivable, have been commonly supposed to be
_analytic,_ in the sense that the proposition denying them was
self-contradictory. It was in this way, commonly supposed, before Kant,
that many truths could be proved by the law of contradiction alone.
This is, therefore, a mistake which it is plainly easy for the best
philosophers to make. Even since Kant many have continued to assert
it; but I am aware that among those Idealists, who most properly
deserve the name, it has become more fashionable to assert that truths
are _both_ analytic and synthetic. Now with many of their reasons
for asserting this I am not concerned: it is possible that in some
connexions the assertion may bear a useful and true sense. But if we
understand 'analytic' in the sense just defined, namely, what is proved
by the law of contradiction _alone_, it is plain that, if 'synthetic'
means what is _not_ proved by this alone, no truth can be both analytic
and synthetic. Now it seems to me that those who do maintain truths to
be both, do nevertheless maintain that they are so in this as well as
in other senses. It is, indeed, extremely unlikely that so essential
a part of the historical meaning of 'analytic' and 'synthetic' should
have been entirely discarded, especially since we find no express
recognition that it is discarded. In that case it is fair to suppose
that modern Idealists have been influenced by the view that certain
truths can be proved by the law of contradiction alone. I admit they
also expressly declare that they can _not:_ but this is by no means
sufficient to prove that they do not also think they are; since it is
very easy to hold two mutually contradictory opinions. What I suggest
then is that Idealists hold the particular doctrine in question,
concerning the relation of subject and object in experience, because
they think it is an analytic truth in this restricted sense that it is
proved by the law of contradiction alone.

I am suggesting that the Idealist maintains that object and subject are
necessarily connected, mainly because he fails to see that they are
_distinct_, that they are _two,_ at all. When he thinks of 'yellow'
and when he thinks of the 'sensation of yellow,' he fails to see that
there is anything whatever in the latter which is not in the former.
This being so, to deny that yellow can ever _be_ apart from the
sensation of yellow is merely to deny that yellow can ever be other
than it is; since yellow and the sensation of yellow are absolutely
identical. To assert that yellow is necessarily an object of experience
is to assert that yellow is necessarily yellow--a purely identical
proposition, and therefore proved by the law of contradiction alone.
Of course, the proposition also implies that experience is, after all,
something distinct from yellow--else there would be no reason for
insisting that yellow is a sensation: and that the argument thus both
affirms and denies that yellow and sensation of yellow are distinct,
is what sufficiently refutes it. But this contradiction can easily
be overlooked, because though we are convinced, in other connexions,
that 'experience' does mean something and something most important,
yet we are never distinctly aware _what_ it means, and thus in every
particular case we do not notice its presence. The facts present
themselves as a kind of antinomy:

(1) Experience _is_ something unique and different from anything else;
(2) Experience of green is entirely indistinguishable from green; two
propositions which cannot both be true. Idealists, holding both, can
only take refuge in arguing from the one in some connexions and from
the other in others.

But I am well aware that there are many Idealists who would repel it
as an utterly unfounded charge that they fail to distinguish between
a sensation or idea and what I will call its object. And there are, I
admit, many who not only imply, as we all do, that green is distinct
from the sensation of green, but expressly insist upon the distinction
as an important part of their system. They would perhaps only assert
that the two form an inseparable unity. But I wish to point out that
many, who use this phrase, and who do admit the distinction, are not
thereby absolved from the charge that they deny it. For there is a
certain doctrine, very prevalent among philosophers nowadays, which by
a very simple reduction may be seen to assert that two distinct things
both are and are not distinct. A distinction is asserted; but it is
_also_ asserted that the things distinguished form an 'organic unity,'
But, forming such a unity, it is held, each would not be what it is
_apart from its relation to the other._ Hence to consider either by
itself is to make an _illegitimate abstraction._ The recognition that
there are 'organic unities' and 'illegitimate abstractions' in this
sense is regarded as one of the chief conquests of modern philosophy.
But what is the sense attached to these terms? An abstraction is
illegitimate, when and only when we attempt to assert of _a part_--of
something abstracted--that which is true only of the _whole_ to which
it belongs: and it may perhaps be useful to point out that this should
not be done. But the application actually made of this principle,
and what perhaps would be expressly acknowledged as its meaning, is
something much the reverse of useful. The principle is used to assert
that certain abstractions are _in all cases_ illegitimate; that
whenever you try to assert _anything whatever_ of that which is _part_
of an organic whole, what you assert can only be true of the whole.
And this principle, so far from being a useful truth, is necessarily
false. For if the whole can, nay _must,_ be substituted for the part
in all propositions and for all purposes, this can only be because the
whole is absolutely identical with the part. When, therefore, we are
told that green and the sensation of green are certainly distinct but
yet are not separable, or that it is an illegitimate abstraction to
consider the one apart from the other, what these provisos are used
to assert is, that though the two things are distinct yet you not
only can but must treat them as if they were not. Many philosophers,
therefore, when they admit a distinction, yet (following the lead
of Hegel) boldly assert their right, in a slightly more obscure form
of words, _also_ to deny it. The principle of organic unities, like
that of combined analysis and synthesis, is mainly used to defend the
practice of holding _both_ of two contradictory propositions, wherever
this may seem convenient. In this, as in other matters, Hegel's main
service to philosophy has consisted in giving a name to and erecting
into a principle, a type of fallacy to which experience had shown
philosophers, along with the rest of mankind, to be addicted. No wonder
that he has followers and admirers.

I have shown then, so far, that when the Idealist asserts the important
principle 'Esse is _percipi'_ he must, if it is to be true, mean by
this that: Whatever is experienced also _must_ be experienced. And
I have also shown that he _may_ identify with, or give as a reason
for, this proposition, one which must be false, because it is self
contradictory. But at this point I propose to make a complete break
in my argument. '_Esse_ is _percipi_,' we have seen, asserts of two
terms, as distinct from one another as 'green' and 'sweet,' that
whatever has the one has also the other: it asserts that 'being' and
'being experienced' are necessarily connected: that whatever _is_ is
_also_ experienced. And this, I admit, cannot be directly refuted.
But I believe it to be false; and I have asserted that anybody who
saw that '_esse_ and _percipi_' _were_ as distinct as 'green' and
'sweet' would be no more ready to believe that whatever _is_ is _also_
experienced, than to believe that whatever is green is also sweet. I
have asserted that no one would believe that '_esse_ is _percipi_'
if they saw how different _esse_ is from _percipi:_ but _this_ I
shall not try to prove. I have asserted that all who do believe that
'_esse_ is _percipi_' identify with it or take as a reason for it a
self-contradictory proposition: but this I shall not try to prove. I
shall only try to show that certain propositions which I assert to be
believed, are false. That they are believed, and that without this
belief '_esse_ is _percipi'_ would not be believed either, I must leave
without a proof.

I pass, then, from the uninteresting question 'Is _'esse percipi?'_ to
the still more uninteresting and apparently irrelevant question 'What
is a sensation or idea?'

We all know that the sensation of blue differs from that of green. But
it is plain that if both are _sensations_ they also have some point in
common. What is it that they have in common? And how is this common
element related to the points in which they differ?

I will call the common element 'consciousness' without yet attempting
to say what the thing I so call _is._ We have then in every sensation
two distinct terms, (1) 'consciousness,' in respect of which all
sensations are alike; and (2) something else, in respect of which one
sensation differs from another. It will be convenient if I may be
allowed to call this second term the 'object' of a sensation: this also
without yet attempting to say what I mean by the word.

We have then in every sensation two distinct elements, one which I call
consciousness, and another which I call the object of consciousness.
This must be so if the sensation of blue and the sensation of green,
though different in one respect, are alike in another: blue is one
object of sensation and green is another, and consciousness, which both
sensations have in common, is different from either.

But, further, sometimes the sensation of blue exists in my mind and
sometimes it does not; and knowing, as we now do, that the sensation of
blue includes two different elements, namely consciousness and blue,
the question arises whether, when the sensation of blue exists, it is
the consciousness which exists, or the blue which exists, or both.
And one point at least is plain: namely that these three alternatives
are all different from one another. So that, if any one tells us that
to say 'Blue exists' is the _same_ thing as to say that 'Both blue
and consciousness exist,' he makes a mistake and a self-contradictory
mistake.

But another point is also plain, namely, that when the sensation
exists, the consciousness, at least, certainly does exist; for when I
say that the sensations of blue and of green both exist, I certainly
mean that what is common to both and in virtue of which both are
called sensations, exists in each case. The only alternative left,
then, is that _either_ both exist or the consciousness exists alone.
If, therefore, any one tells us that the existence of blue is the same
thing as the existence of the sensation of blue he makes a mistake and
a self-contradictory mistake, for he asserts _either_ that blue is the
same thing as blue together with consciousness, _or_ that it is the
same thing as consciousness alone.

Accordingly to identify either "blue" or any other of what I have
called "_objects_" of sensation, with the corresponding sensation is
in every case, a self-contradictory error. It is to identify a part
either with the whole of which it is a part or else with the other part
of the same whole. If we are told that the assertion "Blue exists" is
_meaningless_ unless we mean by it that "The sensation of blue exists,"
we are told what is certainly false and self-contradictory. If we
are told that the existence of blue is inconceivable apart from the
existence of the sensation, the speaker _probably_ means to convey to
us, by this ambiguous expression, what is a self-contradictory error.
For we can and must conceive the existence of blue as something quite
distinct from the existence of the sensation. We can and must conceive
that blue might exist and yet the sensation of blue not exist. For my
own part I not only conceive this, but conceive it to be true. Either
therefore this terrific assertion of inconceivability means what is
false and self-contradictory or else it means only that _as a matter of
fact_ blue never can exist unless the sensation of it exists also.

And at this point I need not conceal my opinion that no philosopher
has ever yet succeeded in avoiding this self-contradictory error: that
the most striking results both of Idealism and of Agnosticism are only
obtained by identifying blue with the sensation of blue: that _esse_
is held to be _percipi,_ solely because _what is experienced_ is held
to be identical with _the experience of it._ That Berkeley and Mill
committed this error will, perhaps, be granted: that modern Idealists
make it will, I hope, appear more probable later. But that my opinion
is plausible, I will now offer two pieces of evidence. The first is
that language offers us no means of referring to such objects as "blue"
and "green" and "sweet," except by calling them sensations: it is an
obvious violation of language to call them "things" or "objects" or
"terms." And similarly we have no natural means of referring to such
objects as "causality" or "likeness" or "identity," except by calling
them "ideas" or "notions" or "conceptions." But it is hardly likely
that if philosophers had clearly distinguished in the past between a
sensation or idea and what I have called its object, there should have
been no separate name for the latter. They have always used the same
name for these two different "things" (if I may call them so): and
hence there is some probability that they have supposed these "things"
_not_ to be two and different, but one and the same. And, secondly,
there is a very good reason why they should have supposed so, in the
fact that when we refer to introspection and try to discover what the
sensation of blue is, it is very easy to suppose that we have before
us only a single term. The term "blue" is easy enough to distinguish,
but the other element which I have called "consciousness"--that which
sensation of blue has in common with sensation of green--is extremely
difficult to fix. That many people fail to distinguish it at all is
sufficiently shown by the fact that there are materialists. And, in
general, that which makes the sensation of blue a mental fact seems to
escape us: it seems, if I may use a metaphor, to be transparent--we
look through it and see nothing but the blue; we may be convinced that
there _is something_ but _what_ it is no philosopher, I think, has yet
clearly recognised.

But this was a digression. The point I had established so far was
that in every sensation or idea we must distinguish two elements,
(1) the "object," or that in which one differs from another; and (2)
"consciousness," or that which all have in common--that which makes
them sensations or mental facts. This being so, it followed that when
a sensation or idea exists, we have to choose between the alternatives
that either object alone, or consciousness alone, or both, exist;
and I showed that of these alternatives one, namely that the object
only exists, is excluded by the fact that what we mean to assert is
certainly the existence of a mental fact. There remains the question:
Do both exist? Or does the consciousness alone? And to this question
one answer has hitherto been given universally: That both exist.

This answer follows from the analysis hitherto accepted of the relation
of what I have called "object" to "consciousness" in any sensation or
idea. It is held that what I call the object is merely the "content" of
a sensation or idea. It is held that in each case we can distinguish
two elements and two only, (1) the fact that there is feeling or
experience, and (2) _what_ is felt or experienced; the sensation or
idea, it is said, forms a whole, in which we must distinguish two
"inseparable aspects," "content" and "existence." I shall try to show
that this analysis is false; and for that purpose I must ask what may
seem an extraordinary question: namely what is meant by saying that one
thing is "content" of another? It is not usual to ask this question;
the term is used as if everybody must understand it. But since I am
going to maintain that "blue" is _not_ the content of the sensation of
blue, and what is more important, that, even if it were this analysis
would leave out the most important element in the sensation of blue, it
is necessary that I should try to explain precisely what it is that I
shall deny.

What then is meant by saying that one thing is the "content" of
another? First of all I wish to point out that "blue" is rightly
and properly said to be part of the content of a blue flower. If,
therefore, we also assert that it is part of the content of the
sensation of blue, we assert that it has to the other parts (if any)
of this whole the same relation which it has to the other parts of
a blue flower--and we assert only this: we cannot mean to assert
that it has to the sensation of blue any relation which it does not
have to the blue flower. And we have seen that the sensation of blue
contains at least one other element beside blue--namely, what I call
"consciousness," which makes it a sensation. So far then as we assert
that blue is the content of the sensation, we assert that it has to
this "consciousness" the same relation which it has to the other parts
of a blue flower: we do assert this, and we assert no more than this.
Into the question what exactly the relation is between blue and a blue
flower in virtue of which we call the former part of its "content" I
do not propose to enter. It is sufficient for my purpose to point out
that it is the general relation most commonly meant when we talk of a
thing and its qualities; and that this relation is such that to say the
thing exists implies that the qualities also exist. The _content_ of
the thing is _what_ we assert to exist, when we assert _that_ the thing
exists.

When, therefore, blue is said to be part of the content of the
"sensation of blue," the latter is treated as if it were a whole
constituted in exactly the same way as any other "thing." The
"sensation of blue," on this view, differs from a blue bead or a blue
beard, in exactly the same way in which the two latter differ from one
another: the blue bead differs from the blue beard, in that while the
former contains glass, the latter contains hair; and the "sensation
of blue" differs from both in that, instead of glass or hair, it
contains consciousness. The relation of the blue to the consciousness
is conceived to be exactly the same as that of the blue to the glass or
hair: it is in all three cases the _quality_ of a _thing._

But I said just now that the sensation of blue was analysed into
"content" and "existence," and that blue was said to be _the_ content
of the idea of blue. There is an ambiguity in this and a possible
error, which I must note in passing. The term "content" may be used
in two senses. If we use "content" as equivalent to what Mr. Bradley
calls the "_what_"--if we mean by it the _whole_ of what is said to
exist, when the thing is said to exist, then blue is certainly not
_the_ content of the sensation of blue: part of the _content_ of the
sensation is, in this sense of the term, that other element which I
have called consciousness. The analysis of this sensation into the
"content" "blue," on the one hand, and mere existence on the other, is
therefore certainly false; in it we have again the self-contradictory
identification of "Blue exists" with "The sensation of blue exists,"
But there is another sense in which "blue" might properly be said to be
_the_ content of the sensation--namely, the sense in which "content,"
like _εἴδος_ is opposed to "substance" or "matter." For the element
"consciousness," being common to all sensations, may be and certainly
is regarded as in some sense their "substance," and by the "content"
of each is only meant that in respect of which one differs from
another. In this sense then "blue" might be said to be _the_ content
of the sensation; but, in that case, the analysis into "content" and
"existence" is, at least, misleading, since under "existence" must be
included "_what_ exists" in the sensation other than blue.

We have it, then, as a universally received opinion that blue is
related to the sensation or idea of blue, as its _content_, and
that this view, if it is to be true, must mean that blue is part of
_what_ is said to exist when we say that the sensation exists. To say
that the sensation exists is to say both that blue exists and that
"consciousness," whether we call it the substance of which blue is
_the_ content or call it another part of the content, exists too. Any
sensation or idea is a "_thing,_" and what I have called its object is
the quality of this thing. Such a "thing" is what we think of when we
think of a _mental image._ A mental image is conceived as if it were
related to that of which it is the image (if there be any such thing)
in exactly the same way as the image in a looking-glass is related to
that of which it is the reflection; in both cases there is identity
of content, and the image in the looking-glass differs from that
in the mind solely in respect of the fact that in the one case the
other constituent of the image is "glass" and in the other case it is
consciousness. If the image is of blue, it is not conceived that this
"content" has any relation to the consciousness but what it has to the
glass: it Is conceived _merely_ to be its _content._ And owing to the
fact that sensations and ideas are all considered to be _wholes_ of
this description--things in the mind--the question: What do we know?
is considered to be identical with the question: What reason have we
for supposing that there are things outside the mind _corresponding_ to
these that are inside it?

What I wish to point out is (1) that we have no reason for supposing
that there are such things as mental images at all--for supposing that
blue _is_ part of the content of the sensation of blue, and (2) that
even if there are mental images, no mental image and no sensation or
idea is _merely_ a thing of this kind: that 'blue,' even if it is
part of the content of the image or sensation or idea of blue, is
always _also_ related to it in quite another way, and that this other
relation, omitted in the traditional analysis, is the _only_ one which
makes the sensation of blue a mental fact at all.

The true analysis of a sensation or idea is as follows. The element
that is common to them all, and which I have called "consciousness,"
really _is_ consciousness. A sensation is, in reality, a case of
'knowing' or 'being aware of' or 'experiencing' something. When we
know that the sensation of blue exists, the fact we know is that
there exists an awareness of blue. And this awareness is not merely,
as we have hitherto seen it must be, itself something distinct and
unique, utterly different from blue: it also has a perfectly distinct
and unique relation to blue, a relation which is _not_ that of thing
or substance to content, nor of one part of content to another part
of content. This relation is just that which we mean in every case
by 'knowing.' To have in your mind 'knowledge' of blue, is _not_ to
have in your mind a 'thing' or 'image' of which blue is the content.
To be aware of the sensation of blue is _not_ to be aware of a
mental image--of a "thing," of which 'blue' and some other element
are constituent parts in the same sense in which blue and glass are
constituents of a blue bead. It is to be aware of an awareness of
blue; awareness being used, in both cases, in exactly the same sense.
This element, we have seen, is certainly neglected by the 'content'
theory: that theory entirely fails to express the fact that there is,
in the sensation of blue, this unique relation between blue and the
other constituent. And what I contend is that this omission is _not_
mere negligence of expression, but is due to the fact that though
philosophers have recognised that _something_ distinct is meant by
consciousness, they have never yet had a clear conception of _what_
that something is. They have not been able to hold _it_ and _blue_
before their minds and to compare them, in the same way in which they
can compare _blue_ and _green._ And this for the reason I gave above:
namely that the moment we try to fix our attention upon consciousness
and to see _what_, distinctly, it is, it seems to vanish: it seems as
if we had before us a mere emptiness. When we try to introspect the
sensation of blue, all we can see is the blue: the other element is
as if it were diaphanous. Yet it _can_ be distinguished if we look
attentively enough, and if we know that there is something to look for.
My main object in this paragraph has been to try to make the reader
_see_ it; but I fear I shall have succeeded very ill.

It being the case, then, that the sensation of blue includes in its
analysis, beside blue, _both_ a unique element 'awareness' _and_ a
unique relation of this element to blue, I can make plain what I meant
by asserting, as two distinct propositions, (1) that blue is probably
not part of the content of the sensation at all, and (2) that, even it
were, the sensation would nevertheless not be the sensation _of_ blue,
if blue had only this relation to it. The first hypothesis may now be
expressed by saying that, if it were true, then, when the sensation of
blue exists, there exists a _blue awareness_: offence may be taken at
the expression, but yet it expresses just what should be and is meant
by saying that blue is, in this case, a _content_ of consciousness
or experience. Whether or not, when I have the sensation of blue, my
consciousness or awareness is thus blue, my introspection does not
enable me to decide with certainty: I only see no reason for thinking
that it is. But whether it is or not, the point is unimportant, for
introspection _does_ enable me to decide that something else is also
true: namely that I am aware _of_ blue, and by this I mean, that my
awareness has to blue a quite different and distinct relation. It is
possible, I admit, that my awareness is blue _as well_ as being _of_
blue: but what I am quite sure of is that it is _of_ blue; that it has
to blue the simple and unique relation the existence of which alone
justifies us in distinguishing knowledge of a thing from the thing
known, indeed in distinguishing mind from matter. And this result I may
express by saying that what is called the _content_ of a sensation is
in very truth what I originally called it--the sensation's _object._

But, if all this be true, what follows?

Idealists admit that some things really exist of which they are not
aware: there are some things, they hold, which are not inseparable
aspects of _their_ experience, even if they be inseparable aspects of
some experience. They further hold that some of the things of which
they are sometimes aware do really exist, even when they are not aware
of them: they hold for instance that they are sometimes aware of other
minds, which continue to exist even when they are not aware of them.
They are, therefore, sometimes aware of something which is _not_ an
inseparable aspect of their own experience. They do _know some_ things
which are _not_ a mere part or content of their experience. And what
my analysis of sensation has been designed to show is, that whenever
I have a mere sensation or idea, the fact is that I am then aware of
something which is equally and in the same sense _not_ an inseparable
aspect of my experience. The awareness which I have maintained to be
included in sensation is the very same unique fact which constitutes
every kind of knowledge: "blue" is as much an object, and as little
a mere content, of my experience, when I experience it, as the most
exalted and independent real thing of which I am ever aware. There is,
therefore, no question of how we are to "get outside the circle of our
own ideas and sensations." Merely to have a sensation is already to
_be_ outside that circle. It is to know something which is as truly and
really _not_ a part of _my_ experience, as anything which I can ever
know.

Now I think I am not mistaken in asserting that the reason why
Idealists suppose that everything which _is_ must be an inseparable
aspect of some experience, is that they suppose some things, at least,
to be inseparable aspects of _their_ experience. And there is certainly
nothing which they are so firmly convinced to be an inseparable aspect
of their experience as what they call the _content_ of their ideas and
sensations. If, therefore, _this_ turns out in every case, whether it
be also the content or not, to be at least _not_ an inseparable aspect
of the experience of it, it will be readily admitted that nothing else
which _we_ experience ever is such an inseparable aspect. But if we
never experience anything but what is _not_ an inseparable aspect of
_that_ experience, how can we infer that anything whatever, let alone
_everything,_ is an inseparable aspect of _any_ experience? How utterly
unfounded is the assumption that "_esse_ is _percipi"_ appears in the
clearest light.

But further I think it may be seen that if the object of an Idealist's
sensation were, as he supposes, _not_ the object but merely the content
of that sensation, if, that is to say, it really were an inseparable
aspect of his experience, each Idealist could never be aware either of
himself or of any other real thing. For the relation of a sensation
to its object is certainly the same as that of any other instance of
experience to its object; and this, I think, is generally admitted even
by Idealists: they state as readily that _what_ is judged or thought or
perceived is the _content_ of that judgment or thought or perception,
as that blue Is the content of the sensation of blue. But, if so, then
when any Idealist thinks he is _aware_ of himself or of any one else,
this cannot really be the case. The fact Is, on his own theory, that
himself and that other person are in reality mere _contents_ of an
awareness, which is aware _of_ nothing whatever. All that can be said
is that there is an awareness in him, _with_ a certain content: it can
never be true that there is in him a consciousness _of_ anything. And
similarly he is never aware either of the fact that he exists or that
reality is spiritual. The real fact, which he describes in those terms,
is that his existence and the spirituality of reality are _contents_ of
an awareness, which is aware of nothing--certainly not, then, of it own
content.

And further if everything, of which he thinks he is aware, is in
reality merely a content of his own experience he has certainly no
_reason_ for holding that anything does exist except himself: it will,
of course, be possible that other persons do exist; solipsism will not
be necessarily true; but he cannot possibly infer from anything he
holds that it is not true. That he himself exists will of course follow
from his premiss that many things are contents of _his_ experience.
But since everything, of which he thinks himself aware, is in reality
merely an inseparable aspect of that awareness; this premiss allows no
inference that any of these contents, far less any other consciousness,
exists at all except as an inseparable aspect of his awareness, that
is, as part of himself.

Such, and not those which he takes to follow from it, are the
consequences which _do_ follow from the Idealist's supposition that the
object of an experience is in reality merely a content or inseparable
aspect of that experience. If, on the other hand, we clearly recognise
the nature of that peculiar relation which I have called "awareness of
anything"; if we see that _this_ is involved equally in the analysis
of _every_ experience--from the merest sensation to the most developed
perception or reflexion, and that _this_ is in fact the only essential
element in an experience--the only thing that is both common and
peculiar to all experiences--the only thing which gives us reason to
call any fact mental; if, further, we recognise that this awareness is
and must be in all cases of such a nature that its object, when we are
aware of it, is precisely what it would be, if we were not aware: then
it becomes plain that the existence of a table in space is related to
my experience of _it_ in precisely the same way as the existence of
my own experience is related to my experience of _that._ Of both we
are merely aware: if we are aware that the one exists, we are aware
in precisely the same sense that the other exists; and if it is true
that my experience can exist, even when I do not happen to be aware of
its existence, we have exactly the same reason for supposing that the
table can do so also. When, therefore, Berkeley, supposed that the only
thing of which I am directly aware is my own sensations and ideas, he
supposed what was false; and when Kant supposed that the objectivity of
things in space _consisted_ in the fact that they were "Vorstellungen"
having to one another different relations from those which the
same "Vorstellungen" have to one another in subjective experience,
he supposed what was equally false. I am as directly aware of the
existence of material things in space as of my own sensations; and
_what_ I am aware of with regard to each is exactly the same--namely
that in one case the material thing, and in the other case my sensation
does really exist. The question requiring to be asked about material
things is thus not: What reason have we for supposing that anything
exists _corresponding_ to our sensations? but: What reason have we for
supposing that material things do _not_ exist, since _their_ existence
has precisely the same evidence as that of our sensations? That either
exist _may_ be false; but if it is a reason for doubting the existence
of matter, that it is an inseparable aspect of our experience, the same
reasoning will prove conclusively that our experience does not exist
either, since that must also be an inseparable aspect of our experience
of _it._ The only _reasonable_ alternative to the admission that matter
exists _as well as_ spirit, is absolute Scepticism--that, as likely as
not _nothing_ exists at all. All other suppositions--the Agnostic's,
that something, at all events, does exist, as much as the Idealist's,
that spirit does--are, if we have no reason for believing in matter, as
baseless as the grossest superstitions.


[1] _International Journal of Ethics,_ October, 1902.



THE NATURE AND REALITY OF OBJECTS OF PERCEPTION


There are two beliefs in which almost all philosophers, and almost all
ordinary people are agreed. Almost everyone believes that he himself
and what he directly perceives do not constitute the whole of reality:
he believes that _something_ other than himself and what he directly
perceives _exists_ or is _real._ I do not mean to say that almost
everyone believes that what he directly perceives is real: I only mean
that he does believe that, whether what he directly perceives is real
or not, something other than it and other than himself certainly is so.
And not only does each of us thus agree in believing that _something_
other than himself and what he directly perceives is real: almost
everyone also believes that _among_ the real things, other than himself
and what he directly perceives, are other persons who have thoughts
and perceptions in some respects similar to his own. That most people
believe this I think I need scarcely try to show. But since a good many
philosophers may appear to have held views contradictory of this one, I
will briefly point out my reason for asserting that most philosophers,
even among those (if any) who have believed the contradictory of this,
have yet held this as well. Almost all philosophers tell us something
about the nature of _human_ knowledge and _human_ perception. They tell
us that _we_ perceive so and so; that the nature or origin of _our_
perceptions is such and such; or (as I have just been telling you) that
men in general have such and such beliefs. It might, indeed, be said
that we are not to interpret such language too strictly: that, though
a philosopher talks about _human_ knowledge and _our_ perceptions,
he only means to talk about his own. But in many cases a philosopher
will leave no doubt upon this point, by expressly assuming that there
are other perceptions, which differ in some respects from his own:
such, for instance, is the case when (as is so common nowadays) a
philosopher introduces psycho-genetic considerations into his arguments
--considerations concerning the nature of the perceptions of men who
existed before and at a much lower stage of culture than himself.
Any philosopher, who uses such arguments, obviously assumes that
perceptions other than his own have existed or been real. And even
those philosophers who think themselves justified in the conclusion
that neither their own perceptions nor any perceptions like theirs are
_ultimately_ real, would, I think admit, that _phenomenally_, at least,
they _are_ real, and are certainly _more_ real than some other things.

Almost everyone, then, does believe that some perceptions other than
his own, and which he himself does not directly perceive, are real; and
believing this, he believes that something other than himself and what
he directly perceives is real. But how do we know that anything exists
except our own perceptions, and what we directly perceive? How do we
know that there are any other people, who have perceptions in some
respects similar to our own?

I believe that these two questions express very exactly the nature of
the problem which it is my chief object, in this paper, to discuss.
When I say these words to you, they will at once suggest to your minds
the very question, to which I desire to find an answer; they will
convey to you the very same meaning which I have before my mind, when I
use the words. You will understand at once what question it is that I
mean to ask. But, for all that, the words which I have used are highly
ambiguous. If you begin to ask yourselves what I do mean by them, you
will find that there are several quite different things which I might
mean. And there is, I think, great danger of confusing these different
meanings with one another. I think that philosophers, when they have
asked this question in one sense, have often answered it in quite a
different sense; and yet have supposed that the answer which they have
given is an answer to the very same question which they originally
asked. It is precisely because there is this ambiguity--this danger of
confusion, in the words which I have used, that I have chosen to use
them. I wish to point out as clearly as I can, not only what I do mean
by them, but also some things which I do _not_ mean; and I wish to make
it clear that the questions which I do _not_ mean to ask, are different
questions from that which I do mean to ask.

I will take the second of my two questions, since there is in the other
an additional ambiguity to which I do not now wish to call attention.
My second question was: How do we know that there exist any other
people who have perceptions in some respects similar to our own? What
does this question mean?

Now I think you may have noticed that when you make a statement to
another person, and he answers "How do you know that that is so?" he
very often means to suggest that you do _not_ know it. And yet, though
he means to suggest that you do not _know_ it, he may not for a moment
wish to suggest that you do not _believe_ it, nor even that you have
not that degree or kind of conviction, which goes beyond mere belief,
and which may be taken to be essential to anything which can properly
be called knowledge. He does not mean to suggest for a moment that you
are saying something which you do not believe to be true, or even that
you are not thoroughly convinced of its truth. What he does mean to
suggest is that what you asserted was not _true_, even though you may
not only have believed it but felt sure that it was true. He suggests
that you don't _know_ it, in the sense that what you believe or feel
sure of is not true.

Now I point this out, not because I myself mean to suggest that we
don't know the existence of other persons, but merely in order to show
that the word "know" is sometimes used in a sense in which it is not
merely equivalent to "believe" or "feel sure of." When the question
"How do you _know_ that?" is asked, the questioner does not merely
mean to ask "how do you come to believe that, or to be convinced of
it?" He sometimes, and I think generally, means to ask a question with
regard to the _truth_, and not with regard to the _existence_ of your
belief. And similarly when I ask the question "How do we know that
other people exist?" I do _not_ mean to ask "How do we come to believe
in or be convinced of their existence?" I do not intend to discuss this
question _at all._ I shall not ask what _suggests_ to us our belief in
the existence of other persons or of an external world; I shall not
ask whether we arrive at it by inference or by "instinct" or in any
other manner, which ever has been or may be suggested: I shall discuss
no question of any kind whatever with regard to its origin, or cause,
or the way in which it arises. These psychological questions are _not_
what I propose to discuss. When I ask the question "How do we know that
other people exist?" I do _not_ mean:

"How does our belief in their existence arise?"

But if I do not mean this what do I mean P I have said that I mean
to ask a question with regard to the _truth_ of that belief; and the
particular question which I mean to ask might be expressed in the
words: _What reason have_ we for our belief in the existence of other
persons? But these are words which themselves need some explanation,
and I will try to give it.

In the first place, then, when I talk of "a reason," I mean _only_
a good reason and _not_ a bad one. A bad reason is, no doubt, a
reason, in one sense of the word; but I mean to use the word "reason"
exclusively in the sense in which it is equivalent to "good reason."
But what, then, is meant by a good reason for a belief? I think I can
express sufficiently accurately what I mean by it in this connection,
as follows:--A good reason for a belief is a proposition which is
true, and which would not be true unless the belief were also true. We
should, I think, commonly say that when a man knows such a proposition,
he has a good reason for his belief; and, when he knows no such
proposition, we should say that he has no reason for it. When he knows
such a proposition, we should say he knows something which is a reason
for thinking his belief to be true--something from which it _could_ be
validly inferred. And if, in answer to the question "How do you know
so and so?" he were to state such a proposition, we should, I think,
feel that he had answered the question which we meant to ask. Suppose,
for instance, in answer to the question "How do you know that?" he were
to say "I saw it in the _Times."_ Then, if we believed that he had
seen it in the _Times_, and also believed that it would not have been
in the _Times_, unless it had been true, we should admit that he had
answered our question. We should no longer doubt that he did _know_
what he asserted, we should no longer doubt that his belief was true.
But if, on the other hand, we believed that he had not seen it in the
_Times_--if, for instance, we had reason to believe that what he saw
was not the statement which he made, but some other statement which
he mistook for it; or if we believed that the kind of statement in
question was one with regard to which there was no presumption that,
being in the _Times_, it would be true: in _either_ of these cases
we should, I think, feel that he had _not_ answered our question. We
should still doubt whether what he had said was true. We should still
doubt whether he _knew_ what he asserted; and since a man cannot tell
you how he _knows_ a thing unless he does know that thing, we should
think that, though he might have told us truly how he _came to believe
it,_ he had certainly not told us how he _knew_ it. But though we
should thus hold that he had _not_ told us _how he knew_ what he had
asserted, and that he had given us no reason for believing it to be
true; we must yet admit that he had given us a reason in a sense--a
_bad_ reason, a reason which was no reason because it had no tendency
to show that what he believed was true; and we might also be perfectly
convinced that he had given us _the reason_ why he believed it--the
proposition by believing which he was induced also to believe his
original assertion.

I mean, then, by my question, "How do we know that other people
exist?" what, I believe, is ordinarily meant, namely, "What reason
have we for believing that they exist?" and by this again I mean, what
I also believe is ordinarily meant, namely, "What proposition do we
believe, which is both true itself and is also such that it would not
be true, unless other people existed?" And I hope it is plain that
this question, thus explained, is quite a different question from the
psychological question, which I said I did _not_ mean to ask--from the
question, "How does our belief in the existence of other people arise?"
My illustration, I hope, has made this plain. For I have pointed out
that we may quite well hold that a man has told us how a belief of
his arises, and even what was the reason which made him adopt that
belief, and yet may have failed to give us any _good reason_ for his
belief--any proposition which is both true itself, and also such that
the truth of his belief follows from it. And, indeed, it is plain that
if any one ever believes what is false, he is believing something for
which there _is_ no good reason, in the sense which I have explained,
and for which, therefore, he cannot possibly have a good reason; and
yet it plainly does not follow that his belief did not arise in anyway
whatever, nor even that he had no reason for it--no bad reason. It
is plain that false beliefs do arise in some way or other--they have
origins and causes: and many people who hold them _have_ bad reasons
for holding them--their belief does arise (by inference or otherwise)
from their belief in some other proposition, which is not itself true,
or else is not a _good_ reason for holding that, which they infer
from it, or which, in some other way, it induces them to believe. I
submit, therefore, that the question, "What good reason have we for
believing in the existence of other people?" is different from the
question, "How does that belief arise?" But when I say this, I must
not be misunderstood; I must not be understood to affirm that the
answer to both questions _may_ not, in a sense, be the same. I fully
admit that the very same fact, which suggests to us the belief in the
existence of other people, _may_ also be a good reason for believing
that they do exist. All that I maintain is that the question whether
it is a good reason for that belief is a different question from the
question whether it suggests that belief: if we assert that a certain
fact _both_ suggests our belief in the existence of other persons and
is _also_ a good reason for holding that belief, we are asserting two
different things and not one only. And hence, when I assert, as I shall
assert, that we _have_ a good reason for our belief in the existence
of other persons, I must not be understood also to assert either that
we infer the existence of other persons from this good reason, or that
our belief in that good reason suggests our belief in the existence
of other persons in any other way. It is plain, I think, that a man
may believe two true propositions, of which the one would not be true,
unless the other were true too, without, in any sense whatever, having
arrived at his belief in the one _from_ his belief in the other; and it
is plain, at all events, that the question whether his belief in the
one _did_ arise from his belief in the other, is a different question
from the question whether the truth of the one belief follows from the
truth of the other.

I hope, then, that I have made it a little clearer what I mean by the
question: "What reason have we for believing in the existence of other
people?" and that what I mean by it is at all events different from
what is meant by the question: "How does our belief in the existence of
other people arise?"

But I am sorry to say that I have not yet reached the end of my
explanations as to what my meaning is. I am afraid that the subject may
seem very tedious. I can assure you that I have found it excessively
tedious to try to make my meaning clear to myself. I have constantly
found that I was confusing one question with another, and that, where
I had thought I had a good reason for some assertion, I had in reality
no good reason. But I may perhaps remind you that this question, "How
do we know so and so?" "What reason have we for believing it?" is one
of which philosophy is full; and one to which the most various answers
have been given. Philosophy largely consists in giving reasons; and the
question what are good reasons for a particular conclusion and what are
bad, is one upon which philosophers have disagreed as much as on any
other question. For one and the same conclusion different philosophers
have given not only different, but incompatible, reasons; and
conversely different philosophers have maintained that one and the same
fact is a reason for incompatible conclusions. We are apt, I think,
sometimes to pay too little attention to this fact. When we have taken,
perhaps, no little pains to assure ourselves that our own reasoning
is correct, and especially when we know that a great many other
philosophers agree with us, we are apt to assume that the arguments
of those philosophers, who have come to a contradictory conclusion,
are scarcely worthy of serious consideration. And yet, I think, there
is scarcely a single reasoned conclusion in philosophy, as to which
we shall not find that some other philosopher, who has, so far as we
know, bestowed equal pains on his reasoning, and with equal ability,
has reached a conclusion incompatible with ours. We may be satisfied
that we are right, and we may, in fact, be so; but it is certain that
_both_ cannot be right: either our opponent or we must have mistaken
bad reasons for good. And this being so, however satisfied we may be
that it is not we who have done so, I think we should at least draw the
conclusion that it is by no means easy to avoid mistaking bad reasons
for good; and that no process, however laborious, which is in the least
likely to help us in avoiding this should be evaded. But it is at least
possible that one source of error lies in mistaking one kind of reason
for another--in supposing that, because there is, in one sense, a
reason for a given conclusion, there is also a reason in another, or
that because there is, in one sense, no reason for a given conclusion,
there is, therefore, no reason at all. I believe myself that this _is_
a very frequent source of error: but it is at least a possible one.
And where, as disagreements show, there certainly is error on one
side or the other, and reason, too, to suppose that the error is not
easy to detect, I think we should spare no pains in investigating any
source, from which it is even possible that the error may arise. For
these reasons I think I am perhaps doing right in trying to explain as
clearly as possible not only what reasons we have for believing in an
external world, but also in what sense I take them to be reasons.

I proceed, then with my explanation. And there is one thing, which, I
think my illustration has shown that I do _not_ mean. I have defined
a reason for a belief as a true proposition, which would not be true
unless the belief itself--what is believed--were also true; and I
have used, as synonymous with this form of words, the expressions: A
reason for a belief is a true proposition from which the truth of the
belief _follows_ from which it _could_ be _validly inferred._ Now these
expressions might suggest the idea that I mean to restrict the word
"reason," to what, in the strictest sense, might be called a _logical_
reason--to propositions from which the belief in question _follows,_
according to the rules of inference accepted by Formal Logic. But I
am _not_ using the words "follow," "validly inferred," in this narrow
sense; I do _not_ mean to restrict the words "reason for a belief"
to propositions from which the laws of Formal Logic state that the
belief could be deduced. The illustration which I gave is inconsistent
with this restricted meaning. I said that the fact that a statement
appeared in the _Times_ might be a good reason for believing that
that statement was true. And I am using the word "reason" in the wide
and popular sense, in which it really might be. If, for instance,
the _Times_ stated that the King was dead, we should think that was
a good reason for believing that the King was dead; we should think
that the _Times_ would not have made such a statement as that unless
the King really were dead. We should, indeed, not think that the
statement in the _Times_ rendered it absolutely _certain_ that the
King was dead. But it _is_ extremely unlikely that the _Times_ would
make a statement of this kind unless it were true; and, in that sense,
the fact of the statement appearing in the _Times_ would render it
_highly probable_--much more likely than not--that the King was dead.
And I wish it to be understood that I am using the words "reason for
a belief" in this extremely wide sense. When I look for a good reason
for our belief in the existence of other people, I shall not reject any
proposition merely on the ground that it only renders their existence
probable--only shows it to be more likely than not that they exist.
Provided that the proposition in question does render it _positively
probable_ that they exist, then, if it also conforms to the conditions
which I am about to mention, I shall call it a "good reason."

But it is not every proposition which renders it probable that
other people exist, which I shall consider to be a good answer to
my question. I have just explained that my meaning is wide in one
direction--in admitting _some_ propositions which render a belief
merely probable; but I have now to explain that it is restricted in
two other directions. I do mean to exclude certain propositions which
do render that belief probable. When I ask: What reason have _we_ for
believing in the existence of other people? a certain ambiguity is
introduced by the use of the plural "we." If each of several different
persons has a reason for believing that he himself exists, then it is
not merely probable, but certain, according to the rules of Formal
Logic, that, in a sense, _they_ "have a reason for believing" that
several people exist; each has a reason for believing that he himself
exists; and, therefore, all of them, taken together, have reasons for
supposing that several persons exist. If, therefore, I were asking
the question: What reason have _we_ for believing in the existence
of other persons? in this sense, it would follow that if each of us
has a reason for believing in his own existence, these reasons, taken
together, would be a reason for believing in the existence of all of
us. But I am not asking the question in this sense: it is plain that
this is not its natural sense. What I do mean to ask is: Does _each
single one_ of us know any proposition, which is a reason for believing
that _others_ exist? I am using "we," that is to say, in the sense
of "each of us." But again I do mean _each_ of us: I am not merely
asking whether some _one_ man knows a proposition which is a reason
for believing that other men exist. It would be possible that some
one man, or some few men, should know such a proposition, and yet the
rest know no such proposition. But I am not asking whether this is the
case. I am asking whether among propositions of the kind which (as we
commonly suppose) all or almost all men know, there is any which is a
reason for supposing that other men exist. And in asking this question
I am not begging the question by supposing that all men do exist. My
question might, I think, be put quite accurately as follows. There are
certain kinds of belief which, as we commonly suppose, all or almost
all men share. I describe this kind of belief as "our" beliefs, simply
as an easy way of pointing out which kind of belief I mean, but without
assuming that all men do share them. And I then ask: Supposing a
single man to have beliefs of this kind, which among them would be a
good reason for supposing that other men existed having like beliefs?

This, then, is the first restriction which I put upon the meaning
of my question. And it is, I think, a restriction which, in their
natural meaning, the words suggest. When we ask: What reason have
we for believing that other people exist? we naturally understand
that question to be equivalent to: What reason has _each_ of us for
that belief? And this question again is naturally equivalent to the
question: Which among the propositions that a single man believes, but
which are of the kind which (rightly or wrongly) we assume all men to
believe, are such that they would not be true unless some other person
than that man existed? But there is another restriction which, I think,
the words of my question also naturally suggest. If we were to ask
anyone the question: How do you know that you did see that statement
in the _Times_? and he were to answer "Because I did see it in the
_Times_ and in the _Standard_ too," we should not think that he had
given us a _reason_ for the belief that he saw it in the _Times._ We
should not think his answer a _reason_, because it asserts the very
thing for which we require a reason. And similarly when I ask: How
do we know that any thing or person exists, other than ourselves and
what we directly perceive? What reason have we for believing this? I
must naturally be understood to mean: What proposition, _other_ than
one which itself asserts or presupposes the existence of something
beyond ourselves and our own perceptions, is a reason for supposing
that such a thing exists? And this restriction obviously excludes an
immense number of propositions of a kind which all of us do believe. We
all of us believe an immense number of different propositions about
the existence of things which we do not directly perceive, and many
of these propositions are, in my sense, good reasons for believing in
the existence of still other things. The belief in the existence of a
statement in the _Times,_ when we have not seen that statement, may,
as I implied, be a good reason for believing that someone is dead. But
no such proposition can be a good answer to my question, because it
asserts the very kind of thing for which I require a reason: it asserts
the existence of something other than myself and what I directly
perceive. When I am asking: What reason have I for believing in the
existence of anything but myself, my own perceptions, and what I do
directly perceive? you would naturally understand me to mean: What
reason, _other than_ the existence of such a thing, have I for this
belief?

Each of us, then, we commonly assume, believes some true propositions,
which do not themselves assert the existence of anything other than
himself, his own perceptions, or what he directly perceives. Each of
us, for instance, believes that he himself has and has had certain
particular perceptions: and these propositions are propositions of
the kind I mean--propositions which do not themselves assert the
existence of anything _other than_ himself, his own perceptions,
and what he directly perceives: they are, I think, by no means the
only propositions of this kind, which most of us believe: but they
_are_ propositions of this kind. But, as I say, I am not assuming
that each of us--each of several different people--does believe
propositions of this kind. All that I assume is that at least one man
does believe some such propositions. And then I ask: Which among those
true propositions, which one man believes, are such that they would
probably not be true, unless some other man existed and had certain
particular perceptions? Which among them are such that it _follows_
(in the wide sense, which I have explained) from their truth, that it
is more likely than not that some other man has perceptions? This is
the meaning of my question, so far as I have hitherto explained it:
and I hope this meaning is quite clear. It is in this sense that I am
asking: What reason have we for believing that other people exist? How
do we know that they exist? This, indeed, is not _all_ that I mean by
that question: there is one other point--the most important one--which
remains to be explained. But this is _part_ of what I mean to ask; and
before I go on to explain what else I mean, I wish first to stop and
enquire what is the answer to this part of my question. What is the
answer to the question: Which among the true propositions, of a kind
which (as we commonly assume) each of us believes, and which do not
themselves assert the existence of anything other than that person
himself, his own perceptions, or what he directly perceives, are such
that they would probably not be true unless some other person existed,
who had perceptions in some respects similar to his own?

Now to this question the answer is very obvious. It is very obvious
that in this sense we have reasons for believing in the existence of
other persons, and also what some of those reasons are. But I wish
to make it quite plain that this is so: that in this sense one man
_has_ a reason for believing that another has certain perceptions. All
that I am asking you to grant, is, you see, that some of you would
not be having just those perceptions which you now have, unless I,
as I read this paper, were perceiving more or less black marks on a
more or less white ground; or that I on the other hand, should not
be having just those perceptions which I now have, unless some other
persons than myself were hearing the sounds of my voice. And I am
not asking you even to grant that this is certain--only that it is
positively probable--more likely than not. Surely it is very obvious
that this proposition is true. But I wish to make it quite clear
what would be the consequences of denying that any such propositions
are true--propositions which assert that the existence of certain
perceptions in one man are a reason for believing in the existence of
certain perceptions in another man--which assert that one man would
probably not have had just those perceptions which he did have, unless
some other man had had certain particular perceptions. It is plain, I
think, that, unless some such propositions are true, we have no more
reason for supposing that Alexander the Great ever saw an elephant,
than for supposing that Sindbad the Sailor saw a Roc; we have no more
reason for supposing that anybody saw Julius Caesar murdered in the
Senate House at Rome, than for supposing that somebody saw him carried
up to Heaven in a fiery chariot. It is plain, I think, that if we have
any reason at all for supposing that in all probability Alexander the
Great did see an elephant, and that in all probability no such person
as Sindbad the Sailor ever saw a Roc, part of that reason consists
in the assumption that some other person would probably not have had
just those perceptions which he did have, unless Alexander the Great
had seen an elephant, and unless Sindbad the Sailor had not seen a
Roc. And most philosophers, I think, are willing to admit that we have
some reason, in some sense or other, for such propositions as these.
They are willing to admit not only that some persons probably did see
Julius Caesar murdered in the Senate House; but also that some persons,
other than those who saw it, had and have _some reason_ for supposing
that some one else probably saw it. Some sceptical philosophers might,
indeed, deny both propositions; and to refute their views, I admit,
other arguments are needed than any which I shall bring forward in this
paper. But most philosophers will, I think, admit not only that facts,
for which there is, as we say, good historical evidence, are probably
true; but also that what we call good historical evidence really is
in some sense a good reason for thinking them true. Accordingly I am
going to assume that many propositions of the following kind are true.
Propositions, namely, which assert that one man would probably not
have certain perceptions which he does have, unless some other man had
certain particular perceptions. That some of you, for instance, would
probably not be having precisely the perceptions which you are having,
unless I were having the perception of more or less black marks on a
more or less white ground. And, in this sense, I say, we certainly have
reasons for supposing that other people have perceptions similar, in
some respects, to those which we sometimes have.

But when I said I was going to ask the question: What reason have we
for supposing that other people exist? you will certainly not have
thought that I merely meant to ask the question which I have just
answered. My words will have suggested to you something much more
important than merely this. When, for instance, I said that to the
question "How do you know that?" the answer "I saw it in the _Times"_
would be a satisfactory answer, you may have felt, as I felt, that it
would not in all circumstances be regarded as such. The person who
asked the question might, in some cases, fairly reply: "That is no
answer: how do you know that, because you saw a thing in the _Times_,
it is therefore true?" In other words he might ask fora _reason_ for
supposing that the occurrence of a particular statement in the _Times_
was a reason for supposing that statement true. And this is a question
to which we all believe that there may be an answer. We believe that,
with some kinds of statements which the _Times_ makes--some kinds of
statements with regard to Fiscal Policy for example--the fact that
the _Times_ makes them is no reason for supposing them to be true:
whereas with regard to other kinds of statements, which it makes, such
a statement, for instance, as that the King was dead, the fact that it
makes them _is_ a reason for supposing them true. We believe that there
are some kinds of statements, which it is very unlikely the _Times_
would make, unless they were true; and others which it is not at all
unlikely that the _Times_ might make, although they were not true. And
we believe that a reason might be given for distinguishing, in this
way, between the two different kinds of statement: for thinking that,
in some cases (on points, for instance, which, as we should say, are
not simple questions of fact) the _Times_ is fallible, whereas in other
cases, it is, though not absolutely infallible, very unlikely to state
what is not true.

Now it is precisely in this further sense that I wish to consider: what
reason have we for believing that certain particular things, other
than ourselves, our own perceptions, and what we directly perceive,
are real? I have asserted that I do have certain perceptions, which it
is very unlikely I should have, unless some other person had certain
particular perceptions; that, for instance, it is very unlikely I
should be having precisely those perceptions which I am now having
unless someone else were hearing the sound of my voice. And I now
wish to ask: What reason have I for supposing that this is unlikely?
What reason has any of us for supposing that any such proposition is
true? And I mean by "having a reason" precisely what I formerly meant.
I mean: What other proposition do I know, which would not be true,
unless my perception were connected with someone else's perception, in
the manner in which I asserted them to be connected? Here again I am
asking for _a good reason_; and am not asking a psychological question
with regard to origin. Here again I am not asking for a reason, in the
strict sense of Formal Logic; I am merely asking for a proposition
which would probably not be true, unless what I asserted were true.
Here again I am asking for some proposition of a kind which _each_ of
us believes; I am asking: What reason has _each_ of us for believing
that some of his perceptions are connected with particular perceptions
of other people in the manner I asserted?--for believing that he would
not have certain perceptions that he does have, unless some other
person had certain particular perceptions? And here again I am asking
for a _reason_--I am asking for some proposition _other_ than one
which itself asserts: When one man has a perception of such and such a
particular kind, it _is_ probable that another man has a perception or
thought of this or that other kind.

But what kind of reason can be given for believing a proposition of
this sort? For believing a proposition which asserts that, since one
particular thing exists, it is probable that another particular thing
also exists? One thing I think is plain, namely that we can have no
good reason for believing such a proposition, unless we have good
reason for believing some _generalisation._ It is commonly believed,
for instance, that certain so-called flint arrow-heads, which have been
discovered, were probably made by prehistoric men; and I think it is
plain that we have no reason for believing this unless we have reason
to suppose that objects which resemble these in certain particular
respects are _generally_ made by men--are _more often_ made by men
than by any other agency. Unless certain particular characteristics
which those arrow-heads have were characteristics which belonged at
least more frequently to articles of human manufacture than to any
articles not made by men, it would surely be just as likely as not
that these arrowheads were _not_ made by men--that they were, in fact
not arrow-heads. That is to say, unless we have reason to assert a
_generalisation_--the generalisation that objects of a certain kind
are _generally_ made by men, we have no reason to suppose that these
particular objects, which are of the kind in question, _were_ made
by men. And the same, so far as I can see, is true universally. If
we ever have any reason for asserting that, since one particular
thing exists, another probably exists or existed or will exist also
part of our reason, at least, must consist in reasons for asserting
some generalisation--for asserting that the existence of things of
a particular kind is, more often than not, accompanied or preceded
or followed by the existence of things of another particular kind.
It is, I think, sometimes assumed that an alternative to this theory
may be found in the theory that the existence of one kind of thing
"intrinsically points to," or is "intrinsically a sign or symbol of"
the existence of another thing. It is suggested that when a thing
which thus points to the existence of another thing exists, then it is
at least probable that the thing "pointed to" exists also. But this
theory, I think, offers no real alternative. For, in the first place,
when we say that the existence of one thing A is a "sign of" or "points
to" the existence of another thing B, we very commonly actually mean to
say that when a thing like A exists, a thing like B _generally_ exists
too. We may, no doubt, mean something else _too_; but this we do mean.
We say, for instance, that certain particular words, which we hear or
read, are a "sign" that somebody has thought of the particular things
which we call the meaning of those words. But we should certainly
hesitate to admit that the hearing or reading of certain words could be
called a "sign" of the existence of certain thoughts, unless it were
true that when those words are heard or read, the thoughts in question
_generally_ have existed. If when those words were heard or read, the
thoughts had generally _not_ existed, we should say that, in one sense
of the word at all events, the hearing of the words was _not_ a sign of
the existence of the thoughts. In this sense, therefore, to say that
the existence of A "points to" or "is a sign of" the existence of B is
actually to say that when A exists, B _generally_ exists also. But,
no doubt, the words "points to" "is a sign of" may be used in some
other sense: they may, for instance, mean only that the existence of A
_suggests_ in some way the belief that B exists. And in such a case we
certainly might know that the existence of A pointed to the existence
of B, without knowing that when A existed B generally existed also.
Let us suppose, then, that in some such sense A does "point to" the
existence of B; can this fact give us a reason for supposing it even
probable that B existed. Certainly it can, _provided_ it is true that
when A _does_ point to the existence of B, B _generally_ exists. But
surely it can do so, only on this condition. If when A _points_ to
the existence of B, B, nevertheless, does _not_ generally exist, then
surely the fact that A points to the existence of B can constitute no
probability that B does not exist: on the contrary it will then be
probable that, even though A "points to" the existence of B, B does
_not_ exist. We have, in fact, only substituted the generalisation that
A's _pointing to_ B is generally accompanied by the existence of B, for
the generalisation that A's _existence_ is generally accompanied by the
existence of B. If we are to have any reason for asserting that, when
A _points to_ or is a sign of the existence of B, B probably exists, we
must still have a reason for some generalisation--for a generalisation
which asserts that when one thing points to the existence of another,
that other _generally_ exists.

It is plain, then, I think, that if we are to find a reason for the
assertion that some particular perception of mine would probably not
exist, unless someone else were having or had had a perception of a
kind which I can name, we must find a reason for _some_ generalisation.
And it is also plain, I think, that in many cases of this kind the
generalisation must consist in an assertion that when one man has a
certain kind of perception, some other man generally has had some
other perception or belief. We assume, for instance, that when we hear
or read certain words, somebody besides ourselves has thought the
thoughts, which constitute the meaning of those words; and it is plain,
I think, that we have no reason for this assumption except one which
is also a reason for the assumption that when certain words are heard
or read, somebody generally has had certain thoughts. And my enquiry,
therefore, at least includes the enquiry: What reasons have we for such
generalisations as these? for generalisations which assert a connection
between the existence of a certain kind of perception in one man, and
that of a certain kind of perception or belief in another man?

And to this question, I think, but one answer can be given. If we
have any reason for such generalisations at all, some reason must
be given, in one way or another, by observation--by observation,
understood in the wide sense in which it includes "experiment." No
philosopher, I think, has ever failed to assume that observation does
give a reason for _some_ generalisations--for some propositions
which assert that when one kind of thing exists, another generally
exists or has existed in a certain relation to it. Even those who,
like Hume, imply that observation cannot give a _reason_ for anything,
yet constantly appeal to observation in support of generalisations of
their own. And even those who hold that observation can give no reason
for any generalisation about the relation of one man's perceptions to
another's, yet hold that it _can_ give a reason for generalisations
about the relation of some to others among a man's own perceptions.
It is, indeed, by no means agreed _how_ observation can give a reason
for any generalisation. Nobody knows what reason we have, if we have
any, for supposing that it can. But _that_ it can, everyone, I think,
assumes. I think, therefore, most philosophers will agree, that if we
can find any reason at all for generalisations of the kind in which
I am interested, a reason for _some_ of them at all events must be
found in observation. And what I propose to ask is: What reason can be
found in observation for even a single proposition of the kind I have
described? for a proposition which asserts that when one man has one
kind of perception, another man generally has or has had another.

But, when it is said that observation gives us a reason for
generalisations, two things may be meant neither of which I mean. In
the first place, we popularly use "observation" in a sense in which
we can be said to _observe_ the perceptions, feelings and thoughts
of other people: in which, therefore, we can be said to observe the
very things with regard to which I am asking what reason we have for
believing in their existence. But it is universally[1] agreed that
there is a sense in which no man can observe the perceptions, feelings
or thoughts of any other man. And it is to this strict sense that
I propose to confine the word. I shall use it in a sense, in which
we can certainly be said to observe nothing but ourselves, our own
perceptions, thoughts and feelings, and what we directly perceive. And
in the second place, it may be said that observations made by another
person may give _me_ a reason for believing some generalisation. And
it is certainly the case that for many of the generalisations in which
we all believe, if we have a reason in observation at all, it is not
in _our own_ observation that we have it: part of our reason, at all
events, lies in things which _other_ people have observed but which we
ourselves have not observed. But in asking this particular question,
I am not asking for reasons of this sort. The very question that I am
asking is: What reason has any one of us for supposing that any other
person whatever has ever made any observations? And just as, in the
first meaning which I gave to this question, it meant: What thing,
that any single man observes is such that it would probably not have
existed, unless some other man had made a particular observation?
So now I am asking: Which among the things, which _one single man
observes_, are such that they would probably not have existed, unless
it were true that some of them generally stood in certain relations to
observations of some other person? I am asking: Which among _my own_
observations give me a reason for supposing that some of them are of
a kind which are generally preceded or accompanied by observations
of other people? Which, for instance, among my own observations give
a good reason for the generalisation that when I hear certain words,
somebody else has generally had certain particular thoughts, or that
whenever anyone hears certain words, somebody else has generally had
the thoughts which constitute what we call the meaning of those words?
I am asking: Which among the vast series of observations, which any
one individual makes during his lifetime, give a good reason for
any generalisation _whatever_ of this kind--a generalisation which
asserts that some of them are generally preceded by certain thoughts,
perceptions or feelings in other persons? I quite admit that there
are some generalisations of this kind for which the observations of
_some_ particular men will _not_ give a reason. All that I ask is:
Is there even _one_ generalisation of this kind, for which the kind
of observations, which (as we commonly assume) each man, or nearly
every man does make, do give a reason? Among observations of the kind
which (as we commonly assume) are common to you and to me, do yours,
by themselves, give any reason for even _one_ such generalisation?
And do mine, by themselves, give any reason for even _one_ such
generalisation? And if they do, which, among these observations, is it
which do so?

My question is, then: What reason do my own observations give me, for
supposing that any perception whatever, which I have, would probably
not occur, unless some other person had a certain kind of perception?
What reason do my own observations give me for supposing, for instance,
that I should not be perceiving what I do now perceive, unless
someone were hearing the sound of my voice? What reason do your own
observations give you for supposing that you would not be perceiving
just what you are perceiving, unless I were perceiving more or less
black marks on a more or less white ground? The question does, I
think, appear to be a reasonable one; and most philosophers, I think,
have assumed that there is an answer to it. Yet it may be said that
there is no answer to it: that my own observations give me no reason
whatever for any single proposition of this kind. There are certain
philosophers (even apart from thorough sceptics, with whom, as I have
said, I am not now arguing) who have denied that they do. There are
certain philosophers who hold that nothing which any single one of
us observes or can observe, gives the slightest reason for supposing
that any of his own perceptions are generally connected with certain
perceptions in other people. There are philosophers who hold that the
only generalisations for which our own observations do give any warrant
are generalisations concerning the manner in which our own perceptions,
thoughts and feelings do and probably will succeed one another; and who
conclude that, this being so, we have no reason whatever for believing
in the existence of any other people. And these philosophers are, I
think, right in drawing this conclusion from this premiss. It does
not, indeed, follow from their premiss that we have not a reason in
the sense which I first explained, and in which, I insisted, it must
be admitted that we have a reason. It does not follow that some of our
perceptions _are_ not such as would probably not exist, unless some
other person had certain perceptions. But, as I have urged, when we
say that we have a reason for asserting the existence of something not
perceived, we commonly mean something more than this. We mean not only
that, since what we perceive does exist, the unperceived thing probably
exists too; we mean also that we have some reason for asserting this
connection between the perceived and the unperceived. And holding, as
we do, that no reason can be given for asserting such a connection,
except observation, we should say that, if observation gives no reason
for asserting it, we have _no_ reason for asserting it; and having no
reason for asserting this connection between the perceived and the
unperceived, we should say that we have none either for asserting the
even probable existence of the unperceived. This, I think, is what
we commonly mean by saying that we have no reason to believe in the
existence of a particular thing which we do not perceive. And hence,
I think, those philosophers who hold that our own observations give
us no reason whatever for any generalisation whatever concerning
the connection of any of them with those of other people, are quite
right in concluding that we have no reason to assert that any other
person ever did have any particular thought or perception whatever. I
think that the words of this conclusion, understood in their natural
meaning, express precisely what the premiss asserts. We need not,
indeed, conclude, as many of these philosophers are inclined to do,
that, because we have no reason for believing in the existence of other
people, it is therefore highly doubtful whether they do exist. The
philosophers who advocate this opinion commonly refute themselves by
assigning the existence of other people as part of their reason for
believing that it is very doubtful whether any other people exist. That
for which we have no reason may, nevertheless, be certainly true. And,
indeed, one of the philosophers who hold most clearly and expressly
that we do know not only the existence of other people but also that
of material objects, is also one of those who deny most emphatically
that our own observations can give any reason for believing either
in the one or in the other. I refer to Thomas Reid. Reid, indeed,
allows himself to use not only the word "observe," but even the word
"perceive," in that wide sense in which it might be said that we
observe or perceive the thoughts and feelings of others: and I think
that the fact that he uses the words in this sense, has misled him into
thinking that his view is more plausible and more in accordance with
Common Sense than it really is: by using the words in this sense he is
able to plead that "observation" really does give a reason for some of
those generalisations, for which Common Sense holds that "observation"
(in a narrower sense) does give a reason. But with regard to what we
observe or perceive, in the strict sense to which 1 am confining those
words, he asserts quite explicitly that it gives us no reason either
for believing in the existence of material objects or for believing
in the existence of other minds. Berkeley, he says, has proved
incontrovertibly that it gives us no reason for the one, and Hume that
it gives us no reason for the other.

Now these philosophers may be right in holding this. It may, perhaps,
be true that, in this sense, my own observations give me no reason
whatever for believing that any other person ever has or will perceive
anything like or unlike what I perceive. But I think it is desirable
we should realise how paradoxical are the consequences which must be
admitted, if this is true. It must then be admitted that the very
large part of our knowledge, which we suppose to have some basis in
experience, is by no means based upon experience, in the sense, and
to the extent, which we suppose. We do for instance, commonly suppose
that there is some basis in experience for the assertion that some
people, whom we call Germans, use one set of words to express much the
same meaning which we express by using a different set of words. But,
if this view be correct, we must admit that no person's experience
gives him any reason whatever for supposing that, when he hears certain
words, any one else has ever heard or thought of the same words, or
meant anything by them. The view admits, indeed, that I do know that
when I hear certain words, somebody else has generally had thoughts
more or less similar to those which I suppose him to have had: but it
denies that my own observations could ever give me the least reason
for supposing that this is so. It admits that my own observations may
give me reason for supposing that _if_ anyone has ever had perceptions
like mine in some respects, he will also have had other perceptions
like others of mine: but it denies that they give me any reason for
supposing that any one else has had a perception like one of mine. It
admits that my own observations may give me reason for supposing that
certain perceptions and thoughts in _one_ person (_if_ they exist) will
be followed or preceded by certain other perceptions and thoughts in
that person: but it denies that they give me any reason whatever for
_any_ similar generalisation concerning the connection of a certain
kind of perception in one person with a certain kind of perception in
another. It admits that I should not have certain perceptions, which
I do have, unless someone else had had certain other perceptions; but
it denies that my own observations can give me any reason for saying
so--for saying that I should not have had this perception, unless
someone else had had that. No observations of mine, it holds, can ever
render it probable that such a generalisation is true; no observation
of mine can ever confirm or verify such a generalisation. If we are to
say that any such generalisation whatever is based upon observation,
we can only mean, what Reid means, that it is based on a series of
assumptions. When I observe this particular thing, I assume that _that_
particular thing, which I do not observe, exists; when I observe
another particular thing, I again assume that a second particular
thing, which I do not observe, exists; when I observe a third
particular thing, I again assume that a third particular thing, which I
do not observe, exists. These assumed facts--the assumed fact that one
observation of mine is accompanied by the existence of one particular
kind of thing, and that another observation of mine is accompanied by
the existence of a different particular kind of thing, will then give
me a reason for different generalisations concerning the connection of
different perceptions of mine with different external objects--objects
which I do not perceive. But (it is maintained) nothing but a mass of
such assumptions will give me a reason for any such generalisation.

Now I think it must be admitted that there is something paradoxical
in such a view. I think it may be admitted that, in holding it, the
philosopher of Common Sense departs from Common Sense at least as far
in one direction as his opponents had done in another. But I think
that there is some excuse for those who hold it: I think that, in one
respect, they are more in the right than those who do not hold it--than
those who hold that my own observations do give me a reason for
believing in the existence of other people. For those who hold that my
observations do give me a reason, have, I believe, universally supposed
that the reason lies in a part of my observations, in which no such
reason is to be found. This is why I have chosen to ask the question:
_What_ reason do my observations give me for believing that any other
person has any particular perceptions or beliefs? I wish to consider
_which_ among the things which I observe will give such a reason. For
this is a question to which no answer, that I have ever seen, appears
to me to be correct. Those who have asked it have, so far as I know,
answered it _either_ by denying that my observations give me any reason
_or_ by pointing to a part of my observations, which, as it seems to
me, really do give none. Those who deny are, it seems to me, right in
holding that the reason given by those who affirm is no reason. And
their correct opinion on this point will, I think, partly serve to
explain their denial. They have supposed that if our observations give
us any reason at all for asserting the existence of other people, that
reason must lie where it has been supposed to lie by those who hold
that they do give a reason. And then, finding that this assigned reason
is no reason, they have assumed that there is no other.

I am proposing then to ask: Which among the observations, which I make,
and which (as we commonly suppose) are similar in kind to those which
all or almost all men make, will give a reason for supposing that the
existence of any of them is generally connected with the existence of
certain kinds of perception or belief in other people? And in order to
answer this question, it is obvious we must first consider two others.
We must consider, in the first place: Of what nature must observations
be, if they are to give a reason for any generalisation asserting that
the existence of one kind of thing is generally connected with that of
another? And we must consider in the second place: What kinds of things
do we observe?

Now to the first of these questions I am not going to attempt to give
a complete answer. The question concerning the rules of Inductive
Logic, which is the question at issue, is an immensely difficult and
intricate question. And I am not going to attempt to say, what kind of
observations are _sufficient_ to justify a generalisation. But it is
comparatively easy to point out that a certain kind of observations are
_necessary_ to justify a generalisation: and this is all that I propose
to do. I wish to point out certain conditions which observations must
satisfy, if they are to justify a generalisation; without in any way
implying that all observations which do satisfy these conditions,
_will_ justify a generalisation. The conditions, I shall mention, are
ones which are certainly _not_ sufficient to justify a generalisation;
but they are, I think, conditions, without which no generalisation can
be justified. If a particular kind of observations do _not_ satisfy
these conditions, we can say with certainty that those observations
give us _no_ reason for believing in the existence of other people;
though, with regard to observations which _do_ satisfy them, we shall
only be able to say that they _may_ give a reason.

What conditions, then, must observations satisfy, if they are to
justify a generalisation? Let us suppose that the generalisation to
be justified is one which asserts that the existence of a kind of
object, which we will call A, is generally preceded, accompanied, or
followed by the existence of a kind of object, which we call B. A, for
instance, might be the hearing of a certain word by one person, and B
the thought of that which we call the meaning of the word, in another
person; and the generalisation to be justified might be that when one
person hears a word, not spoken by himself, someone else has generally
thought of the meaning of that word. What must I have observed, if the
generalisation that the existence of A is generally preceded by the
existence of B, is to be justified by my observations? One first point,
I think, is plain. I must have observed both some object, which is in
some respects like A, and which I will call _α_, and also some object
in some respects like B which I will call _β_: I must have observed
both _α_ and _β_, and also I must have observed _β_ preceding _α._
This, at least, I must have observed. But I do not pretend to say _how_
like _α_ and _β_ must be to A and B; nor do I pretend to say how often
I must have observed _β_ preceding _α_, although it is generally held
that I must have observed this more than once. These are questions,
which would have to be discussed if we were trying to discover what
observations were _sufficient_ to justify the generalisation that the
existence of A is generally preceded by that of B. But I am only
trying to lay down the minimum which is _necessary_ to justify this
generalisation; and therefore I am content to say that we must have
observed something more or less like B preceding something more or less
like A, at least once.

But there is yet another minimum condition. If my observation of _β_
preceding _α_ is to justify the generalisation that the _existence_ of
A is generally preceded by the _existence_ of B, it is plain, I think,
that both the _β_ and the _α,_ which I observed, must have _existed_
or been _real_; and that also the existence of _β_ must _really_ have
preceded that of _α_. It is plain that if, when I observed _α_ and
_β_, _α_ existed but _β_ did not, this observation could give me no
reason to suppose that on another occasion when A existed, _β_ _would_
exist. Or again, if, when I observed _β_ preceding _α_, both _β_ and
_α_ existed, but the existence of _β_ did not _really_ precede that of
α, but, on the contrary, followed it, this observation could certainly
give me no reason to suppose that, in general, the existence of A was
_preceded_ by the existence of B. Indeed this condition that what is
observed must have been _real_ might be said to be included in the very
meaning of the word "observation." We should, in this connection, say
that we had _not_ observed _β_ preceding _α,_ unless _β_ and _α_ were
both real, and _β_ had really preceded _α._ If I say "I have _observed_
that, on one occasion, my hearing of the word 'moon' was followed by
my imagining a luminous silvery disc," I commonly mean to include in
my statement the assertion that I did, on that occasion, really hear
the word "moon," and really did have a visual image of a luminous
disc, and that my perception was really followed by my imagination.
If it were proved to me that this had not really happened, I should
admit that I had not really observed it. But though this condition
that, if observation is to give reason for a generalisation, what is
observed must be real, may thus be said to be implied in the very
word "observation," it was necessary for me to mention the condition
explicitly. It was necessary, because, as I shall presently show,
we do and must also use the word "observation" in a sense in which
the assertion "I observe A" by no means includes the assertion "A
exists"--in a sense in which it _may_ be true that though I did observe
A, yet A did _not_ exist.

But there is also, I think, a third necessary condition which is very
apt to be overlooked. It may, perhaps, be allowed that observation
gives some reason for the proposition that hens' eggs are generally
laid by hens. I do not mean to say that any one man's observation can
give a reason for this proposition: I do not assume either that it can
or that it cannot. Nor do I mean to make any assumption as to what
must be meant by the words "hens" and "eggs," if this proposition is
to be true. I am quite willing to allow for the moment that if it is
true at all, we must understand by "hens" and "eggs," objects very
unlike that which we directly observe, when we see a hen in a yard, or
an egg on the breakfast-table. I am willing to allow the possibility
that, as some Idealists would say, the proposition "Hens lay eggs" is
false, unless we mean by it: A certain kind of collection of spirits or
monads sometimes has a certain intelligible relation to another kind of
collection of spirits or monads. I am willing to allow the possibility
that, as Reid and some scientists would say, the proposition "Hens
lay eggs" is false, if we mean by it anything more than that: Certain
configurations of invisible material particles sometimes have a certain
spatio-temporal relation to another kind of configuration of invisible
material particles. Or again I am willing to allow, with certain
other philosophers, that we must, if it is to be true, interpret
this proposition as meaning that certain kinds of sensations have to
certain other kinds a relation which may be expressed by saying that
the one kind of sensations "lay" the other kind. Or again, as other
philosophers say, the proposition "Hens lay eggs" may possibly mean:
Certain sensations of mine _would_, under certain conditions, have to
certain other sensations of mine a relation which may be expressed by
saying that the one set would "lay" the other set. But whatever the
proposition "Hens' eggs are generally laid by hens" may _mean_, most
philosophers would, I think, allow that, in some sense or other, this
proposition was true. And they would also I think allow that we have
_some_ reason for it; and that _part_ of this reason at all events lies
in observation: they would allow that we should have no reason for it
unless certain things had been observed, which have been observed.
Few, I think, would say that the existence of an egg "intrinsically
points" to that of a hen, in such a sense that, even if we had had no
experience of any kind concerning the manner in which objects like eggs
are connected with animals like hens, the mere inspection of an egg
would justify the assertion: A hen has probably existed.

I assume, then, that objects having all the characteristics which
hens' eggs have (whatever these may be) are generally laid by hens
(whatever hens may be); and I assume that, if we have any reason
for this generalisation at all, observation gives us some reason
for it. But now, let us suppose that the only observations we had
made were those which we should commonly describe by saying that we
had seen a hen laying an egg. I do not say that any number of such
observations, by themselves, would be _sufficient_ to justify our
generalisation: I think it is plain that they would not. But let us
suppose, for the moment, that we had observed nothing else which bore
upon the connection between hens and eggs; and that, if therefore
our generalisation was justified by any observations at all, it was
justified by these. We are supposing, then, that the observations
which we describe as "seeing hens lay eggs" give some reason for the
generalisation that eggs of that kind are generally laid by hens. And
if these observations give reason for this, obviously _in a sense_
they give reason for the generalisation that the existence of such an
egg is generally preceded by that of a hen; and hence also, they give
us reason to suppose that if such an egg exists, a hen has probably
existed also--that unless a hen had existed, the egg would not have
existed. But the point to which I wish to call attention is that it
is _only_ in a limited sense that they do give reason for this. They
only give us reason to suppose that, for each egg, there has existed a
hen, which was at some time _near_ the place where the egg in question
then was, and which existed at a time _near_ to that at which the egg
began to exist. The only kind of hens, whose existence they do give us
reason to suppose, are hens, of which each was at some time in spatial
and temporal proximity (or, if Idealists prefer, in the relations which
are the "intelligible counterparts" of these) to an egg. They give us
no information at all about the existence of hens (if there are any)
which never came within a thousand miles of an egg, or which were dead
a thousand years before any egg existed. That is to say, they _do_
give us reason to suppose that, if a particular egg exists, there has
probably existed a hen which was at some time _near_ that egg; but
they give us no reason to suppose that, if a particular egg exists,
there must have existed a hen which never came near that egg. They
_do_ give us reason to suppose that, for each egg, there has probably
existed a hen which at some time stood to the egg in question in that
relation which we have observed to hold between an egg and a hen, when
we observed the hen laying an egg. But they give us no reason to infer
from the existence of an egg any other kind of hen: any hen which
_never_ stood to the egg in the relation in which we have observed that
some hens do stand to eggs.

What I wish to suggest is that this condition is a universal condition
for sound inductions. If the observation of β preceding _α_ can ever
give us any reason at all for supposing that the existence of A is
generally preceded by that of B, it can at most only give us reason
to suppose that the existence of an A is generally preceded by that
of a B _which stands to our A in the same relation in which β_ has
been observed to stand to _α._ It cannot give the least reason for
supposing that the existence of an A must have been preceded by that
of a B, which did _not_ stand to A in the observed relation, but in
some quite different one. If we are to have any reason to infer from
the existence of an A the existence of such a B, the reason must lie in
some different observations. That this is so, in the case of hens' eggs
and hens, is, I think, obvious: and, if the rule is _not_ universal,
some reason should at least be given for supposing that it does apply
in one case and not in another.

Having thus attempted to point out some conditions which seem to be
necessary, though not _sufficient_, where observation is to give any
reason for a generalisation, I may now proceed to my second preliminary
question. What kinds of things do we observe?

In order to illustrate how much and how little I mean by "observation"
or "direct perception," I will take as an instance a very common
visual perception. Most of us are familiar with the experience which
we should describe by saying that we had seen a red book and a blue
book side by side upon a shelf. What exactly can we be said to observe
or directly perceive when we have such an experience? We certainly
observe one colour, which we call blue, and a different colour, which
we call red; each of these we observe as having a particular size and
shape; and we observe also these two coloured patches as having to one
another the spatial relation which we express by saying they are side
by side. All this we certainly see or directly perceive _now,_ whatever
may have been the process by which we have come to perceive so much.
But when we say, as in ordinary talk we should, that the objects we
perceive are _books,_ we certainly mean to ascribe to them properties,
which, in a sense which we all understand, are not actually seen by
us, at the moment when we are merely looking at two books on a shelf
two yards off. And all such properties I mean to exclude as not being
then _observed_ or _directly perceived_ by us. When I speak of what
we _observe,_ when we see two books on a shelf, I mean to limit the
expression to that which is _actually seen._ And, thus understood, the
expression does include colours, and the size and shape of colours, and
spatial relations in three dimensions between these patches of colour,
but it includes nothing else.

But I am also using observation in a sense in which we can be said
actually to observe a movement. We commonly say that we can sometimes
_see_ a red billiard ball moving towards a white one on a green table.
And, here again, I do not mean to include in what is directly perceived
or observed, all that we mean by saying that the two objects perceived
are billiard-balls. But I do mean to include what (we should say) we
_actually see._ We actually see a more or less round red patch moving
towards a more or less round white patch; we _see_ the stretch of green
between them diminishing in size. And this perception is not merely the
same as a series of perceptions--first a perception of a red patch with
a green stretch of one size between it and the white; then a perception
of a red patch with a green stretch of a different size between it and
the white; and so on. In order to perceive a movement we must have a
different perception from any one of these or from the sum of them. We
must _actually see_ the green stretch diminishing in size.

Now it is undoubtedly difficult, in some instances, to decide precisely
what is perceived in this sense and what is not. But I hope I have
said enough to show that I am using "perceive" and "observe" in a
sense in which, on a given occasion, it is easy to decide that _some_
things certainly are perceived, and other things, as certainly, are
not perceived. I am using it in a sense in which we do perceive such
a complex object as a white patch moving towards a red one on a green
field; but I am not using it in any sense in which we could be said to
"perceive" or "observe" that what we saw moving was a billiard-ball.
And in the same way I think we can distinguish roughly between what,
on any given occasion, we perceive, as we say, "by any one of the
other senses," and what we do not perceive by it. We can say with
certainty that, on any given occasion, there are certain kinds of
"content" which we are actually hearing, and others which we are _not_
actually hearing; though with regard to some again it is difficult to
say whether we are actually hearing them or not. And similarly we can
distinguish with certainty in some instances, between what we are on
a given occasion, actually smelling or feeling, and what we are not
actually smelling or feeling.

But now, besides these kinds of "things," "objects," or "contents,"
which we perceive, as we say, "by the senses," there is also another
kind which we can be said to observe. Not only can I observe a red and
blue book side by side; I can also observe myself observing them. I can
perceive a red patch moving towards a white, and I can also perceive my
perception of this movement. And what I wish to make as plain as I can
is that my perception of the movement of a coloured patch can at least
be distinguished from that movement itself. I wish to make it plain
that to observe a coloured patch moving is to observe one thing; and
to observe myself observing a coloured patch moving is another. When
I observe my own perception of a movement, I observe something _more_
than when I merely observe the movement, and something very different
from the movement. I may perceive a red and a blue book side by side on
a shelf; and at another time I may perceive a red ball moving towards a
white. The red and blue patch, of one shape, at rest side by side, are
different from the red, of another shape, moving towards the white; and
yet, when I say that both are "perceived," I mean by "perceived" one
and the same thing. And since, thus, two different things may both be
perceived, there must also be some difference between each of them and
what is meant by saying that it is perceived. Indeed, in precisely the
same way In which I may observe a spatial relation between a red patch
and a blue (when I observe them "side by side") I do, when I observe my
own perception of them, observe a spatial relation between it and them.
I observe a distance between my perception and the red and blue books
which I perceive, comparable in magnitude with the breadth or height
of the blue book, just as these are comparable in magnitude with one
another. And when I say I observe a distance between my perception
of a red book and that red book itself, I do not mean that I observe
a distance between my eyes, or any other part of what I call my body,
and the red patch in question. I am talking not of my eyes, but of my
actual perception. I observe my perception of a book to be near the
book and further from the table, in exactly the same sense in which I
observe the book to be near the shelf on which it stands, and further
from the table. And just as, if the distance between a red patch and
a white is to be perceived, the red patch must be different from the
white, so, if I perceive a certain distance between my perception and
the red patch, my perception must be different from the red patch which
I perceive.

I assume, then, that we observe, on the one hand, coloured patches of
certain shapes and sizes, and their spatial relations to one another,
together with all the other kinds of "contents," which we should
usually be said to perceive "through the senses." And, on the other
hand, we also sometimes observe our own perceptions of such "contents"
and our thoughts. And these two kinds of "content" are different from
one another: my perception of a red patch with gold letters on it,
is not itself a red patch with gold letters on it; and hence, when I
observe my perception of this patch, I observe something different from
that which I observe when I merely perceive the patch. Either of these
two kinds of "content"--either colours, moving or at rest, sounds,
smells, and all the rest--or, on the other hand, my perceptions of
these--either of these two kinds, or both, might conceivably, since
both are observed, give grounds for a generalisation concerning what
exists. But, as I have said, if observations are to give any ground
for such a generalisation, it must be assumed that what Is observed
_exists_ or is _real._ And since, as I have insisted, when I observe
my _perception_ of a red patch with gold letters on it, I observe
something different from what I observed when I merely observed a red
patch with gold letters on it, it follows that to assume the existence
of my perception of this red and gold is _not_ the same thing as to
assume the existence of the red and gold itself.

But what, it may be asked, do I mean by this property of "existence" or
"reality," which may, it would seem, belong to every content, which I
observe, or may again belong to none, or which may belong to some and
not to others? What is this property which may belong to my perception
of a movement, and yet not belong to the movement perceived, or which
may again belong to the movement perceived and not to my perception of
it, or which may again belong to both or to neither?

It is necessary, I think, to ask this question at this point, because
there are some philosophers who hold that, in the case of some kinds
of "content," at all events, to say that they "exist" is to say that
they are "perceived." Some hold that to say "A exists" is to say
neither more nor less than "A is perceived"--that the two expressions
are perfect synonyms; and others again would say that by "A exists
or is real" we may mean _more_ than that "A is perceived," but that
we must at least mean this. Now, I have hitherto used the word
"existence" pretty freely, and I think that, when I used it, I used
it in its ordinary sense. I think it will generally have suggested to
you precisely what I meant to convey, and I think that, in some cases
at all events, it will not even have occurred to you to doubt whether
you did understand what I meant by it. But, if these philosophers are
right, then, if you _have_ understood what I meant by it, I have all
along been using it in a sense, which renders the end of my last
paragraph perfect nonsense. If these philosophers are right, then, when
I assert that what _is_ perceived may yet _not_ exist, I am really
asserting that what _is_ perceived may yet _not_ be perceived--I am
contradicting myself. I am, of course, quite unaware that I am doing
so. But these philosophers would say _either_ you are contradicting
yourself, _or_ you are not using the word "exists" in its ordinary
sense. And either of these alternatives would be fatal to my purpose.
If I am not using the word in its ordinary sense, then I shall not be
understood by anyone; and, if I am contradicting myself, then what I
say will not be worth understanding.

Now, with one class of these philosophers--the class to which, I
think, Berkeley belongs--I think I can put myself right comparatively
easily. The philosophers I mean are those who say that it is only in
the case of one particular class of "contents" (the kind of "content"
which Berkeley calls "ideas") that to say "the 'content' A exists"
is to say "A is perceived," and who admit that in the case of other
contents--myself and my perceptions and thoughts, for example--to say
that _these_ exist or are real, is to say of them something different
from this. These philosophers admit, that is to say, that the word
"exists" has two different senses: and that in only one of these senses
is it synonymous with the words "is perceived." When (they hold) I
say of such a content as a red patch with gold letters on it that
it "exists" I _do_ mean that it is perceived; but when I say of my
_perception_ of such a patch that _it_ exists, I do _not_ mean that
my perception is perceived but something different from this. Now, it
would be nothing strange that one and the same word should be used in
two different senses; many words are used in many different senses.
But it would, I think, be something very strange indeed, if in the
case of a word which we constantly apply to all sorts of different
objects, we should uniformly apply it to one large class of object in
the one sense and the one sense only and the other large class in the
other sense and the other sense only. Usually, in the case of such
ambiguous words, it happens that, in different contexts, we apply it
to one and the same object in _both_ senses. We sometimes wish to
say of a given object that it has the one property, and sometimes we
wish to say of the same object that it has the other property; and
hence we apply the same word to the same object, at one time in one
sense, and at another in the other. I think, therefore, that, even
if there were these two different senses of the word "existence," it
would be very unlikely that we should not commonly, in some contexts,
apply it in the sense, in which (as is alleged) it does apply to
perceptions, to "contents" which are not perceptions. Indeed, I think,
it is quite plain that we constantly do ask, with regard to what is
not a perception, whether _it_ exists, in precisely the same sense,
in which we ask, with regard to a perception, whether _it_ exists. We
ask in precisely the same sense: Was the Roc a real bird, or merely an
imaginary one? and, did Sindbad's perception of the Roc really exist,
or is it a fiction that he perceived a Roc? I think, therefore, that
the sense in which these philosophers admit that we do apply the word
"existence" to perceptions, is one in which we also commonly apply it
to "contents" other than perceptions. But, even if this is not the
case, I can set myself right with them by a simple explanation. I
need merely explain that the sense in which I am proposing to enquire
whether a red patch exists, is precisely the sense in which they admit
that my perception of a red patch does exist. And in this sense, it is
plain that to suppose that a thing may exist, which is not perceived,
or that it may _not_ exist, although it is perceived, is at least not
self-contradictory.

But there may be other philosophers who will say that, in the case of
a perception also, to say that it exists or is real is to say that
it is perceived--either that alone or something more as well. And to
these philosophers I would first point out that they are admitting
that the proposition "This perception is real" is significant. There
is some sense or other in which we may say: "Alexander's perception of
an elephant was real or did exist, but Sindbad's perception of a Roc
was _not_ real--never did exist": the latter proposition is, in some
sense or other, not self-contradictory. And then I would ask of them:
When they say, that to call a perception "real" is to assert that it
is perceived, do they mean by this that to call it real is to assert
that it is _really_ perceived, or not? If they say "No," then they are
asserting that to call a perception "real" is merely to say that it was
perceived in the sense in which Sindbad _did_ perceive a Roc: they are
asserting that to call it "real" is not to say, in any sense, that it
was _really_ perceived: they are asserting that to call a perception
"real" is to say that it was perceived, in some sense quite other than
that in which we ordinarily use the word: for we certainly commonly
mean, when we say "A was perceived," that a perception of A was "real":
we should commonly say that Sindbad did _not_ perceive a Roc--meaning
that no such perception ever did exist. I do not think they do mean
this; and, in any case, if they do, I think it is plain that they
are wrong. When we say that a perception is "real," we certainly do
not mean merely that it is the object of another perception, which
may itself be quite unreal--purely Imaginary. I assume, therefore,
that when they say: To call a perception "real" is to say that it is
perceived; they mean, what we should naturally understand, namely,
that: To call it "real" is to say that it is _really_ perceived--to say
that it is the object of another perception, which is also _real_ in
the same sense. And, if they mean this, then what they say is certainly
untrue. Their definition of reality is circular. It cannot be the case
that the _only_ sense in which a perception may be said to be real, is
one in which to call it so is to assert that not it alone, but another
perception is real also. It cannot be the case that the assertion "A is
real" is _identical_ with the assertion "A and B are both real," where
A and B are different, and "real" is used in the same sense as applied
to both. If it is to be true that the assertion "A is real" _ever_, in
any sense, includes the assertion "A is _really_ perceived," there must
be another sense of the word "real," in which to assert "A is real" is
to assert _less_ than "A is _really_ perceived"--the sense, namely, in
which we here assert that the _perception_ of A is real.

We find, therefore, that the other class of philosophers were at least
right in this: they were right in allowing that the sense in which
we commonly say that our perceptions exist is one in which "exist"
does not include, even as a part of its meaning, "is perceived." We
find that there is a common sense of the word "existence," in which
to say "A exists" must mean _less_ than "A is _really_ perceived":
since, otherwise, the only possible definition of the word "existence"
would be a circular definition. And I may point out that two other
definitions, which have been sometimes suggested by philosophers as
giving what we commonly mean by "reality" or "existence" are vitiated
by the same fault--they also are circular. Some philosophers have
sometimes suggested that when we call a thing "real," we mean that it
is "systematically connected" in some way with other things. But,
when we look into their meaning, we find that what they mean is (what,
indeed, is alone plausible)--systematically connected with other
_real_ things. And it may possibly be the case that we sometimes use
the word "real" in this sense: but, at least, it must be certainly
the case, that, if we do, we _also_ use it in another and simpler
sense--the sense in which it is employed in the proposed definition.
And other philosophers have suggested that what we mean by "real"
is--"connected in some way with a purpose--helping or hindering,
or the object of a purpose." But if we look into their meaning, we
find they mean--connected with a _real_ purpose. And hence, even if
we do sometimes mean by "real," "connected with a _real_ purpose,"
it is plain we also sometimes mean by "real" something simpler than
this--that namely, which is meant by "real" in the proposed definition.

It is certain, therefore, that we do commonly use the word "existence"
in a sense, in which to say "A exists" is _not_ to say "A is
perceived," or "A is systematically connected with other real things,"
or "A is purposive." There is a simpler sense than any of these--the
sense in which we say that our own perceptions do exist, and that
Sindbad's perceptions did not exist. But when I say this, I am by no
means denying that what exists, in this simple sense, may not always
_also_ exist in all the others; and that what exists in any of them
may not _also_ always exist in this. It is quite possible that what
exists is always _also_ perceived, and that what is perceived always
_also_ exists. All that I am saying is that, even if this is so, this
proposition is significant--is not merely a proposition about the
meaning of a word. It is not self-contradictory to suppose that some
things which exist are not perceived, and that some things which are
perceived do not exist.

But, it may be asked: What is this common simple sense of the word
"exists"? For my own part, it seems to me to be so simple that it
cannot be expressed in other words, except those which are recognised
as its synonyms. I think we are all perfectly familiar with its
meaning: it is the meaning which you understood me to have throughout
this paper, until I began this discussion. I think we can perceive at
once what is meant by asserting that my perception of black marks on a
white ground is "real," and that no such perception as Sindbad's of a
Roc was ever "real": we are perfectly familiar with the property which
the one perception is affirmed to possess, and the other to be without.
And I think, as I have said, that this property is a simple one. But,
whatever it is, this, which we ordinarily mean, is what I mean by
"existence" or "reality." And this property, we have seen, is certainly
neither identical with nor inclusive of that complex one which we mean
by the words "is perceived."

I may now, then, at last approach the main question of my paper.
Which among the "contents" which I observe will give me reason to
suppose that my observation of some of them is generally preceded
or accompanied or followed by the existence of certain particular
perceptions, thoughts or feelings in another person? I have explained
that the "contents" which I actually observe may be divided into two
classes: on the one hand, those which, as we commonly say, we perceive
"through the senses"; and, on the other hand, my perceptions of these
last, my thoughts, and my feelings. I have explained that if any
of these observed contents are to give reason for a generalisation
about what exists, _they_ must exist. And I have explained that with
regard to both classes of "contents" I am using the word "exist" in
precisely the same sense--a sense, in which it is certainly not
self-contradictory to suppose that what _is_ perceived, does not exist,
and that what is _not_ perceived, does exist; and, in which, therefore,
the assumption that a red patch with gold letters on it exists, is a
_different_ assumption from the assumption that my _perception_ of
a red patch with gold letters on it exists; and the assumption that
my _perception_ of a red patch with gold letters on it exists, is a
_different_ assumption from the assumption that a red patch with gold
letters on it exists.

What, then, that we observe, can give us any reason for believing that
anyone else has certain particular perceptions, thoughts or feelings?
It has, I think, been very commonly assumed that the observation of
my own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, can, by itself, give me
such a reason. And I propose, therefore, to examine this assumption.
If, as I hope to show, it is false; it will then follow, that if our
own observation gives us any reason whatever, for believing in the
existence of other persons, we must assume the existence, not only
of our own perceptions, thoughts and feelings, but also of some, at
least, among that other class of data, which I may now, for the sake of
brevity, call "sense-contents"; we must assume that some of them exist,
in precisely the same sense in which we assume that our perceptions,
thoughts, and feelings exist.

The theory which I propose to examine is, then, the following. My
observation of my own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions may, it
asserts, give me some reason to suppose that another person has
thoughts, feelings, and perceptions similar to some of mine. Let us
assume, accordingly, that my own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions
do exist; but that none of the "sense-contents," which I also observe,
do so. Where among my perceptions am I to look for any which might
conceivably give me a reason for supposing the existence of other
perceptions similar to my own? It is obvious where I must look. I have
perceptions which I call perceptions of other people's bodies; and
these are certainly similar in many respects to other perceptions of
my own body. But I also observe that certain kinds of perceptions of
my own body are preceded by certain other perceptions, thoughts, or
feelings of mine. I may, for instance, observe that when I perceive
my hand suddenly catch hold of my foot in a particular way, this
perception was preceded by a particular kind of feeling of pain. I
may, perhaps, observe this often enough to justify the generalisation
that the perception of that particular motion of my body is generally
preceded by that particular feeling of pain. And in this way I may
perhaps have reason for quite a number of generalisations which assert
that particular kinds of perceptions of my own body are generally
preceded by other particular kinds of perceptions, thoughts, or
feelings of my own.

But I may also, no doubt, have the perception, which I call the
perception of another person's hand catching hold of his foot, in a
manner similar to that in which I have perceived my own hand catch
hold of my own foot. And my perception of another person's hand
catching hold of his foot may undoubtedly be similar in many respects
to my perception of my own hand catching hold of my own foot. But
I shall not observe the same kind of feeling of pain preceding my
perception of _his_ hand catching hold of his foot, which I have
observed preceding my perception of _my_ hand catching hold of my
foot. Will my generalisation, then, give me any reason to suppose
that nevertheless my perception of his hand catching hold of his foot
_is_ preceded by a similar feeling of pain, not in me but in him?
We undoubtedly do assume that when I perceive another person's body
making movements similar to those which I have observed my own body
making, this perception has generally been preceded by some feeling or
perception of his similar to that which I have observed to precede my
perception of similar movements in my own body. We do assume this; and
it is precisely the kind of generalisation, which, I have insisted,
must be admitted to be true. But my present question is: Will such
observations as I have described give any reason for thinking any
such generalisation true? I think it is plain that they will not give
the slightest reason for thinking so. In the first place, all the
perceptions which I call perceptions of another person's body differ
very considerably from any of those which I call perceptions of my
own. But I am willing to waive this objection. I am not offering any
theory as to what degree of likeness is _sufficient_ to justify a
generalisation: and therefore I will allow that the degree of likeness
_may_ be sufficient. But there remains an objection which is, I think,
quite fatal to the proposed inference. This objection is that the
inference in question plainly does not satisfy the third condition
which I suggested above as _necessary_, wherever any generalisation
is to be justified by observation. I am willing to allow that my
observations of the fact that my perception of a certain movement in
my own body is preceded by a certain feeling of pain, _will_ justify
the generalisation that my perception of any such movement, whether in
my own body _or_ in that of another person, is generally preceded by a
similar feeling of pain. And I allow, therefore, that when I perceive a
certain movement in another's body, it _is_ probable that the feeling
of pain exists, though I do not perceive it. But, if it _is_ probable
that such a feeling of pain exists, such a feeling must stand _in the
same relation_ to my perception of the movement in another person's
body, in which a similar feeling of pain has been observed by me to
stand to my perception of such a movement in my own body. That is to
say the only kind of feeling of pain, which my observations do justify
me in inferring, if (as I admit they may) they justify me in inferring
any at all, is a feeling of pain of _my own._ They cannot possibly
justify the belief in the existence of any such feeling _except_ one
which stands to my perception in the same relation in which my feelings
do stand to _my_ perceptions--one, that is to say, which is my own. I
have no more reason to believe that the feeling of pain which probably
precedes my perception of a movement in another person's body can be
the feeling _of another person_, than, in my former example, I had
reason to suppose that the hen, whose existence probably preceded that
of a given egg, could be a hen, which had never been near the egg in
question. The two cases are exactly analogous. I observe a feeling of
pain _of my own_ preceding a perception _of my own._ I observe the
two, that is to say, as standing to one another, in those relations
(whatever they may be) in which any perception of mine stands to any
other thought, perception or feeling of mine, and which are, at all
events, different from any relation in which a perception or feeling of
another person can stand to one of mine. I never perceive the feeling
and the perception as standing in any other relation. In any case,
therefore, where I do observe something like the perception, but do
not observe the feeling, I can only be justified (_if_ justified in
inferring any feeling at all), in inferring an unperceived feeling _of
my own._

For this reason I think that no observations of my own perceptions,
feelings or thoughts can give me the slightest reason for supposing a
connection between any of them and any feeling, perception, or thought
in another person. The argument is perfectly general, since _all_
my perceptions, feelings and thoughts do have to one another those
relations in virtue of which I call them mine; and which, when I talk
of a perception, feeling or thought as being _another persons_, I mean
to say that it has _not_ got to any of mine. I can, therefore, merely
from observation of _this_ class of data never obtain the slightest
reason for belief in the existence of a feeling, perception, or thought
which does _not_ stand in these relations to one of mine--which _is,_
that is to say, the feeling, perception or thought, of another person.
But how different is the case, if we adopt the hypothesis, which I wish
to recommend--if we assume the existence of that other class of data
which I have called "sense-contents!" On this hypothesis, that which I
perceive, when I perceive a movement of my own body, is _real_; that
which I perceive when I perceive a movement of another's body is _real_
also. I can now observe not merely the relation between my _perception_
of a movement of my body and my own feelings, but also a relation
between a _real_ movement of my body and my own feelings. And there
is no reason why I should not be justified in inferring that another
person's feelings stand _in the same relation_ to the real movements of
his body, in which I observe my own feelings to stand to similar real
movements of mine.

But there is another argument which may still be urged by those who
hold that my own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, by themselves,
may be sufficient to justify a belief in the existence of other
persons. It may be said: "Our observation of our own perceptions may be
sufficient to _verify_ or _confirm_ the hypothesis that other persons
exist. This hypothesis is one which "works." The assumption that other
persons have particular thoughts, feelings and perceptions enables us
to predict that they will have others and that our own perceptions will
be modified accordingly: it enables us to predict future perceptions of
our own; and we find that these predictions are constantly verified.
We observe that we do have the perceptions, which the hypothesis leads
us to expect we should have. In short, our perceptions occur just as
they would do, _if_ the hypothesis were true; our perceptions behave
_as if_ other persons had the perceptions, thoughts and feelings which
we suppose them to have. Surely, then, they confirm the truth of the
hypothesis--they give some reason to think it probably true?"

All this, which I have supposed an opponent to urge, I admit to be
true. I admit that the fact that an hypothesis works may give some
reason to suppose it true. I admit that my perceptions occur just as
they would do, if other people had the perceptions which I suppose them
to have. I admit that that assumption enables me to make predictions as
to future perceptions of my own, and that I observe these predictions
to come true. I admit all this. But I admit it only in a sense in
which it in no way conflicts with the position which I am maintaining.
The words, which I have put into the mouth of a supposed opponent,
may, in fact, mean three different things, which it is worth while to
distinguish. In two of those meanings, which I shall admit to be true
and which are what make them seem plausible, they do not deny what I
assert. Only in the third sense are they an objection to my position:
and in that sense they are false.

One of the meanings which I admit to be true is as follows:--I have not
only admitted but insisted that some of my perceptions are just such
as would occur if another person had certain particular feelings: I
have insisted that I should not have just those perceptions which I do
have, unless some other person had certain feelings and perceptions
which I suppose him to have. And I admit further that the fact that I
have one of the perceptions in question--for instance, that of another
person's hand catching hold of his foot--this fact, _together with_
the true assumption that I should not have this perception, unless
some other person felt pain, will justify the assertion that another
person has felt pain. In this sense, I admit, the fact that I perceive
what I do perceive will give me reason to suppose that another person
has felt pain. And, on the other hand, I also admit that the fact
that I have this perception, _together with_ the true assumption that
when I have it another person has felt pain, may help to justify the
assumption that the perception in question is one which I should not
have had unless another person had felt pain--it helps to justify the
generalisation that certain of my perceptions are just what would
occur, _if_ another person had felt pain. In general terms, that is to
say, I admit that the occurrence of B, _together with_ the assumption
that B is just the sort of thing which would occur if A existed, will
justify the assertion that A exists in that particular instance. And
I also admit that the occurrence of B, _together with_ the assumption
that A exists in that particular instance, may help to justify the
assumption that B is just the sort of thing which would exist, if A
existed. In other words: When it is said that the observation of B's
existence confirms or verifies the assumption that A exists, either of
two things may be meant. It may be meant that, assuming B to be the
sort of thing which would exist if A existed, the observation of B
confirms the assumption that A exists _in this particular instance._
Or, on the other hand, it may be meant that, assuming A to exist
in this particular instance, the observation of B may confirm the
generalisation, that B is just the sort of thing which would exist,
if A existed. _Either_ the one _or_ the other of these two things is,
I think, what is generally assumed, when it is assumed that what we
do observe confirms or verifies the assumption that there exists some
particular thing which we don't observe. And I am admitting that both
these assumptions are true.

But neither of them conflicts in any way with the position I am
maintaining. What I am maintaining is that no observation of my own
perceptions, _by itself,_ can confirm the generalisation that any one
of them _is_ just what would occur if another person had a particular
feeling. I admit this generalisation to be true; and I admit that my
observation of my own perceptions and feelings may give me _reason_ to
suppose that _if_ another person has certain perceptions or feelings
_he_ will also have certain others. What I deny is that they give
me the slightest reason to suppose that the existence of any such
feeling or perception in another has any connection with the existence
of any perception _of my own_--to suppose that any perception of my
own is the sort of thing which would occur _if_ another person had a
particular feeling. What therefore, my opponent must affirm is that the
observation of a perception of my own _without_ the assumption (which
Reid makes) that in that particular instance any feeling or perception
of another person, of any kind whatever, has preceded it, may give me
reason to suppose that that perception of my own is of a kind which is
generally preceded by a particular kind of feeling in another person.
And this, I think, is plainly false.

But there is yet a third thing which may be meant, and which I
am willing to admit may be true. It may be said: "I believe many
generalisations of the following kind. I believe that when I have
a perception A, some other person has generally had a feeling X; I
believe that the existence of the feeling X is generally followed, in
the same person, by that of the feeling Y; and I believe also that
when another person has the feeling Y, I generally have the perception
B. I believe all this." And it must, I think, be admitted that we do
believe generalisations of this kind, and generalisations in which
there are not merely two steps between A and B, but a great number of
steps. "But then," it may be said, "my belief in this generalisation
causes me, when I observe my perception A, to expect that I shall have
the perception B; and such expectations, I observe, are constantly
realised." And this also, I think, must be admitted to be true. "But,
finally," it may be said, "beliefs which produce expectations which
are constantly realised are generally true. And hence the fact that
these beliefs of mine about the connection of feelings in other persons
with perceptions of my own do lead to expectations which are realised,
gives me reason to suppose that these generalisations are true and
hence that other persons do have particular kinds of feelings."
And I am willing to admit that this also is true. I am willing to
admit that true predictions can, as a rule, only be produced by true
beliefs. The generalisation that this is so, is, indeed, one which
can only be justified by the observations of beliefs, which are, in
some way, independently proved to be true; and hence, if it is to be
justified, without assuming the existence of anything other than my
own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, it can only be justified by
my observation that beliefs with regard to the manner in which _these_
succeed one another generally lead to true predictions. Whether the
observation of such beliefs _alone_ could give sufficient reason for
it, is, I think, doubtful; but I am willing to admit that it may be
so. One thing, however, is, I think, quite plain: namely, that this
generalisation "Beliefs which lead to true predictions are generally
true" cannot be true, _unless_ some other of the "contents" which I
observe, beside my own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, do exist.
That is to say, in giving a reason for supposing the existence of
other people, this generalisation also gives a reason for the very
theory which I am advocating, namely, that some of those data which
I have called "sense-contents" do exist. It does this, because it is
quite certain that beliefs in generalisations about the existence of
sense-contents _can_ (and do) constantly lead to true predictions. The
belief that when I have observed a fire of a certain size in my grate,
something similar to what I have observed will continue to exist for
a certain time, can, and constantly does, lead to the true prediction
that, when I come back to my room in half an hour's time, I shall
observe a fire of a certain size still burning. We make predictions
on such grounds, I think, every day and all day long. And hence
unless such beliefs as that what I observe when I see a fire burning
_does_ exist, _are_ true, we certainly have no reason to suppose that
beliefs which lead to true predictions are generally true. And hence
on this hypothesis also it remains true: that, unless some of the
contents which I observe _other_ than my own perceptions, thoughts, and
feelings, do exist, I cannot have the slightest reason for supposing
that the existence of certain perceptions of my own is generally
connected with that of certain perceptions, thoughts, or feelings in
any other person.

I conclude therefore that, unless some of the observed data which I
have called sense-contents _do_ exist, my own observations cannot give
me the slightest reason for believing that anybody else has ever had
any particular perception, thought, or feeling. And, having arrived
so far towards an answer to my first question: How do we know that
any other persons exist? I may now point out that precisely the same
answer must be given to my second question: How do we know that _any_
particular kind of thing exists, other than ourselves, our perceptions,
thoughts, and feelings, and what we directly perceive? There is a view
concerning what exists, which deserves, I think, much more respect than
it generally receives from philosophers nowadays. The view I mean is
the view that material objects, such as they are conceived by physical
science, do really exist. It is held by some persons (and Reid is among
them) that we _do_ know of the existence, not only of other persons,
but also of the movements of matter in space. It is held that we do
know, with considerable precision, what kinds of movements of matter
generally precede my perception, when I have a particular perception.
It is held, for instance, that when I perceive a red and blue book side
by side on a shelf, at a certain distance from me, there have existed,
between two material objects, which may be called books, and another
kind of material object, which may be called my eyes, certain wave-like
motions of a material medium; that there have existed two different
sets of waves, of which the one is connected with my perception of red
and the other with my perception of blue; and that the relative heights
and breadths of the two different sets of waves, and the relative
velocity of their movements are very exactly known. It is held that
some men have a vast amount of very precise information about the
existence of objects of this kind; and I think the view that this is
so deserves a great deal of respect. But what I wish now to point out
is that no one's observation of his own perceptions, thoughts and
feelings, can, by itself, give him the slightest reason for believing
in the existence of any such material objects. All the arguments by
which I have tried to show that this kind of observation alone can give
me no reason to believe in the existence of any kind of perception
or feeling in another person, apply, with at least equal force, to
show that it can give me no reason to believe in the existence of any
kind of material object. On the other hand, if we are to admit the
principle that "Beliefs which lead to true predictions, are generally
true," this principle will give us at least as much reason to believe
in the existence of certain kinds of material objects as to believe
in the existence of other persons; since one of the most remarkable
facts about beliefs in the existence of such objects is that they do so
often lead to true predictions. But it must be remembered that we can
have no reason for believing this principle itself, _unless_ our own
perceptions, thoughts and feelings are _not_ the only kind of observed
"content" which really does exist: we can have no reason for it, unless
some such things as what I perceive, when I see a red and blue book
side by side, do really exist.

It would seem, therefore, that if my own observations do give me any
reason whatever for believing in the existence either of any perception
in any other person or of any material object, it must be true that
not only my own perceptions, thoughts and feelings, but also _some_ of
the other kinds of things which I directly perceive--colours, sounds,
smells, etc.--do really exist: it must be true that some objects of
this kind _exist_ or are _real_ in precisely the same simple sense
in which my perceptions of them exist or are real. Is there then any
reason to think that this is not true? Is there any reason to think,
for instance, that _none_ of the colours which I perceive as occupying
areas of certain shapes and sizes really exist in the areas which
they appear to occupy? This is a question which I wished to discuss
at length, because I think that it is one in which there are real
difficulties. But I have given so much space to other questions, that I
can only deal with it very briefly here.

Some philosophers are very fond of asserting that a colour cannot exist
except when it is perceived; and it might possibly be thought that
when I suggest that colours do really exist, I am suggesting that they
do exist when they are not perceived. I wish, therefore, briefly to
point out that the question whether anything does exist, when it is
not perceived, is one which I have not argued and shall not attempt
to argue in this paper. I have, indeed, tried to show that since
"exists" does not _mean_ "is perceived," it is, at least, conceivable
that things should exist, when they are not perceived. But I have
admitted that it is quite possible none _do_ so: it _may_ be the case
that whenever a thing exists, it is _also_ at the same time perceived,
for anything that I have said or shall say to the contrary. I think,
indeed, that, if such things as colours _do_ exist, my observation of
their behaviour will justify me in concluding that they also exist when
I myself am, at least, not aware of perceiving them: but since I have
not attempted to determine what kinds of observation are sufficient to
justify a generalisation, I do not pretend to say whether this is so
or not: and still less do I pretend to say whether, _if_ they exist
when _I_ do not perceive them, we are justified in supposing that
someone else must be perceiving them. The question whether anything
exists, when it is not perceived, and, if so, what things, seems to
me to be one which can only be settled by observation; and thus, I
conceive, observation might justify us in concluding that certain kinds
of things--pains, for example, do _not_ exist, when they are not
perceived and that other kinds of things--colours, for example, _do_
exist, when they are not perceived. The only way, in which, so far as
I am aware, the theory I am advocating does conflict with ordinary
Idealistic conclusions, is that it does suggest that things, which are
_not_ "spiritual," do _sometimes_ exist, as really and as truly, as
things which are.

The theory, therefore, that nothing exists, except when it is
perceived, is no objection (even if it be true) to the supposition that
colours do exist. What objections are there to this supposition? All
serious objections to it are, I think, of one type. They all rest upon
the assumption that, if a certain kind of thing exists at a certain
time in a certain place, certain other kinds of things cannot exist at
the same time in the same place. They are all, that is to say, of the
same type as Berkeley's argument: that, though the same body of water
may _appear_ to be simultaneously both hot and cold (if one of the
hands we plunge into it is warm and the other cold), yet the heat and
the cold cannot both _really_ be in the same body at the same time. And
it is worth noticing that anyone who uses this argument must admit that
he understands what is meant by "really existing in a given place," and
that he means by it something _other_ than "being perceived as in a
given place." For the argument itself admits that _both_ the heat _and_
the cold _are_ really _perceived_ as being in the same place, and that
there is no difficulty in supposing that they are so; whereas It urges
that there _is_ a difficulty in supposing that they both _really exist_
in it.

Now there is one obvious defect in this type of argument, if designed
to prove that _no_ sensible quality exists at any place where it
is perceived as being--a defect, which Berkeley himself admits in
his "Principles," though he omits to notice it where he repeats the
argument in his "Hylas." Even if we assume that the heat and the
cold cannot _both_ exist in the same place (and I admit that, in this
case, the contrary assumption does seem repugnant to Common Sense),
it does not follow that _neither_ exists there. That is to say this
type of argument, even if we grant its initial assumption, will only
entitle us to conclude that _some_ sensible qualities which we perceive
as being in a certain place at a certain time, do not exist in that
place at that time. And this conclusion, I am inclined to think, is
true. In the case, for instance, of the so-called "images" which
we perceive in a looking-glass, we may very readily admit that the
colours and shapes which we perceive do _not_ exist at the places where
they appear to be--namely at various distances behind the glass. But
yet, so far as I can see, we have no reason whatever for supposing
that they do not, _except_ the assumption that our observations give
us reason to believe that _other_ sensible qualities _do_ exist in
those positions behind the glass; and the assumption that _where_
these _other_ sensible qualities do exist, those which we see in the
glass do _not_ exist. I should, therefore, admit that _some_ sensible
qualities which we perceive as being in certain places, do _not_ exist
in those places, while still retaining my belief that others do. And
_perhaps_ this explanation is the one which should also be adopted in
the case of sensible qualities which appear to be at a great distance
from us. When, for instance, (as we say), "we see the moon," _what_
we perceive (if the moon be full) is a round bright silver disc, of
a small size, at a place very distant from us. Does that silver disc
exist at that place? With what suppositions does the assumption that
it _does_ conflict? Only, so far as I can see, with the supposition
that the place in question is _really_ occupied by a body such as
science has taught us to suppose that the moon _really_ is--a spherical
body immensely larger than objects, in comparison with which the
silver disc which we perceive is small; _or else_ with the supposition
that the place in question is really occupied by some part of our
atmosphere, or some part of the medium which science supposes to exist
between our atmosphere and the moon; _or else_ with the supposition
that the place in question is really occupied by what we might see,
if the moon were nearer to us by many thousands of miles. Unless we
suppose that some other object _is_ in the place, in which the silver
disc appears to be, and that this object is of a kind which cannot
occupy the _same_ place which is occupied by a silver disc, we have
no reason to suppose that the silver disc does _not_ really exist in
the place where it appears to be. And, in this case, we _perhaps_ have
reason for both suppositions and should therefore conclude that the
silver disc, which we perceive, does not exist in any real place.

Part, therefore, of these objections to our theory may, I think, be
met by admitting that _some_ of the ... sensible qualities which we
perceive do not exist at the places where they appear to exist, though
ethers do. But there is, I think, another class of cases, in which we
may be justified in denying that two things which (it is asserted)
cannot occupy the same space, really cannot. I will take an instance
which is, I think, typical. When we look at a drop of blood with the
naked eye, we perceive a small red spot, uniformly red all over. But
when (as we say) we look at the _same_ object under a microscope of
a certain power, I am informed that we see a much larger spot, of
similar shape, indeed, but _not_ uniformly red--having, in fact, small
red spots at different positions in a yellowish field. And if we were
again to look at the _same_ object through a microscope of much higher
power still, we might perceive yet a third different arrangement of
colours. Is there any fatal objection to supposing that all _three_
appearances--the uniform red spot, the yellowish field with reddish
spots in it, and the third, whatever that may be--do all really occupy
the same real spatial area? I cannot see that there is. We are familiar
with the idea that a given spatial area may contain parts which are
invisible to us. And hence, I think it is quite conceivable that parts
of a given area may be _really_ occupied by one colour, while the whole
is _really_ occupied by another. And this, I think, is what we actually
_do_ believe in many cases. At all events, we certainly believe that
the area which appears to be occupied by one colour really is _the same
area_ as that which appears to be occupied by another. And, unless
we assume that the area, in both cases, really is the same, we can
certainly have no reason to deny that each colour does really occupy
the area which it appears to occupy.

For these reasons I think that the difficulties in the way of supposing
that _some_ of the sensible qualities which we perceive as being in
certain places, really exist in the places in which we perceive them
to be, are not insuperable. I have indeed not done justice to these
difficulties; but then, neither have I done justice to what is to be
said on the other side. At all events, I think it is plain that we have
no reason to assert, in any case whatever, that a perceived colour
does _not_ really exist in the place where it is perceived as being,
_unless_ we assume that that very same place really is occupied by
something else_--either_ by some different sensible qualities _or_ by
material objects such as physical science supposes to exist. But what
reason can we give for such an assumption? I have tried to show that
our own observations can give us none, _unless_ we assume that some of
the sensible qualities, which we observe as occupying certain places,
do really exist in those places. And, if this is so, then we must
admit that neither he who believes (with Reid) in the existence of
other minds and of matter also, nor he who believes in the existence
of other minds and denies that of matter, can have, in his own
observations, the slightest reason either for his assertion or for his
denial: we must admit that he can have no reason for either assertion
or denial, except one which consists in the assumption of the existence
or nonexistence of something which he does _not_ observe--something,
therefore, of the very same kind as that for which he gives it as a
reason. I am very unwilling to suppose that this is the case: I am
very unwilling to suppose that he who believes that Sindbad the Sailor
really saw what the "Arabian Nights" represent him as seeing, has just
as good reason (so far as his own observation goes) for believing this
as he who denies it has for denying it. Still this may be the case.
We _must_, perhaps, be content to assume as certain that for which
our observation gives no reason: to assume such propositions as that
Sindbad did _not_ see a Roc, and that you _do_ hear my voice. But if it
is said that these things are certain; then it also appears to me to
be certain that the colours which I perceive do exist (_some_ of them)
where I perceive them. The more I look at objects round me, the more I
am unable to resist the conviction that what I see does exist, as truly
and as really, as my perception of it The conviction is overwhelming.

This being, then, the state of the case, I think I may at least plead
that we have grounds for suspense of judgment as to whether what I
see does _not_ really exist; grounds, too, for renewed enquiry, more
careful than such enquiry has sometimes been in the past.


[1] Not now in 1921.



WILLIAM JAMES


My object in this paper is to discuss some of the things which Prof.
William James says about truth in the recent book, to which he has
given the above name.[1] In Lecture VI he professes to give an account
of a theory, which he calls "the pragmatist theory of truth;" and he
professes to give a briefer preliminary account of the same theory in
Lecture II. Moreover, in Lecture VII, he goes on to make some further
remarks about truth. In all these Lectures he seems to me to make
statements to which there are very obvious objections; and my main
object is to point out, as clearly and simply as I can, what seem to me
to be the principal objections to some of these statements.

We may, I think, distinguish three different things which he seems
particularly anxious to assert about truth.

(I) In the first place, he is plainly anxious to assert some connection
between truth and "verification" or "utility." Our true ideas, he seems
to say, are those that "work," in the sense that they are or can be
"verified," or are "useful."

(II) In the second place, he seems to object to the view that truth is
something "static" or "immutable." He is anxious to assert that truths
are in some sense "mutable."

(III) In the third place, he asserts that "to an unascertainable
extent our truths are man-made products" (p. 242).

To what he asserts under each of these three heads there are, I think,
serious objections; and I now propose to point out what seem to me to
be the principal ones, under each head separately.


(I)

Professor James is plainly anxious to assert _some_ connection between
truth and "verification" or "utility." And that there is _some_
connection between them everybody will admit. That _many_ of our true
ideas are verified; that _many_ of them can be verified; and that
_many_ of them are useful, is, I take it, quite indisputable. But
Professor James seems plainly to wish to assert something more than
this. And one more thing which he wishes to assert is, I think, pretty
plain. He suggests, at the beginning of Lecture VI, that he is going to
tell us in what sense it is that our true ideas "agree with reality."
Truth, he says, certainly _means_ their agreement with reality;
the only question is as to what we are to understand by the words
"agreement" and "reality" in this proposition. And he first briefly
considers the theory, that the sense in which our true ideas agree with
reality, is that they "copy" some reality. And he affirms that some
of our true ideas really do do this. But he rejects the theory, as a
theory of what truth means, on the ground that they do not _all_ do so.
Plainly, therefore, he implies that no theory of what truth _means_
will be correct, unless it tells us of some property which belongs to
_all_ our true ideas without exception. But his own theory is a theory
of what truth means. Apparently, therefore, he wishes to assert that
not only many but _all_ our true ideas are or can be verified; that
_all_ of them are useful. And it is, I think, pretty plain that this is
_one_ of the things which he wishes to assert.

Apparently, therefore, Professor James wishes to assert that _all_
our true ideas are or can be verified--that _all_ are useful. And
certainly this is not a truism like the proposition that _many_ of
them are so. Even if this were all that he meant, it would be worth
discussing. But even this, I think, is not all. The very first
proposition in which he expresses his theory is the following. "True
ideas," he says (p. 201) "are those that we can assimilate, validate,
corroborate and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot." And
what does this mean? Let us, for brevity's sake, substitute the word
"verify" alone for the four words which Professor James uses, as he
himself subsequently seems to do. He asserts, then, that true ideas
are _those which_ we can verify. And plainly he does not mean by this
merely that _some_ of the ideas which we can verify are true, while
plenty of others, which we can verify, are not true. The plain meaning
of his words is that _all_ the ideas which we can verify are true.
No one would use them who did not mean this. Apparently, therefore,
Professor James means to assert not merely that we can verify all our
true ideas; but also that all the ideas, which we can verify, are true.
And so, too, with utility or usefulness. He seems to mean not merely
that all our true ideas are useful; but that all those which are useful
are true. This would follow, for one thing, from the fact that he seems
to use the words "verification" or "verifiability" and "usefulness" as
if they came to the same thing. But, in this case too, he asserts it
in words that have but one plain meaning. "The true" he says (p. 222)
"is only the expedient in the way of our thinking." "The true" is _the_
expedient: that is, _all_ expedient thinking is true. Or again: "An
idea is 'true' so long as to believe it is profitable to our lives" (p.
75). That is to say, _every_ idea, which is profitable to our lives,
is, while it is so, true. These words certainly have a plain enough
meaning. Apparently, therefore, Professor James means to assert not
merely that all true ideas are useful, but also that all useful ideas
are true.

Professor James' words, then, do at least suggest that he wishes to
assert all four of the following propositions. He wishes to assert, it
would seem--

(1) That we can verify all those of our ideas, which are true.

(2) That all those among our ideas, which we can verify, are true.

(3) That all our true ideas are useful.

(4) That all those of our ideas, which are useful, are true.

These four propositions are what I propose first to consider. He
does mean to assert them, at least. Very likely he wishes to assert
something more even than these. He does, in fact, suggest that he means
to assert, in addition, that these properties of "verifiability" and
"utility" are the _only_ properties (beside that of being properly
_called_ "true") which belong to all our true ideas and to none but
true ideas. But this obviously cannot be true, unless all these four
propositions are true. And therefore we may as well consider them first.

First, then, can we verify all our true ideas?

I wish only to point out the plainest and most obvious reasons why I
think it is doubtful whether we can.

We are very often in doubt as to whether we did or did not do a certain
thing in the past. We may have the idea that we did, and also the idea
that we did not; and we may wish to find out which idea is the true
one. Very often, indeed, I may believe very strongly, that I did do a
certain thing; and somebody else, who has equally good reason to know,
may believe equally strongly that I did not. For instance, I may have
written a letter, and may believe that I used certain words in it.
But my correspondent may believe that I did not. Can we always verify
either of these ideas? Certainly sometimes we can. The letter may be
produced, and prove that I did use the words in question. And I shall
then have verified my idea. Or it may prove that I did not use them.
And then we shall have verified my correspondent's idea. But, suppose
the letter has been destroyed; suppose there is no copy of it, nor any
trustworthy record of what was said in it; suppose there is no other
witness as to what I said in it, beside myself and my correspondent?
Can we then always verify which of our ideas is the true one? I think
it is very doubtful whether we can _nearly_ always. Certainly we may
often try to discover any possible means of verification, and be quite
unable, for a time at least, to discover any. Such cases, in which we
are unable, for a time at least, to verify either of two contradictory
ideas, occur very commonly indeed. Let us take an even more trivial
instance than the last. Bad whist-players often do not notice at all
carefully which cards they have among the lower cards in a suit. At
the end of a hand they cannot be certain whether they had or had not
the seven of diamonds, or the five of spades. And, after the cards
have been shuffled, a dispute will sometimes arise as to whether a
particular player had the seven of diamonds or not. His partner may
think that he had, and he himself may think that he had not. Both may
be uncertain, and the memory of both, on such a point, may be well
known to be untrustworthy. And, moreover, neither of the other players
may be able to remember any better. Is it always possible to verify
which of these ideas is the true one? Either the player did or did not
have the seven of diamonds. This much is certain. One person thinks
that he did, and another thinks he did not; and both, so soon as the
question is raised, have before their minds both of these ideas--the
idea that he did, and the idea that he did not. This also is certain.
And it is certain that one or other of these two ideas is true. But can
they always verify either of them? Sometimes, no doubt, they can, even
after the cards have been shuffled. There may have been a fifth person
present, overlooking the play, whose memory is perfectly trustworthy,
and whose word may be taken as settling the point. Or the players may
themselves be able, by recalling other incidents of play, to arrive at
such a certainty as may be said to verify the one hypothesis or the
other. But very often neither of these two things will occur. And, in
such a case, is it always possible to verify the true idea? Perhaps,
theoretically, it may be still possible. Theoretically, I suppose, the
fact that one player, and not any of the other three, had the card in
his hand, may have made some difference to the card, which _might_
be discovered by some possible method of scientific investigation.
Perhaps some such difference may remain even after the same card has
been repeatedly used in many subsequent games. But suppose the same
question arises again, a week after the original game was played. Did
you, or did you not, last week have the seven of diamonds in that
particular hand? The question has not been settled in the meantime;
and now, perhaps, the original pack of cards has been destroyed. Is it
still possible to verify either idea? Theoretically, I suppose, it may
be still possible. But even this, I think, is very doubtful. And surely
it is plain that, humanly and practically speaking, it will often have
become quite impossible to verify either idea. In all probability it
never will be possible for any man to verify whether I had the card
or not on this particular occasion. No doubt we are here speaking of
an idea, which some man _could have_ verified at one time. But the
hypothesis I am considering is the hypothesis that we never have a true
idea, which we _can_ not verify; that is to say, which we cannot verify
_after_ the idea has occurred. And with regard to this hypothesis, it
seems to me quite plain that _very often indeed_ we have two ideas, one
or other of which is certainly true; and yet that, in all probability,
it is no longer possible and never will be possible for any man to
verify either.

It seems to me, then, that we very often have true ideas which we
cannot verify; true ideas, which, in all probability, no man ever will
be able to verify. And, so far, I have given only comparatively trivial
instances. But it is plain that, in the same sense, historians are very
frequently occupied with true ideas, which it is doubtful whether they
can verify. One historian thinks that a certain event took place, and
another that it did not; and both may admit that they cannot verify
their idea. Subsequent historians may, no doubt, sometimes be able to
verify one or the other. New evidence may be discovered or men may
learn to make a better use of evidence already in existence. But is
it certain that this will _always_ happen? Is it certain that _every_
question, about which historians have doubted, will some day be able to
be settled by verification of one or the other hypothesis? Surely the
probability is that in the case of an immense number of events, with
regard to which we should like to know whether they happened or not, it
never will be possible for any man to verify either the one hypothesis
or the other. Yet it may be certain that either the events in question
did happen or did not. Here, therefore, again, we have a large number
of ideas--cases where many men doubt whether a thing did happen or
did not, and have therefore the idea both of its having happened and
of its not having happened--with regard to which it is certain that
half of them are true, but where it seems highly doubtful whether
any single one of them will ever be able to be verified. No doubt it
is just possible that men will some day be able to verify every one
of them. But surely it is very doubtful whether they will. And the
theory against which I am protesting is the positive assertion that
we _can_ verify all our true ideas--that some one some day certainly
will be able to verify every one of them. This theory, I urge, has all
probability against it.

And so far I have been dealing only with ideas with regard to what
happened in the past. These seem to me to be the cases which offer
the most numerous and most certain exceptions to the rule that we can
verify our true ideas. With regard to particular past events, either
in their own lives or in those of other people, men very frequently
have ideas, which it seems highly improbable that any man will ever be
able to verify. And yet it is certain that a great many of these ideas
are true, because in a great many cases we have both the idea that the
event did happen and also the idea that it did not, when it is certain
that one or other of these ideas is true. And these ideas with regard
to past events would by themselves be sufficient for my purpose. If, as
seems certain, there are many true ideas with regard to the past, which
it is highly improbable that anyone will ever be able to verify, then,
obviously, there is nothing in a true idea which makes it certain that
we can verify it. But it is, I think, certainly not only in the case
of ideas, with regard to the past, that it is doubtful whether we can
verify all the true ideas we have. In the case of many generalisations
dealing not only with the past but with the future, it is, I think,
obviously doubtful whether we shall ever be able to verify all those
which are true; although here, perhaps, in most cases, the probability
that we shall not is not so great. But is it quite certain, that in all
cases where scientific men have considered hypotheses, one or other
of which must be true, either will ever be verified? It seems to be
obviously doubtful. Take, for instance, the question whether our actual
space is Euclidean or not. This is a case where the alternative has
been considered; and where it is certain that, whatever be meant by
"our actual space," it either is Euclidean or is not. It has been held,
too, that the hypothesis that it is not Euclidean might, conceivably,
be verified by observations. But it is doubtful whether it ever will
be. And though it would be rash to say that no man ever will be able
to verify either hypothesis; it is also rash to assert positively that
we shall--that we certainly can verify the true hypotheses. There are,
I believe, ever so many similar cases, where alternative hypotheses,
one or other of which must be true, have occurred to men of science,
and where yet it is very doubtful whether either ever will be verified.
Or take, again, such ideas as the idea that there is a God, or the
idea that we are immortal. Many men have had not only contradictory
ideas, but contradictory beliefs, about these matters. And here we
have cases where it is disputed whether these ideas have not actually
been verified. But it seems to me doubtful whether they have been. And
there is a view, which seems to me to deserve respect, that, in these
matters, we never shall be able to verify the true hypothesis. Is it
perfectly certain that this view is a false one? I do not say that it
is true. I think it is quite possible that we shall some day be able to
verify either the belief that we are immortal or the belief that we are
not. But it seems to me doubtful whether we shall. And for this reason
alone I should refuse to assent to the positive assertion that we
certainly can verify all our true ideas.

When, therefore, Professor James tells us that "True ideas are those
that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas
are those that we cannot," there seems to be a serious objection to
part of what these words imply. They imply that no idea of ours is
true, unless we can verify it. They imply, therefore, that whenever a
man wonders whether or not he had the seven of diamonds in the third
hand at whist last night, neither of these ideas is true unless he can
verify it. But it seems certain that in this, and an immense number of
similar cases, one or other of the two ideas is true. Either, he did
have the card in his hand or he did not. If anything is a fact, this
is one. Either, therefore, Professor James' words imply the denial of
this obvious fact, or else he implies that in _all_ such cases we _can_
verify one or other of the two ideas. But to this the objection is
that, in any obvious sense of the words, it seems very doubtful whether
we can. On the contrary it seems extremely probable that in a _very
large_ number of such cases no man ever will be able to verify either
of the two ideas. There is, therefore, a serious objection to what
Professor James' words imply. Whether he himself really means to assert
these things which his words imply I do not know. Perhaps he would
admit that, in this sense, we probably cannot verify nearly all our
true ideas. All that I have wished to make plain is that there is, at
least, an objection to what he says, whether to what he means or not.
There is ample reason why we should refuse assent to the statement that
none of our ideas are true, except those which we can verify.

But to another part of what he implies by the words quoted above, there
is, I think, no serious objection. There is reason to object to the
statement that we can verify all our true ideas; but to the statement
that all ideas, which we can "assimilate, validate, corroborate and
verify," are true, I see no serious objection. Here, I think, we might
say simply that all ideas which we can verify are true. To this, which
is the second of the four propositions, which I distinguished above
(p. 35) as what Professor James seems to wish to assert, there is, I
think, no serious objection, if we understand the word "verify" in
its proper and natural sense. We may, no doubt, sometimes say that we
have verified an idea or an hypothesis, when we have only obtained
evidence which proves it to be probable, and does not prove it to be
certain. And, if we use the word in this loose sense for incomplete
verification, it is obviously the case that we may verify an idea
which is not true. But it seems scarcely necessary to point this out.
And where we really can _completely_ verify an idea or an hypothesis,
there, undoubtedly, the idea which we can verify is always true. The
very meaning of the word "verify" is to find evidence which does really
prove an idea to be true; and where an idea can be really proved to be
true, it is of course, always true.

This is all I wish to say about Professor James' first two
propositions, namely:--

(1) That no ideas of ours are true, except those which we can verify.

(2) That all those ideas, which we can verify, are true.

The first seems to me extremely doubtful--in fact, almost certainly
untrue; the second on the other hand, certainly true, in its most
obvious meaning. And I shall say no more about them. The fact is, I
doubt whether either of them expresses anything which Professor James
is really anxious to assert. I have mentioned them, only because his
words do, in fact, imply them and because he gives those words a very
prominent place. But I have already had occasion to notice that he
seems to speak as if to say that we can verify an idea came to the same
thing as saying it is useful to us. And it is the connection of truth
with usefulness, not its connection with "verification," that he is, I
think, really anxious to assert. He talks about "verification" only,
I believe, because he thinks that what he says about it will support
his main view that truth is what "works," is "useful," is "expedient,"
"pays." It is this main view we have now to consider. We have to
consider the two propositions:--

(3) That all our true ideas are useful.

(4) That all ideas, which are useful, are true.

First, then: is it the case that all our true ideas are useful? Is it
the case that none of our ideas are true, except those which are useful?

I wish to introduce my discussion of this question by quoting a
passage in which Professor James seems to me to say something which is
indisputably true. Towards the end of Lecture VI, he attacks the view
that truths "have an unconditional claim to be recognised." And in the
course of his attack the following passage occurs:--

"Must I," he says, "constantly be repeating the truth 'twice two are
four' because of its eternal claim on recognition? or is it sometimes
irrelevant? Must my thoughts dwell night and day on my personal sins
and blemishes, because I truly have them?--or may I sink and ignore
them in order to be a decent social unit, and not a mass of morbid
melancholy and apology?"

"It is quite evident," he goes on, "that our obligation to acknowledge
truth, so far from being unconditional, is tremendously conditional.
Truth with a big T, and in the singular, claims abstractly to be
recognised, of course; but concrete truths in the plural need be
recognised only when their recognition is expedient." (pp. 231-232).

What Professor James says in this passage seems to me so indisputably
true as fully to justify the vigour of his language. It is as clear
as anything can be that it would not be useful for any man's mind to
be _always_ occupied with the true idea that he had certain faults
and blemishes; or to be _always_ occupied with the idea that twice
two are four. It is clear, that is, that, if there are times at which
a particular true idea is useful, there certainly are other times
at which it would _not_ be useful, but positively in the way. This
is plainly true of nearly all, if not quite all, our true ideas. It
is plainly true with regard to nearly all of them that, even if the
occasions on which their occurrence is useful are many, the occasions
on which their occurrence would _not_ be useful are many more. With
regard to most of them it is true that on most occasions they will, as
Professor James says elsewhere, "be practically irrelevant, and had
better remain latent."

It is, then, quite clear that almost any particular true idea _would_
not be useful at all times and that the times at which it would _not_
be useful, are many more than the times at which it would. And what
we have to consider is whether, in just this sense in which it is so
clear that most true ideas would _not_ be useful at most times, it is
nevertheless true that all our true ideas _are_ useful. Is this so? Are
all our true ideas useful?

Professor James, we see, has just told us that there are ever so many
occasions upon which a particular true idea, such as that 2 + 2= 4,
_would_ not be useful--when, on the contrary, it would be positively in
the way. And this seems to be indisputably clear. But is not something
else almost equally clear? Is it not almost equally clear that cases,
such as he says _would_ not be useful, do sometimes actually happen? Is
it not clear that we do actually sometimes have true ideas, at times
when they are not useful, but are positively in the way? It seems
to me to be perfectly clear that this does sometimes occur; and not
sometimes only, but very commonly. The cases in which true ideas occur
at times when they are useful, are, perhaps, far _more_ numerous; but,
if we look at men in general, the cases in which true ideas occur, at
times when they are not useful, do surely make up positively a very
large number. Is it not the case that men do sometimes dwell on their
faults and blemishes, when it is _not_ useful for them to do so? when
they would much better be thinking of something else? Is it not the
case that they are often unable to get their minds away from a true
idea, when it is harmful for them to dwell on it? Still more commonly,
does it not happen that they waste their time in acquiring pieces of
information which are no use to them, though perhaps very useful to
other people? All this seems to me to be undeniable--just as undeniable
as what Professor James himself has said; and, if this is so, then, in
one sense of the words, it is plainly not true that all, or nearly all,
our true ideas are useful. _In one sense of the words._ For if I have
the idea that 2+2=4 on one day, and then have it again the next, I may
certainly, in a sense, call the idea I have on one day _one_ idea, and
the idea I have on the next _another._ I have had two ideas that 2+2=4,
and not one only. Or if two different persons both think that I have
faults, there have been two ideas of this truth and not one only. And
in asking whether _all_ our true ideas are useful, we might mean to ask
whether _both_ of these ideas were useful and not merely whether one of
them was. In this sense, then, it is plainly not true that _all_ our
true ideas are useful. It is not true, that is, that every true idea is
useful, _whenever it occurs._

In one sense, then, it is plainly not true that all our true ideas
are useful. But there still remains a perfectly legitimate sense in
which it might be true. It might be meant, that is, not that every
_occurrence_ of a true idea is useful, but that every true idea is
useful on at least one of the occasions when it occurs. But is this,
in fact, the case? It seems to me almost as plain that it is not, as
that the other was not. We have seen that true ideas are not by any
means always useful on every occasion when they occur; though most
that do occur many times over and to many different people are, no
doubt, useful on some of these occasions. But there seems to be an
immense number of true ideas, which occur but once and to one person,
and never again either to him or to anyone else. I may, for instance,
idly count the number of dots on the back of a card, and arrive at a
true idea of their number; and yet, perhaps, I may never think of their
number again, nor anybody else ever know it. We are all, it seems to
me, constantly noticing trivial details, and getting true ideas about
them, of which we never think again, and which nobody else ever gets.
And is it quite certain that all these true ideas are useful? It seems
to me perfectly clear, on the contrary, that many of them are not. Just
as it is clear that many men sometimes waste their time in acquiring
information which is useful to others but not to them, surely it is
clear that they sometimes waste their time in acquiring information,
which is useful to nobody at all, because nobody else ever acquires
it. I do not say that it is never useful idly to count the number
of dots on the back of a card. Plainly it is sometimes useful to be
idle, and one idle employment may often be as good as another. But
surely it is true that men _sometimes_ do these things when their time
would have been better employed otherwise? Surely they sometimes get
into the habit of attending to trivial truths, which it is as great a
disadvantage that they should attend to as that they should constantly
be thinking of their own thoughts and blemishes? I cannot see my way
to deny that this is so; and therefore I cannot see my way to assert
positively that all our true ideas are useful, even so much as on _one
occasion._ It seems to me that there are many true ideas which occur
but once, and which are not useful when they do occur. And if this be
so, then it is plainly not true that _all_ our true ideas are useful in
any sense at all.

These seem to me to be the most obvious objections to the assertion
that all our true ideas are useful. It is clear, we saw to begin with,
that true ideas, which are sometimes useful, _would_ not be useful at
all times. And it seemed almost equally clear that they do sometimes
occur at times when they are not useful. Our true ideas, therefore
are not useful at every time when they actually occur. But in just
this sense in which it is so clear that true ideas which are sometimes
useful, nevertheless sometimes occur at times when they are not, it
seems pretty plain that true ideas, which occur but once, are, some of
them, not useful. If an idea, which is sometimes useful, does sometimes
occur to a man at a time when it is irrelevant and in the way, why
should not an idea, which occurs but once, occur at a time when it is
irrelevant and in the way? It seems hardly possible to doubt that this
does sometimes happen. But, if this be so, then it is not true that all
our true ideas are useful, even so much as on one occasion. It is not
true that none of our ideas are true, except those which are useful.

But now, what are we to say of the converse proposition--the
proposition that all those among our ideas, which are useful, are true?
That we never have a useful idea, which is not true?

I confess the matter seems to me equally clear here. The assertion
should mean that every idea, which is at any time useful, is true;
that no idea, which is not true, is ever useful. And it seems hardly
possible to doubt that this assertion is false. It Is, in the first
place, commonly held that it is sometimes right positively to deceive
another person. In war, for instance it is held that one army is
justified in trying to give the enemy a false idea as to where it
will be at a given time. Such a false idea is sometimes given, and it
seems to me quite clear that it is sometimes useful. In such a case,
no doubt, it may be said that the false idea is useful to the party
who have given it, but not useful to those who actually believe in it.
And the question whether it is useful on the whole will depend upon
the question which side it is desirable should win. But it seems to me
unquestionable that the false idea is sometimes useful on the whole.
Take, for instance, the case of a party of savages, who wish to make a
night attack and massacre a party of Europeans but are deceived as to
the position in which the Europeans are encamped. It is surely plain
that such a false idea is sometimes useful on the whole. But quite
apart from the question whether deception is ever justifiable, it is
not very difficult to think of cases where a false idea, not produced
by deception, is plainly useful--and useful, not merely on the whole,
but to the person who has it as well. A man often thinks that his watch
is right, when, in fact, it is slow, and his false idea may cause
him to miss his train. And in such cases, no doubt, his false idea
is _generally_ disadvantageous. But, in a particular case, the train
which he would have caught but for his false idea may be destroyed
in a railway accident, or something may suddenly occur at home, which
renders it much more useful that he should be there, than it would
have been for him to catch his train. Do such cases never occur? And
is not the false idea sometimes useful in some of them? It seems to me
perfectly clear that it is _sometimes_ useful for a man to think his
watch is right when it is wrong. And such instances would be sufficient
to show that it is not the case that every idea of ours, which is ever
useful, is a true idea. But let us take cases, not, like these, of an
idea, which occurs but a few times or to one man, but of ideas which
have occurred to many men at many times. It seems to me very difficult
to be sure that the belief in an eternal hell has not been often useful
to many men, and yet it may be doubted whether this idea is true. And
so, too, with the belief in a happy life after death, or the belief in
the existence of a God; it is, I think, very difficult to be sure that
these beliefs have not been, and are not still, often useful, and yet
it may be doubted whether they are true. These beliefs, of course, are
matters of controversy. Some men believe that they are both useful and
true; and others, again, that they are neither. And I do not think we
are justified in giving them as certain instances of beliefs, which
are not true, but, nevertheless, have often been useful. But there is
a view that these beliefs, though not true, have, nevertheless, been
often useful; and this view seems to me to deserve respect, especially
since, as we have seen, some beliefs, which are not true, certainly
are sometimes useful. Are we justified in asserting positively that it
is false? Is it perfectly certain that beliefs, which have often been
useful to many men, may not, nevertheless, be untrue? Is it perfectly
certain that beliefs, which are not true, have not often been useful
to many men? The certainty may at least be doubted, and in any case it
seems certain that some beliefs, which are not true, are, nevertheless,
sometimes useful.

For these reasons, it seems to me almost certain that _both_ the
assertions which I have been considering are false. It is almost
certainly false that all our true ideas are useful, and almost
certainly false that all our useful ideas are true. But I have only
urged what seem to me to be the most obvious objections to these two
statements; I have not tried to sustain these objections by elaborate
arguments, and I have omitted elaborate argument, partly because of a
reason which I now wish to state. The fact is, I am not at all sure
that Professor James would not himself admit that both these statements
are false. I think it is quite possible he would admit that they are,
and would say that he never meant either to assert or to imply the
contrary. He complains that some of the critics of Pragmatism are
unwilling to read any but the silliest of possible meanings into the
statements of Pragmatism; and, perhaps, he would say that this is the
case here. I certainly hope that he would. I certainly hope he would
say that these statements, to which I have objected, are silly. For
it does seem to me intensely silly to say that we can verify all our
true ideas; intensely silly to say that every one of our true ideas
is at some time useful; intensely silly to say that every idea which
is ever useful is true. I hope Professor James would admit all these
things to be silly, for if he and other Pragmatists would admit even
as much as this, I think a good deal would be gained. But it by no
means follows that because a philosopher would admit a view to be
silly, when it is definitely put before him, he has not himself been
constantly holding and implying that very view. He may quite sincerely
protest that he never has either held or implied it, and yet he may
all the time have been not only implying it but holding it--vaguely,
perhaps, but really. A man may assure us, quite sincerely that he is
not angry; he may really think that he is not, and yet we may be able
to judge quite certainly from what he says that he really is angry.
He may assure us quite sincerely that he never meant anything to our
discredit by what he said--that he was not thinking of anything in the
least discreditable to us, and yet it may be plain from his words that
he was actually condemning us very severely. And so with a philosopher.
He may protest, quite angrily, when a view is put before him in other
words than his own, that he never either meant or implied any such
thing, and yet it may be possible to judge, from what he says, that
this very view, wrapped up in other words, was not only held by him but
was precisely what made his thoughts seem to him to be interesting and
important. Certainly he may quite often imply a given thing which, at
another time, he denies. Unless it were possible for a philosopher to
do this, there would be very little inconsistency in philosophy, and
surely everyone will admit that _other_ philosophers are very often
inconsistent. And so in this case, even if Professor James would say
that he never meant to imply the things to which I have been objecting,
yet in the case of two of these things, I cannot help thinking that
he does actually imply them--nay more, that he is frequently actually
vaguely thinking of them, and that his theory of truth owes its
interest, in very great part, to the fact that he is implying them.
In the case of the two views that all our true ideas are useful, and
that all our useful ideas are true, I think this is so, and I do not
mean merely that his _words_ imply them. A man's _words_ may often
imply a thing, when he himself is in no way, however vaguely, thinking
either of that thing or of anything which implies it; he may simply
have expressed himself unfortunately. But in the case of the two views
that all our true ideas are useful, and all our useful ideas true, I do
not think this is so with Professor James. I think that his thoughts
seem interesting to him and others, largely because he is thinking,
not merely of words, but of things which imply these two views, in the
very form in which I have objected to them. And I wish now to give some
reasons for thinking this.

Professor James certainly wishes to assert that there is _some_
connection between truth and utility. And the connection which I have
suggested that he has vaguely before his mind is this: that every true
idea is, at some time or other, useful, and conversely that every idea,
which is ever useful, is true. And I have urged that-there are obvious
objections to both these views. But now, supposing Professor James does
not mean to assert either of these two things, what else can he mean to
assert? What else can he mean, that would account for the interest and
importance he seems to attach to his assertion of connection between
truth and utility? Let us consider the alternatives.

And, first of all, he might mean that _most_ of our true ideas are
useful, and _most_ of our useful ideas true. He might mean that most
of our true ideas are useful at some time or other; and even that most
of them are useful, whenever they actually occur. And he might mean,
moreover, that if we consider the whole range of ideas, which are
useful to us, we shall find that by far the greater number of them are
true ones; that true ideas are far more often useful to us, than those
which are not true. And all this, I think, may be readily admitted to
be true. If this were all that he meant, I do not think that anyone
would be very anxious to dispute it. But is it conceivable that this
is _all_ that he means? Is it conceivable that he should have been so
anxious to insist upon this admitted commonplace? Is it conceivable
that he should have been offering us this, and nothing more, as a
theory of what truth means, and a theory worth making a fuss about, and
being proud of? It seems to me quite inconceivable that this should
have been _all_ that he meant. He must have had something more than
this in his mind. But, if so, what more?

In the passage which I quoted at the beginning, as showing that he does
mean to assert that _all_ useful ideas are true, he immediately goes on
to assert a qualification, which must now be noticed. "The true," he
says, "is only the expedient in the way of our thinking" (p. 222). But
he immediately adds: "Expedient in the long run, and on the whole, of
course; for what meets expediently all the experience in sight won't
necessarily meet all further experiences equally satisfactorily."
Here, therefore, we have something else that he might mean. What is
expedient _in the long run_, he means to say, is true. And what exactly
does this mean? It seems to mean that an idea, which is not true, may
be expedient _for some time_. That is to say, it may occur _once,_
and be expedient then; and again, and be expedient then; and so on,
over a considerable period. But (Professor James seems to prophesy)
if it is not true, there will come a time, when it will cease to be
expedient. If it occurs again and again over a long _enough_ period,
there will at last, if it is not true, come a time when it will (for
once at least) fail to be useful, and will (perhaps he means) _never_
be useful again. This is, 1 think, what Professor James means in this
passage. He means, I think, that though an idea, which is not true,
may for some time be repeatedly expedient, there will at last come a
time when its occurrence will, perhaps, _never_ be expedient again,
certainly will, for a time, not be _generally_ expedient. And this
a view which, it seems to me, may possibly be true. It is certainly
possible that a time may come, in the far future, when ideas, which
are not true, will hardly ever, if ever, be expedient. And this is all
that Professor James seems here positively to mean. He seems to mean
that, if you take time _enough_, false ideas will some day cease to be
expedient. And it is very difficult to be sure that this is not true;
since it is very difficult to prophesy as to what may happen in the far
future. I am sure I hope that this prophesy will come true. But in the
meantime (Professor James seems to admit) ideas, which are not true,
may, for an indefinitely long time, again and again be expedient. And
is it conceivable that a theory, which admits this, is _all_ that he
has meant to assert? Is it conceivable that what interests him, in his
theory of truth, is merely the belief that, some day or other, false
ideas will cease to be expedient? "In the long run, _of course_," he
says, as if this were what he had meant all along. But I think it is
quite plain that this is _not_ all that he has meant. This may be one
thing which he is anxious to assert, but it certainly does not explain
the whole of his interest in his theory of truth.

And, in fact, there is quite a different theory which he seems plainly
to have in his mind in other places. When Professor James says, "in
the long run, _of course_," he implies that ideas which are expedient
only for a _short_ run, are very often not true. But in what he says
elsewhere he asserts the very opposite of this. He says elsewhere that
a belief is true "_so long as_ to believe it is profitable to our
lives" (p. 75). That is to say, a belief will be true, _so long as_
it is useful, even if it is _not_ useful in the long run! This is
certainly quite a different theory; and, strictly speaking, it implies
that an idea, which is useful even _on one occasion,_ will be true. But
perhaps this is only a verbal implication. I think very likely that
here Professor James was only thinking of ideas, which can be said _to
have a run,_ though only a comparatively short one--of ideas, that is,
which are expedient, not merely on one occasion, but _for some time._
That is to say, the theory which he now suggests, is that ideas, which
occur again and again, perhaps to one man only, perhaps to several
different people, over some space of time are, if they are expedient on
most occasions within that space of time, true. This is a view which he
is, I think, really anxious to assert; and if it were true, it would, I
think, be important. And it is difficult to find instances which show,
with certainty, that it is false. I believe that it is false; but it
is difficult to prove it, because, in the case of some ideas it is so
difficult to be certain that they ever were useful, and in the case of
others so difficult to be certain that they are not true. A belief such
as I spoke of before--the belief in eternal hell--is an instance. I
think this belief has been, for a long time, useful, and that yet it is
false. But it is, perhaps, arguable that it never has been useful; and
many people on the other hand, would still assert that it is true. It
cannot, therefore, perhaps, fairly be used as an instance of a belief,
which is certainly not true, and yet has for some time been useful. But
whether this view that all beliefs, which are expedient for some time,
are true, be true or false; can it be all that Professor James means to
assert? Can it constitute the whole of what interests him in his theory
of truth?

I do not think it can. I think it is plain that he has in his mind
something more than _any_ of these alternatives, or than all
of them taken together. And I think so partly for the following
reason. He speaks from the outset as if he intended to tell us what
_distinguishes_ true ideas from those which are not true; to tell us,
that is to say, not merely of some property which belongs to all our
true ideas; nor yet merely of some property, which belongs to none
but true ideas; but of some property which satisfies _both_ these
requirements at once--which both belongs to all our true ideas, and
_also_ belongs to none but true ones. Truth, he says to begin with,
means the agreement of our ideas with reality; and he adds "as falsity
their disagreement." And he explains that he is going to tell us what
property it is that is meant by these words "agreement with reality."
So again in the next passage which I quoted: "True ideas," he says "are
those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify." But,
he also adds, "False ideas are those that we cannot." And no one, I
think, could possibly speak in this way, who had not in his head the
intention of telling us what property it is which _distinguishes_ true
ideas from those which are not true, and which, therefore, not only
belongs to all ideas which are true, but also to none that are not.
And that he has this idea in his head and thinks that the property of
being "useful" or "paying" is such a property, is again clearly shown
by a later passage. "Our account of truth," he says (p. 218) "is an
account of truths in the plural, of processes of leading, realised _in
rebus_, and having only this quality in common, that they _pay." Only_
this quality in common! If this be so, the quality must obviously be
one, which is _not_ shared by any ideas which are _not_ true; for,
if true ideas have any quality in common at all, they must have at
least one such quality, which is _not_ shared by those which are _not_
true. Plainly, therefore, Professor James is intending to tell us of
a property which belongs both to _all_ true ideas and _only_ to true
ideas. And this property, he says, is that of "paying." But now let us
suppose that he means by "paying," not "paying _once_ at least," but,
according to the alternative he suggests, "paying in the long run" or
"paying for some time." Can he possibly have supposed that these were
properties which belonged _both_ to all true ideas _and also_ to none
but true ones? They may, perhaps, be properties which belong to _none
but_ true ones. I doubt, as I have said, whether the latter does; but
still it is difficult to prove the opposite. But even if we granted
that they belong to _none but_ true ones, surely it is only too obvious
that they do _not_ fulfil the other requirement--that they do _not_
belong to nearly all true ones. Can anyone suppose that _all_ our true
ideas pay "in the long run" or repeatedly for some time? Surely it is
plain that an enormous number do not for the simple reason that an
enormous number of them _have no run at all,_ either long or short,
but occur but once, and never recur. I believe truly that a certain
book is on a particular shelf about 10.15 p.m. on December 21st, 1907;
and this true belief serves me well and helps me to find it But the
belief that that book is there at that particular time occurs to no one
else, and never again to me. Surely there are thousands of useful true
beliefs which, like this, are useful but once, and never occur again;
and it would, therefore, be preposterous to say that every true idea is
useful "in the long run" or repeatedly for some time. If, therefore,
we supposed Professor James to mean that "paying in the long run" or
"paying repeatedly over a considerable period" were properties which
belonged to all true ideas and to none but true ones, we should be
supposing him to mean something still more monstrous than if we suppose
him to mean that "paying at least once" was such a property.

To sum up then:

I think there is no doubt that Professor James' interest in "the
pragmatist theory of truth" is largely due to the fact that he thinks
it tells us what distinguishes true ideas from those which are not
true. And he thinks the distinction is that true ideas "pay," and false
ones don't. The most natural interpretation of this view is: That every
true idea pays at least once; and that every idea, which pays at least
once, is true. These were the propositions I considered first, and I
gave reasons for thinking that _both_ are false. But Professor James
suggested elsewhere that what he means by "paying" is "paying in the
long run." And here it seems possibly true that all ideas which "pay
in the long run" are true; but it is certainly false that all our true
ideas "pay in the long run," if by this be meant anything more than
"pay at least once." Again, he suggested that what he meant by paying
was "paying for some time." And here, again, even if it is true (and it
seems very doubtful) that all ideas which pay for some time are true,
it is certainly false that all our true ideas pay for some time, if by
this be meant anything more than that they pay "at least once."

This, I think, is the simplest and most obvious objection to Professor
James' "instrumental" view of truth--the view that truth is what
"works," "pays," is "useful." He seems certainly to have in his mind
the idea that this theory tells us what distinguishes true ideas from
false ones, and to be interested in it mainly for this reason. He has
vaguely in his mind that he has told us of some property which belongs
to all true ideas and to none but true ones; and that this property is
that of "paying." And the objection is, that, whatever we understand
by "paying," whether "paying at least once," or "paying in the long
run," or "paying for some time," it seems certain that none of these
properties will satisfy _both_ requirements. As regards the first, that
of "paying at least once," it seems almost certain that it satisfies
_neither:_ it is neither true that all our true ideas "pay at least
once," nor yet that every idea which pays at least once, is true.
On the contrary, many true ideas never pay at all; and many ideas,
which are not true, do pay on at least one occasion. And as regards
the others, "paying in the long run" and "paying for some time,"
even if these do belong to none but true ideas (and even this seems
very doubtful), they certainly neither of them satisfy the _other_
requirement--neither of them belong to _all_ our true ideas. For, in
order that either of them may belong to an idea, that idea must pay at
least once; and, as we have seen, many true ideas do not pay even once,
and cannot, therefore, pay either in the long run or for some time.
And, moreover, many true ideas, which do pay on one occasion, seem to
pay on one occasion and one only.

And, if Professor James does not mean to assert any of these things,
what is there left for him to mean? There is left in the first place,
the theory that _most_ of our true ideas do pay; and that _most_ of the
ideas which pay are true. This seems to me to be true, and, indeed, to
be all that is certainly true in what he says. But is it conceivable
that this is all he has meant? Obviously, these assertions tell us
of no property at all which belongs to all true ideas, and to none
but true ones; and, moreover, it seems impossible that he should have
been so anxious to assert this generally admitted commonplace. What a
very different complexion his whole discussion would have worn, had he
merely asserted this--this quite clearly, and nothing but this, while
admitting openly that many true ideas do not pay, and that many, which
do pay, are not true!

And, besides this commonplace, there is only left for him to mean two
one-sided and doubtful assertions to the effect that certain properties
belong to none but true ideas. There is the assertion that all ideas
which pay in the long run are true, and the assertion that all ideas
which pay for some considerable time are true. And as to the first, it
_may_ be true; but it may also be doubted, and Professor James gives us
no reason at all for thinking that it is true. Assuming that religious
ideas have been useful in the past, is it quite certain that they may
not permanently continue to be useful, even though they are false?
That, in short, even though they are not true, they nevertheless will
be useful, not only for a time, but in the long run? And as for the
assertion that all ideas, which pay for a considerable time, are true,
this is obviously more doubtful still. Whether certain religious ideas
will or will not be useful in the long run, it seems difficult to doubt
that many of them have been useful for a considerable time. And why
should we be told dogmatically that all of these are true? This, it
seems to me, is by far the most interesting assertion, which is left
for Professor James to make, when we have rejected the theory that the
property of being useful belongs to _all_ true ideas, as well as to
none but true ones. But he has given no reason for asserting it. He
seems, in fact, to base it merely upon the general untenable theory,
that utility belongs to _all_ true ideas, and to none but true ones;
that this is what truth means.

These, then, seem to me the plainest and most obvious objections to
what Professor James says about the connection between truth and
utility. And there are only two further points, in what he says under
this head, that I wish to notice.

In the first place, we have hitherto been considering only whether it
is true, as a matter of empirical fact, that all our true ideas are
useful, and those which are not true, never. Professor James seems,
at least, to mean that, _as a matter of fact,_ this is so; and I have
only urged hitherto that _as a matter of fact_, it is not so. But as we
have seen, he also asserts something more than this--he also asserts
that this property of utility is the _only_ one which belongs to all
our true ideas. And this further assertion cannot possibly be true, if,
as I have urged, there are many true ideas which do not possess this
property; or if, as I have urged, many ideas, which do possess it, are
nevertheless not true. The objections already considered are, then,
sufficient to overthrow this further assertion also. If there are any
true ideas, which are not useful, or if any, which are useful, are not
true, it cannot be the case that utility is the _only_ property which
true ideas have in common. There must be some property, other than
utility, which is common to all true ideas; and a correct theory as to
what property it is that does belong to all true ideas, and to none but
true ones, is still to seek. The empirical objections, hitherto given,
are then sufficient objections to this further assertion also; but they
are not the only objections to it. There is another and still more
serious objection to the assertion that utility is the _only_ property
which all true ideas have in common. For this assertion does not
_merely_ imply that, as a matter of fact, all our true ideas and none
but true ideas are useful. It does, indeed, imply this; and therefore
the fact that these empirical assertions are not true is sufficient
to refute it. But it also implies something more. If utility were the
_only_ property which all true ideas had in common, it would follow
not merely that all true ideas are useful, but also that any idea,
which was useful, _would_ be true _no matter what other properties
it might have or might fail to have._ There can, I think, be no doubt
that Professor James does frequently speak as if this were the case;
and there is an independent and still more serious objection to this
implication. Even if it were true (as it is not) that all our true
ideas and none but true ideas are, as a matter of fact, useful, we
should still have a strong reason to object to the statement that any
idea, which was useful, _would_ be true. For it implies that if such an
idea as mine, that Professor James exists, and has certain thoughts,
_were_ useful, this idea would be true, _even if_ no such person as
Professor James ever did exist. It implies that, if the idea that I had
the seven of diamonds in my hand at cards last night, _were_ useful,
this idea would be true, even if, in fact, I did not have that card
in my hand. And we can, I think, see quite plainly that this is not
the case. With regard to some kinds of ideas, at all events--ideas
with regard to the existence of other people, or with regard to past
experiences of our own--it seems quite plain that they would not be
true, unless they "agreed with reality" in some other sense than that
which Professor James declares to be the only one in which true ideas
must agree with it. Even if my idea that Professor James exists were to
"agree with reality," in the sense that, owing to it, I handled _other_
realities better than I should have done without it, it would, I think,
plainly not be true, unless Professor James really did exist--unless
_he_ were a reality. And this, I think, is one of the two most serious
objections to what he seems to hold about the connection of truth with
utility. He seems to hold that any idea, which was useful, _would_ be
true, _no matter what other properties it might fail to have._ And with
regard to some ideas, at all events, it seems plain that they cannot be
true, _unless_ they have the property that what they believe to exist,
really does or did exist. Beliefs in the existence of other people
might be useful to me, even if I alone existed; but, nevertheless, in
such a case, they would not be true.

And there is only one other point, in what Professor James says in
connection with the "instrumental" view of truth, upon which I wish
to remark. We have seen that he seems sometimes to hold that beliefs
are true, _so long as_ they are "profitable to our lives." And this
implies, as we have seen, the doubtful proposition than any belief
which is useful for some length of time, is true. But this is not
all that it implies. It also implies that beliefs are true _only_ so
long as they are profitable. Nor does Professor James appear to mean
by this that they _occur_, only so long as they are profitable. He
seems to hold, on the contrary, that beliefs, which are profitable
for some time, do sometimes finally occur at a time when they are not
profitable. He implies, therefore, that a belief, which occurs at
several different times, may be true at some of the times at which it
occurs, and yet untrue at others. I think there is no doubt that this
view is what he is sometimes thinking of. And this, we see, constitutes
a quite new view as to the connection between truth and utility--a view
quite different from any that we have hitherto considered. This view
asserts not that every true idea is useful at some time, or in the long
run, or for a considerable period; but that the truth of an idea may
come and go, as its utility comes and goes. It admits that one and the
same idea sometimes occurs at times when it is useful, and sometimes
at times when it is not; but it maintains that this same idea is true,
at those times when it is useful, and not true, at those when it is
not. And the fact that Professor James seems to suggest this view,
constitutes, I think, a second most serious objection to what he says
about the connection of truth and utility. It seems so obvious that
utility is a property which comes and goes--which belongs to a given
idea at one time, and does not belong to it at another, that anyone who
says that the true is the useful naturally seems not to be overlooking
this obvious fact, but to be suggesting that truth is a property which
comes and goes in the same way. It is, in this way I think, that the
"instrumental" view of truth is connected with the view that truth is
"mutable." Professor James does, I think, imply that truth is mutable
in just this sense--namely, that one and the same idea may be true at
some of the times at which it occurs, and not true at others, and this
is the view which I have next to consider.


(II)

Professor James seems to hold, generally, that "truth" is mutable. And
by this he seems sometimes to mean that an idea which, when it occurs
at one time, is true, _may,_ when it occurs at another time, not be
true. He seems to hold that one and the same idea _may_ be true at
one time and false at another. That it _may_ be, for I do not suppose
he means that all ideas do actually undergo this change from true to
false. Many true ideas seem to occur but once, and, if so, they, at
least, will not actually be true at one time and false at another,
though, even with regard to these, perhaps Professor James means to
maintain that they _might_ be false at another time, if they were to
occur at it. But I am not sure that he even means to maintain this
with regard to _all_ our true ideas. Perhaps he does not mean to say,
with regard to _all_ of them, even that they _can_ change from true to
false. He speaks, generally, indeed, as if truth were mutable; but,
in one passage, he seems to insist that there is a certain class of
true ideas, none of which are mutable in this respect. "_Relations
among purely mental ideas,"_ he says (p. 209), "form another sphere
where true and false beliefs obtain, and here the beliefs are absolute
or unconditional. When they are true they bear the name either of
definitions or of principles. It is either a principle or a definition
that 1 and 1 make 2, that 2 and 1 make 3, and so on; that white differs
less from grey than it does from black; that when the cause begins to
act the effect also commences. Such propositions hold of all possible
'ones,' of all conceivable 'whites,' 'greys,' and 'causes.' The objects
here are mental objects. Their relations are perceptually obvious
at a glance, and no sense-verification is necessary. Moreover, once
true, always true, of those same mental objects. Truth here has an
'eternal' character. If you can find a concrete thing anywhere that is
'one' or 'white' or 'grey' or an 'effect,' then your principles will
everlastingly apply to it." Professor James does seem here to hold
that there are true ideas, which once true, are always true. Perhaps,
then, he does not hold that _all_ true ideas are mutable. Perhaps he
does not even hold that all true ideas, _except_ ideas of this kind,
are so. But he does seem to hold at least that _many_ of our true ideas
are mutable. And even this proposition seems to me to be disputable.
It seems to me that there is a sense in which it is the case with
_every_ true idea that, if once true, it is always true. That is to
say, that every idea, which is true once, _would_ be true at any other
time at which it were to occur; and that every idea which does occur
more than once, if true once, _is_ true at every time at which it does
occur. There seems to me, I say, to be _a sense_ in which this is so.
And this seems to me to be the sense in which it is most commonly and
most naturally maintained that all truths are "immutable." Professor
James seems to mean to deny it, even in this sense. He seems to me
constantly to speak as if there were _no_ sense in which _all_ truths
are immutable. And I only wish to point out what seems to me to be the
plainest and most obvious objection to such language.

And, first of all, there is one doctrine, which he seems to connect
with this of his that "truths are mutable," with regard to which I
fully agree with him. He seems very anxious to insist that reality is
mutable: that it does change, and that it is not irrational to hope
that in the future it will be different from and much better than it
is now. And this seems to me to be quite undeniable. It seems to me
quite certain that I do have ideas at one time which I did not have
at another; that change, therefore, does really occur. It seems to me
quite certain that in the future many things will be different from
what they are now; and I see no reason to think that they may not be
much better. There is much misery in the world now; and I think it is
quite possible that some day there will really be much less. This view
that _reality_ is mutable, that _facts_ do change, that some things
have properties at one time which they do not have at other times,
seems to me certainly true. And so far, therefore, as Professor James
merely means to assert this obvious fact, I have no objection to his
view. Some philosophers, I think, have really implied the denial of
this fact. All those who deny the reality of time do seem to me to
imply that nothing really changes or can change--that, in fact, reality
is wholly immutable. And so far as Professor James is merely protesting
against this view, I should, therefore, agree with him.

But I think it is quite plain that he does not mean _merely_ this,
when he says that truth is mutable. No one would choose this way of
expressing himself if he merely meant to say that _some_ things are
mutable. Truth, Professor James has told us, is a property of certain
of our ideas. And those of our ideas, which are true or false, are
certainly only a part of the Universe. Other things in the Universe
might, therefore, change, even if our ideas never changed in respect
of this property. And our ideas themselves do undoubtedly change in
some respects. A given idea exists in my mind at one moment and does
not exist in it at another. At one moment it is in my mind and not in
somebody else's, and at another in somebody else's and not in mine.
I sometimes think of the truth that twice two are four when I am in
one mood, and sometimes when I am in another. I sometimes think of it
in connection with one set of ideas and sometimes in connection with
another set. Ideas, then, are constantly changing in some respects.
They come and go; and at one time they stand in a given relation to
other things or ideas, to which at another time they do not stand in
that relation. In this sense, any given idea may certainly have a
property at one time which it has not got at another time. All this
seems obvious; and all this cannot be admitted, without admitting that
reality is mutable--that _some_ things change. But obviously it does
not seem to follow from this that there is _no_ respect in which ideas
are immutable. It does not seem to follow that because ideas, and other
things, change some of their properties, they necessarily change that
one which we are considering--namely, "truth." It does not follow that
a given idea, which has the property of truth at one time, ever exists
at any other time without having that property. And yet that this
_does_ happen seems to be part of what is meant by saying that truth
is mutable. Plainly, therefore, to say this is to say something quite
different from saying that _some_ things are mutable. Even, therefore,
if we admit that _some_ things are mutable, it is still open to
consider whether truth is so. And this is what I want now to consider.
Is it the case that an idea which exists at one time, and is true then,
ever exists at any other time, without being true? Is it the case that
any idea ever changes from true to false? That it has the property of
being true on one of the occasions when it exists, and that it has
_not_ this property, but that of being false instead, on some other
occasion when it exists?

In order to answer this question clearly, it is, I think, necessary to
make still another distinction. It does certainly seem to be true, _in
a sense_, that a given idea may be true on one occasion and false on
another. We constantly speak as if there were cases in which a given
thing was true on one occasion and false on another; and I think it
cannot be denied that, when we so speak, we are often expressing in a
perfectly proper and legitimate manner something which is undeniably
true. It is true now, I might say, that I am in this room; but
to-morrow this will not be true. It is true now that men are often
very miserable; but perhaps in some future state of society this will
not be true. These are perfectly natural forms of expression, and what
they express is something which certainly may be true. And yet what
they do apparently assert is that something or other, which is true
at one time, will not, or _perhaps_ will not, be true at another. We
constantly use such expressions, which imply that what is true at one
time is not true at another; and it is certainly legitimate to use
them. And hence, I think, we must admit that, _in a sense_, it is true
that a thing may be true at one time which is not true at another; in
that sense, namely, in which we use these expressions. And it is, I
think, also plain that these things, which may be true at one time and
false at another, may, _in a sense,_ be ideas. We might even say: The
idea that I am in this room, is true now; but to-morrow it will not be
true. We might say this without any strain on language. In any ordinary
book--indeed, in any philosophical book, where the subject we are at
present discussing was not being expressly discussed--such expressions
do, I think, constantly occur. And we should pass them, without any
objection. We should at once understand what they meant, and treat them
as perfectly natural expressions of things undeniably true. We must,
then, I think, admit that, _in a sense_, an idea may be true at one
time, and false at another. The question is: In what sense? What is the
truth for which these perfectly legitimate expressions stand?

It seems to me that in all these cases, so far as we are not merely
talking of _facts_, but of true _ideas_, that the "idea" which we truly
say to be true at one time and false at another, is merely the idea
of a _sentence_--that is, of certain _words._ And we do undoubtedly
call _words_ "true." The words "I am at a meeting of the Aristotelian
Society" are true, if I use them now; but if I use the same words
to-morrow, they would not be true. The words "George III is king of
England" were true in 1800, but they are not true now. That is to say,
a given set of words may undoubtedly be true at one time, and false
at another; and since we may have ideas of words as well as of other
things, we may, in this sense, say the same of certain of our "ideas."
We may say that some of our "ideas" (namely those of words) are true at
one time and not true at another.

But is it conceivable that Professor James _merely_ meant to assert
that the same _words_ are sometimes true at one time and false at
another? Can this be _all_ he means by saying that truth is mutable?
I do not think it can possibly be so. No one, I think, in definitely
discussing the mutability of truth, could say that true ideas were
mutable, and yet mean (although he did not say so) that this
proposition applied _solely_ to ideas of words. Professor James must, I
think, have been sometimes thinking that _other_ ideas, and not merely
ideas of words, do sometimes change from true to false. And this is the
proposition which I am concerned to dispute. It seems to me that if we
mean by an idea, not merely the idea of certain words, but the kind of
idea which words express, it is very doubtful whether such an idea ever
changes from true to false--whether any such idea is ever true at one
time and false at another.

And plainly, in the first place, the mere fact that the same set of
words, as in the instances I have given, really are true at one time
and false at another, does not afford any presumption that anything
which they stand for is true at one time and false at another. For
the same words may obviously be used in different senses at different
times; and hence though the same words, which formerly expressed a
truth, may cease to express one, that may be because they now express
a _different_ idea, and not because the idea which they formerly
expressed has ceased to be true. And that, in instances such as I have
given, the words _do_ change their meaning according to the time at
which they are uttered or thought of, is I think, evident. If I use now
the words "I am in this room," these words certainly express (among
other things) the idea that my being in this room is contemporary
with my present use of the words; and if I were to use the same words
to-morrow, they would express the idea that my being in this room
to-morrow, was contemporary with the use of them _then._ And since my
use of them then would not be the same fact as my use of them now,
they would certainly then express a different idea from that which
they express now. And in general, whenever we use the present tense
in its primary sense, it seems to me plain that we do mean something
different by it each time we use it. We always mean (among other
things) to express the idea that a given event is contemporary with
our actual use of it; and since our actual use of it on one occasion
is always a different fact from our actual use of it on another, we
express by it a different idea each time we use it. And similarly with
the past and future tenses. If anybody had said in 1807 "Napoleon is
dead," he would certainly have meant by these words something different
from what I mean by them when I use them now. He would have meant that
Napoleon's death occurred at a time previous to _his_ use of those
words; and this would not have been true. But in this fact there is
nothing to show that if he _had_ meant by them what I mean now, his
idea would not have been as true then as mine is now. And so, if I say
"It will rain to-morrow," these words have a different meaning to-day
from what they would have if I used them to-morrow. What we mean by
"to-morrow" is obviously a different day, when we use the word on one
day, from what we mean by it when we use it on another. But in this
there is nothing to show that if the idea, which I _now_ mean by "It
will rain to-morrow," _were_ to occur again to-morrow, it would not be
true then, if it is true now. All this is surely very obvious. But,
if we take account of it, and if we concentrate our attention not on
the words but on what is meant by them, is it so certain that what we
mean by them on any one occasion ever changes from true to false? If
there were to occur to me to-morrow the very same idea which I now
express by the words "I am in this room," is it certain that this idea
would not be as true then as it is now? It is perhaps true that the
_whale_ of what I mean by such a phrase as this never does recur. But
part of it does, and that a part which is true. Part of what I mean
is Certainly identical with part of what I should mean to-morrow by
saying "I _was_ in that room last night." And this part would be as
true then, as it is now. And is there _any_ part, which, if it were to
recur at any time, would _not_ then be true, though it Is true now? In
the case of all ideas or parts of ideas, which ever do actually recur,
can we find a single instance of one, which is plainly true at one of
the times when it occurs, and yet not true at another? I cannot think
of any such instance. And on the other hand this very proposition that
any idea (other than mere words) which is true once, would be true at
any time, seems to me to be one of those truths of which Professor
James has spoken as having an "eternal," "absolute," "unconditional"
character--as being "perceptually obvious at a glance" and needing
"no sense-verification." Just as we know that, if a particular colour
differs more from black than from grey at one time, the same colour
would differ more from black than from grey at any time, so, it seems
to me, we can see that, if a particular idea is true at one time, the
same idea would be true at any time.

It seems to me, then, that if we mean by an idea, not mere words, but
the kind of idea which words express, any idea, which is true at one
time when it occurs, _would_ be true at any time when it were to occur;
and that this is so, even though it is an idea, which refers to facts
which are mutable. My being in this room is a fact which is now, but
which certainly has not been at every time and will not be at every
time. And the words "I _am_ in this room," though they express a truth
now, would not have expressed one if I had used them yesterday, and
will not if I use them to-morrow. But if we consider the idea which
these words _now_ express--namely, the idea of the connection of my
being in this room with this particular time--it seems to me evident
that anybody who had thought of that connection at any time in the
past, would have been thinking truly, and that anybody who were to
think of it at any time in the future would be thinking truly. This
seems to me to be the sense in which truths are immutable--in which
no idea can change from true to false. And I think Professor James
means to deny of truths generally, if not of all truths, that they are
immutable even in this sense. If he does not mean this there seems
nothing left for him to mean, when he says that truths are mutable,
except (1) that some _facts_ are mutable, and (2) that the same _words_
may be true at one time and false at another. And it seems to me
impossible that he could speak as he does, if he meant _nothing more_
than these two things. I believe, therefore, that he is really thinking
that ideas which have been once true (_ideas,_ and not merely words)
do sometimes afterwards become false: that the very same idea is at
one time true and at another false. But he certainly gives no instance
which shows that this does ever occur. And how far does he mean his
principle to carry him? Does he hold that this idea that Julius Caesar
was murdered in the Senate-House, though true now, may, at some future
time cease to be true, if it should be more profitable to the lives of
future generations to believe that he died in his bed? Things like this
are what his words seem to imply; and, even if he does hold that truths
like this are _not_ mutable, he never tries to tell us to what kinds of
truths he would limit mutability, nor how they differ from such as this.


(III)

Finally, there remains the view that "to an unascertainable extent our
truths are man-made products." And the only point I want to make about
this view may be put very briefly.

It is noticeable that all the instances which Professor James gives
of the ways in which, according to him, "our truths" are "made" are
instances of ways in which our _beliefs_ come into existence. In
many of these ways, it would seem, false beliefs sometimes come into
existence as well as true ones; and I take it Professor James does
not always wish to deny this. False beliefs, I think he would say,
are just as much "man-made products" as true ones: it is sufficient
for his purpose if true beliefs do come into existence in the ways he
mentions. And the only point which seems to be illustrated by all these
instances, is that in all of them the existence of a true belief does
depend in some way or other upon the previous existence of something
in some man's mind. They are all of them cases in which we may truly
say: This man would not have had just that belief, had not some man
previously had such and such experiences, or interests, or purposes.
In some cases they are instances of ways in which the existence of a
particular belief in a man depends upon _his own_ previous experiences
or interests or volitions. But this does not seem to be the case
in all. Professor James seems also anxious to illustrate the point
that one man's beliefs often depend upon the previous experiences or
interests or volitions of _other_ men. And, as I say, the only point
which seems to be definitely illustrated in all cases is that the
existence of a true belief does depend, _in some way or other,_ upon
something which has previously existed in some man's mind. Almost
any kind of dependence, it would seem, is sufficient to illustrate
Professor James' point.

And as regards this general thesis that almost all our beliefs, true as
well as false, depend, in some way or other, upon what has previously
been in some human mind, it will, I think, be readily admitted. It
is a commonplace, which, so far as I know, hardly anyone would deny.
If this is all that is to be meant by saying that our true beliefs
are "man-made," it must, I think, be admitted that almost all, If not
quite all, really are man-made. And this is all that Professor James'
instances seem to me, in fact, to show.

But is this all that Professor James means, when he says that _our
truths_ are man-made? Is it conceivable that he only means to insist
upon this undeniable, and generally admitted, commonplace? It seems to
me quite plain that this is not all that he means. I think he certainly
means to suggest that, from the fact that we "make" our true beliefs,
something _else_ follows. And I think it is not hard to see one thing
more which he does mean. I think he certainly means to suggest that we
not only make our true beliefs, but also that we _make them true._ At
least as much as this is certainly naturally suggested by his words.
No one would persistently say that we make _our truths_, unless he
meant, at least, not merely that we make our true beliefs, but also
that we make them true--unless he meant not merely that the existence
of our true beliefs, but also that their _truth_, depended upon human
conditions. This, it seems to me, is one consequence which Professor
James means us to draw from the commonplace that the _existence_ of our
true beliefs depends upon human conditions. But does this consequence,
in fact, follow from that commonplace? From the fact that we make our
true beliefs, does it follow that we _make them true?_

_In one sense,_ undoubtedly, even this does follow. If we say (as we
may say) that no belief can be true, unless it exists, then it follows
that, in a sense, the truth of a belief must always depend upon any
conditions upon which its existence depends. If, therefore, the
occurrence of a belief depends upon human conditions, so, too, must its
truth. If the belief had never existed, it would never have been true;
and therefore its truth must, in a sense, depend upon human conditions
in exactly the same degree in which its existence depends upon them.
This is obvious. But is this all that is meant? Is this all that would
be suggested to us by telling us that we make our beliefs true?

It is easy to see that it is not. I may have the belief that it will
rain to-morrow. And I may have "made" myself have this belief. It may
be the case that I should not have had it, but for peculiarities in my
past experiences, in my interests and my volitions. It may be the case
that I should not have had it, but for a deliberate attempt to consider
the question whether it will rain or not. This may easily happen. And
certainly this particular belief of mine would not have been true,
unless it existed. Its truth, therefore, depends, in a sense, upon any
conditions upon which its existence depends. And this belief may be
true. It will be true, if It does rain to-morrow. But, in spite of all
these reasons, would anyone think of saying that, in case it is true, I
had _made_ it true? Would anyone say that I had had any hand _at all_
in making it true? Plainly no one would. We should say that I had a
hand in making it true, if and only If I had a hand in _making the rain
fall._ In every case in which we believe in the existence of anything,
past or future, we should say that we had helped to make the belief
true, if and only if we had helped to cause the existence of the fact
which, in that belief, we believed did exist or would exist. Surely
this is plain. I may believe that the sun will rise to-morrow. And I
may have had a hand in "making" this belief; certainly it often depends
for its existence upon what has been previously in my mind. And if the
sun does rise, my belief will have been true. I have, therefore, had
a hand in making a true belief. But would anyone say that, therefore,
I had a hand in _making this belief true_? Certainly no one would. No
one would say that anything had contributed to make this belief true,
except those conditions (whatever they may be) which contributed to
making the sun actually rise.

It is plain, then, that by "making a belief true," we mean something
quite different from what Professor James means by "making" that
belief. Conditions which have a hand in making a given true belief,
may (it appears) have no hand at all in making it true; and conditions
which have a hand in making it true may have no hand at all in making
_it._ Certainly this is how we use the words. We should never say that
we had made a belief true, merely because we had made the belief. But
now, which of these two things does Professor James mean? Does he mean
_merely_ the accepted commonplace that we make our true beliefs, in the
sense that almost all of them depend for their existence on what has
been previously in some human mind? Or does he mean also that we _make
them true_--that their truth also depends on what has been previously
in some human mind?

I cannot help thinking that he has the latter, and not only the former
in his mind. But, then, what does this involve? If his instances of
"truth-making" are to be anything to the purpose, it should mean that,
whenever I have a hand in causing one of my own beliefs, I always
have to that extent a hand in making it true. That, therefore, I have
a hand in actually making the sun rise, the wind blow, and the rain
fall, whenever I cause my beliefs in these things. Nay, more, it
should mean that, whenever I "make" a true belief about the past, I
must have had a hand in making this true. And if so, then certainly I
must have had a hand in causing the French Revolution, in causing my
father's birth, in making Professor James write this book. Certainly
he implies that some man or other must have helped in causing almost
every event, in which any man ever truly believed. That it was we who
made the planets revolve round the sun, who made the Alps rise, and
the floor of the Pacific sink--all these things, and others like them,
seem to be involved. And it is these consequences which seem to me to
justify a doubt whether, in fact "our truths are to an unascertainable
extent man-made." That some of our truths are man-made--indeed, a great
many--I fully admit. We certainly do make some of our beliefs true.
The Secretary probably had a belief that I should write this paper,
and I have made his belief true by writing it. Men certainly have the
power to alter the world to a certain extent; and, so far as they do
this, they certainly "make true" any beliefs, which are beliefs in the
occurrence of these alterations. But I can see no reason for supposing
that they "make true" _nearly_ all those of their beliefs which are
true. And certainly the only reason which Professor James seems to
give for believing this--namely, that the _existence_ of almost all
their beliefs depends on them--seems to be no reason for it at all. For
unquestionably a man does not "make true" nearly every belief whose
_existence_ depends on him; and if so, the question which of their
beliefs and how many, men do "make true" must be settled by quite other
considerations.

In conclusion, I wish to sum up what seems to me to be the most
important points about this "pragmatist theory of truth," as Professor
James represents it. It seems to me that, in what he says about it, he
has in his mind some things which are true and others which are false;
and I wish to tabulate separately the principal ones which I take to be
true, and the principal ones which I take to be false. The true ones
seem to me to be these:--

That _most_ of our true beliefs are useful to us; and that _most_ of
the beliefs that are useful to us are true.

That the world really does change in some respects; that facts exist at
one time, which didn't and won't exist at others; and that hence the
world may be better at some future time than it is now or has been in
the past.


That the very same words may be true at one time and false at
another--that they may express a truth at one time and a falsehood at
another.

That the existence of most, if not all, of our beliefs, true as well as
false, does depend upon previous events in our mental history; that we
should never have had the particular beliefs we do have, had not our
previous mental history been such as it was.

That the truth, and not merely the existence, of _some_ of our beliefs,
does depend upon us. That we really do make some alterations in the
world, and that hence we do help to "make true" all those of our
beliefs which are beliefs in the existence of these alterations.


To all of these propositions I have no objection to offer. And they
seem to me to be generally admitted commonplaces. A certain class of
philosophers do, indeed, imply the denial of every one of them--namely,
those philosophers who deny the reality of time. And I think that
part of Professor James' object is to protest against the views of
these philosophers. All of these propositions do constitute a protest
against such views; and so far they might be all that Professor James
meant to assert. But I do not think that anyone, fairly reading through
what he says, could get the impression that these things, and nothing
more, were what he had in his mind. What gives colour and interest to
what he says, seems to be obviously something quite different. And, if
we try to find out what exactly the chief things are which give his
discussion its colour and interest, it seems to me we may distinguish
that what he has in his mind, wrapped up in more or less ambiguous
language, are the following propositions, to all of which I have tried
to urge what seem to me the most obvious objections:--


That utility is a property which distinguishes true beliefs from those
which are not true; that, therefore, _all_ true beliefs are useful, and
_all_ beliefs, which are useful, are true--by "utility" being sometimes
meant "utility on at least one occasion," sometimes "utility in the
long run," sometimes "utility for some length of time."

That all beliefs which are useful for some length of time are true.

That utility is the _only_ property which all true beliefs have in
common: that, therefore, _if_ it were useful to me to believe in
Professor James' existence, this belief _would_ be true, even if he
didn't exist; and that, _if_ it were not useful to me to believe this,
the belief _would_ be false, even if he did.

That the beliefs, which we express by words, and not merely the words
themselves, may be true at one time and _not_ true at another; and that
this is a general rule, though perhaps there may be some exceptions.

That whenever the _existence_ of a belief depends to some extent on
us, then also the _truth_ of that belief depends to some extent on us;
in the sense in which this implies, that, when the existence of my
belief that a shower will fall depends upon me, then, if this belief
is true, I must have had a hand in making the shower fall: that,
therefore, men must have had a hand in making to exist almost every
fact which they ever believe to exist.


[1] _Pragmatism: A New Name for some Old Ways of Thinking: Popular
Lectures on Philosophy._ By William James. Longmans, Green, and Co.,
1907



HUME'S PHILOSOPHY


In both of his two books on the Human Understanding, Hume had, I think,
one main general object. He tells us that it was his object to discover
"the extent and force of human understanding," to give us "an exact
analysis of its powers and capacity." And we may, I think, express
what he meant by this in the following way. He plainly held (as we
all do) that some men sometimes entertain opinions which they cannot
know to be true. And he wished to point out what characteristics are
possessed by those of our opinions which we _can_ know to be true, with
a view of persuading us that any opinion which does _not_ possess any
of these characteristics is of a kind which we _cannot_ know to be so.
He thus tries to lay down certain rules to the effect that the _only_
propositions which we can, any of us, know to be true are of certain
definite kinds. It is in this sense, I think, that he tries to define
the limits of human understanding.

With this object he, first of all, divides all the propositions,
which we can even so much as conceive, into two classes. They are
all, he says, either propositions about "relations of ideas" or else
about "matters of fact." By propositions about "relations of ideas"
he means such propositions as that twice two are four, or that black
differs from white; and it is, I think, easy enough to see, though
by no means easy to define, what kind of propositions it is that
he means to include in this division. They are, he says, the only
kind of propositions with regard to which we can have "intuitive" or
"demonstrative" certainty. But the vast majority of the propositions
in which we believe and which interest us most, belong to the other
division: they are propositions about "matters of fact." And these
again he divides into two classes. So far as his words go, this latter
division is between "matters of fact, beyond the present testimony of
our senses, or the records of our memory," on the one hand, and matters
of fact for which we _have_ the evidence of our memory or senses, on
the other. But it is, I think, quite plain that these words do not
represent quite accurately the division which he really means to make.
He plainly intends to reckon along with facts for which we have the
evidence of our _senses_ all facts for which we have the evidence
of _direct observation_--such facts, for instance, as those which I
observe when I observe that I am angry or afraid, and which cannot be
strictly said to be apprehended by my _senses._ The division, then,
which he really intends to make is (to put it quite strictly) into the
two classes--(1) propositions which assert some matter of fact which I
am (in the strictest sense) _observing_ at the moment, or which I have
so observed in the past and now remember; and (2) propositions which
assert any matter of fact which I am not now observing and never have
observed, or, if I have, have quite forgotten.

We have, then, the three classes--(1) propositions which assert
"relations of ideas"; (2) propositions which assert "matters of fact"
for which we have the evidence of direct observation or personal
memory; (3) propositions which assert "matters of fact_"_ for which
we have _not_ this evidence. And as regards propositions of the first
two classes, Hume does not seem to doubt our capacity for knowledge.
He does not doubt that we can know _some_ (though, of course, not
_all)_ propositions about "relations of ideas" to be true; he never
doubts, for instance, that we can know that twice two are four. And
he generally assumes also that each of us can know the truth of
_all_ propositions which merely assert some matter of fact which we
ourselves are, in the strictest sense, directly observing, or which
we have so observed and now remember. He does, indeed, in one place,
suggest a doubt whether our memory is _ever_ to be implicitly trusted,
but he generally assumes that it _always_ can. It is with regard to
propositions of the third class that he is chiefly anxious to determine
which of them (if any) we can know to be true and which not. In what
cases can any man know any matter of fact which he himself has not
directly observed? It is Hume's views on this question which form, I
think, the main interest of his philosophy.

He proposes, first of all, by way of answer to it, a rule, which may,
I think, be expressed as follows: No man, he says, can ever know any
matter of fact, which he has not himself observed, unless he can know
that it is connected by "the relation of cause and effect," with some
fact which he _has_ observed. And no man can ever know that any two
facts are connected by this relation, except by the help of his own
past _experience._ In other words, if I am to know any fact, A, which
I have not myself observed, my past experience must give me some
foundation for the belief that A is causally connected with some fact,
B, which I have observed. And the only kind of past experience which
can give me any foundation for such a belief is, Hume seems to say,
as follows: I must, he says, have found _facts like_ A "constantly
conjoined" in the past with _facts like_ B. This is what he _says;_
but we must not, I think, press his words too strictly. I may, for
instance, know that A is _probably_ a fact, even where the conjunction
of facts like it with facts like B has not been quite constant. Or
instead of observing facts like A conjoined with facts like B, I may
have observed a whole series of conjunctions--for instance, between A
and C, C and D, D and E, and E and B; and such a series, however long,
will do quite as well to establish a causal connection between A and B,
as if I had directly observed conjunctions between A and B themselves.
Such modifications as this, Hume would, I think, certainly allow. But,
allowing for them, his principle is, I think, quite clear. I can, he
holds, never know any fact whatever, which I have not myself observed,
unless I have observed similar facts in the past and have observed that
they were "conjoined" (directly or indirectly) with facts similar to
some fact which I do now observe or remember. In this sense, he holds,
_all_ our knowledge of facts, beyond the reach of our own observation,
is founded on _experience._

This is Hume's primary principle. But what consequences does he
think will follow from it, as to the kind of facts, beyond our own
observation, which we can know? We may, I think, distinguish three
entirely different views as to its consequences, which he suggests in
different parts of his work.

In the first place, where he is specially engaged in explaining this
primary principle, he certainly seems to suppose that all propositions
of the kind, which we assume most universally in everyday life, may be
founded on experience in the sense required. He supposes that we have
this foundation in experience for such beliefs as that "a stone will
fall, or fire burn"; that Julius Caesar was murdered; that the sun will
rise to-morrow; that all men are mortal He speaks as if experience did
not merely render such beliefs probable, but actually _proved_ them
to be true. The "arguments from experience" in their favour are, he
says, such as "leave no room for doubt or opposition." The only kinds
of belief, which he definitely mentions as _not_ founded on experience,
are "popular superstitions" on the one hand, and certain religious and
philosophical beliefs, on the other. He seems to suppose that a few (a
very few) religious beliefs may, perhaps, be founded on experience.
But as regards most of the specific doctrines of Christianity, for
example, he seems to be clear that they are not so founded. The belief
in miracles is not founded on experience; nor is the philosophical
belief that every event is caused by the direct volition of the Deity.
In short, it would seem, that in this doctrine that our knowledge of
unobserved facts is confined to such as are "founded on experience,"
he means to draw the line very much where it is drawn by the familiar
doctrine which is called "Agnosticism." We can know such facts as
are asserted in books on "history, geography or astronomy," or on
"politics, physics and chemistry," because such assertions may be
"founded on experience"; but we cannot know the greater part of the
facts asserted in books "of divinity or school metaphysics," because
such assertions have no foundation in experience.

This, I think, was clearly one of Hume's views. He meant to fix the
limits of our knowledge at a point which would _exclude_ most religious
propositions and a great many philosophical ones, as incapable of being
known; but which would _include_ all the other kinds of propositions,
which are most universally accepted by common-sense, as capable of
being known. And he thought that, so far as matters of fact beyond the
reach of our personal observation are concerned, this point coincided
with that at which the possibility of "foundation on experience"
ceases.

But, if we turn to another part of his work, we find a very different
view suggested. In a quite distinct section of both his books, he
investigates the beliefs which we entertain concerning the existence
of "external objects." And he distinguishes two different kinds of
belief which may be held on this subject. "Almost all mankind, and
philosophers themselves, for the greatest part of their lives,"
believe, he says, that "the very things they feel and see" _are_
external objects, in the sense that they continue to exist, even when
we cease to feel or see them. Philosophers, on the other hand, have
been led to reject this opinion and to suppose (when they reflect)
that what we actually perceive by the senses never exists except when
we perceive it, but that there are other external objects, which do
exist independently of us, and which _cause_ us to perceive what we do
perceive. Hume investigates both of these opinions, at great length in
the _Treatise_, and much more briefly in the _Enquiry_, and comes to
the conclusion, in both books, that neither of them can be "founded
on experience," in the sense he has defined. As regards the first of
them, the vulgar opinion, he does seem to admit in the _Treatise_ that
it is, in a sense, founded on experience; but not, he insists, in
the sense defined. And he seems also to think that, apart from this
fact, there are conclusive reasons for holding that the opinion cannot
be true. And as regards the philosophical opinion, he says that any
belief in external objects, which we never perceive but which cause our
perceptions, cannot possibly be founded on experience, for the simple
reason that if it were, we should need to have directly observed some
of these objects and their "conjunction" with what we do perceive,
which _ex hypothesi,_ we cannot have done, since we never do directly
observe any external object.

Hume, therefore, concludes, in this part of his work, that we cannot
know of the existence of any "external object" whatever. And though
in all that he says upon this subject, he is plainly thinking only of
_material_ objects, the principles by which he tries to prove that we
cannot know these must, I think, prove equally well that we cannot
know any "external object" whatever--not even the existence of any
other human mind. His argument is: We cannot directly observe any
object whatever, except such as exist only when we observe them; we
cannot, therefore, observe any "constant conjunctions" except between
objects of this kind: and hence we can have no foundation in experience
for any proposition which asserts the existence of any other kind of
object, and cannot, therefore, know any such proposition to be true.
And this argument must plainly apply to all the feelings, thoughts and
perceptions of other men just as much as to material objects. I can
never know that any perception of mine, or anything which I do observe,
must have been caused by any other man, because I can never directly
observe a "constant conjunction" between any other man's thoughts
or feelings or intentions and anything which I directly observe: I
cannot, therefore, know that any other man ever had any thoughts or
feelings--or, in short, that any man beside myself ever existed. The
view, therefore, which Hume suggests in this part of his work, flatly
contradicts the view which he at first seemed to hold. He now says we
_cannot_ know that a stone will fall, that fire will burn, or the sun
will rise to-morrow. All that I can possibly know, according to his
present principles, is that _I shall see_ a stone fall, shall feel the
fire burn, shall see the sun rise to-morrow. I cannot even know that
any other men will see these things; for I cannot know that any other
men exist. For the same reason, I cannot know that Julius Caesar
was murdered, or that all men are mortal. For these are propositions
asserting "external" facts--facts which don't exist only at the moment
when I observe them; and, according to his present doctrine, I cannot
possibly know any such proposition to be true. No man, in short, can
know any proposition about "matters of fact" to be true, except such
as merely assert something about _his own_ states of mind, past,
present or future--about these or about what _he himself_ has directly
observed, is observing, or will observe.

Here, therefore, we have a very different view suggested, as to the
limits of human knowledge. And even this is not all. There is yet a
third view, inconsistent with both of these, which Hume suggests in
some parts of his work.

So far as we have yet seen, he has not in any way contradicted his
original supposition that we can know _some_ matters of fact, which we
have never ourselves observed. In the second theory, which I have just
stated, he does not call in question the view that I can know all such
matters of fact as I know to be causally connected with facts which
I have observed, nor the view that I can know some facts to be thus
causally connected. All that he has done is to question whether I can
know any _external_ fact to be causally connected with anything which
I observe; he would still allow that I may be able to know that future
states of my own, or past states, which I have forgotten, are causally
connected with those which I now observe or remember; and that I may
know therefore, in some cases, what I shall experience in the future,
or have experienced in the past but have now forgotten. But in some
parts of his work he does seem to question whether any man can know
even as much as this: he seems to question whether we can ever know any
fact whatever to be causally connected with any other fact. For, after
laying it down, as we saw above, that we cannot know any fact, A, to be
causally connected with another, B, unless we have experienced in the
past a constant conjunction between facts like A and facts like B, he
goes on to ask what foundation we have for the conclusion that A and B
_are_ causally connected, even when we _have_ in the past experienced
a constant conjunction between them. He points out that from the fact
that A has been constantly conjoined with B in the past, it does not
follow that it ever will be so again. It does not follow, therefore,
that the two really are causally connected in the sense that, when the
one occurs, the other _always_ will occur also. And he concludes, for
this and other reasons, that _no argument_ can assure us that, because
they have been constantly conjoined in the past, therefore they really
are causally connected. What, then, he asks, is the foundation for such
an inference? _Custom,_ he concludes, is the only foundation. It is
nothing but custom which induces us to believe that, because two facts
have been constantly conjoined on many occasions, therefore they will
be so on _all_ occasions. We have, therefore, no better foundation
than custom for any conclusion whatever as to facts which we have not
observed. And can we be said really to _know_ any fact, for which we
have no better foundation than this? Hume himself, it must be observed,
never says that we can't. But he has been constantly interpreted as if
the conclusion that we can't really know any one fact to be causally
connected with any other, did follow from this doctrine of his. And
there is, I think, certainly much excuse for this interpretation in the
tone in which he speaks. He does seem to suggest that a belief which is
_merely_ founded on custom, can scarcely be one which we _know_ to be
true. And, indeed, he owns himself that, when he considers that this
is our only foundation for any such belief, he is sometimes tempted
to doubt whether we do know any fact whatever, except those which we
directly observe. He does, therefore, at least suggest the view that
every man's knowledge is entirely confined to those facts, which he is
directly observing at the moment, or which he has observed in the past,
and now remembers.

We see, then, that Hume suggests, at least, three entirely different
views as to the consequences of his original doctrine. His original
doctrine was that, as regards matters of fact beyond the reach of our
own actual observation, the knowledge of each of us is strictly limited
to those for which we have a basis in our own experience. And his first
view as to the consequences of this doctrine was that it does show us
to be incapable of knowing a good many religious and philosophical
propositions, which many men have claimed that they knew; but that it
by no means denies our capacity of knowing the vast majority of facts
beyond our own observation, which we all commonly suppose that we know.
His second view, on the other hand, is that it cuts off at once all
possibility of our knowing the vast majority of these facts; since he
implies that we cannot have any basis in experience for asserting any
_external_ fact whatever--any fact, that is, except facts relating to
our own actual past and future observations. And his third view is more
sceptical still, since it suggests that we cannot really know any fact
whatever, beyond the reach of our present observation or memory, even
where we _have_ a basis in experience for such a fact: it suggests that
experience cannot ever let us _know_ that any two things are causally
connected, and therefore that it cannot give us _knowledge_ of any fact
based on this relation.

What are we to think of these three views, and of the original
doctrine from which Hume seems to infer them?

As regards the last two views, it may perhaps be thought that they
are too absurd to deserve any serious consideration. It is, in fact,
absurd to suggest that I do not know any external facts whatever;
that I do not know, for instance, even that there are any men beside
myself. And Hume himself, it might seem, does not seriously expect or
wish us to accept these views. He points out, with regard to all such
excessively sceptical opinions that we cannot continue to believe them
for long together--that, at least, we cannot, for long together, avoid
believing things flatly inconsistent with them. The philosopher may
believe, when he is philosophising, that no man knows of the existence
of any other man or of any material object; but at other times he
will inevitably believe, as we all do, that he does know of the
existence of this man and of that, and even of this and that material
object. There can, therefore, be no question of making all our beliefs
consistent with such views as this of never believing anything that is
inconsistent with them. And it may, therefore, seem useless to discuss
them. But in fact, it by no means follows that, because we are not able
to adhere consistently to a given view, therefore that view is false;
nor does it follow that we may not sincerely believe it, whenever we
are philosophising, even though the moment we cease to philosophise, or
even before, we may be forced to contradict it. And philosophers do,
in fact, sincerely believe such things as this--things which flatly
contradict the vast majority of the things which they believe at other
times. Even Hume, I think, does sincerely wish to persuade us that
we cannot know of the existence of external material objects--that
this is a philosophic truth, which we ought, if we can, so long as we
are philosophising, to believe. Many people, I think, are certainly
tempted, in their philosophic moments, to believe such things; and,
since this is so, it is, I think, worth while to consider seriously
what arguments can be brought against such views. It is worth while to
consider whether they are views which we ought to hold as philosophical
opinions, even if it be quite certain that we shall never be able to
make the views which we entertain at other times consistent with them.
And it is the more worth while, because the question how we can prove
or disprove such extreme views as these, has a bearing on the question
how we can, in any case whatever, prove or disprove that we do really
_know,_ what we suppose ourselves to know.

What arguments, then, are there for or against the extreme view that
no man can know any external fact whatever; and the still more extreme
view that no man can know any matter of fact whatever, except those
which he is directly observing at the moment, or has observed in the
past and now remembers?

It may be pointed out, in the first place, that, if these views are
true, then at least no man can possibly know them to be so. What
these views assert is that I cannot know any external fact whatever.
It follows, therefore, that I cannot know that there are any other
men, beside myself, and that they are like me in this respect. Any
philosopher who asserts positively that other men, equally with
himself, are incapable of knowing any external facts, is, in that very
assertion, contradicting himself, since he implies that he _does_ know
a great many facts about the knowledge of other men. No one, therefore,
can be entitled to assert positively that human knowledge is limited
in this way, since, in asserting it positively, he is implying that
his own knowledge is not so limited. It cannot be proper, even in our
philosophic moments, to take up such an attitude as this.

No one, therefore, can know positively that men in general, are
incapable of knowing external facts. But still, although we cannot
_know_ it, it remains possible that the view should be a true one. Nay,
more, it remains possible that a man should know that _he himself_
is incapable of knowing any external facts, and that, _if_ there are
any other men whose faculties are only similar to his own, they also
must be incapable of knowing any. The argument just used obviously
does not apply against such a position as this. It only applies
against the position that men in general positively are incapable
of knowing external facts: it does not apply against the position
that the philosopher himself is incapable of knowing any, or against
the position that there are _possibly_ other men in the same case,
and that, if their faculties are similar to the philosopher's, they
certainly would be in it. I do not contradict myself by maintaining
positively that _I_ know no external facts, though I do contradict
myself if I maintain that I am only one among other men, and that no
man knows any external facts. So far, then, as Hume merely maintains
that _he_ is incapable of knowing any external facts, and that there
_may_ be other men like him in this respect, the argument just used is
not valid against his position. Can any conclusive arguments be found
against it?

It seems to me that such a position must, in a certain sense, be quite
incapable of disproof. So much must be granted to any sceptic who feels
inclined to hold it. Any valid argument which can be brought against
it must be of the nature of a _petitio principii:_ it must beg the
question at issue. How is the sceptic to prove to himself that he does
know any external facts? He can only do it by bringing forward some
instance of an external fact, which he does know; and, in assuming
that he does know this one, he is, of course, begging the question. It
is therefore quite impossible for any one to _prove,_ in one strict
sense of the term, that he does know any external facts. I can only
prove that I do, by assuming that in some particular instance, I
actually do know one. That is to say, the so-called proof must assume
the very thing which it pretends to prove. The only proof that we do
know external facts lies in the simple fact that we do know them. And
the sceptic can, with perfect internal consistency, deny that he does
know any. But it can, I think, be shown that he has no reason for
denying it. And in particular it may, I think, be easily seen that the
arguments which Hume uses in favour of this position have no conclusive
force.

To begin with, his arguments, in both cases, depend upon the two
original assumptions, (1) that we cannot know any fact, which we
have not observed, unless we know it to be causally connected with
some fact which we have observed, and (2) that we have no reason for
assuming any causal connection, except where we have experienced some
instances of conjunction between the two facts connected. And both of
these assumptions may, of course, be denied. It is just as easy to deny
them, as to deny that I do know any external facts. And, if these two
assumptions did really lead to the conclusion that I cannot know any,
it would, I think, be proper to deny them: we might fairly regard the
fact that they led to this absurd conclusion as disproving them. But,
in fact, I think it may be easily seen that they do not lead to it.

Let us consider, first of all, Hume's most sceptical argument (the
argument which he merely suggests). This argument suggests that, since
our only reason for supposing two facts to be causally connected is
that we have found them constantly conjoined in the past, and since
it does not follow from the fact that they have been conjoined ever
so many times, that they _always_ will be so, therefore we cannot
_know_ that they always will be so, and hence cannot know that they are
causally connected. But obviously the conclusion does not follow. We
must, I think, grant the premiss that, from the fact that two things
have been conjoined, no matter how often, it does not strictly _follow_
that they _always_ are conjoined. But it by no means follows from this
that we may not _know_ that, as a matter of fact, when two things are
conjoined sufficiently often, they are also _always_ conjoined. We
may quite well _know_ many things which do not logically follow from
anything else which we know. And so, in this case, we may _know_ that
two things are causally connected, although this does not logically
follow from our past experience, nor yet from anything else that we
know. And, as for the contention that our belief in causal connections
is merely based on _custom,_ we may, indeed, admit that custom would
not be a sufficient _reason_ for concluding the belief to be true.
But the mere fact (if it be a fact) that the belief is only caused by
custom, is also no sufficient reason for concluding that we can _not_
know it to be true. Custom _may_ produce beliefs, which we do know to
be true, even though it be admitted that it does not _necessarily_
produce them.

And as for Hume's argument to prove that we can never know any
_external_ object to be causally connected with anything which we
actually observe, it is, I think, obviously fallacious. In order
to prove this, he has, as he recognises, to disprove both of two
theories. He has, first of all, to disprove what he calls the vulgar
theory--the theory that we can know the very things which we see or
feel to be external objects; that is to say, can know that these very
things exist at times when we do not observe them. And even here, I
think, his arguments are obviously inconclusive. But we need not stay
to consider them, because, in order to prove that we cannot know any
external objects, he has also to disprove what he calls the philosophic
theory--the theory that we can know things which we do observe, to be
caused by external objects which we never observe. If, therefore, his
attempt to disprove this theory fails, his proof that we cannot know
any external objects also fails; and I think it is easy to see that
his disproof does fail. It amounts merely to this: That we cannot, _ex
hypothesi,_ ever observe these supposed external objects, and therefore
cannot observe them to be constantly conjoined with any objects which
we do observe. But what follows from this? His own theory about the
knowledge of causal connection is not that in order to know A to be the
cause of B, we must have observed A _itself_ to be conjoined with B;
but only that we must have observed objects _like_ A to be constantly
conjoined with objects _like_ B. And what is to prevent an external
object from being _like_ some object which we have formerly observed?
Suppose I have frequently observed a fact _like A_ to be conjoined with
a fact _like_ B: and suppose I now observe B, on an occasion when I do
not observe anything like A. There is no reason, on Hume's principles,
why I should not conclude that A does exist on this occasion, even
though I do not observe it; and that it is, therefore, an external
object. It will, of course, differ from any object which I have ever
observed, in respect of the simple fact that it is _not_ observed by
me, whereas they were. There is, therefore, this one respect in which
it must be _unlike_ anything which I have ever observed. But Hume has
never said anything to show that unlikeness in this single respect is
sufficient to invalidate the inference. It may quite well be like
objects which I have observed in all other respects; and this degree
of likeness may, according to his principles, be quite sufficient to
justify us in concluding its existence. In short, when Hume argues that
we cannot possibly learn by experience of the existence of any external
objects, he is, I think, plainly committing the fallacy of supposing
that, because we cannot, _ex hypothesis_ have ever observed any object
which actually is "external," therefore we can never have observed
any object _like_ an external one. But plainly we may have observed
objects like them in all respects except the single one that these
have been observed whereas the others have not. And even a less degree
of likeness than this would, according to his principles, be quite
sufficient to justify an inference of causal connection.

Hume does not, therefore, bring forward any arguments at all sufficient
to prove either that he cannot know any one object to be causally
connected with any other or that he cannot know any external fact. And,
indeed, I think it is plain that no conclusive argument could possibly
be advanced in favour of these positions. It would always be at least
as easy to deny the argument as to deny that we do know external facts.
We may, therefore, each one of us, safely conclude that we do know
external facts; and, if we do, then there is no reason why we should
not also know that other men do the same. There is no reason why we
should not, in this respect, make our philosophical opinions agree with
what we necessarily believe at other times. There is no reason why I
should not confidently assert that I do really _know_ some external
facts, although I cannot prove the assertion except by simply assuming
that I do. I am, in fact, as certain of this as of anything; and as
reasonably certain of it. But just as I am certain that I do know
_some_ external facts, so I am also certain that there are others which
I do not know. And the question remains: Does the line between the
two fall, where Hume says it falls? Is it true that the only external
facts I know are facts for which I have a basis in my own experience?
And that I cannot know any facts whatever, beyond the reach of my own
observation and memory, except those for which I have such a basis?

This, it seems to me, is the most serious question which Hume raises.
And it should be observed that his own attitude towards it is very
different from his attitude towards the sceptical views which we
have just been considering. These sceptical views he did not expect
or wish us to accept, except in philosophic moments. He declares
that we cannot, in ordinary life, avoid believing things which are
inconsistent with them; and, in so declaring, he, of course, implies
incidentally that they are false: since he implies that he himself
has a great deal of knowledge as to what we can and cannot believe in
ordinary life. But, as regards the view that our knowledge of matters
of fact beyond our own observation is entirely confined to such as are
founded on experience, he never suggests that it is impossible that
all our beliefs should be consistent with this view, and he does seem
to think it eminently desirable that they should be. He declares that
any assertion with regard to such matters, which is not founded on
experience, can be nothing but "sophistry and illusion"; and that all
books which are composed of such assertions should be "committed to the
flames." He seems, therefore, to think that here we really have a test
by which we may determine what we should or should not believe, on all
occasions: any view on such matters, for which we have no foundation in
experience, is a view which we cannot know to be even probably true,
and which we should _never_ accept, if we can help it. Is there any
justification for this strong view?

It is, of course, abstractly possible that we do really know, _without_
the help of experience, some matters of fact, which we never have
observed. Just as we know matters of fact, which we _have_ observed,
without the need of any further evidence, and just as we know, for
instance, that 2+2=4, without the need of any proof, it is possible
that we may know, directly and immediately, without the need of any
basis in experience, some facts which we never have observed. This
is certainly possible, in the same sense in which it is possible
that I do not really know any external facts: no conclusive disproof
can be brought against either position. We must make assumptions as
to what facts we do know and do not know, before we can proceed to
discuss whether or not all of the former are based on experience; and
none of these assumptions can, in the last resort, be conclusively
proved. We may offer one of them in proof of another; but it will
always be possible to dispute the one which we offer in proof. But
there are, in fact, certain kinds of things which we universally
assume that we do know or do not know, just as we assume that we do
know some external facts; and if among all the things which we know
as certainly as this, there should turn out to be none for which we
have no basis in experience, Hume's view would I think, be as fully
proved as it is capable of being. The question is: Can it be proved
in this sense? Among all the facts beyond our own observation, which
we know most certainly, are there any which are certainly not based
upon experience? For my part, I confess, I cannot feel certain what
is the right answer to this question: I cannot tell whether Hume was
right or wrong. But if he was wrong--if there are any matters of fact,
beyond our own observation, which we know for certain, and which yet
we know directly and immediately, without any basis in experience, we
are, I think, faced with an eminently interesting problem. For it is,
I think, as certain as anything can be that there are _some_ kinds of
facts with regard to which Hume was right--that there are _some_ kinds
of facts which we cannot know without the evidence of experience.
I could not know, for instance, without some such evidence, such a
fact as that Julius Caesar was murdered. For such a fact I must, in
the first instance, have the evidence of other persons; and if I am
to know that their evidence is trustworthy, I must have some ground
in experience for supposing it to be so. There are, therefore, some
kinds of facts which we cannot know without the evidence of experience
and observation. And if it is to be maintained that there are others,
which we can know without any such evidence, it ought to be pointed out
exactly what kind of facts these are, and in what respects they differ
from those which we cannot know without the help of experience. Hume
gives us a very clear division of the kinds of propositions which we
can know to be true. There are, first of all, some propositions which
assert "relations of ideas "; there are, secondly, propositions which
assert "matters of fact" which we ourselves are actually observing, or
have observed and now remember; and there are, thirdly, propositions
which assert "matters of fact" which we have never actually observed,
but for believing in which we have some foundation in our past
observations. And it is, I think, certain that some propositions, which
we know as certainly as we know anything, do belong to each of these
three classes. I know, for instance, that twice two are four; I know
by direct observation that I am now seeing these words, that I am
writing, and by memory that this afternoon I saw St. Paul's; and I know
also that Julius Caesar was murdered, and I have some foundation in
experience for this belief, though I did not myself witness the murder.
Do any of those propositions, which we know as certainly as we know
these and their like, _not_ belong to either of these three classes?
Must we add a fourth class consisting of propositions which resemble
the two last, in respect of the fact that they do assert "matters of
fact," but which differ from them, in that we know them neither by
direct observation nor by memory, nor yet as a result of previous
observations? There may, perhaps, be such a fourth class; but, if there
is, it is, I think, eminently desirable that it should be pointed out
exactly what propositions they are which we do know in this way; and
this, so far as I know, has never yet been done, at all clearly, by any
philosopher.



THE STATUS OF SENSE-DATA


The term "sense-data" is ambiguous; and therefore I think I had better
begin by trying to explain what the class of entities is whose status I
propose to discuss.

There are several different classes of mental events, all of which,
owing to their intrinsic resemblance to one another in certain
respects, may, in a wide sense, be called "sensory experiences,"
although only some among them would usually be called "sensations."
There are (1) those events, happening in our minds while we are
awake, which consist in the experiencing of one of those entities,
which are usually called "images," in the narrowest sense of the
term. Everybody distinguishes these events from sensations proper;
and yet everybody admits that "images" intrinsically resemble the
entities which are experienced in sensations proper in some very
important respect. There are (2) the sensory experiences we have in
dreams, some of which would certainly be said to be experiences of
images, while others might be said to be sensations. There are (3)
hallucinations, and certain classes of illusory sensory experiences.
There are (4) those experiences, which used to be called the having
of "after-images," but which psychologists now say ought rather to
be called "after-sensations." And there are, finally, (5) that class
of sensory experiences, which are immensely commoner than any of the
above, and which may be called _sensations proper_, if we agree to use
this term in such a way as to exclude experiences of my first four
sorts.

Every event, of any one of these five classes, consists in the fact
that an entity, of some kind or other, _is experienced._ The entity
which is experienced may be of many different kinds; it may, for
instance, be a patch of colour, or a sound, or a smell, or a taste,
etc; or it may be an image of a patch of colour, an image of a
sound, an image of a smell, an image of a taste, etc. But, whatever
be its nature, the entity which _is_ experienced must in all cases
be distinguished from the fact or event which consists in its being
experienced; since by saying that it is experienced we mean that it
has a relation of a certain kind to something else. We can, therefore,
speak not only of _experiences_ of these five kinds, but also of the
entities which _are experienced in_ experiences of these kinds; and
the entity which is experienced _in_ such an experience is never
identical with the experience which consists in its being experienced.
But we can speak not only of the entities which _are_ experienced in
experiences of this kind, but also of _the sort_ of entities which are
experienced in experiences of this kind; and these two classes may
again be different. For a patch of colour, even if it were not actually
experienced, would be an entity _of the same sort_ as some which are
experienced in experiences of this kind: and there is no contradiction
in supposing that there are patches of colour, which yet are not
experienced; since by calling a thing a patch of colour we merely make
a statement about its intrinsic quality, and in no way assert that
it has to anything else any of the relations which may be meant by
saying that it is experienced. In speaking, therefore, of _the sort
of_ entities which are experienced in experiences of the five kinds I
have mentioned, we do not necessarily confine ourselves to those which
actually _are_ experienced in some such experience: we leave it an open
question whether the two classes are identical or not. And the class
of entities, whose status I wish to discuss, consists precisely of all
those, whether experienced or not, which are _of the same sort_ as
those which are experienced in experiences of these five kinds.

I intend to call this class of entities the class of _sensibles_; so
that the question I am to discuss can be expressed in the form: What
is the status of sensibles? And it must be remembered that images and
after-images are just as much "sensibles," in my sense of the term, as
the entities which are experienced in sensations proper; and so, too,
are any patches of colour, or sounds, or smells, etc, (if such there
be), which are not experienced at all.

In speaking of sensibles as _the sort of_ entities which are
experienced in sensory experiences I seem to imply that all the
entities which are experienced in sensory experiences have some
common characteristic other than that which consists in their being
so experienced. And I cannot help thinking that this is the case,
in spite of the fact that it is difficult to see what intrinsic
character can be shared in common by entities so different from one
another as are patches of colour, sounds, smells, tastes, etc. For,
so far as I can see, some non-sensory experiences may be exactly
similar to sensory ones in all intrinsic respects, except that what
is experienced in them is different in kind from what is experienced
in any sensory experience: the relation meant by saying that in them
something _is experienced_ may be exactly the same in kind, and so may
the experient. And, if this be so, it seems to compel us to admit that
the distinction between sensory and non-sensory experiences is derived
from that between sensibles, and non-sensibles and not _vice versâ._ I
am inclined, therefore, to think that all sensibles, in spite of the
great differences between them, have some common intrinsic property,
which we recognise, but which is unanalysable; and that, when we call
an experience sensory, what we mean is not only that in it something
is experienced in a particular way, but also that this something has
this unanalysable property. If this be so, the ultimate definition of
"sensibles" would be merely all entities which have this unanalysable
property.

It seems to me that the term "sense-data" is often used, and may be
correctly used, simply as a synonym for "sensibles"; and everybody,
I think, would expect me, in discussing the status of sense-data,
to discuss, among other things, the question whether there are any
sensibles which are not "given." It is true that the etymology of the
term "sense-data" suggests that nothing should be called a sense-datum,
but what _is_ given; so that to talk of a non-given sense-datum would
be a contradiction in terms. But, of course, etymology is no safe guide
either as to the actual or the correct use of terms; and it seems to me
that the term "sense-data" is often, and quite properly, used merely
for _the sort of_ entities that are given in sense, and not in any way
limited to those which are actually given. But though I think I might
thus have used "sense-data" quite correctly instead of "sensibles,"
I think the latter term is perhaps more convenient; because though
nobody ought to be misled by etymologies, so many people in fact are
so. Moreover the term "sense-data" is sometimes limited in yet another
way, viz, to the sort of sensibles which are experienced in _sensations
proper_; so that in this sense "images" would not be "sense-data."
For both these reasons, I think it is perhaps better to drop the term
"sense-data" altogether, and to speak only of "sensibles."

My discussion of the status of sensibles will be divided into two
parts. I shall first consider how, in certain respects, they are
related to our minds; and then I shall consider how, in certain
respects, they are related to physical objects.


(I)


(1) We can, I think, distinguish pretty clearly at least one kind
of relation which sensibles, of all the kinds I have mentioned, do
undoubtedly sometimes have to our minds.

I do now see certain blackish marks on a whitish ground, and I hear
certain sounds which I attribute to the ticking of my clock. In both
cases I have to certain sensibles--certain blackish marks, in the one
case, and certain sounds, in the other--a kind of relation with which
we are all perfectly familiar, and which may be expressed, in the one
case, by saying that I actually _see_ the marks, and in the other, by
saying that I actually _hear_ the sounds. It seems to me quite evident
that the relation to the marks which I express by saying that I _see_
them, is not different in kind from the relation to the sounds which
I express by saying that I _hear_ them. "Seeing" and "hearing," when
thus used as names for a relation which we may have to sensibles, are
not names for different relations, but merely express the fact that,
in the one case, the kind of sensible to which I have a certain kind
of relation is a patch of colour, while, in the other case, the kind
of sensible to which I have the same kind of relation is a sound. And
similarly when I say that I feel warm or smell a smell these different
verbs do not express the fact that I have a different kind of relation
to the sensibles concerned, but only that I have the _same_ kind of
relation to a different kind of sensible. Even when I call up a visual
image of a sensible I saw yesterday, or an auditory image of a sound
I heard yesterday, I have to those images exactly the same kind of
relation which I have to the patches of colour I now see and which I
had yesterday to those I saw then.

But this kind of relation, which I sometimes have to sensibles of
all sorts of different kinds, images as well as others, is evidently
quite different in kind from another relation which I may also have
to sensibles. After looking at this black mark, I may turn away my
head or close my eyes, and then I no longer _actually see_ the mark I
saw just now. I may, indeed, have (I myself actually do have at this
moment) a visual _image_ of the mark before my mind; and to this image
I do now have exactly the same kind of relation which I had just now
to the mark itself. But the image is not identical with the mark of
which it is an image; and to the mark itself it is quite certain that
I have _not_ now got the same kind of relation as I had just now, when
I was actually seeing it. And yet I certainly may _now_ have to that
mark itself a kind of relation, which may be expressed by saying that
I am _thinking of_ it or remembering it. I can _now_ make judgments
about _it itself_--the very sensible which I did see just now and am no
longer seeing: as, for instance, that I did then see it and that it was
different from the image of it which I am now seeing. It is, therefore,
quite certain that there is a most important difference between the
relation I have to a sensible when I am actually seeing or hearing it,
and any relation (for there may be several) which I may have to the
same sensible when I am only thinking or or remembering it. And I want
to express this difference by using a particular term for the former
relation. I shall express this relation, which I certainly do have to
a sensible when I actually see or hear it, and most certainly do not
have to it, when I only think of or remember it, by saying that there
is in my mind a _direct apprehension_ of it. I have expressly chosen
this term because, so far as I know, it has not been used hitherto as
a technical term; whereas all the terms which have been so used, such
as "presented," "given," "perceived," seem to me to have been spoilt
by ambiguity. People sometimes, no doubt, use these terms as names for
the kind of relation I am concerned with. But you can never be sure,
when an entity is said to be "given" or "presented" or "perceived,"
that what is meant is simply and solely that it has to someone that
relation which sensibles do undoubtedly have to me when I actually see
or hear them, and which they do _not_ have to me when I only think of
or remember them.

I have used the rather awkward expression "There is in my mind a
direct apprehension of this black mark," because I want to insist that
though, when I see the mark, the mark certainly has to _something_
the fundamental relation which I wish to express by saying that it is
directly apprehended, and though the event which consists in its being
directly apprehended by that something is certainly a mental act of
_mine_ or which occurs in my mind, yet the something which directly
apprehends it may quite possibly not be anything which deserves to be
called "I" or "me." It is quite possible, I think, that there is _no_
entity whatever which deserves to be called "I" or "me" or "my mind";
and hence that nothing whatever is ever directly apprehended by _me._
Whether this is so or not, depends on the nature of that relation which
certainly does hold between all those mental acts which are _mine_, and
does not hold between any of mine and any of yours; and which holds
again between all those mental acts which are yours, but does not hold
between any of yours and any of mine. And I do not feel at all sure
what the correct analysis of this relation is. It may be the case
that the relation which unites all those acts of direct apprehension
which are mine, and which is what we mean to say that they have to one
another when we say they are all mine, really does consist in the fact
that one and the same entity is _what_ directly apprehends in each of
them: in which case this entity could properly be called "me," and it
_would_ be true to say that, when I see this black mark, _I_ directly
apprehend it. But it is also quite possible (and this seems to me to
be the view which is commonest amongst psychologists) that the entity
which directly apprehends, in those acts of direct apprehension which
are mine, is numerically different in every different act; and that
what I mean by calling all these different acts _mine_ is either merely
that they have some kind of relation to _one another_ or that they
all have a common relation to some other entity, external to them,
which may or may not be something which deserves to be called "me."
On any such view, what I assert to be true of this black mark, when
I say that it is seen by me, would not be simply that it is directly
apprehended by me, but something more complex in which, besides
direct apprehension, some other quite different relation was also
involved. I should be asserting _both_ (1) that the black mark is being
directly apprehended by _something_, _and_ (2) that this act of direct
apprehension has to something else, external to it, a quite different
relation, which is what makes it an act of _mine._ I do not know how to
decide between these views, and that is why I wished to explain that
the fundamental relation which I wish to call direct apprehension, is
one which quite possibly never holds between _me_ and any sensible.
But, once this has been explained, I think no harm can result from
using the expression "I directly apprehend A" as a synonym for "A
direct apprehension of A occurs in my mind." And in future I shall so
speak, because it is much more convenient.

The only other point, which seems to me to need explanation, in order
to make it quite clear what the relation I call "direct apprehension"
is, concerns its relation to _attention_; and as to this I must confess
I don't feel clear. In every case where it is quite clear to me that
I am directly apprehending a given entity, it seems also clear to me
that I am, more or less, attending to it; and it seems to me possible
that what I mean by "direct apprehension" may be simply identical with
what is meant by "attention," in _one_ of the senses in which that word
can be used. That it can, at most, only be identical with _one_ of the
relations meant by attention seems to me clear, because I certainly
can be said to attend, in some sense or other, to entities, which I am
not directly apprehending: I may, for instance, think, with attention,
of a sensible, which I saw yesterday, and am certainly not seeing now.
It is, therefore, clear that to say I am attending to a thing and yet
am _not_ directly apprehending it, is not a contradiction in terms:
and this fact alone is sufficient to justify the use of the special
term "direct apprehension." But whether to say that I am directly
apprehending a given thing and yet am _not_ attending to it, in any
degree at all, is or is not a contradiction in terms, I admit I don't
feel clear.

However that may be, one relation, in which sensibles of all sorts do
sometimes stand to our minds, is the relation constituted by the fact
that we directly apprehend them: or, to speak more accurately, by the
fact that events which consist in their being directly apprehended are
_in_ our minds, in the sense in which to say that an event is _in_ our
minds means merely that it is a mental act of _ours_--that it has to
our other mental acts that relation (whatever it may be) which we mean
by saying that they are all mental acts _of the same individual._ And
it is clear that to say of a sensible that it is directly apprehended
by me, is to say of it something quite different from what I say of a
mental act of mine, when I say that this _mental act is in my mind_:
for nothing is more certain than that an act of direct apprehension or
belief may be in my mind, without being itself directly apprehended
by me. If, therefore, by saying that a sensible is _in our minds_
or is _ours,_ we mean merely that it is directly apprehended by us,
we must recognise that we are here using the phrases "in our minds"
or "ours" in quite a different sense from that in which we use them
when we talk of our mental acts being "in our minds" or "ours." And
why I say this is because I think that these two relations are very
apt to be confused. When, for instance, we say of a given entity that
it is "experienced," or when the Germans say that it is "erlebt," it
is sometimes meant, I think, merely that it is directly apprehended,
but sometimes that it is in my mind, in the sense in which, when I
entertain a belief, this act of belief is in my mind.

But (2) it seems to me to be commonly held that sensibles are often
in our minds in some sense quite other than that of being directly
apprehended by us or that of being thought of by us. This seems to me
to be often what is meant when people say that they are "immediately
experienced" or are "subjective modifications"; though, of course,
both expressions are so ambiguous, that when people say that a given
entity is immediately experienced or is a subjective modification, they
_may_ mean merely that it is directly apprehended. And since I think
this view is held, I want to explain that I see no reason whatever for
thinking that sensibles ever are experienced by us in any other sense
than that of being directly apprehended by us. Two kinds of argument,
I think, are sometimes used to show that they are.

(_a_) It is a familiar fact that, when, for instance, we are in a room
with a ticking clock, we may seem suddenly to become aware of the
ticks, whereas, so far as we can tell, we had previously not heard
them at all. And it may be urged that in these cases, since the same
kind of stimulus was acting on our ears all the time, we must have
_experienced_ the same kind of sensible sounds, although we did not
directly apprehend them.

But I think most psychologists are now agreed that this argument is
quite worthless. There seem to me to be two possible alternatives to
the conclusion drawn. It may, I think, possibly be the case that we
did directly apprehend the ticks all the time, but that we cannot
afterwards remember that we did, because the degree of attention (if
any) with which we heard them was so small, that in ordinary life we
should say that we did not attend to them at all. But, what, I think,
is much more likely is that, though the same stimulus was acting on
our ears, it failed to produce any mental effect whatever, because our
attention was otherwise engaged.

(_b_) It is said that sometimes when we suddenly become aware, say,
of the eighth stroke of a striking clock, we can _remember_ earlier
strokes, although we seem to ourselves _not_ to have directly
apprehended them. I cannot say that I have ever noticed this experience
in myself, but I have no doubt that it is possible. And people seem
inclined to argue that, since we can remember the earlier strokes, we
must have experienced them, though we did not directly apprehend them.

But here again, the argument does not seem to me at all conclusive. I
should say, again, that it is possible that we did directly apprehend
them, but only with a very slight degree of attention (if any). And,
as an alternative, I should urge that there is no reason why we should
not be able to remember a thing, which we never experienced at all.

I do not know what other arguments can be used to show that we
sometimes _experience_ sensibles in a sense quite other than that of
directly apprehending them. But I do not know how to show that we do
not; and since people whose judgment I respect, seem to hold that we
do, I think it is worth while to say something as to what this sense of
"experience" can be, in case it does occur.

I have said that sometimes when people say that a given entity is
"experienced" they seem to mean that it belongs to some individual,
in the sense in which my acts of belief belong to me. To say that
sensibles were experienced by me in this sense would, therefore, be to
say that they sometimes have to my acts of belief and acts of direct
apprehension the same relation which these have to one another--the
relation which constitutes them _mine._ But that sensibles ever have
this kind of relation to my mental acts, is a thing which I cannot
believe. Those who hold that they are ever experienced at all, in some
sense other than that of being directly apprehended, always hold, I
think, that, whenever they are directly apprehended by us, they also,
at the same time, have to us this other relation as well. And it seems
to me pretty clear that when I do directly apprehend a sensible, it
does _not_ have to me the same relation which my direct apprehension of
it has.

If, therefore, sensibles are ever experienced by us at all, in any
sense other than that of being directly apprehended by us, we must, I
think, hold that they are so in an entirely new sense, quite different
both from that in which to be experienced means to be directly
apprehended, and from that in which to be experienced means to occur
in some individual's mind. And I can only say that I see no reason to
think that they ever are experienced in any such sense. If they are,
the fact that they are so is presumably open to the inspection of us
all; but I cannot distinguish any such fact as occurring in myself, as
I can distinguish the fact that they are directly apprehended. On the
other hand, I see no way of showing that they are _not_ experienced in
some such sense; and perhaps somebody will be able to point it out to
me. I do not wish to assume, therefore, that there _is_ no such sense;
and hence, though I am inclined to think that the _only_ sense in which
they are experienced is that of being directly apprehended, I shall, in
what follows, use the phrase "experienced" to mean _either_ directly
apprehended _or_ having to something this supposed different relation,
if such a relation there be.

(3) We may now, therefore, raise the question: Do sensibles ever exist
at times when they are not being experienced at all?

To this question it is usual to give a negative answer, and two
different _a priori_ reasons may be urged in favour of that answer.

The first is what should be meant by Berkeley's dictum that the _esse_
of sensibles is _percipi._ This should mean, whatever else it may mean,
at least this: that to suppose a sensible to exist and yet _not_ to
be experienced in self-contradictory. And this at least seems to me
to be clearly false. Anything which was a patch of colour would be a
sensible; and to suppose that there are patches of colour which are not
being experienced is clearly not self-contradictory, however false it
may be.

It may, however, be urged (and this is the second argument) that,
though to suppose a thing to be a sensible and _yet_ not experienced is
not self-contradictory, yet we can clearly see that nothing can have
the one property without having the other. And I do not see my way to
deny that we may be able to know, _a priori_ that such a connection
holds between two such properties. In the present case, however, I
cannot see that it does hold, and therefore, so far as _a priori_
reasons go, I conclude that there is no reason why sensibles should not
exist at times when they are not experienced.

It may, however, be asked: Is there any reason to suppose that they
ever do? And the reason, which weighs with me most, is one which
applies, I think, to a certain class of sensibles _only_; a class
which I will try to define by saying that it consists of those which
_would_ (under certain conditions which actually exist) be experienced
in a _sensation proper, if only_ a living body, having a certain
constitution, existed under those conditions in a position in which no
such body does actually exist. I think it is very probable that this
definition does not define at all accurately the kind of sensibles I
mean; but I think that what the definition aims at will become clearer
when I proceed to give my reasons for supposing that sensibles, of a
kind to be defined in _some_ such way, do exist unexperienced. The
reason is simply that, in Hume's phrase, I have "a strong propensity
to believe" that, _e.g.,_ the visual sensibles which I directly
apprehend in looking at this paper, still exist unchanged when I merely
alter the position of my body by turning away my head or closing my
eyes, _provided_ that the physical conditions outside my body remain
unchanged. In such a case it is certainly true in some sense that I
_should_ see sensibles like what I saw the moment before, _if only_
my head were still in the position it was at that moment or my eyes
unclosed. But if, in such a case, there is reason to think that
sensibles which I should see, if the position of my body were altered,
exist in spite of the fact that I do not experience them, there is,
I think, an equal reason to suppose it in other cases. We must, for
instance, suppose that the sensibles which I should see now, if I were
at the other end of the room, or if I were looking under the table,
exist at this moment, though they are not being experienced. And
similarly we must suppose that the sensibles which _you_ would see, if
you were in the position in which I am now, exist at this moment, in
spite of the fact that they may be more or less different from those
which I see, owing to the different constitution of our bodies. All
this implies of course, that a vast number of sensibles exist at any
moment, which are not being experienced at all. But still it implies
this only with regard to sensibles of a strictly limited class, namely
sensibles which would be experienced _in a sensation proper,_ if a
body, having a certain constitution, were in a position in which it is
not, under the given physical conditions. It does not, for instance,
imply that any _images,_ of which it may be true that I _should_
have them, under present physical conditions, if the position of my
body were altered, exist now; nor does it imply that sensibles which
_would_ be experienced by me now in a sensation proper, if the physical
conditions external to my body were different from what they are, exist
now.

I feel, of course, that I have only succeeded in defining miserably
vaguely the kind of sensibles I mean; and I do not know whether the
fact that I have a strong propensity to believe that sensibles of a
kind to be defined in some such way, do exist unexperienced, is any
good reason for supposing that they actually do. The belief may, of
course, be a mere prejudice. But I do not know of any certain test by
which prejudices can be distinguished from reasonable beliefs. And I
cannot help thinking that there may be a class of sensibles, capable
of definition in _some_ such way, which there really is reason to
think exist unexperienced.

But, if I am not mistaken, there is an empirical argument which,
though, even if it were sound, it would have no tendency whatever to
show that _no_ sensibles exist unexperienced, would, if it were sound,
show that this very class of sensibles, to which alone my argument for
unexperienced existence applies, certainly do not so exist. This, it
seems to me, is the most weighty argument which can be used upon the
subject; and I want, therefore, to give my reasons for thinking that it
is fallacious.

The argument is one which asserts that there is abundant empirical
evidence in favour of the view that the existence of the sensibles
which we experience at any time, always depends upon the condition of
our nervous system: so that, even where it also depends upon external
physical conditions, we can safely say that sensibles, which we should
have experienced, if only our nervous system had been in a different
condition, certainly do not exist, when it is not in that condition.
And the fallacy of this argument seems to me to lie in the fact that
it does not distinguish between the existence of the sensibles _which_
we experience and _the fact that we experience them._ What there _is_
evidence for is that _our experience_ of sensibles always depends upon
the condition of our nervous system; that, according as the condition
of the nervous system changes, different sensibles are _experienced_,
even where other conditions are the same. But obviously the fact that
our experience of a given sensible depends upon the condition of our
nervous system does not directly show that the existence of _the
sensible experienced_ always also so depends. The fact that I am now
experiencing this black mark is certainly a different fact from the
fact that this black mark now exists. And hence the evidence which
does tend to show that the former fact would not have existed if my
nervous system had been in a different condition, has no tendency to
show that the latter would not have done so either. I am sure that this
distinction ought to be made; and hence, though I think there may be
other reasons for thinking that the very existence of the sensibles,
which we experience, and not merely the fact that we experience them
_does_ always depend upon the condition of our nervous systems, it
seems to me certain that this particular argument constitutes no such
reason.

And I think that those who suppose that it does are apt to be
influenced by an assumption, for which also, so far as I can see,
there is no reason. I have admitted that the only reason I can see for
supposing that sensibles which we experience ever exist unexperienced,
seems to lead to the conclusion that the sensibles which would be seen
by a colour-blind man, if he occupied exactly the position which I, who
am not colour-blind, now occupy, exist now, just as much as those which
I now see. And it may be thought that this implies that the sensibles,
which he would see, and which would certainly be very different from
those which I see, are nevertheless at this moment in exactly the same
place as those which I see. Now, for my part, I am not prepared to
admit that it is impossible they should be in the same place. But the
assumption against which I wish to protest, is the assumption that,
if they exist at all, they _must_ be in the same place. I can see no
reason whatever for this assumption. And hence any difficulties there
may be in the way of supposing that they could be in the same place at
the same time as the sensibles which I see, do not at all apply to my
hypothesis, which is only that they exist _now, not_ that they exist
_in the same place_ in which mine do.

On this question, therefore, as to whether sensibles ever exist at
times when they are not experienced, I have only to say (1) that I
think there is certainly no good reason whatever for asserting that
_no_ sensibles do; and (2) that I think perhaps a certain amount of
weight ought to be attached to our instinctive belief that certain
kinds of sensibles do; and that here again any special arguments which
may be brought forward to show that, whether some sensibles exist
unexperienced or not, _this_ kind certainly do not, are, so far as I
can see, wholly inconclusive.



(II)


I now pass to the question how sensibles are related to physical
objects. And here I want to say, to begin with, that I feel extremely
puzzled about the whole subject. I find it extremely difficult to
distinguish clearly from one another the different considerations which
ought to be distinguished; and all I can do is to raise, more or less
vaguely, certain questions as to how certain _particular_ sensibles
are related to certain _particular_ physical objects, and to give
the reasons which seem to me to have most weight for answering these
questions in one way rather than another. I feel that all that I can
say is very tentative.

To begin with, I do not know how "physical object" is to be defined,
and I shall not try to define it. I shall, instead, consider certain
propositions, which everybody will admit to be propositions _about_
physical objects, and which I shall assume that I know to be true.
And the question I shall raise is as to how these propositions are to
be interpreted_--in what sense_ they are true; in considering which,
we shall at the same time consider how they are related to certain
sensibles.

I am looking at two coins, one of which is a half-crown, the other a
florin. Both are lying on the ground; and they are situated obliquely
to my line of sight, so that the visual sensibles which I directly
apprehend in looking at them are visibly elliptical, and not even
approximately circular. Moreover, the half-crown is so much farther
from me than the florin that _its_ visual sensible is visibly smaller
than that of the florin.

In these circumstances I am going to assume that I know the following
propositions to be true; and no one, I think, will deny that we can
know such propositions to be true, though, as we shall see, extremely
different views may be taken as to what they mean. I know (_a_) that,
in the ordinary sense of the word "see" I am _really seeing two coins;_
an assertion which includes, if it is not identical with, the assertion
that the visual experiences, which consist in my direct apprehension
of those two elliptical patches of colour, _are_ sensations proper,
and are not either hallucinations nor mere experiences of "images";
(_b_) that the upper sides of the coins are _really_ approximately
circular, and not merely elliptical like the visual sensibles; (_c_)
that the coins _have_ another side, and an inside, though I don't see
it; (_d_) that the upper side of the half-crown is really _larger_
than that of the florin, though its visual sensible is _smaller_ than
the visual sensible of the upper side of the florin: (_e_) that both
coins continue to exist, even when I turn away my head or shut my eyes;
but in saying this, I do not, of course, mean to say that there is
absolutely _no_ change in them; I daresay there must be _some_ change,
and I do not know how to define exactly what I do mean. But we can, I
think, say at least this: viz., that propositions (_h_), (_c_), and
(_d_) will still be true, although proposition (_a_) has ceased to be
true.

Now all these propositions are, I think, typical propositions of the
sort which we call propositions about physical objects; and the two
coins themselves _are_ physical objects, if anything is. My question
is: _In what sense_ are these propositions true?

And in considering this question, there are, I think, two principles
which we can lay down as certain to begin with; though they do not
carry us very far.

The one is (_a_) that the upper side of the coin, which I am said
to _see,_ is not simply identical with the visual sensible which I
_directly apprehend_ in seeing it. That this is so might be thought to
follow absolutely from each of the two facts which I have called (_b_)
and (_d_); but I am not quite sure that it does follow from either of
these or from both together: for it seems to me just possible that the
two sensibles in question, though _not_ circular _in my private space,_
may yet be circular in _physical_ space; and similarly that though the
sensible of the half-crown is smaller than that of the florin _in my
private space,_ it may be larger _in physical space._ But what I think
it does follow from is the fact that another person may be seeing the
upper side of the coin in exactly the same sense in which I am seeing
it, and yet his sensible be certainly different from mine. From this it
follows absolutely that the upper side of the coin cannot be identical
with _both_ sensibles, since they are _not_ identical with one another.
And though it does not follow absolutely that it may not be identical
with _one_ of the two, yet it does follow that we _can_ get a case in
which it is not identical with _mine_ and I need only assume that the
case I am taking is such a case.

From this it follows that we must distinguish that sense of the word
"see" in which we can be said to "see" a physical object, from that
sense of the word in which "see" means merely to directly apprehend
a visual sensible. In a proposition of the form "I see A," where A
is a name or description of some physical object, though, if this
proposition is to be true, there must be some visual sensible, B,
which I am directly apprehending, yet the proposition "I see A" is
certainly not always, and probably never, identical in meaning with the
proposition "I directly apprehend B." In asserting "I see A" we are
asserting not only that we directly apprehend some sensible but also
something else about this sensible--it may be only some proposition of
the form, "and this sensible has certain other properties," or it may
be some proposition of the form "and _I know_ this sensible to have
certain other properties." Indeed we have not only to distinguish that
sense of the word "perceive" in which it is equivalent to "directly
apprehend," from _one_ sense in which we can be said to perceive a
physical object; we have also to distinguish at least two different
senses in which we can be said to perceive physical objects, different
both from one another and from "directly apprehend." For it is obvious
that though I should be said to be now seeing _the half-crown_, there
is a narrower, and more proper, sense, in which I can only be said
to _see_ one side of it_--not_ its lower side or its inside, and not
therefore the whole half-crown.

The other principle, which we can lay down to start with is (_β_) that
my knowledge of all the five propositions (_a_) to (_e_), is based,
in the last resort, on experiences of mine consisting in the direct
apprehension of sensibles and in the perception of relations between
directly apprehended sensibles. It is _based_ on these, in at least
this sense, that I should never have known any of these propositions
if I had never directly apprehended any sensibles nor perceived any
relations between them.

What, in view of these two principles, can be the sense in which my
five propositions are true?

(1) It seems to me possible that the only _true_ interpretation which
can be given to any of them is an interpretation of a kind which I
can only indicate rather vaguely as follows: Namely, that all of them
express only a kind of fact which we should naturally express by saying
that, _if_ certain conditions were fulfilled, I or some other person,
_should_ directly apprehend certain other sensibles. For instance
the only _true_ thing that can be meant by saying that I really see
_coins_ may be some such thing as that, _if_ I were to move my body in
certain ways, I should directly apprehend _other_ sensibles, _e.g._
tactual ones, which I should not directly apprehend as a consequence
of these movements, if these present visual experiences of mine were
mere hallucinations or experiences of "images." Again, the only true
thing that can be meant by saying that the upper sides of the coins
are _really_ approximately circular may be some such thing as that,
_if_ I were looking straight at them, I should directly apprehend
circular sensibles. And similarly, the only true interpretation of
(_c_) may be some such fact as that, _if_ I were to turn the coins
over, or break them up, I _should_ have certain sensations, of a sort I
can imagine very well; of (_d_) that _if_ I were at an equal distance
from the half-crown and the florin, the sensible, I should then see
corresponding to the half-crown would be bigger than that corresponding
to the florin, whereas it is now smaller; of (_e_) that, _if,_ when
my eyes were closed, they had been open instead, I should have seen
certain sensibles.

It is obvious, indeed, that if any interpretation on these lines _is_
the only true interpretation of our five propositions, none of those
which I have vaguely suggested comes anywhere near to expressing it in
its ultimate form. They cannot do so for the simple reason that, in
them, the conditions under which I _should_ experience certain other
sensibles are themselves expressed in terms of _physical objects,_ and
not in terms of sensibles and our experience of them. The conditions
are expressed in such terms as "if I were to move my body," "if I
were to look straight at the coins," "if I were to turn the coins
over," etc.; and all these are obviously propositions, which must
themselves again be interpreted in terms of sensibles, if our original
five propositions need to be so. It is obvious, therefore, that any
_ultimate_ interpretation of our five propositions, on these lines,
would be immensely complicated; and I cannot come anywhere near to
stating exactly what it would be. But it seems to me possible that
_some_ such interpretation could be found, and that it is the _only_
true one.

The great recommendation of this view seems to me to be that it enables
us to see, more clearly than any other view can, how our knowledge of
physical propositions can be based on our experience of sensibles, in
the way in which principle (_β_) asserts it to be. If, when I know
that the coins are round, all that I know is some such thing as that
if, after experiencing the sensibles I do now experience, I were to
experience still others, I should finally experience a third set, we
can understand, as clearly as we can understand how any knowledge can
be obtained by induction at all, how such a knowledge could be based on
our previous experience of sensibles, and how it could be verified by
our subsequent experience.

On the other hand, apart from the difficulty of actually giving any
interpretation on these lines, which will meet the requirements,
the great objection to it seems to me to be this. It is obvious
that, on this view, though we shall still be allowed to say that the
coins _existed_ before I saw them, are _circular_ etc., all these
expressions, if they are to be true, will have to be understood in a
Pickwickian sense. When I know that the coins existed before I saw
them, what I know will not be that anything whatever existed at that
time, in the sense in which those elliptical patches of colour exist
now. _All_ that I know will be simply that, since the elliptical
patches exist now, it is true, that, _if_ certain unrealised conditions
had been realised, I should have had certain sensations that I have
not had; or, _if_ certain conditions, which may or may not be realised
in the future, were to be so, I _should_ have certain experiences.
Something like this will actually be the _only true_ thing that can
be meant by saying that the coins existed before I saw them. In
other words, to say of a _physical object_ that it _existed_ at a
given time will always consist merely in saying of some sensible,
_not_ that _it_ existed at the time in question, but something quite
different and immensely complicated. And thus, though, when I know that
the coins exist, what I know will be merely some proposition about
these sensibles which I am directly apprehending, yet this view will
not contradict principle (_a_) by _identifying_ the coins with the
sensibles. For it will say that to assert a given thing of the _coins_
is not equivalent to asserting the _same thing_ of the sensibles, but
only to asserting of them something quite different.

The fact that these assertions that the coins exist, are round, etc.,
will, on this view, only be true in this outrageously Pickwickian
sense, seems to me to constitute the great objection to it. But it
seems to me to be an objection only, so far as I can see, because I
have a "strong propensity to believe" that, when I know that the coins
existed before I saw them, _what_ I know is that something existed at
that time, in the very same sense in which those elliptical patches now
exist. And, of course, this belief _may_ be a mere prejudice. It _may_
be that when I believe that I _now_ have, in my body, blood and nerves
and brain, _what_ I believe is only true, if it does _not_ assert, in
the proper sense of the word "existence," the _present_ existence of
anything whatever, other than sensibles which I directly apprehend, but
only makes assertions as to the kind of experiences a doctor _would_
have, if he dissected me. But I cannot feel at all sure that my belief,
that, when I know of the present Existence of these things (as I think
I do), I am knowing of the present existence (in the proper sense) of
things other than any sensibles which I or any one else am now directly
apprehending, is a mere prejudice. And therefore I think it is worth
while to consider what, if it is not, these things, of whose existence
I know, can be.

(2) It is certain that if, when I know that that half-crown existed
before I saw it, I am knowing that something existed at that time
in other than a Pickwickian sense, I only know this something _by
description_; and it seems pretty clear that the description by
which I know it is as _the_ thing which has a certain connection
with this sensible which I am now directly apprehending. But _what_
connection? We cannot simply say, as many people have said, that by
"that half-crown" I mean _the_ thing which _caused_ my experience of
this sensible; because events which happen between the half-crown and
my eyes, and events in my eyes, and optic nerves, and brains are just
as much _causes_ of my experiences as the half-crown itself. But it
may perhaps be the case that the half-crown has some particular _kind_
of causal relation to my experience, which these other events have not
got--a kind which may be expressed, perhaps, by saying that it is its
"source." And hence, when I know that that half-crown is circular, I
may perhaps be knowing that the _source_ of this experience is circular.

But what sort of a thing can this "source" be?

One kind of view, which I think is very commonly held, is that it is
something "spiritual" in its nature, or something whose nature is
utterly unknown to us. And those who hold this view are apt to add,
that it is not really "circular," in any sense at all; nor is the
"source" of my half-crown experience, in any sense at all, "bigger"
than that of my florin experience. But if this addition were seriously
meant, it would, of course, amount to saying that propositions (_b_)
and (_d_) are not true, in any sense at all; and I do not think
that those who make it, really mean to say this. I think that what
they mean is only that the only sense in which those "sources" are
circular, and one bigger than the other, is one in which to say this
merely amounts to saying that the sensibles, which they _would_ cause
us to experience, under certain conditions, _would_ be circular, and
one bigger than the other. In other words, in order to give a true
interpretation to the propositions that the coins are circular and one
bigger than the other, they say that we must interpret them in the same
kind of way in which view (1) interpreted them; and the only difference
between their view and view (1), is that, whereas _that_ said that you
must give a Pickwickian interpretation _both_ to the assertion that the
coins _exist, and_ to the assertion that they are _circular_, they say
that you must _not_ give it to the former assertion, and must to the
latter.

To this view my objection is only that any reason there may be for
saying that the "sources" exist in other than a Pickwickian sense,
seems to me to be also a reason for saying that they are "circular" in
a sense that is not Pickwickian. I have just as strong a propensity to
believe that they are really circular, in a simple and natural sense,
as that they exist in such a sense: and I know of no better reason for
believing either.

(3) It may be suggested, next, that these "sources," instead of being
something spiritual in their nature or something of a nature utterly
unknown, consist simply of sensibles, of a kind which I have previously
tried to define; namely of all those sensibles, which anybody _would,_
under the actual physical conditions, experience in _sensations proper_
of which the half-crown and the florin were the source, _if_ their
bodies were in any of the positions relatively to those coins, in which
they would get sensations from them at all. We saw before that it seems
_possible_ that all these sensibles do really exist at times when they
are not experienced, and that some people, at all events, seem to have
a strong propensity to believe that they do. And in favour of the view
that some such huge collection of sensibles _is_ the upper side of the
half-crown, is the fact that we do seem to have a strong propensity
to believe that any particular sensible, which we directly apprehend
in looking at the upper side of the half-crown, and of our direct
apprehension of which the upper side is the source, is _in the place_
in which the upper side is. And that _some_ sense might be given to
the expression "in the same place as," in which it could be true that
sensibles of all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and of all sorts
of different colours, were in the same place at the same time, seems to
me to be possible. But the objection to this view seems to me to be the
same as to the last; namely that if the upper side of the half-crown
were identical with such a collection of sensibles, then the only sense
in which it could be said to be "circular," or bigger than that of the
florin, would certainly be very Pickwickian, though not the same as on
that view.

(4) If, for the reasons given, we reject both (1), (2), and (3) as
interpretations of our five propositions, the only alternative I
can think of that remains, is one which is roughly identical, so far
as I can see, with Locke's view. It is a view which asserts that the
half-crown and the florin really did exist (in the natural sense)
before I saw them; that they really are approximately circular (again
in the natural sense); that, therefore, they are not composed of
sensibles which I or others should directly apprehend under other
conditions; and that therefore also neither these sensibles (even if
such do now exist) nor those which I am now directly apprehending are
in the place in which the coins are. It holds, therefore, that the
coins do really _resemble_ some sensibles, in respect of the "primary"
qualities which these have; that they really are round, and one larger
than the other, in much the same sense in which some sensibles are
round and some larger than others. But it holds also that no sensibles
which we ever do directly apprehend, or should directly apprehend, if
at a given time we were in other positions, are _parts_ of those coins;
and that, therefore, there is no reason to suppose that any parts of
the coins have any of the "secondary qualities"--colour, etc.--which
any of these sensibles have.

On this view, it is plain, there is nothing to prevent us from holding
that, as suggested in I (3), all sorts of unexperienced sensibles do
exist. We are only prevented from holding that, if they do, those which
have the same source all exist in the _same place_ as their source.
And the natural view to take as to the status of sensibles generally,
relatively to physical objects, would be that none of them, whether
experienced or not, were ever in the same place as any physical object.
That none, therefore, exist "anywhere" in physical space; while, at the
same time, we can also say, as argued in I (2), that none exist "in the
mind," except in the sense that some are directly apprehended by some
minds. And the only thing that would need to be added, is that some,
and some only, _resemble_ the physical objects which are their source,
in respect of their shape.

To this view I can see no objection except the serious one that it
is difficult to answer the questions: How can I ever come to know
that these sensibles have a "source" at all? And how do I know that
these "sources" are circular? It would seem that, if I do know these
things at all, I must know _immediately_, in the case of _some_
sensibles, both that they have a source and what the shape of this
source is. And to this it may be objected that this is a kind of thing
which I certainly cannot know immediately. The argument in favour
of an interpretation of type (i) seems to me to rest wholly on the
assumption that there are only certain kinds of facts which I can know
immediately; and hence that if I believe I know a fact, which is not of
this kind, and which also I cannot have learnt immediately, my belief
must be a mere prejudice. But I do not know how it can be shown that an
assertion of the form: Facts of certain kinds are the only ones you can
know immediately; is itself not a prejudice. I do not think, therefore,
that the fact that, if this last view were true, we should have to
admit that we know immediately facts of a kind which many people think
we cannot know immediately, is a conclusive objection to it.



THE CONCEPTION OF REALITY


The fourth chapter of Mr. Bradley's _Appearance and Reality_ is a
chapter headed "Space and Time," and he begins the chapter as follows:--

"The object of this chapter is far from being an attempt to discuss
fully the nature of space or of time. It will content itself with
stating our main justification for regarding them as appearances. It
will explain why we deny that, _in the character which they exhibit_,
they either _have_ or _belong_ to reality."[1]

Here, it will be seen, Mr. Bradley states that, in his opinion, Time,
_in a certain character_, neither has nor belongs to reality; this is
the conclusion he wishes to maintain. And to say that Time _has not_
reality would seem to be plainly equivalent to saying that Time _is
not_ real. However, if anybody should doubt whether the two phrases
are meant to be equivalent, the doubt may be easily set at rest by
a reference to the concluding words of the same chapter, where Mr.
Bradley uses the following very emphatic expression: "Time," he says,
"like space, has most evidently proved _not to be real,_ but to be a
contradictory appearance" (p. 43). Mr. Bradley does, then, say here,
in so many words, that Time _is not_ real. But there is one other
difference between this statement at the end of the chapter, and the
statement at the beginning of it, which we must not forget to notice.
In the statement at the beginning he carefully qualifies the assertion
"Time neither has nor belongs to reality" by saying "Time, _in the
character which it exhibits,_ neither has nor belongs to reality,"
whereas in the final statement this qualification is not inserted;
here he says simply "Time is not real." This qualification, which is
inserted in the one place and omitted in the other, might, of course,
be meant to imply that, in some _other_ character--some character which
it does _not_ exhibit--Time _has_ reality and does belong to it. And I
shall presently have something to say about this distinction between
Time in one character and Time in another, because it might be thought
that this distinction is the explanation of the difficulty as to Mr.
Bradley's meaning, which I am going to point out.

However, so far it is clear that Mr. Bradley holds that _in some
sense,_ at all events, the whole proposition "Time is not real" can be
truly asserted. And, now, I want to quote a passage in which he says
things which, at first sight, seem difficult to reconcile with this
view. This new passage is a passage in which he is not talking of Time
in particular, but of "appearances" in general. But, as we have seen,
he does regard Time as one among appearances, and I think there is no
doubt that what he here declares to be true of all appearances is meant
to be true of Time, among the rest. This new passage is as follows:--

"For the present," he says,[2] "we may keep a fast hold upon this,
that appearances _exist._ That is absolutely certain, and to deny it
is nonsense. And whatever exists must _belong to reality._ This is
also quite certain, and its denial once more is self-contradictory.
Our appearances, no doubt, may be a beggarly show, and their nature to
an unknown extent may be something which, _as it is,_ is _not_ true
of reality. That is one thing, and it is quite another thing to speak
as if these facts had no actual existence, or as if there could be
anything but reality to which they might belong. And I must venture to
repeat that such an idea would be sheer nonsense. What appears, for
that sole reason, most indubitably _is;_ and there is no possibility of
conjuring its being away from it."

That is the passage which seems to me to raise a difficulty as to his
meaning when contrasted with the former passage. And the reason why it
seems to me to raise one is this. In the former passage Mr. Bradley
declared most emphatically that Time is not real; he said: "Time has
_most evidently_ proved not to be real." Whereas in this one he seems
to declare equally emphatically that Time _does_ exist, and _is._ And
his language here again is as strong as possible. He says it is sheer
nonsense to suppose that Time does _not_ exist, is _not_ a fact, does
_not_ belong to reality. It looks, therefore, as if he meant to make
a distinction between "being real" on the one hand, and "existing,"
"being a fact," and "being" on the other hand--as if he meant to say
that a thing may exist, and be, and be a fact, and yet _not_ be real.
And I think there is, at all events, some superficial difficulty in
understanding this distinction. We might naturally think that to say
"Time exists, is a fact, and is," is equivalent to saying that it is
real. What more, we might ask, can a man who says that Time _is_ real
mean to maintain about it than that it exists, is a fact, and is? All
that most people would mean by saying that time is real could, it would
seem, be expressed by saying "There is such a thing as Time." And it
might, therefore, appear from this new passage as if Mr. Bradley fully
agreed with the view that most people would express by saying "Time is
real"--as if he did not at all mean to contradict anything that most
people believe about Time. But, if so, then what are we to make of his
former assertion that, nevertheless, Time is _not_ real? He evidently
thinks that, in asserting this, he is asserting something which is
_not_ mere nonsense; and he certainly would not have chosen this way of
expressing what he means, unless he had supposed that what he is here
asserting about Time is incompatible with what people _often_ mean when
they say "Time is real." Yet, we have seen that he thinks that what he
is asserting is _not_ incompatible with the assertions that Time is,
and is a fact, and exists. He must, therefore, think that when people
say "Time is real" they often, at least, mean something _more_ than
merely that there _is_ such a thing as Time, something therefore, which
may be denied, without denying this. All the same, there is, I think, a
real difficulty in seeing that they ever _do_ mean anything more, and,
_if_ they do, what more it is that they can mean.

The two expressions "There _is_ such a thing as so and so" and "So
and so is real" are certainly sometimes and quite naturally used as
equivalents, even if they are not always so used. And Mr. Bradley's own
language implies that this is so. For, as we have seen, in the first
passage, he seems to identify belonging to reality with being real.
The conclusion which he expresses in one place by saying that Time
does not belong to reality he expresses in another by saying that it
is not real; whereas in the second passage he seems to identify the
meaning of the same phrase "belonging to reality" with _existing;_
he says that whatever exists must belong to reality, and that it is
self-contradictory to deny this. But if both being real and existing
are identical with belonging to reality, it would seem they must be
identical with one another. And, indeed, in another passage in the
Appendix to the 2nd Edition (p. 555) we find Mr. Bradley actually using
the following words: "Anything," he says, "that in any sense _is,_
qualifies the absolute reality and so is real." Moreover, as we have
seen, he declares it to be nonsense to deny that Time _is_; he must,
therefore, allow that, _in a sense,_ at all events, it is nonsense to
deny that Time is real. And yet this denial is the very one he has
made. Mr. Bradley, therefore, does seem himself to allow that the word
"real" may, _sometimes_ at all events, be properly used as equivalent
to the words "exists," "is a fact," "is." And yet his two assertions
cannot both be true, unless there is _some_ sense in which the whole
proposition "Time is real" is _not_ equivalent to and cannot be
inferred from "Time is," or "Time exists," or "Time is a fact."

It seems, then, pretty clear that Mr. Bradley must be holding that the
statement "Time is real" is in _one_ sense, _not_ equivalent to "Time
exists"; though he admits that, in _another_ sense, it is. And I will
only quote one other passage which seems to make this plain.

"If," he says later on (p. 206) "Time is not unreal, I admit that our
Absolute is a delusion; but, on the other side, it will be urged that
time cannot be mere appearance. The change in the finite subject, we
are told, is a matter of direct experience; it is a fact, and hence it
cannot be explained away. And so much of course is indubitable. Change
is a fact and, further, _this fact, as such,_ is _not_ reconcilable
with the Absolute. And, if we could not in any way perceive how _the
fact_ can be _unreal,_ we should be placed, I admit, in a hopeless
dilemma.... But our real position is very different from this. For time
has been shown to contradict itself, and so to be appearance. With
this, its discord, we see at once, may pass as an element into a wider
harmony. And with this, the _appeal to fact_ at once becomes worthless."

"It is mere superstition to suppose that an appeal to experience can
prove _reality._ That I find something in existence in the world or in
my self, shows that this something _exists_, and it cannot show _more._
Any deliverance of consciousness--whether original or acquired--is
but a deliverance of consciousness. It is in no case an oracle and a
revelation which we have to accept as it is a fact, like other facts,
to be dealt with; and there is no presumption anywhere that any _fact_
is better than appearance."

Here Mr. Bradley seems plainly to imply that to be "real" is something
_more_ and other than to be a fact or to exist. This is the distinction
which I think he means to make, and which, I think, is the real
explanation of his puzzling language, and this is the distinction which
I am going presently to discuss. But I want first to say something
as to that other distinction, which I said might be supposed to be
the explanation of the whole difficulty--the distinction implied by
the qualification "Time, _in the character which it exhibits_"; the
suggestion that, when we talk of "Time," we may sometimes mean Time in
one character, sometimes in another, and that what is true of it in the
one character may not be true of it in the other. It might, I think, be
suggested that this is the explanation of the whole difficulty. And I
want briefly to point out why I think it cannot be the only explanation.

Stated very badly and crudely, the difficulty which requires
explanation is this: Mr. Bradley says, "It is sheer nonsense to say
Time is not real." But this thing which he says it is sheer nonsense
to say is the very thing which he himself had formerly said. He had
said, "Time has most evidently proved not to be real." Now, Mr. Bradley
certainly does not mean to say that this proposition of his own is
sheer nonsense; and yet he says, in words, that it _is_ sheer nonsense.
This is the difficulty. What is the explanation? Quite obviously,
the explanation can only take one possible form. Mr. Bradley must be
holding that the words "Time is real" may have two different _senses._
In one sense, the denial of them is sheer nonsense; in the other sense,
so far from being sheer nonsense, denial of them is, according to him,
evidently true. Now, what are these two different senses, between
which the difference is so enormous? It is here that the two different
explanations come in.

The first and, as I think, the wrong explanation (though I think Mr.
Bradley's words do give some colour to it) is this. It might be said:
"The whole business is perfectly easy to explain. When Mr. Bradley
says that Time is _not_ real, what he means is that Time, _in the
character which it exhibits,_ is not real. Whereas, when he says, Time
does exist, is a fact, and is, and that it is nonsense to deny this,
what he means is that Time does exist, _in some other character_--some
character _other_ than that which it exhibits. He does _not_ mean to
make any distinction, such as you suppose, between two meanings of
the word I real '--the one of them merely equivalent to 'exists,'
'is,' 'is a fact,' and the other meaning something very different from
this. The only distinction he means to make is a distinction between
_two_ meanings of 'Time' or of the whole sentence 'Time is real.' He
distinguishes between the meaning of this sentence, when it means,
'Time in the character which it exhibits, is real,' which meaning, he
says, is evidently false; and its meaning when it means, 'Time in _some
other_ character, is real,' and this meaning, he says, is evidently
true. This is the complete explanation of your supposed puzzle, which
is, in fact, therefore, very easy to solve."

This, I think, might be offered as an explanation of Mr. Bradley's
meaning. And it must be admitted that it _would_ furnish a complete
explanation of the particular puzzle I have just stated, it would
completely absolve Mr. Bradley from the charge of inconsistency; and
would show that where he appears to contradict himself about the
reality of Time, the contradiction is verbal only and not real. We
might, indeed, object to this distinction between Time in one character
and Time in another; on the ground that anything which has not got the
character which Time exhibits, but only some _other_ character, ought
not to be called Time at all. We are, indeed, perfectly familiar with
the conception that one and the same thing may _at one time_ possess a
character which it does _not_ possess at another, so that what is true
of it at one time may not be true of it at another. We are, that is,
familiar with the idea of a thing _changing_ its character. But Time
itself as a whole obviously cannot change its character in this sense.
Mr. Bradley cannot mean to say that it possesses the character "which
it exhibits" and in which it is unreal _at one time,_ and possesses
some other character, in which it is real, at _some other time._ And
hence we might say it is certainly wrong to speak as if Time itself
could have two incompatible characters; since nothing can have two
incompatible characters, unless it has them _at different times._ And
this is an objection which does seem to apply to Mr. Bradley's doctrine
in any case, since he does in any case seem to imply this distinction
between Time in one character and Time in another, whether this
distinction is the complete explanation of our particular puzzle or
not. Yet this objection would not necessarily be more than an objection
to Mr. Bradley's words; it would not necessarily be an objection to
his meaning. Where he seems to imply that Time, in some character
other than that which it exhibits, may be fully real, he may only mean
that something completely different from Time, but which does in some
sense correspond to it, is fully real; and if he does mean this, our
objection would only amount to an objection to his giving the name of
"Time" to this supposed counterpart of Time; we might say, and I think
justly, that it is misleading to speak of this counterpart of Time as
if it were Time itself in some other character; but this would go no
way at all to show that there may not really be such a counterpart of
Time, which _is_ real, while Time itself is unreal. We might ask, too,
what this supposed counterpart of Time is like, or (to put it in Mr.
Bradley's way) what the precise character is, in which Time Areal? And
I think Mr. Bradley would admit that he cannot tell us. But this, you
see, would also be no objection to his actual doctrine. He might quite
well know, and be right in saying, that there is and must be a real
_counterpart_ of Time, completely different in character from Time, as
we know it, even though he has not the least idea what this counterpart
is like.

We must, therefore, admit that this proposed explanation of our puzzle
would be a complete explanation of it. It would completely vindicate
Mr. Bradley from the charge of inconsistency, and would give us, as
his doctrine, a doctrine to which we have hitherto found no objection
except verbal ones.

But, nevertheless, I think it is a wrong explanation, and I want to
explain why. If we were to suppose that this distinction between Time
in one character and Time in another were the only one on which Mr.
Bradley meant to rely, we should have as his doctrine this: We should
have to suppose him to affirm most emphatically that Time, in the
character which it exhibits, neither is real, _nor_ exists, _nor_ is
a fact, _nor_ is. We should have to suppose him to be using all these
four expressions always as strict equivalents, and to mean that it
is _only_ in its other character that Time either exists, or is a
fact, or is. And if he did mean this, there would, of course, be no
doubt whatever that he does mean to contradict the common view with
regard to Time; since, of course, what most people mean by "Time" is
what he chooses to call "Time in the character which it exhibits."
Yet, his language, even in the passages that I quoted, seems to me
to indicate that he does not mean this. I think, on the contrary,
he means to affirm emphatically that Time _even_ in the character
which it exhibits, does exist, _is_ a fact, and indubitably _is,_
though it is _not_ real in that character. In the second passage, for
instance, where he insists so emphatically that appearances do exist,
are facts, and indubitably _are,_ he is, I think, plainly talking of
appearances, in the character which they exhibit--or, as he there puts
it, their nature, _as it is_--he does, I think, mean that appearances,
even in this character, are facts, exist, and are, though, in this
character, they are not "true of reality." And, so again in the third
passage, where he says, Change _is_ a fact, and this fact, _as such,_
is not reconcilable with the Absolute; this language is surely quite
inexcusable, unless he means that Change, as such--change, in the
_character which it exhibits_--change, _as it is, is_ a fact: though,
of course, he holds that _in_ this character it certainly is not real.
I think, therefore, we have to assume that Mr. Bradley means to make
a distinction not merely between Time, in one character, and Time in
another, but also between "real," in one sense, and "real" in another.
His meaning is not so simple as it would be, if he were merely making
a distinction between Time in one character and Time in another, and
it is not, after all, at all plain whether he means to contradict what
ordinary people hold about Time or not. He does not mean to assert that
Time, _as such, neither_ is real, _nor_ exists, _nor_ is a fact, _nor_
is; but, on the contrary, that Time, even _as such,_ does exist, _is_
a fact, and _is_; _but,_ nevertheless, is not real. This, at least,
is what I am going to assume him to mean. And on this assumption, we
are brought face to face with the question as to the meaning of the
word "real," and also as to the meaning of these other words "exists,"
"is a fact," and "is." Mr. Bradley seems to admit, we have seen, that
"real" may _sometimes_ be properly used as _merely_ equivalent to
these other phrases. We are, however, now supposing that he also holds
that in another sense they are not equivalent, but that "real" means
something more than the others, so that it is quite consistent to
maintain that Time is _not_ "real," and yet _does_ exist, is a fact,
and is. In holding this I think he is mistaken; and what I want to do
is to explain, as clearly as I can, what sort of a mistake I take him
to be making, and what seems to me to be the source of this mistake. I
may, perhaps, be quite wrong in thinking that Mr Bradley has made this
mistake, and that it is in any degree the source of the distinction he
seems to draw between "reality" and "existence." To maintain that it is
so is no part of my main object. My main object is simply to make clear
the nature of this particular mistake, whether committed by Mr. Bradley
or not, and that it is a mistake; because it seems to me that it is a
mistake which it is very easy to make, and very important to avoid. I
am, of course, not concerned at all to discuss the question whether
Time _is_ real or not, but only to discuss the question what sort of
things would have to be true, if it were unreal, and whether if those
things were true it could still be true that Time either exists, or is,
or is a fact.

Now, to begin with, I think I know pretty well, in part at least, what
Mr. Bradley means when he says that it is unreal. I think that part
at least of what he means is just what he _ought_ to mean--just what
anyone else would mean if he said that Time was unreal, and what any
ordinary person would understand to be meant, if he heard those words.
But I can conceive that, when I have explained as well as I can what
this is that he _ought_ to mean, some people may be inclined to dispute
whether he means any such thing at all. They may say that he is using
the word "real" exclusively in some highly unusual and special sense,
so that in asserting that "Time is unreal" he is by no means denying
any part of what ordinary people would mean by saying that "Time is
real." And that some special sense may _come in_ to his meaning I
am prepared to admit. I do think it is possible that _part_ of what
Mr. Bradley is asserting may be something which no unsophisticated
person would think of expressing in the same way, and I will admit,
therefore, that he does not, very likely, mean by "Time is unreal"
_merely_ what other people would mean by this phrase, but something
else _as well._ What, however, I cannot help thinking is that, even
if he means something more, he _does_ mean what ordinary people would
mean _as well_: that what they would mean is at least a _part_ of his
meaning. And if even this is disputed, if it is maintained that he is
using the words _exclusively_ in some special sense, I own I do not
know how to argue the question. If anybody really does take the view
that, when he says "Time is unreal," absolutely all that he means is
something which is in no way incompatible with what most people would
mean by saying "Time is real," I do not know how to show that this view
is wrong. I can only say that if this _had_ been all that he meant,
I cannot believe that he would have expressed his view in the form
"Time is unreal." The only further argument I shall bring in favour
of my view that he does mean what he ought to mean will take the form
of an answer to one possible argument which might be brought against
it. When I nave explained what he _ought_ to mean by saying that "Time
is unreal," it will be quite clear that this is something which is in
fact incompatible with the truth of the propositions that Time _is,_
or _exists,_ or _is a fact._ And it might be urged that the fact that
it is thus incompatible is a strong argument against the view that
Mr. Bradley does mean what he _ought_ to mean, since, if he had meant
it, he could hardly have failed to perceive that what he meant _was_
inconsistent with these propositions, whereas, as we have seen, he
certainly does not perceive this. I have an answer to that argument,
which consists in giving an explanation, which I think a plausible
one, as to how he could come to think that the propositions are _not_
inconsistent, when in fact they are.

What, then, _ought_ Mr. Bradley to mean by "Time is unreal"? What
would most people mean by this proposition? I do not think there is
much difficulty in discovering what sort of thing they would mean by
it. Of course, Time, with a big T, seems to be a highly abstract kind
of entity, and to define _exactly_ what can be meant by saying of an
entity of that sort that it is unreal does seem to offer difficulties.
But if you try to translate the proposition into the concrete, and to
ask what it _implies,_ there is, I think, very little doubt as to the
sort of thing it implies. The moment you try to do this, and think what
it really comes to, you at once begin thinking of a number of different
_kinds_ of propositions, all of which plainly must be untrue, if Time
is unreal. If Time is unreal, then plainly nothing ever happens before
or after anything else; nothing is ever simultaneous with anything
else; it is never true that anything is past; never true that anything
will happen in the future; never true that anything is happening now;
and so on. You can at once think of a considerable number of kinds of
propositions (and you could easily add to the list), the falsehood of
all of which is plainly implied by saying that Time is unreal. And it
is clear, also, that to say that the falsehood of all propositions of
these kinds is implied is equivalent to saying that there are no facts
of certain corresponding kinds--no facts which consist in one event
happening before another; none which consist in an event being past or
future, and so on. That is to say, what "Time is unreal" implies is
that, in the case of a large number of different _properties_ which
are such that, if they _did_ belong to anything, what they belonged
to would be facts having some common characteristic, which we might
express by calling them "temporal facts," the properties in question
do, in fact, belong to nothing. It implies that the property of being a
fact which consists in one event following another belongs to nothing;
that that of being a past event belongs to nothing, and so on. And
why it implies that all those different special properties belong to
nothing is, I think we may say, because what it _means_ is that the
general property which I have called that of being a "temporal fact"
belongs to nothing. To say that the property of being a temporal fact
belongs to nothing _does imply_ that such special properties as that
of being a fact which consists in one event following another, or that
of being a fact which consists in something being past, also belong to
nothing; in exactly the same way as to say that the property of being
"coloured" belongs to nothing _implies_ with regard to the special
properties "being red," "being blue," etc., that they also belong to
nothing. We may, then, I think, say that what "Time is unreal" _means_
is simply "The property of being a temporal fact belongs to nothing,"
or, to express this in the way in which it would be expressed in
ordinary life, "There _are_ no temporal facts." And this being so, we
have explained the usage of "unreal," where it is predicated of Time
with a capital T, by reference to a much more common and perfectly
familiar usage of the term. The use of "is unreal" in the phrase "Time
is unreal" has been defined by reference to its use in the phrase
"Temporal facts are unreal." And its use in this phrase is, so far as
I can see, exactly the same as in hosts of phrases with which we are
perfectly familiar; it is, I think, _the_ commonest and by far the most
important use of the term "unreal." The use is that in which we use it
when we say, "Unicorns are unreal," "Griffins are unreal," "Chimæras
are unreal," and so on. It is the usage in which unreal is equivalent
to "imaginary"; and in which to say "Unicorns are unreal" means the
same as "There are no unicorns" or "Unicorns do not exist." In just
the same way the proposition "Temporal facts are unreal," into which
we have translated "Time is unreal," means the same as "There are no
temporal facts," or "Temporal facts do not exist," or "Temporal facts
are imaginary."

I think, then, that what Mr. Bradley _ought_ to mean by "Time is
unreal" can be defined by reference to one particular usage of the word
"real" --or, if you like to put it that way, to one particular one
among the conceptions for which the term "reality" may stand. And this
particular conception seems to me to be by far the commonest and most
important of those for which the term does stand. I want, therefore,
before going on, to dwell a little upon its nature; although I daresay
that all that I have to say is perfectly familiar and perfectly well
understood by every one here. Of course, it has often been said before,
but I think it is still very far from being generally understood.

I think, perhaps, the point I want to insist on can be brought out in
this way. I have just said that we have pointed out one particular
one, and that the most important, among the conceptions for which the
term "reality" may stand; and that is an excusable way of saying what
we have done. But it would, I think, be more correct to say that we
have pointed out one particular, and that the most important, usage
of the terms "real" and "unreal," and that one of the peculiarities
of this usage is that it is such that the terms "real" and "unreal"
cannot, when used in this way, be properly said to stand for any
conception whatever. I will try to explain what I mean. We have said
that what "Lions are real" _means_ is that some particular property or
other--I will say, for the sake of brevity, _the_ property of being
a lion, though that is not strictly accurate, does In fact _belong
to_ some-thing--that there are things which have it, or, to put it
in another way, that the conception of being a lion is a conception
which does apply to some things--that there are things which _fall
under_ it. And similarly what "Unicorns are _unreal"_ means is that the
property of being a unicorn belongs to _nothing_. Now, if this is so,
then it seems to me, in a very important sense, "real" and "unreal"
do _not_ in this usage stand for any conceptions at all. The only
_conceptions_ which occur in the proposition "Lions are real" are, on
this interpretation, plainly, (1) the conception of being a lion, and
(2) the conception of belonging to something, and perfectly obviously
"real" does not stand for either of these. In the case of the first
that is obvious; but it is worth while pointing out that it is also
true of the second.

For if "is real" did stand for "belongs to something," then the
proposition "Lions are real" would stand, not for the assertion
that the property of "being a lion" belongs to something, but for
the assertion that lions themselves _are properties which belong to
something_; and it is quite obvious that what we mean to assert is
not any such nonsense as this. "Real," therefore, does not, in this
proposition, stand for the conception of "belonging to something" nor
yet, quite plainly, does it stand for the conception of "being a lion."
And hence, since these are the only two conceptions which do occur in
the proposition, we may, I think, say that "real," in this usage, does
not stand for any conception at all. To say that it did would be to
imply that it stood for some property of which we are asserting that
everything which has the property of "being a lion" _also_ has this
other property. But we are not, in fact, asserting any such thing. We
are not asserting of any property called "reality" that it belongs to
lions, as in the proposition "Lions are mammalian" we _are_ asserting
of the property of "being a mammal" that _it_ belongs to lions. The
two propositions "Lions are real" and "Lions are mammalian," though
grammatically similar, are in reality of wholly different forms; and
one difference between them may be expressed by saying that whereas
"mammalian" does stand for a property or conception, the very point of
this usage of "real" is that it does not.

To return to Mr. Bradley. "Time is unreal" _ought_ to mean, according
to me, "Temporal facts are unreal," in the sense I have tried to
explain. And I cannot help thinking that this which he _ought_ to mean
is, in part at least, what Mr. Bradley _does_ mean when he says "Time
is unreal," though possibly be also means something else as well. But
if so, it is quite clear, I think, that what he means is inconsistent
with its being true that Time exists or that there is such a thing as
Time. To say that Time exists or that there is such a thing, is to
assert at least, that there are some temporal facts: it may assert more
than this, but it does assert this, at least. And this, we have seen,
is exactly what is denied when it is said that Time is unreal. "Time
is unreal" just means "Temporal facts are unreal," _or_ "there are no
temporal facts," _or_ "Temporal facts do not exist." And just this is
also what is meant by "Time does not exist" or "There is no such thing
as Time." There is, in fact, nothing, else for these expressions to
mean. What, therefore, Mr. Bradley _ought_ to mean and (according to
me) does mean by "Time is unreal" is, in fact, inconsistent with what
he ought to mean by "Time exists" or by "Time is." And yet plainly he
does not think that it is so. Is it possible to explain why he should
have failed to perceive the inconsistency?

I think his failure can be explained as follows. It may have been
noticed that, in the passages I quoted from him, he insists in one
place, that to deny that appearances exist is not merely false but
_self-contradictory,_ and in another appeals to the principle that "any
deliverance of consciousness is but a deliverance of consciousness" in
support of his contention that what _is_ a fact need, nevertheless,
_not_ be real. And the fact that he does these two things does, I
think, give colour to the suggestion that the reason why he thinks that
what is unreal may yet exist, and be a fact, and be, is the following.
It is undoubtedly the case that, even if temporal facts are unreal,
_i.e.,_ there _are_ no such things, we can and do _think of them,_ just
as it is undoubtedly the case that, though unicorns are unreal, we can
and do imagine them. In other words, "temporal facts" and "unicorns"
are both quite certainly "deliverances of consciousness," at least
in the sense that they are "objects of thought"; being "objects of
thought" they are, in a wide sense, "appearances" also, and I cannot
help thinking that Mr. Bradley supposes that, merely because they are
so, they _must_ at least BE. "How" (I imagine he would ask) "can a
thing 'appear' or even 'be thought of' unless it is there to appear and
to be thought of? To say that it appears or is thought of, and that yet
there is no such thing, is plainly self-contradictory. A thing cannot
have a property, unless it is there to have it, and, since unicorns
and temporal facts _do_ have the property of being thought of, there
certainly must be such things. When I think of a unicorn, what I am
thinking of is certainly not nothing; if it were nothing, then, when
I think of a griffin, I should also be thinking of nothing, and there
would be no difference between thinking of a griffin and thinking
of a unicorn. But there certainly is a difference; and what can the
difference be except that in the one case what I am thinking of is a
unicorn, and in the other a griffin? And if the unicorn is what I am
thinking of, then there certainly must _be_ a unicorn, in spite of the
fact that unicorns are unreal. In other words, though in one sense of
the words there certainly _are_ no unicorns--that sense, namely, in
which to assert that there are would be equivalent to asserting that
unicorns are real--yet there _must_ be _some_ other sense in which
there _are_ such things; since, _if_ there were not, we could not think
of them."

Perhaps, it may be thought that the fallacy involved in this argument
is too gross for it to be possible that Mr. Bradley should have
been guilty of it. But there are other passages in _Appearance and
Reality_--particularly what he says about Error --which look to me as
if he certainly was guilty of it. I suppose it will be quite obvious to
everyone here that it is a fallacy; that the fact that we can think of
unicorns is not sufficient to prove that, in any sense at all, there
_are_ any unicorns. Yet, I am not sure that I know myself what is _the_
mistake involved in thinking that it _is_ sufficient, and I am going,
therefore, to try to put as clearly as I can, what I think it is, in
the hope that somebody may be able, if I am wrong, to correct me.

The main mistake, I suppose, is the mistake of thinking that the
proposition "Unicorns are thought of" is a proposition of the same form
as "Lions are hunted"; or the proposition "I am thinking of a unicorn"
of the same form as "I am hunting a lion"; or the proposition "Unicorns
are objects of thought" of the same form as "Lions are objects of the
chase." Of the second proposition in each of these three pairs, it is
in fact the case that it could not be true unless there were lions--at
least one. Each of them does, in fact, assert both with regard to a
certain property--which we will call that of "being a lion"--that there
_are_ things which possess it, and also with regard to another--that of
being hunted--that some of the things which possess the former possess
this property too. But it is obvious enough to common sense that the
same is by no means true of the _first_ proposition in each pair, in
spite of the fact that their grammatical expression shows no trace of
the difference. It is perfectly obvious that if I say "I am thinking of
a unicorn,"

I am not saying both that there is a unicorn and that I am thinking of
it, although, if I say "I am hunting a lion," I am saying both that
there is a lion, and that I am hunting it. In the former case,

I am _not_ asserting that the two properties of being a unicorn and of
being thought of by me both belong to one and the same thing; whereas,
in the latter case, I am asserting that the two properties of being a
lion and of being hunted by me _do_ belong to one and the same thing.
It is quite clear that there is _in fact_, this difference between
the two propositions; although no trace of it appears in their verbal
expression. And why we should use the same form of verbal expression
to convey such different meanings is more than I can say. It seems to
me very curious that language, in this, as in the other instance which
we have just considered of "Lions are real" and "Lions are mammalian,"
should have grown up just as if it were expressly designed to mislead
philosophers; and I do not know why it should have. Yet, it seems to
me there is no doubt that in ever so many instances it has. Moreover,
_exactly_ what _is_ meant by saying "I am thinking of a unicorn" is
not by any means clear to me. I think we can assert at least this:
In order that this proposition should be true, it is necessary (1)
that I should be conceiving, with regard to a certain property, the
hypothesis that there Is something which possesses it, and (2) that the
property in question should be such that, if anything did possess it
there would be a unicorn. Although this is plainly true, it does not
give us completely what is _meant_ by the statement, "I am thinking
of a unicorn"; and I do not know what the complete meaning is. It is
certainly _not_ that I am conceiving with regard to the property of
"being a unicorn," that there is something which possesses it; since
I may be thinking of a unicorn, without ever having conceived the
property of "being a unicorn" at all. Whatever it does mean, the point
which concerns us is that it is certainly _not_ necessary for its
truth, that the property of being a unicorn should, in fact, belong
to anything whatever, or, therefore, that there should in any sense
whatever _be_ a unicorn. And the fallacy I am attributing to Mr.
Bradley is that of supposing that, _in some sense,_ it must imply this
latter.

This, then, is what I imagine to be at least one of the reasons
which have led Mr. Bradley to suppose that the proposition "Time is
unreal," _must_ be consistent with the proposition "There _is_ such
a thing as Time." Put shortly, it is that he sees (what is perfectly
true) that "Time is unreal" _must_ be consistent with "We do think of
Time;" he thinks (falsely) that "We _do_ think of Time" must imply,
in some sense, "There _is_ such a thing as Time;" and finally, infers
(correctly) from this true and this false premiss, that there _must_ be
some sense of the proposition "There is such a thing as Time" which is
consistent with "Time is unreal."

It follows, then, that if Mr. Bradley means what he ought mean _both_
by "Time is unreal" _and_ by "Time exists," he is contradicting himself
when he combines these two propositions. And I have said I feel
convinced that he _does_ mean what he ought to mean by the former.
But I feel a good deal of doubt as to whether, all the same, he is
contradicting himself, because it does seem to me doubtful whether he
means what he ought to mean by the latter. The kind of thing which I
imagine may be happening to him when he insists so strongly that Time
_does_ exist, _is a fact,_ and _is,_ is that, properly speaking, he is
not attaching to these phrases any meaning whatever--_not,_ therefore,
that which they properly bear. It seems to me very possible that he
has so strongly convinced himself of the false proposition that there
_must_ be _some_ sense in which, if I think of a unicorn, there must
_be_ a unicorn, that wherever he knows the former proposition holds,
he allows himself to use the latter _form of words,_ without attaching
any meaning to them. What he is really asserting so emphatically may,
I think, be not anything which his words stand for, but simply this
verbal proposition that there _must_ be _some_ sense in which they are
true.


[1] _Appearance and Reality_ (2nd edn.), p. 35. The Italics are mine.

[2] _Op. cit._ pp. 131-2.



SOME JUDGMENTS OF PERCEPTION


I want to raise some childishly simple questions as to what we are
doing when we make judgments of a certain kind, which we all do in fact
exceedingly commonly make. The kind of judgments I mean are those which
we make when, with regard to something which we are seeing, we judge
such things as '"That is an inkstand," "That is a tablecloth," "That
is a door," etc., etc.; or when, with regard to something which we are
feeling with our hands, we judge such things as "This is cloth," "This
is a finger," "This is a coin," etc., etc.

It is scarcely possible, I think, to exaggerate the frequency with
which we make such judgments as these, nor yet the certainty with
which we are able to make vast numbers of them. Any man, who is not
blind, can, at almost any moment of his waking life, except when he
is in the dark, make a large number of judgments of the first kind,
with the greatest certainty. He has only to look about him, if he is
indoors, to judge with regard to various things which he is seeing,
such things as "That is a window," "That is a chair," "This is a book";
or, if he is out-of-doors, such things as "That is a house," "That
is a motor-car," "That is a man," or "That is a stone," "That is a
tree," "That is a cloud." And all of us, who are not blind, do in fact
constantly make such judgments, even if, as a rule, we only make them
as parts of more complicated judgments. What I mean is that, when
we make such judgments as "Hullo! that clock has stopped," or "This
chair is more comfortable than that one," or "That man looks like a
foreigner," judgments of the simpler kind with which I am concerned
are, so far as I can see, actually a part of what we are judging. In
judging "That clock has stopped," part of what I am actually judging
is, so far as I can see, "That is a clock;" and similarly if I judge
"That tree is taller than this one," my judgment actually contains the
two simpler judgments "That is a tree," and "This is a tree." Perhaps
most judgments which we make, of the kind I mean, are, in this way,
only parts of more complicated judgments: I do not know whether this
is so or not. But in any case there can be no doubt that we make them
exceedingly commonly. And even a blind man, or a man in the dark, can
and does, very frequently, make judgments of the second kind--judgments
about things which he is feeling with his hands. All of us, for
instance, at almost any moment of our waking life, whether we are in
the dark or not, have only to feel certain parts of our own bodies or
of our clothes, in order to make, with great certainty, such judgments
as "This is a finger," "This is a nose," "This is cloth." And similarly
I have only to feel in my pockets to judge, with regard to objects
which I meet with there, such things as "This is a coin," "This is a
pencil," "This is a pipe."

Judgments of this kind would, I think, commonly, and rightly, be taken
to be judgments, the truth of which involves the existence of material
things or physical objects. If I am right in judging that this is
an inkstand, it follows that there is at least one inkstand in the
Universe; and if there is an inkstand in the Universe, it follows that
there is in it at least one material thing or physical object. This
may, of course, be disputed. Berkeley, if I understand him rightly,
was clearly of opinion that there was no inconsistency in maintaining
that there were in the Universe thousands of inkstands and trees and
stones and stars, and that yet there was in it no such thing as matter.
And perhaps the definition of matter, which he adopted, was such
that there really was no inconsistency in maintaining this. Perhaps,
similarly, other philosophers have sometimes adopted definitions of
the expressions "material things" and "physical objects," which were
such that all the judgments of this kind that we make might quite
well be true, without its being true that there are in the Universe
any material things whatever. Perhaps, even, there may be some
justification for adopting definitions of those terms which would yield
the surprising result that we may, with perfect consistency, maintain
that the world is full of minerals and vegetables and animals, of all
sorts of different kinds, and that yet there is not to be found in
it a single material thing. I do not know whether there is or is not
any utility in using the terms "material thing" or "physical object"
in such a sense as this. But, whether there is or not, I cannot help
thinking that there is ample justification for using them in another
sense--a sense in which from the proposition that there are in the
Universe such things as inkstands or fingers or clouds, it strictly
follows that there are in it at least as many material things, and in
which, therefore, we can _not_ consistently maintain the existence of
inkstands, fingers, and clouds, while denying that of material things.
The kinds of judgment which I have mentioned, and thousands of others
which might easily be mentioned, are obviously all of the same sort
in one very important respect--a respect in which, for instance, such
judgments as "This is an emotion," "This is a judgment," "This is a
colour," are _not_ of the same sort as they are. And it seems to me
that we are certainly using the term "material thing" in _a_ correct
and useful way, if we express this important common property which they
have, by saying that of each of them the same can truly be said as was
said of the judgment "That is an inkstand": that, just as from the
proposition "There is an inkstand" it follows that there is at least
one material thing, so from the proposition "There is a tablecloth,"
it follows that there is at least one material thing; and similarly
in all the other cases. We can certainly use the expression "Things
_such as_ inkstands, tablecloths, fingers, clouds, stars, etc.," to
mean things such as these in a certain very important respect, which
we all understand, though we may not be able to define it. And the
term "material thing" certainly is and can be correctly used to mean
simply things such as these in that respect--whatever it may be. Some
term is certainly required to mean merely things such as these in that
important respect; and, so far as I can see, there is no term which can
be naturally used in this sense except the term "material things" and
its equivalents. Thus understood, the term "material thing" certainly
does stand for an important notion, which requires a name.

And, if we agree to use the term in this sense, then it is obvious that
no more can be necessary for the truth of the assertion that there are
material things, than is necessary for the truth of judgments of the
kind with which I propose to deal. But no more can be necessary for
the truth of these judgments than is actually asserted in or logically
implied by them. And if we approach the question what is necessary for
the truth of the assertion that there are material things, by asking
what it is that we actually assert when we make such judgments as
these, certain reasons for doubting how much is necessary are, I think,
brought out much more clearly, than if we approach the question in
any other way. Many philosophers have told us a very great deal as to
what they suppose to be involved in the existence of material things;
and some, at least, among them seem to have meant by "material things"
such things as inkstands, fingers and clouds. But I can think of only
one type of view as to the constitution of material things, which is
such that it is tolerably clear what answer those who hold it would
give to the simple question; What is it that I am judging, when I
judge, as I now do, that that is an inkstand? The type of view I mean
is that to which the view that Mill suggests, when he explains what he
means by saying that Matter is a Permanent Possibility of Sensation,
and also the view or views which Mr. Russell seems to suggest in his
"Our Knowledge of the External World," seem to belong. In the case of
views of this kind, it is, I think, tolerably clear what answer those
who hold them would give to _all_ the questions I want to raise about
judgments of the kind I have described. But it does not seem to me at
all certain that any view of this type is true; and certainly many
philosophers have held and do hold that all views of this type are
false. But in the case of those who do hold them to be false, I do
not know, in any single case, what answer would be given to _all_ the
questions which I want to raise. In the case of philosophers, who do
not accept any view of the Mill-Russell type, none, so far as I know,
has made it clear what answer he would give to _all_ my questions: some
have made it clear what answer they would give to _some_ of them; but
many, I think, have not even made it clear what answer they would give
to any. Perhaps there is some simple and satisfactory answer, which has
escaped me, that such philosophers could give to all my questions; but
I cannot help thinking that assumptions as to the nature of material
things have too often been made, without its even occurring to those
who made them to ask, what, if they were true, we could be judging when
we make such judgments as these; and that, if this question had been
asked, it would have become evident that those assumptions were far
less certain than they appeared to be.

I do not know that there is any excuse whatever for calling _all_
judgments of the kind I mean "judgments of perception." All of them
are, of course, judgments _about_ things which we are at the moment
perceiving, since, by definition, they are judgments about things
which we are seeing or feeling with our hands; and all of them are, no
doubt, also _based upon_ something which we perceive about the thing
in question. But the mere fact that a judgment is both about a thing
which I am perceiving, and also based upon something which I perceive
about that thing, does not seem to be a sufficient reason for calling
it a judgment of perception; and I do not know that there is any
other reason than this for calling _all_ judgments of the kind I mean
judgments of perception. I do not want therefore, to assert that _all_
of them are so. But it seems to me quite plain that enormous numbers
of them are so, in a perfectly legitimate sense. This judgment, which
I now make, to the effect that _that_ is a door, seems to me quite
plainly to be a judgment of perception, in the simple sense that I
make it because I do, in fact, see that that _is_ a door, and assert
in it no more than what I see; and what I see I, of course, perceive.
In every case in which I judge, with regard to something which I am
seeing or feeling with my hands, that it is a so-and-so, simply because
I do perceive, by sight or touch, that it is in fact a thing of that
kind, we can, I think, fairly say that the judgment in question is a
judgment of perception. And enormous numbers of judgments of the kind
I mean are, quite plainly, judgments of perception in this sense. They
are not _all,_ for the simple reason that some of them are mistaken.
I may, for instance, judge, with regard to an animal which I see at
a distance, that it is a sheep, when in fact it is a pig. And here
my judgment is certainly not due to the fact that I see it to be a
sheep; since I cannot possibly see a thing to be a sheep, unless it is
one. It, therefore, is _not_ a judgment of perception in this sense.
And moreover, even where such a judgment is true, it may not always
be a judgment of perception, for the reason that, whereas I only see
the thing in question, the kind of thing which I judge it to be is of
such a nature, that it is impossible for any one, by sight alone, to
perceive anything to be of that kind. How to draw the line between
judgments of this kind, which are judgments of perception, and those
which are not, I do not know. That is to say, I do not know what
conditions must be fulfilled in order that I may be truly said to be
_perceiving,_ by sight or touch, such things as that that is a door,
this is a finger, and not _merely_ inferring them. Some people may no
doubt think that it is very unphilosophical in me to say that we _ever_
can perceive such things as these. But it seems to me that we do, in
ordinary life, constantly talk of _seeing_ such things, and that, when
we do so, we are neither using language incorrectly, nor making any
mistake about the facts--supposing something to occur which never does
in fact occur. The truth seems to me to be that we are using the term
"perceive" in a way which is both perfectly correct and expresses a
kind of thing which constantly does occur, only that some philosophers
have not recognised that this is a correct usage of the term and have
not been able to define it. I am not, therefore, afraid to say that I
do now perceive that that is a door, and that that is a finger. Only,
of course, when I say that I do, I do not mean to assert that part of
what I "perceive," when I "perceive" these things, may not be something
which, in an important sense, is known to me only by inference. It
would be very rash to assert that "perception," in this sense of the
word, entirely excludes inference. All that seems to me certain is that
there is an important and useful sense of the word "perception," which
is such that the amount and kind of inference, if inference there be,
which is involved in my present perception that that is a door, is no
bar to the truth of the assertion that I do perceive that it is one.
Vast numbers, then, of the kind of judgments with which I propose to
deal seem to me to be, in an important and legitimate sense, judgments
of perception; although I am not prepared to define, any further than I
have done, what that sense is. And though it is true that the questions
which I shall raise apply just as much to those of them which are not
judgments of perception as to those which are, it is, of course, also
true that they apply just as much to those which are as to those which
are not; so that I shall be really dealing with a large and important
class among judgments of perception.

It is true that, if certain views which, if I understand them rightly,
some Philosophers have seriously entertained, were true ones, it would
be quite impossible that any of them should be judgments of perception.
For some philosophers seem to me to have denied that we ever do in fact
know such things as these, and others not only that we ever know them
but also that they are ever true. And, if, in fact, I never do know
such a thing, or if it is never true, it will of course, follow that I
never perceive such a thing; since I certainly cannot, in this sense,
perceive anything whatever, unless I both know it and it is true. But
it seems to me a sufficient refutation of such views as these, simply
to point to cases in which we do know such things. This, after all, you
know, really is a finger: there is no doubt about it: I know it, and
you all know it. And I think we may safely challenge any philosopher to
bring forward any argument in favour either of the proposition that we
do not know it, or of the proposition that it is not true, which does
not at some point, rest upon some premiss which is, beyond comparison,
less certain than is the proposition which it is designed to attack.
The questions whether we do ever know such things as these, and whether
there are any material things, seem to me, therefore, to be questions
which there is no need to take seriously: they are questions which it
is quite easy to answer, with certainty, in the affirmative. What does,
I think, need to be taken seriously, and what is really dubious, is not
the question, whether this is a finger, or whether I know that it is,
but the question _what,_ in certain respects, I am knowing, when I know
that it is. And this is the question to which I will now address myself.

To begin with there is one thing which seems to me to be very certain
indeed about such judgments. It is unfortunately a thing which I do
not know how properly to express. There seem to me to be objections
to every way of expressing it which I can think of. But I hope I
may be able to make my meaning clear, in spite of the inadequacy of
my expression. The thing I mean is a thing which may to some people
seem so obvious as to be scarcely worth saying. But I cannot help
thinking that it is not always clearly recognised, and even that some
philosophers, to judge from what they say, might perhaps dispute it.
It seems to me to be an assumption which is silently made in many
treatments of the subject, and, as I say, it seems to me to be very
certain indeed. But I think it is at all events worth while to try to
make the assumption explicit, in case it should be disputed. If it
really is not true, then the other questions to which I shall go on,
and which seem to me really dubious and difficult, do not, I think,
arise at all.

I will try to express this fundamental assumption, which seems to me
so very certain, by saying it is the assumption that, in all cases in
which I make a judgment of this sort, I have no difficulty whatever
in picking out a thing, which is, quite plainly, in a sense in which
nothing else is, _the_ thing about which I am making my judgment; and
that yet, though this thing is _the_ thing about which I am judging, I
am, quite certainly, _not_, in general, judging with regard to it, that
_it_ is a thing of that kind for which the term, which seems to express
the predicate of my judgment, is a name. Thus, when I judge, as now,
that That is an inkstand, I have no difficulty whatever in picking out,
from what, if you like, you can call my total field of presentation
at the moment, an object, which is undoubtedly, in a sense in which
nothing else is, _the_ object about which I am making this judgment;
and yet it seems to me quite certain that of _this_ object I am not
judging that it is a whole inkstand. And similarly when I judge, with
regard to something which I am feeling in my pocket, "This is a coin,"
I have no difficulty in picking out, from my field of presentation,
an object, which is undoubtedly _the_ object with which my judgment
is concerned; and yet I am certainly not judging with regard to this
object that it is a whole coin. I say that _always__t_ when I make
such a judgment, I can pick out _the_ one, among the objects presented
to me at the time, about which I am making it; but I have only said
that _in general_ I am not judging with regard to this object that
it is a thing of the kind, for which the term, which seems to express
the predicate of my judgment, is a name. And I have limited my second
proposition in this way, because there are cases, in which it does
not, at first sight, seem quite so certain that I am not doing this,
as in the two instances I have just given. When, for instance, I judge
with regard to something, which I am seeing, "This is a soap-bubble,"
or "This is a drop of water," or even when I judge "This is a spot
of ink," it may not seem quite so plain, that I may not be judging,
with regard to the very object presented to me, that it is, itself, a
whole soap-bubble, a whole drop of water, or a whole spot of ink, as
it always is, in the case of an inkstand, or a coin, that I never take
the presented object, about which I am judging, to be a whole inkstand,
or a whole coin. The sort of reason why I say this will, of course,
be obvious to any one, and it is obviously of a childish order. But I
cannot say that it seems to me quite obvious that in such a case I am
not judging of the presented object that it is a whole drop of water,
in the way in which it does seem to be obvious that I am not judging
of _this_ presented object that it is an inkstand. That is why I limit
myself to saying that, _in general_, when I judge "That is a so-and-so"
I am not judging with regard to the presented object, about which my
judgment is that _it_ is a thing of the kind in question. As much as
this seems to me to be a thing which any child can see. Nobody will
suppose, for a moment, that when he judges such things as "This is a
sofa," or "This is a tree," he is judging, with regard to the presented
object about which his judgment plainly is, that it is a whole sofa or
a whole tree: he can, at most, suppose that he is judging it to be a
part of the surface of a sofa or a part of the surface of a tree. And
certainly in the case of most judgments of this kind which we make,
whether in the case of all or not, this is plainly the case: we are not
judging, with regard to the presented object about which our judgment
plainly is, that it is a thing of the kind, for which the term which
appears to express the predicate of our judgment, is a name. And that
this should be true of _most_ judgments of this kind, whether of all or
not, is quite sufficient for my purpose.

This much, then, seems to me to be very certain indeed. But I will try
to make clearer exactly what I mean by it, by mentioning a ground on
which I imagine it might perhaps be disputed.

The object of which I have spoken as _the_ object, about which, in
each particular case, such a judgment as this always is a judgment,
is, of course, always an object of the kind which some philosophers
would call a sensation, and others would call a sense-datum. Whether
all philosophers, when they talk of sensations, mean to include among
them such objects as these, I do not know. Some, who have given a great
deal of attention to the subject, and for whom I have a great respect,
talk of sensations in such a way, that I cannot be sure what they are
talking about at all or whether there are such things. But many, I
think, undoubtedly do mean to include such subjects as these. No doubt,
in general, when they call them sensations, they mean to attribute to
them properties, which it seems to me extremely doubtful whether they
possess. And perhaps even those who call them sense-data, may, in part,
be attributing to them properties which it may be doubtful whether
they possess. If we want to define a sensation or a sense-datum, in a
manner which will leave it not open to doubt what sort of things we are
talking of, and that there are such things, I do not know that we can
do it better than by saying that sense-data are the sort of things,
_about_ which such judgments as these always seem to be made--the sort
of things which seem to be the real or ultimate subjects of all such
judgments. Such a way of defining how the term "sense-datum" is used,
may not seem very satisfactory; but I am inclined to think it may be as
satisfactory as any which can be found. And it is certainly calculated
to obviate some misunderstandings which may arise; since everybody can
see, I think, what the thing is which I am describing as _the_ thing
about which he is making his judgment, when he judges "That is an
inkstand," and that there is such a thing, even if he does not agree
that this description applies to it.

I can, in fact, imagine that some of those who would call this thing a
sensation would deny that my judgment is _about_ it at all. It would
sometimes be spoken of as the sensation which mediates my perception
of this inkstand in this instance. And I can imagine that some of
those who would so speak of it might be inclined to say that when
I judge "This is an inkstand," my judgment is about this inkstand
which I perceive, and not, in any sense at all, about the sensation
which mediates my perception of it. They may perhaps imagine that the
sensation mediates my perception of the inkstand only in the sense
that it brings the inkstand before my mind in such a way that, once it
is before my mind, I can make a judgment about it, which is _not_ a
judgment about the mediating sensation at all; and that such a judgment
is the one I am actually expressing when I say "This is an inkstand."
Such a view, if it is held, seems to me to be quite certainly false,
and is what I have intended to deny. And perhaps I can put most clearly
the reason why it seems to me false, by saying that, if (which may
be doubted) there is anything which is this inkstand, that thing is
certainly not given to me independently of this sense-datum, in such
a sense that I can possibly make a judgment about it which is _not_
a judgment about this sense-datum. I am not, of course, denying that
I do perceive this inkstand, and that my judgment is, in a sense, a
judgment about it. Both these things seem to me to be quite obviously
true. I am only maintaining that my judgment is _also,_ in another
sense, a judgment about this sense-datum which mediates my perception
of the inkstand. Those who say that this sense-datum does mediate my
perception of the inkstand, would, of course, admit that my perception
of the inkstand is, in a sense, dependent upon the sense-datum; that
it is dependent is implied in the mere statement that it is mediated
by it. But it might be maintained that it is dependent on it only in
the sense in which, when the idea of one object is called up in my
mind, through association, by the idea of another, the idea which is
called up is dependent on the idea which calls it up. What I wish to
maintain, and what seems to me to be quite certainly true, is that my
perception of this inkstand is dependent on this sense-datum, in a
quite different and far more intimate sense than this. It is dependent
on it in the sense that, if there is anything which is this inkstand,
then, in perceiving that thing, I am knowing it _only_ as _the_ thing
which stands in a certain relation to this sense-datum. When the idea
of one object is called up in my mind by the idea of another, I do
not know the second object _only_ as _the_ thing which has a certain
relation to the first: on the contrary, I can make a judgment about the
second object, which is not a judgment about the first. And similarly
in the case of two sense-data which are presented to me simultaneously,
I do not know the one _only_ as a thing which has a certain relation to
the other. But in the case of this sense-datum and this inkstand the
case seems to me to be plainly quite different. If there be a thing
which is this inkstand at all, it is certainly _only_ known to me as
_the_ thing which stands in a certain relation to this sense-datum. It
is not given to me, in the sense in which this sense-datum is given.
If there be such a thing at all, it is quite certainly only known to
me by description, in the sense in which Mr. Russell uses that phrase;
and the description by which it is known is that of being _the_ thing
which stands to this sense-datum in a certain relation. That is to
say, when I make such a judgment as "This inkstand is a good big one";
what I am really judging is: "There is a thing which stands to _this_
in a certain relation, and which is an inkstand, and that thing is
a good big one"--where "_this_" stands for this presented object. I
am referring to or identifying the thing which is this inkstand, if
there be such a thing at all, only as the thing which stands to this
sense-datum in a certain relation; and hence my judgment, though in
one sense it may be said to be a judgment about the inkstand, is quite
certainly also, in another sense, a judgment about this sense-datum.
This seems to me so clear, that I wonder how anyone can deny it; and
perhaps nobody would. But I cannot help thinking that it is not clear
to everybody; partly because, so far as I can make out, nobody before
Mr. Russell had pointed out the extreme difference there is between a
judgment about a thing known only by description to the individual who
makes the judgment, and a judgment about a thing not known to him only
in this way; and partly because so many people seem still utterly to
have failed to understand what the distinction is which he expresses in
this way. I will try to make the point clear, in a slightly different
way. Suppose I am seeing two coins, lying side by side, and am not
perceiving them in any other way except by sight. It will be plain to
everybody, I think, that, when I identify the one as "This one" and
the other as "That one," I identify them only by reference to the two
visual presented objects, which correspond respectively to the one and
to the other. But what may not, I think, be realised, is that the sense
in which I identify them by reference to the corresponding sense-data,
is one which involves that every judgment which I make about the one
is a judgment about the sense-datum which corresponds to it, and every
judgment I make about the other, a judgment about the sense-datum which
corresponds to _it_: I simply cannot make a judgment about either,
which is not a judgment about the corresponding sense-datum. But if the
two coins were given to me, in the sense in which the two sense-data
are, this would certainly not be the case. I can identify and
distinguish the two sense-data _directly,_ this as this one, and that
as that one: I do not need to identify either as _the_ thing which has
this relation to this other thing. But I certainly cannot thus directly
identify the two coins. I have not four things presented to me (1)
_this_ sense-datum, (2) _that_ sense-datum, (3) _this_ coin, and (4)
_that_ coin, but two only_--this_ sense-datum and _that_ sense-datum.
When, therefore, I judge "_This_ is a coin," my judgment is certainly
a judgment about the one sense-datum, and when I judge "And _that_
is also a coin," it is certainly a judgment about the other. Only,
in spite of what my language might seem to imply, I am certainly not
judging either of the one sense-datum that it is a whole coin, nor yet
of the other that it is one.

This, then, seems to me fundamentally certain about judgments of this
kind. Whenever we make such a judgment we can easily pick out an object
(whether we call it a sensation or a sense-datum, or not), which is,
in an easily intelligible sense, _the_ object which is the real or
ultimate subject of our judgment; and yet, in many cases at all events,
what we are judging with regard to this object is certainly not that it
is an object of the kind, for which the term which appears to express
the predicate of our judgment is a name.

But if this be so, what is it that I am judging, in all such cases,
about the presented object, which is the real or ultimate subject of my
judgment? It is at this point that we come to questions which seem to
me to be really uncertain and difficult to answer.

To begin with, there is one answer which is naturally suggested by the
reason I have given for saying that, in this case, it is quite obvious
that I am not judging, with regard to this presented object, that
_it_ is an inkstand, whereas it is not in the same way, quite obvious
that, in making such a judgment as "This is a soap-bubble" or "This is
a drop of water," I may not be judging, of the object about which my
judgment is, that that very object really is a soap-bubble or a drop
of water. The reason I gave is that it is quite obvious that I do not
take this presented object to be a _whole_ inkstand: that, at most, I
only take it to be part of the surface of an inkstand. And this reason
naturally suggests that the true answer to our question may be that
what I am judging of the presented object is just that it is a part of
the surface of an inkstand. This answer seems to me to be obviously on
quite a different level from the suggestion that I am judging it really
to be an inkstand. It is not childishly obvious that I am not judging
it to be part of the surface of an inkstand, as it is that I am not
judging it to be an inkstand--a whole one.

On this view, when I say such things as "That is an inkstand," "That
is a door," "This is a coin," these expressions would really only be
a loose way of saying "That is part of the surface of an inkstand,"
"That is part of the surface of a door," "This is part of the surface
of a coin." And there would, I think, plainly be nothing surprising
in the fact that we should use language thus loosely. What, at first
sight, appears to be a paradox, namely that, whereas I appear to be
asserting of a given thing that it is of a certain kind, I am not
really asserting of the thing in question that it is of that kind at
all, would be susceptible of an easy explanation. And moreover, if
this view were true, it would offer an excellent illustration of the
difference between a thing known only by description and a thing not so
known, and would show how entirely free from mystery that distinction
is. On this view, when I judge "That inkstand is a good big one" I
shall in effect be judging: "There is one and only one inkstand of
which _this_ is part of the surface, and the inkstand of which this is
true is a good big one." It would be quite clear that the part of the
surface of the inkstand was given to me in a sense in which the whole
was not, just as it is in fact clear that I do now _"see"_ this part
of the surface of this inkstand, in a sense in which I do _not_ "see"
the whole; and that my judgment, while it is, in fact, _about_ both the
whole inkstand, and also _about_ one particular part of its surface, is
_about_ them in two entirely different senses.

This view is one, which it is at first sight, I think, very natural to
suppose to be true. But before giving the reasons, why, nevertheless,
it seems to me extremely doubtful, I think it is desirable to try
to explain more precisely what I mean by it. The word "part" is one
which is often used extremely vaguely in philosophy; and I can imagine
that some people would be willing to assent to the proposition that
this sense-datum really is, in some sense or other, a "part" of this
inkstand, and that what I am judging with regard to it, when I
judge "This is an inkstand," is, in effect, "There is an inkstand,
of which _this_ is a part," who would be far from allowing that this
can possibly be what I am judging, when once they understand what the
sense is in which I am here using the word "part." What this sense
is, I am quite unable to define; but I hope I may be able to make my
meaning sufficiently clear, by giving instances of things which are
undoubtedly "parts" of other things in the sense in question. There is,
it seems to me, a sense of the word "part," in which we all constantly
use the word with perfect precision, and, which, therefore, we all
understand very well, however little we may be able to define it. It is
the sense in which the trunk of any tree is undoubtedly a part of that
tree; in which this finger of mine is undoubtedly a part of my hand,
and my hand a part of my body. This is a sense in which every part
of a material thing or physical object is itself a material thing or
physical object; and it is, so far as I can see, the only proper sense
in which a material thing can be said to have parts. The view which I
wish to discuss is the view that I am judging this presented object to
be a part of an inkstand, in this sense. And the nature of the view
can perhaps be brought out more clearly, by mentioning one important
corollary which would follow from it. I am, of course, at this moment,
seeing many parts of the surface of this inkstand. But all these
parts, except one, are, in fact, themselves parts of that one. That
one is the one of which we should naturally speak as "_the_ part of
the surface that I am now seeing" or as "_this_ part of the surface of
this inkstand." There is only one part of the surface of this inkstand,
which does thus contain, as parts, all the other parts that I am now
seeing. And, if it were true that I am judging this presented object to
be a part of the surface of an inkstand at all, in the sense I mean,
it would follow that this presented object must, if my judgment "This
is an inkstand" be true (as it certainly is), be identical with this
part, which contains all the other parts which I am seeing; since there
is plainly no other part with which it could possibly be identified.
That is to say, if I am really judging of this presented object that it
is part of the surface of an inkstand, in the sense I mean, it must be
the case that everything which is true of what I should call "this part
of the surface of this inkstand" is, in fact, true of this presented
object.

This view, therefore, that what we are judging of the ultimate subject
of our judgment, when we judge "This is a so-and-so," is, in general,
merely that the subject in question is a _part_ of a thing of the
kind in question, can, I think, be most clearly discussed, by asking
whether, in this case, this presented object can really be identical
with this part of the surface of this inkstand. If it can't, then most
certainly I am not judging of it that it is a part of the surface of an
inkstand at all. For my judgment, whatever it is, is true. And yet, if
this presented object is not identical with this part of the surface of
this inkstand, it certainly is not a part of an inkstand at all; since
there is no other part, either of this inkstand or of any other, with
which it could possibly be supposed to be identical.

Can we, then, hold that this sense-datum really is identical with this
part of the surface of this inkstand? That everything which is true of
the one is true of the other?

An enormous number of very familiar arguments have been used by various
philosophers, which, if they were sound, would show that we can not.
Some of these arguments seem to me to be quite clearly not sound--all,
for instance, which rest either on the assumption that this sense-datum
can only exist so long as it is perceived, or on the assumption that
it can only exist so long as it is perceived _by me._ Of others I
suspect that they may have some force, though I am quite unable to see
that they have any. Such, for instance, are all those which assume
either that this sense-datum is a sensation or feeling of mine, in a
sense which includes the assertion that it is dependent on my mind
in the very same sense in which my perception of it obviously is so;
or that it is causally dependent on my body in the sense in which my
perception of it admittedly is so. But others do seem to me to have
great force. I will, however, confine myself to trying to state one,
which seems to me to have as much as any. It will be found that this
one involves an assumption, which does seem to me to have great force,
but which yet seems to me to be doubtful. So far as I know, all good
arguments against the view that this sense-datum really is identical
with this part of the surface of the inkstand, do involve this same
assumption, and have no more force than it has. But in this, of course,
I may be wrong. Perhaps some one will be able to point out an argument,
which is obviously quite independent of it, and which yet has force.

The argument I mean involves considerations which are exceedingly
familiar, so familiar that I am afraid every one may be sick of
hearing them alluded to. But, in spite of this fact, it seems to
me not quite easy to put it quite precisely, in a way which will
distinguish it clearly from other arguments involving the same familiar
considerations, but which do not seem to me to be equally cogent. I
want, therefore, to try to put it with a degree of precision, which
will prevent irrelevant objections from being made to it--objections
which would, I think, be relevant against some of these other
arguments, but are not, I think, relevant against it.

The fact is that we all, exceedingly commonly, when, at each of two
times, separated by a longer or shorter interval, we see a part of the
surface of a material thing, in the sense in which I am now seeing
this part of the surface of this inkstand, or when at one time we see
such a surface and at another perceive one by touch, make, on the
second occasion, the judgment "_This_ part of a surface is the _same_
part of the surface of the same thing, as that which I was seeing
(or perceiving by touch) just now." How commonly we all do this can
scarcely be exaggerated. I look at this inkstand, and then I look
again, and on the second occasion I judge "This part of the surface
of this inkstand is the same as, or at least contains a part which is
the same as a part of, the part of its surface which I was seeing just
now." Or I look at this finger and then I touch it, and I judge, on the
second occasion, "This part of the surface of this finger is the same
as one of those I was seeing just now." We all thus constantly identify
a part of a surface of a material thing which we are perceiving at one
time with a part which we _were_ perceiving at another.

Now, when we do this--when we judge "This is the _same_ part of the
same thing as I was seeing or touching just now," we, of course, do
not mean to exclude the possibility that the part in question may
have changed during the interval; that it is really different, on the
second occasion, either in shape or size or quality, or in all three,
from what it was on the first. That is to say, the sense of sameness
which we are here concerned with is one which clearly does not exclude
change. We may even be prepared to assert, on general grounds, in all
such cases, that the surface in question certainly must have changed.
But nevertheless there is a great difference in one respect, between
two kinds of such cases, both of which occur exceedingly commonly.
If I watch somebody blowing air into a child's balloon, it constantly
happens, at certain stages in the process, that I judge with regard
to the part of the surface which I am seeing at that stage, not only
that it _is_ larger than it was at an earlier stage, but that it is
_perceptibly_ larger. Or, if I pull the face of an india-rubber doll,
I may judge at a certain stage in the process that the patch of red
colour on its cheek not only is different in shape from what it was
at the beginning, but is _perceptibly_ so; it may, for instance, be a
perceptibly flatter ellipse than it was to start with. Or, if I watch
a person blushing, I may judge at a certain stage that a certain part
of the surface of his face not only is different in colour from what
it was, when I saw it before he began to blush, but is _perceptibly_
so--perceptibly redder. In enormous numbers of cases we do thus judge
of a surface seen at a given time that it is thus _perceptibly_
different in size, or in shape, or in colour, from what it was when we
saw it before. But cases are at least equally numerous in which, though
we might, on general grounds be prepared to assert that it _must_ have
changed in some respect, we should not be prepared to assert that it
had, in any respect whatever, changed _perceptibly._ Of this part
of this surface of this inkstand, for instance, I am certainly not
prepared to assert that it is now perceptibly different in any respect
from what it was when I saw it just now. And similar cases are so
numerous that I need not give further instances. We can, therefore,
divide cases, in which we judge, of a part of a surface which we are
seeing, "This is the same part of the surface of the same material
thing as the one I saw just now," into cases where we should also judge
"But it is perceptibly different from what it was then," and cases in
which, even though we might assert "It _must_ be different," we are
certainly not prepared to assert that it is _perceptibly_ so.

But now let us consider the cases in which we are not prepared to
assert that the surface in question has changed perceptibly. The
strange fact, from which the argument I mean is drawn, is that, in a
very large number of such cases, it seems as if it were unmistakably
true that the presented object, about which we are making our judgment
when we talk of "This surface" at the later time, _is_ perceptibly
different, from that about which we are making it when we talk of the
surface I saw just now. If, at the later time, I am at a sufficiently
greater distance from the surface, the presented object which
corresponds to it at the time seems to be perceptibly smaller, than
the one which corresponded to it before. If I am looking at it from
a sufficiently oblique angle, the later presented object often seems
to be perceptibly different in shape--a perceptibly flatter ellipse,
for instance. If I am looking at it, with blue spectacles on, when
formerly I had none, the later presented object seems to be perceptibly
different in colour from the earlier one. If I am perceiving it by
touch alone, whereas formerly I was perceiving it by sight alone,
the later presented object seems to be perceptibly different from
the earlier, in respect of the fact that it is not coloured at all,
whereas the earlier was, and that, on the other hand, it has certain
tactual qualities, which the earlier had not got. All this seems to
be as plain as it can be, and yet it makes absolutely no difference
to the fact that of the surface in question we are _not_ prepared to
judge that it is perceptibly different from what it was. Sometimes,
of course, where there seems to be no doubt that the later presented
object is perceptibly different from the earlier, we may not notice
that it is so. But even where we do notice the apparent difference, we
do still continue to judge of the surface in question: This surface
is not, so far as I can tell with certainty by perception, in any way
different from what it was when I saw it or touched it just now; I am
_not_ prepared to assert that it has changed perceptibly. It seems,
therefore, to be absolutely impossible that the surface seen at the
later time should be identical with the object presented then, and the
surface seen at the earlier identical with the object presented then,
for the simple reason that, whereas with regard to the later seen
surface I am not prepared to judge that it is in any way perceptibly
different from that seen earlier, it seems that with regard to the
later sense-datum I cannot fail to judge that it _is_ perceptibly
different from the earlier one: the fact that they are perceptibly
different simply stares me in the face. It seems, in short, that when,
in such a case, I judge: "This surface is not, so far as I can tell,
perceptibly different from the one I saw just now," I cannot possibly
be judging of the presented object "_This_ is not, so far as I can
tell, perceptibly different from that object which was presented to
me just now," for the simple reason that I _can_ tell, as certainly,
almost, as I can tell anything, that it is perceptibly different.

That is the argument, as well as I can put it, for saying that this
presented object, is _not_ identical with this part of the surface of
this inkstand; and that, therefore, when I judge "This is part of the
surface of an inkstand," I am not judging of this presented object,
which nevertheless is the ultimate subject of my judgment, that _it_ is
part of the surface of an inkstand. And this argument does seem to me
to be a very powerful one.

But nevertheless it does not seem to me to be quite conclusive, because
it rests on an assumption, which, though it seems to me to have great
force, does not seem to me quite certain. The assumption I mean is the
assumption that, in such cases as those I have spoken of, the later
presented object really is perceptibly different from the earlier. This
assumption has, if I am not mistaken, seemed to many philosophers to
be quite unquestionable; they have never even thought of questioning
it; and I own that it used to be so with me. And I am still not sure
that I may not be talking sheer nonsense in suggesting that it can
be questioned. But, if I am, I am no longer able to see that I am.
What now seems to me to be possible is that the sense-datum which
corresponds to a tree, which I am seeing, when I am a mile off, may not
really be perceived to _be_ smaller than the one, which corresponds
to the same tree, when I see it from a distance of only a hundred
yards, but that it is only perceived to _seem_ smaller; that the
sense-datum which corresponds to a penny, which I am seeing obliquely,
is not really perceived to _be_ different in shape from that which
corresponded to the penny, when I was straight in front of it, but is
only perceived to _seem_ different--that all that is perceived is that
the one _seems_ elliptical and the other circular; that the sense-datum
presented to me when I have the blue spectacles on is not perceived
to _be_ different in colour from the one presented to me when I have
not, but only to _seem_ so; and finally that the sense-datum presented
when I touch this finger is not perceived to _be_ different in any way
from that presented to me when I see it, but only to _seem_ so that
I do not perceive the one to be coloured and the other not to be so,
but only that the one _seems_ coloured and the other not. If such a
view is to be possible, we shall have, of course, to maintain that
the kind of experience which I have expressed by saying one _seems_
different from the other_--"seems_ circular," _"seems_ blue," _"seems_
coloured," and so on--involves an ultimate, not further analysable,
kind of psychological relation, not to be identified either with that
involved in being "perceived" to be so and so, or with that involved
in being "judged" to be so and so; since a presented object might, in
this sense, _seem_ to be elliptical, _seem_ to be blue, etc., when it
is neither perceived to be so, nor judged to be so. But there seems to
me to be no reason why there should not be such an ultimate relation.
The great objection to such a view seems to me to be the difficulty of
believing that I don't actually perceive this sense-datum to _be_ red,
for instance, and that other to _be_ elliptical; that I only perceive,
in many cases, that it _seems_ so. I cannot, however, now persuade
myself that it is quite clear that I do perceive it to _be_ so. And,
if I don't, then it seems really possible that this presented object
really is identical with this part of the surface of this inkstand;
since, when I judge, as in the cases supposed, that the surface in
question is _not_, so far as I can tell, perceptibly different from
what it was, I might really be judging of the two sense-data that they
also were not, so far as I can tell, perceptibly different, the only
difference between the two that _is_ perceptible, being that the one
_seems_ to be of a certain size, shape or colour, and the other to
be of a different and incompatible size, shape or colour. Of course,
in those cases, as in that of the balloon being blown up, where I
"perceive" that the surface has changed, _e.g._ in size, it would have
to be admitted that I do perceive of the two sense-data not merely that
they _seem_ different in size, but that they _are_ so. But I think it
would be possible to maintain that the sense in which, in these cases,
I "perceive" them to _be_ different, is a different one from that in
which, both in these and in the others, I perceive them to _seem_ so.

Possibly in making this suggestion that sense-data, in cases where most
philosophers have assumed unhesitatingly that they are _perceived_ to
be different, are only really perceived to _seem_ different, I am, as I
said, talking sheer nonsense, though I cannot, at the moment, see that
I am. And possibly, even if this suggestion itself is not nonsense,
even if it is true, there may be other fatal objections to the view
that this presented object really is identical with this part of the
surface of this inkstand. But what seems to me certain is that, unless
this suggestion is true, then this presented object is certainly _not_
identical with this part of the surface of this inkstand. And since it
is doubtful whether it is not nonsense, and still more doubtful whether
it is true, it must, I think, be admitted to be highly doubtful whether
the two _are_ identical. But, if they are not identical, then what I am
judging with regard to this presented object, when I judge "This is an
inkstand," is certainly _not_ that it is itself part of the surface of
an inkstand; and hence, it is worth while to inquire further, what, if
I am not judging this, I _can_ be judging with regard to it.

And here, I think, the first natural suggestion to make is that just
as, when I talk of "this inkstand," what I seem really to mean is
"_the_ inkstand of which _this_ is part of the surface," so that the
inkstand is only known to me by description as the inkstand of which
this material surface is part of the surface, so again when I talk of
"this material surface," what I really mean is "_the_ material surface
to which _this_ (presented object) has a certain relation," so that
this surface is, in its turn, only known to me by description as _the_
surface which has a certain relation to this presented object. If that
were so, then what I should be judging of this presented object, when I
judge "This is part of the surface of an inkstand," would be not that
it is itself such a part, but that _the_ thing which stands to it in
a certain relation is such a part: in short, what I should be judging
with regard to _it,_ would be "There's one thing and one only which
stands to _this_ in _this_ relation, and the thing which does so is
part of the surface of an inkstand."

But if we are to adopt the view that something of this sort is what we
are judging, there occurs at once the pressing question: What on earth
can the relation be with regard to which we are judging, that one and
only one thing stands in it to this presented object? And this is a
question to which, so far as I know, none of those philosophers, who
_both_ hold (as many do) that this presented object is _not_ identical
with this part of the surface of this inkstand, _and_ also that there
really is something of which it could be truly predicated that it is
this part of the surface of this inkstand (that is to say, who reject
all views of the Mill-Russell type), have given anything like a clear
answer. It does not seem to have occurred to them that it requires an
answer, chiefly, I think, because it has not occurred to them to ask
what we can be judging when we make judgments of this sort. There are
only two answers, that I can think of, which might be suggested with
any plausibility.

Many philosophers, who take the view that the presented objects about
which we make these judgments are sensations of ours, and some even who
do not, are in the habit of talking of _"the_ causes" of these objects
as if we knew, in the case of each, that it had one and only one cause;
and many of them seem to think that this part of the surface of this
inkstand could be correctly described as _the_ cause of this presented
object. They suggest, therefore, the view that what I am judging in
this case might be: "This presented object has one and only one cause,
and that cause is part of the surface of an inkstand." It seems to me
quite obvious that _this_ view, at all events, is utterly untenable. I
do not believe for a moment, nor does any one, and certainly therefore
do not judge, that this presented object has _only_ one cause: I
believe that it has a whole series of different causes. I do, in fact,
believe that this part of the surface of this inkstand is _one_ among
the causes of my perception of this presented object: that seems to
me to be a very well established scientific proposition. And I am
prepared to admit that there _may_ be good reasons for thinking that
it is one among the causes of this presented object itself, though I
cannot myself see that there are any. But that it is the _only_ cause
of this presented object I certainly do not believe, nor, I think,
does anybody, and hence my judgment certainly cannot be "_The_ cause
of this is part of the surface of an inkstand." It might no doubt, be
possible to define some _kind_ of causal relation, such that it might
be plausibly held that it and it alone causes this presented object _in
that particular way._ But any such definition would, so far as I can
see, be necessarily very complicated. And, even when we have got it,
it seems to me it would be highly improbable we could truly say that
what we are judging in these cases is: "This presented object has one
and only one cause, of this special kind." Still, I do not wish to deny
that some such view may _possibly_ be true.

The only other suggestion I can make is that there may be some
ultimate, not further definable relation, which we might for instance,
call the relation of "being a manifestation of," such that we might
conceivably be judging: "There is one and only one thing of which this
presented object is a manifestation, and _that_ thing is part of the
surface of an inkstand." And here again, it seems to me just possible
that this _may_ be a true account of what we are judging; only I cannot
find the slightest sign that I am in fact aware of any such relation.

Possibly other suggestions could be made as to what the relation is,
with regard to which it could be plausibly supposed that in all cases,
where we make these judgments we are in fact judging of the presented
object "There is one and only one thing which stands to this object in
_this_ relation." But it seems to me at least very doubtful whether
there is any such relation at all; whether, therefore, our judgment
really is of this form, and whether therefore, this part of the surface
of this inkstand really is known to me by description as _the_ thing
which stands in a certain relation to this presented object. But if it
isn't, and if, also, we cannot take the view that what I am judging
is that this presented object _itself_ is a part of the surface of an
inkstand, there would seem to be no possible alternative but that we
must take some view of what I have called the Mill-Russell type. Views
of this type, if I understand them rightly, are distinguished from
those which I have hitherto considered, by the fact that, according to
them, there is nothing whatever in the Universe of which it could truly
be predicated that it is this part of the surface of this inkstand,
or indeed that it is _a_ part of the surface of an inkstand, or an
inkstand, at all. They hold, in short, that though there are plenty of
material things in the Universe, there is nothing in it of which it
could truly be asserted that _it_ is a material thing: that, though,
when I assert "This is an inkstand," my assertion is true, and is such
that it follows from it that there is in the Universe at least one
inkstand, and, therefore, at least one material thing, yet it does not
follow from it that there is anything which is a material thing. When
I judge "This is an inkstand," I am judging this presented object to
possess a certain property, which is such that, if there are things,
which possess that property, there are inkstands and material things,
but which is such that nothing which possesses it is itself a material
thing; so that in judging that there are material things, we are really
always judging of some _other_ property, which is not that of being a
material thing, that there are things which possess _it._ It seems to
me quite possible, of course, that some view of this type is the true
one. Indeed, this paper may be regarded, if you like, as an argument in
favour of the proposition that some such view _must_ be true. Certainly
one of my main objects in writing it was to put as plainly as I can
some grave difficulties which seem to me to stand in the way of any
other view; in the hope that some of those, who reject all views of
the Mill-Russell type, may explain clearly which of the alternatives
I have suggested they would adopt, or whether, perhaps, some other
which has not occurred to me. It does not seem to me to be always
sufficiently realised how difficult it is to find _any_ answer to my
question "What are we judging in these cases?" to which there are not
very grave objections, unless we adopt an answer of the Mill-Russell
type. That an answer of this type _is_ the true one, I am not myself,
in spite of these objections, by any means convinced. The truth is I am
completely puzzled as to what the true answer can be. At the present
moment, I am rather inclined to favour the view that what I am judging
of this presented object is that it is itself a part of the surface of
an inkstand--that, therefore, it really is identical with this part of
the surface of this inkstand, in spite of the fact that this involves
the view that, where, hitherto, I have always supposed myself to be
perceiving of two presented objects that they really were different, I
was, in fact, only perceiving that they _seemed_ to be different. But,
as I have said, it seems to me quite possible that this view is, as I
have hitherto supposed, sheer nonsense; and, in any case, there are, no
doubt, other serious objections to the view that this presented object
is this part of the surface of this inkstand.



THE CONCEPTION OF INTRINSIC VALUE


My main object in this paper is to try to define more precisely the
most important question, which, so far as I can see, is really at issue
when it is disputed with regard to any predicate of value, whether it
is or is not a "subjective" predicate. There are three chief cases in
which this controversy is apt to arise. It arises, first, with regard
to the conceptions of "right" and "wrong," and the closely allied
conception of "duty" or "what _ought_ to be done." It arises, secondly,
with regard to "good" and "evil," in some sense of those words in which
the conceptions for which they stand are certainly quite distinct from
the conceptions of "right" and "wrong," but in which nevertheless it is
undeniable that ethics has to deal with them. And it arises, lastly,
with regard to certain aesthetic conceptions, such as "beautiful" and
"ugly;" or "good" and "bad," in the sense in which these words are
applied to works of art, and in which, therefore, the question what is
good and bad is a question not for ethics but for aesthetics.

In all three cases there are people who maintain that the predicates
in question are purely "subjective," in a sense which can, I think,
be fairly easily defined. I am not here going to attempt a perfectly
accurate definition of the sense in question; but, as the term
"subjective" is so desperately ambiguous, I had better try to indicate
roughly the sense I am thinking of. Take the word "beautiful" for
example. There is a sense of the term "subjective," such that to say
that "beautiful" stands for a subjective predicate, means, roughly,
that any statement of the form "This is beautiful" merely expresses a
psychological assertion to the effect that some particular individual
or class of individuals either actually has, or would, under certain
circumstances, have, a certain kind of mental attitude towards the
thing in question. And what I mean by "having a mental attitude"
towards a thing, can be best explained by saying that to desire a thing
is to have one kind of mental attitude towards it, to be pleased with
it is to have another, to will it is to have another; and in short
that to have any kind of feeling or emotion _towards_ it is to have a
certain mental attitude towards it--a different one in each case. Thus
anyone who holds that when we say that a thing is beautiful, what we
_mean_ is merely that we ourselves or some particular class of people
actually do, or would under certain circumstances, have, or permanently
have, a certain feeling towards the thing in question, is taking a
"subjective" view of beauty.

But in all three cases there are also a good many people who hold that
the predicates in question are not, in this sense "subjective"; and I
think that those who hold this are apt to speak as if the view which
they wish to maintain in opposition to it consisted simply and solely
in holding its contradictory--in holding, that is, that the predicates
in question are "objective," where "objective" simply means the same as
"not subjective." But in fact I think this is hardly ever really the
case. In the case of goodness and beauty, what such people are really
anxious to maintain is by no means merely that these conceptions are
"objective," but that, besides being "objective," they are also, in
a sense which I shall try to explain, "intrinsic" kinds of value.
It is this conviction--the conviction that goodness and beauty are
_intrinsic_ kinds of value, which is, I think, the strongest ground of
their objection to any subjective view. And indeed, when they speak
of the "objectivity" of these conceptions, what they have in mind is,
I believe, always a conception which has no proper right to be called
"objectivity," since it includes as an essential part this other
characteristic which I propose to call that of being an "intrinsic"
kind of value.

The truth is, I believe, that though, from the proposition that a
particular kind of value is "intrinsic" it does follow that it must
be "objective," the converse implication by no means holds, but on
the contrary it is perfectly easy to conceive theories of _e.g._
"goodness," according to which goodness would, in the strictest sense,
be "objective," and yet would not be "intrinsic." There is, therefore,
a very important difference between the conception of "objectivity,"
and that which I will call "internality" but yet, if I am not mistaken,
when people talk about the "objectivity" of any kind of value, they
almost always confuse the two, owing to the fact that most of those
who deny the "internality" of a given kind of value, also assert its
"subjectivity." How great the difference is, and that it is a fact that
those who maintain the "objectivity" of goodness do, as a rule, mean by
this not mere "objectivity," but "internality," as well, can, I think,
be best brought out by considering an instance of a theory, according
to which goodness would be objective but would not be intrinsic.

Let us suppose it to be held, for instance, that what is meant by
saying that one type of human being A is "better" than another type B,
is merely that the course of evolution tends to increase the numbers of
type A and to decrease those of type B. Such a view has, in fact, been
often suggested, even if it has not been held in this exact form; it
amounts merely to the familiar suggestion that "better" means "better
fitted to survive." Obviously "better," on this interpretation of its
meaning, is in no sense a "subjective" conception: the conception of
belonging to a type which tends to be favoured by the struggle for
existence more than another is as "objective" as any conception can be.
But yet, if I am not mistaken, all those who object to a subjective
view of "goodness," and insist upon its "objectivity," would object
just as strongly to this interpretation of its meaning as to any
"subjective" interpretation. Obviously, therefore, what they are really
anxious to contend for is not merely that goodness is "objective,"
since they are here objecting to a theory which is "objective;" but
something else. And this something else is, I think, certainly just
that it is "intrinsic"--a character which is just as incompatible
with this objective evolutionary interpretation as with any and every
subjective interpretation. For if you say that to call type A "better"
than type B means merely that it is more favoured in the struggle for
existence, it follows that the being "better" is a predicate which does
_not depend merely on the intrinsic nature of A and B respectively._
On the contrary, although here and now A may be more favoured than B,
it is obvious that under other circumstances or with different natural
laws the very same type B might be more favoured than A, so that the
very same type which, under one set of circumstances, is better than
B, would, under another set, be worse. Here, then, we have a case
where an interpretation of "goodness," which does make it "objective,"
is incompatible with its being "intrinsic." And it is just this same
fact--the fact that, on any "subjective" interpretation, the very same
kind of thing which, under some circumstances, is better than another,
would, under others, be worse--which constitutes, so far as I can
see, the fundamental objection to all "subjective" interpretations.
Obviously, therefore, to express this objection by saying that goodness
is "objective" is very incorrect; since goodness might quite well be
"objective" and yet _not_ possess the very characteristic which it is
mainly wished to assert that it has.

In the case, therefore, of ethical and aesthetic "goodness," I think
that what those who contend for the "objectivity" of these conceptions
really wish to contend for is not mere "objectivity" at all, but
principally and essentially that they are _intrinsic_ kinds of value.
But in the case of "right" and "wrong" and "duty," the same cannot
be said, because many of those who object to the view that these
conceptions are "subjective," nevertheless do not hold that they are
"intrinsic." We cannot, therefore, say that what those who contend for
the "objectivity" of right and wrong really mean is always chiefly
that those conceptions are intrinsic, but we can, I think, say that
what they do mean is certainly _not_ "objectivity" in this case any
more than the other; since here, just as there, it would be possible
to find certain views, which are in every sense "objective," to
which they would object just as strongly as to any subjective view.
And though what is meant by "objectivity" in this case, is not that
"right" and "wrong" are _themselves_ "intrinsic," what is, I think,
meant here too is that they have a fixed relation to a kind of value
which _is_ "intrinsic." It is this fixed relation to an intrinsic
kind of value, so far as I can see, which gives to right and wrong
that kind and degree of fixity and impartiality which they actually
are felt to possess, and which is what people are thinking of when
they talk of their "objectivity." Here, too, therefore, to talk of
the characteristic meant as "objectivity" is just as great a misnomer
as in the other cases; since though it is a characteristic which is
incompatible with any kind of "subjectivity," it is also incompatible,
for the same reason, with many kinds of "objectivity."

For these reasons I think that what those who contend for the
"objectivity" of certain kinds of value, or for the "objectivity" of
judgments of value, commonly have in mind is not really "objectivity"
at all, but either that the kinds of value in question are themselves
"intrinsic," or else that they have a fixed relation to some kind that
is so. The conception upon which they really wish to lay stress is not
that of "objective value," but that of "intrinsic value," though they
confuse the two. And I think this is the case to a considerable extent
not only with the defenders of so-called "objectivity," but also with
its opponents. Many of those who hold strongly (as many do) that _all_
kinds of value are "subjective" certainly object to the so-called
"objective" view, not so much because it is _objective_, as because it
is not _naturalistic ox positivistic_--a characteristic which does
naturally follow from the contention that value is "intrinsic," but
does not follow from the mere contention that it is "objective." To a
view which is at the same time both "naturalistic" or "positivistic"
and also "objective," such as the Evolutionary view which I sketched
just now, they do not feel at all the same kind or degree of objection
as to any so-called "objective" view. With regard to so-called
"objective" views they are apt to feel not only that they are false,
but that they involve a particularly poisonous kind of falsehood--the
erecting into a "metaphysical" entity of what is really susceptible of
a simple naturalistic explanation. They feel that to hold such a view
is not merely to make a mistake, but to make a superstitious mistake.
They feel the same kind of contempt for those who hold it, which we
are apt to feel towards those whom we regard as grossly superstitious,
and which is felt by certain persons for what they call "metaphysics."
Obviously, therefore, what they really object to is not simply the view
that these predicates are "objective," but something else--something
which does not at all follow from the contention that they are
"objective," but which does follow from the contention that they are
"intrinsic."

In disputes, therefore, as to whether particular kinds of value are
or are not "subjective," I think that the issue which is really felt
to be important, almost always by one side, and often by both, is not
really the issue between "subjective" and "non-subjective," but between
"intrinsic" and "non-intrinsic." And not only is this felt to be the
more important issue; I think it really is so. For the difference that
must be made to our view of the Universe, according as we hold that
some kinds of value are "intrinsic" or that none are, is much greater
than any which follows from a mere difference of opinion as to whether
some are "non-subjective," or all without exception "subjective." To
hold that any kinds of value are "intrinsic" entails the recognition of
a kind of predicate extremely different from any we should otherwise
have to recognise and perhaps unique; whereas it is in any case certain
that there are "objective" predicates as well as "subjective."

But now what is this "internality" of which I have been speaking?
What is meant by saying with regard to a kind of value that it is
"intrinsic?" To express roughly what is meant is, I think, simple
enough; and everybody will recognise it at once, as a notion which
is constantly in people's heads; but I want to dwell upon it at some
length, because I know of no place where it is expressly explained and
defined, and because, though it seems very simple and fundamental, the
task of defining it precisely is by no moans easy and involves some
difficulties which I must confess that I do not know how to solve.

I have already given incidentally the main idea in speaking of that
evolutionary interpretation of "goodness," according to which, as I
said, goodness would be "objective" but would not be "intrinsic."
I there used as equivalent to the assertion that 'better,' on
that definition, would not be 'intrinsic,' the assertion that the
question whether one type of being A was better than another B would
_not_ depend _solely on the intrinsic natures of A and B,_ but on
circumstances and the laws of nature. And I think that this phrase will
in fact suggest to everybody just what I do mean by "intrinsic" value.
We can, in fact, set up the following definition. _To say that a kind
of value is "intrinsic" means merely that the question whether a thing
possesses it, and in what degree it possesses it, depends solely on the
intrinsic nature of the thing in question._

But though this definition does, I think, convey exactly what I mean,
I want to dwell upon its meaning, partly because the conception of
'differing in intrinsic nature which I believe to be of fundamental
importance, is liable to be confused with other conceptions, and partly
because the definition involves notions, which I do not know how to
define exactly.

When I say, with regard to any particular kind of value, that the
question whether and in what degree anything possesses it _depends
solely on the intrinsic nature of the thing in question_, I mean to say
two different things at the same time. I mean to say (1) that it is
_impossible_ for what is strictly _one and the same_ thing to possess
that kind of value at one time, or in one set of circumstances, and
_not_ to possess it at another; and equally _impossible_ for it to
possess it in one degree at one time, or in one set of circumstances,
and to possess it in a different degree at another, or in a different
set. This, I think, is obviously part of what is naturally conveyed by
saying that the question whether and in what degree a thing possesses
the kind of value in question always depends _solely_ on the intrinsic
nature of the thing. For if _x_ and _y_ have different intrinsic
natures, it follows that _x_ cannot be quite strictly one and the same
thing as _y_; and hence if _x_ and _y_ can have a different intrinsic
value, only where their intrinsic natures are different, it follows
that one and the same thing must always have the same intrinsic value.
This, then, is part of what is meant; and about this part I think I
need say no more, except to call attention to the fact that it involves
a conception, which as we shall see is also involved in the other part,
and which involves the same difficulty in both cases--I mean, the
conception which is expressed by the word 'impossible.' (2) The second
part of what is meant is that if a given thing possesses any kind of
intrinsic value in a certain degree, then not only must that same thing
possess it, under all circumstances, in the same degree, but also
anything _exactly like_ it, must, under all circumstances, possess it
in exactly the same degree. Or to put it in the corresponding negative
form: It is _impossible_ that of two exactly similar things one should
possess it and the other not, or that one should possess it in one
degree, and the other in a different one.

I think this second proposition also is naturally conveyed by saying
that the kind of value in question depends solely on the intrinsic
nature of what possesses it. For we should naturally say of two
things which were _exactly alike_ intrinsically, in spite of their
being _two,_ that they possessed the _same_ intrinsic nature. But
it is important to call attention expressly to the fact that what
I mean by the expression 'having a different intrinsic nature' is
equivalent to 'not exactly alike' because here there is real risk of
confusion between this conception and a different one. This comes
about as follows. It is natural to suppose that the phrase 'having a
different intrinsic nature' is equivalent to the phrase 'intrinsically
different' or 'having different intrinsic properties.' But, if we do
make this identification, there is a risk of confusion. For it is
obvious that there is a sense in which, when things are exactly like,
they must be 'intrinsically different' and have different intrinsic
properties, merely because they are two. For instance, two patches of
colour may be exactly alike, in spite of the fact that each possesses a
constituent which the other does not possess, provided only that their
two constituents are exactly alike. And yet, in a certain sense, it
is obvious that the fact that each has a constituent, which the other
has not got, does constitute an intrinsic difference between them, and
implies that each has an intrinsic property which the other has not
got. And even where the two things are simple the mere fact that they
are _numerically_ different does in a sense constitute an intrinsic
difference between them, and each will have at least one intrinsic
property which the other has not got--namely that of being identical
with itself. It is obvious therefore that the phrases 'intrinsically
different' and 'having different intrinsic properties' are ambiguous.
They may be used in such a sense that to say of two things that they
are intrinsically different or have different intrinsic properties does
_not_ imply that they are not exactly alike, but only that they are
_numerically_ different. Or they may be used in a sense in which two
things can be said to be intrinsically different, and to have different
intrinsic properties _only_ when they are not exactly alike. It is,
therefore, extremely important to insist that when I say: Two things
can differ in intrinsic value, only when they have different intrinsic
natures, I am using the expression 'having different intrinsic natures'
in the latter sense and not the former:--in a sense in which the mere
fact that two things are two, or differ numerically, does _not_ imply
that they have different intrinsic natures, but in which they can
be said to have different intrinsic natures, _only_ where, besides
differing numerically, they are also _not_ exactly alike.

But as soon as this is explained, another risk of confusion arises
owing to the fact that when people contrast mere numerical difference
with a kind of intrinsic difference, which is _not_ merely numerical,
they are apt to identify the latter with _qualitative_ difference. It
might, therefore, easily be thought that by 'difference in intrinsic
nature' I mean 'difference in quality.' But this identification of
difference in quality with difference in intrinsic nature would also
be a mistake. It is true that what is commonly meant by difference
of quality, in the strict sense, always is a difference of intrinsic
nature: two things cannot differ in quality without differing in
intrinsic nature; and that fact is one of the most important facts
about qualitative difference. But the converse is by no means also
true: although two things cannot differ in quality without differing in
intrinsic nature, they can differ in intrinsic nature without differing
in quality; or, in other words, difference in quality is only _one_
species of difference in intrinsic nature. That this is so follows
from the fact that, as I explained, I am using the phrase 'different
in intrinsic nature' as equivalent to 'not exactly like for it is
quite plain that two things may not be exactly alike, in spite of the
fact that they don't differ in quality, _e.g._ if the only difference
between them were in respect of the _degree_ in which they possess
some quality they do possess. Nobody would say that a very loud sound
was exactly like a very soft one, even if they were exactly like in
quality; and yet it is plain there is a sense in which their intrinsic
nature is different For this reason alone qualitative difference cannot
be identified with difference in intrinsic nature. And there are still
other reasons. Difference in size, for instance may be a difference
in intrinsic nature, in the sense I mean, but it can hardly be called
a difference in quality. Or take such a difference as the difference
between two patterns consisting in the fact that the one is a yellow
circle with a red spot in the middle, and the other a yellow circle
with a blue spot in the middle. This difference would perhaps be
loosely called a difference of quality; but obviously it would be more
accurate to call it a difference which consists in the fact that the
one pattern has a _constituent_ which is qualitatively different from
any which the other has; and the difference between being qualitatively
different and having qualitatively different constituents is important
both because the latter can only be defined in terms of the former, and
because it is possible for simple things to differ from one another
in the former way, whereas it is only possible for complex things to
differ in the latter.

I hope this is sufficient to make clear exactly what the conception is
which I am expressing by the phrase "different in intrinsic nature."
The important points are (1) that it is a kind of difference which
does _not_ hold between two things, when they are _merely_ numerically
different, but only when, besides being numerically different, they
are also _not_ exactly alike and (2) that it is _not_ identical
with qualitative difference; although qualitative difference is one
particular species of it. The conception seems to me to be an extremely
important and fundamental one, although, so far as I can see, it has no
quite simple and unambiguous name: and this is the reason why I have
dwelt on it at such length. "Not exactly like" is the least ambiguous
way of expressing it; but this has the disadvantage that it looks as
if the idea of exact likeness were the fundamental one from which this
was derived, whereas I believe the contrary to be the case. For this
reason it is perhaps better to stick to the cumbrous phrase "different
in intrinsic nature."

So much for the question what is meant by saying of two things that
they "differ in intrinsic nature." We have now to turn to the more
difficult question as to what is meant by the words "impossible" and
"necessary" in the statement: A kind of value is intrinsic if and only
if, it is _impossible_ that _x_ and _y_ should have different values of
the kind, unless they differ in intrinsic nature; and in the equivalent
statement: A kind of value is intrinsic if and only if, when anything
possesses it, that same thing or anything exactly like it would
_necessarily_ or _must_ always, under all circumstances, possess it in
exactly the same degree.

As regards the meaning of this necessity and impossibility, we may
begin by making two points clear.

(1) It is sometimes contended, and with some plausibility, that what
we mean by saying that it is _possible_ for a thing which possesses
one predicate F to possess another G, is, sometimes at least, merely
that some things which possess F do in fact also possess G. And if
we give this meaning to "possible," the corresponding meaning of the
statement it is _impossible_ for a thing which possesses F to possess
G will be merely: Things which possess F never do in fact possess G.
If, then, we understood "impossible" in this sense, the condition for
the "internality" of a kind of value, which I have stated by saying
that if a kind of value is to be "intrinsic" it must be _impossible_
for two things to possess it in different degrees, if they are exactly
like one another, will amount merely to saying that no two things
which are exactly like one another ever do, in fact, possess it in
different degrees. It follows, that, if this were all that were meant,
this condition would be satisfied, if only it were true (as for all
I know it may be) that, in the case of all things which possess any
particular kind of intrinsic value, there happens to be nothing else
in the Universe exactly like any one of them; for if this were so, it
would, of course, follow that no two things which are exactly alike did
in fact possess the kind of value in question in different degrees,
for the simple reason that everything which possessed it at all would
be unique in the sense that there was nothing else exactly like it. If
this were all that were meant, therefore, we could prove any particular
kind of value to satisfy this condition, by merely proving that there
never has in fact and never will be anything exactly like any one of
the things which possess it: and our assertion that it satisfied this
condition would merely be an empirical generalisation. Moreover if
this were all that was meant it would obviously be by no means certain
that purely subjective predicates could not satisfy the condition in
question; since it would be satisfied by any subjective predicate of
which it happened to be true that everything which possessed it was,
in fact, unique--that there was nothing exactly like it; and for all
I know there may be many subjective predicates of which this is true.
It is, therefore, scarcely necessary to say that I am not using
"impossible" in this sense. When I say that a kind of value, to be
intrinsic, must satisfy the condition that it must be _impossible_ for
two things exactly alike to possess it in different degrees, I do not
mean by this condition anything which a kind of value could be proved
to satisfy, by the mere empirical fact that there was nothing else
exactly like any of the things which possessed it. It is, of course,
an essential part of my meaning that we must be able to say not merely
that no two exactly similar things do _in fact_ possess it in different
degrees, but that, _if_ there had been or were going to be anything
exactly similar to a thing which does possess it, even though, in
fact, there has not and won't be any such thing, that thing would have
possessed or would possess the kind of value in question in exactly the
same degree. It is essential to this meaning of "impossibility" that
it should entitle us to assert what _would_ have been the case, under
conditions which never have been and never will be realised; and it
seems obvious that no mere empirical generalisation can entitle us to
do this.

But (2) to say that I am not using 'necessity' in this first sense,
is by no means sufficient to explain what I do mean. For it certainly
seems as if causal laws (though this is disputed) do entitle us to make
assertions of the very kind that mere empirical generalisations do not
entitle us to make. In virtue of a causal law we do seem to be entitled
to assert such things as that, if a given thing had had a property
or were to have a property F which it didn't have or won't have, it
_would_ have had or _would_ have some other property G. And it might,
therefore, be thought that the kind of 'necessity' and 'impossibility'
I am talking of is this kind of causal 'necessity' and 'impossibility.'
It is, therefore, important to insist that I do _not_ mean this kind
either. If this were all I meant, it would again be by no means
obvious, that purely subjective predicates might not satisfy our second
condition. It may, for instance, for all I know, be true that there
are causal laws which insure that in the case of everything that is
'beautiful,' anything exactly like any of these things would, in this
Universe, excite a particular kind of feeling in everybody to whom it
were presented in a particular way: and if that were so, we should have
a subjective predicate which satisfied the condition that, when a given
thing possesses that predicate, it is impossible (in the causal sense)
that any exactly similar thing should not also possess it. The kind
of necessity I am talking of is not, therefore, mere causal necessity
either. When I say that if a given thing possesses a certain degree of
intrinsic value, anything precisely similar to it _would_ necessarily
_have_ possessed that value in exactly the same degree, I mean that it
_would_ have done so, even if it had existed in a Universe in which
the causal laws were quite different from what they are in this one. I
mean, in short, that it is _impossible_ for any precisely similar thing
to possess a different value, in precisely such a sense as that, in
which it is, I think, generally admitted that it is _not_ impossible
that causal laws should have been different from what they are--a sense
of impossibility, therefore, which certainly does not depend merely on
causal laws.

That there is such a sense of necessity--a sense which entitles us to
say that what has F _would have_ G, even if causal laws were quite
different from what they are--is, I think, quite clear from such
instances as the following. Suppose you take a particular patch of
colour, which is yellow. We can, I think, say with certainty that any
patch exactly like that one, _would_ be yellow, even if it existed in
a Universe in which causal laws were quite different from what they
are in this one. We can say that any such patch _must_ be yellow,
quite unconditionally, whatever the circumstances, and whatever
the causal laws. And it is in a sense similar to this, in respect
of the fact that it is neither empirical nor causal, that I mean
the 'must' to be understood, when I say that if a kind of value is
to be 'intrinsic,' then, supposing a given-thing possesses it in a
certain degree, anything exactly like that thing _must_ possess it in
exactly the same degree. To say, of 'beauty' or 'goodness' that they
are 'intrinsic' is only, therefore, to say that this thing which is
obviously true of 'yellowness' and 'blueness' and 'redness' is true
of them. And if we give this sense to 'must' in our definition, then
I think it is obvious that to say of a given kind of value that it is
intrinsic _is_ inconsistent with its being 'subjective.' For there
is, I think, pretty clearly no subjective predicate of which we can
say thus unconditionally, that, _if_ a given thing possesses it, then
anything exactly like that thing, _would,_ under any circumstances, and
under any causal laws, also possess it. For instance, whatever kind of
feeling you take, it is plainly not true that supposing I have that
feeling towards a given thing A, then _I_ should necessarily under any
circumstances have that feeling towards anything precisely similar to
A: for the simple reason that a thing precisely similar to A _might_
exist in a Universe in which I did not exist at all. And similarly
it is not true of any feeling whatever, that if _somebody_ has that
feeling towards a given thing A, then, in arty Universe, in which
a thing precisely similar to A existed, _somebody_ would have that
feeling towards it. Nor finally is it even true, that if it is true of
a given thing A, that, under actual causal laws, any one to whom A were
presented in a certain way _would_ have a certain feeling towards it,
then the same hypothetical predicate would, in any Universe, belong to
anything precisely similar to A: in every case it seems to be possible
that there _might_ be a Universe, in which the causal laws were such
that the proposition would not be true.

It is, then, because in my definition of 'intrinsic' value the 'must'
is to be understood in this unconditional sense, that I think that the
proposition that a kind of value is 'intrinsic' is inconsistent with
its being subjective. But it should be observed that in holding that
there is this inconsistency, I am contradicting a doctrine which seems
to be held by many philosophers. There are, as you probably know, some
philosophers who insist strongly on a doctrine which they express by
saying that no relations are purely external. And so far as I can make
out one thing which they mean by this is just that, whenever r has any
relation whatever which _y_ has not got, _x_ and _y cannot_ be exactly
alike: That any difference in relation necessarily entails a difference
in intrinsic nature. There is, I think, no doubt that when these
philosophers say this, they mean by their 'cannot' and 'necessarily'
an unconditional 'cannot' and 'must.' And hence it follows they are
holding that, if, for instance, a thing A pleases me now, then any
other thing, B, precisely similar to A, must, under any circumstances,
and in any Universe, please me also: since, if B did not please me, it
would _not_ possess a relation which A does possess, and therefore, by
their principle, _could_ not be precisely similar to A_--must_ differ
from it in intrinsic nature. But it seems to me to be obvious that this
principle is false. If it were true, it would follow that I can know _a
priori_ such things as that no patch of colour which is seen by you and
is not seen by me is ever exactly like any patch which is seen by me
and is not seen by you; or that no patch of colour which is surrounded
by a red ring is ever exactly like one which is not so surrounded. But
it is surely obvious, that, whether these things are true or not they
are things which I cannot know _a priori._ It is simply _not_ evident
_a priori_ that no patch of colour which is seen by A and not by B is
ever exactly like one which is seen by B and not by A, and that no
patch of colour which is surrounded by a red ring is ever exactly like
one which is not. And this illustration serves to bring out very well
both what is meant by saying of such a predicate as 'beautiful 'that
it is intrinsic,' and why, if it is, it cannot be subjective. What is
meant is just that if A is beautiful and B is not, you could know _a
priori_ that A and B are _not_ exactly alike; whereas, with any such
subjective predicate, as that of exciting a particular feeling in me,
or that of being a thing which would excite such a feeling in any
spectator, you cannot tell _a priori_ that a thing A which did possess
such a predicate and a thing B which did not, could not be exactly
alike.

It seems to me, therefore, quite certain, in spite of the dogma that no
relations are purely external, that there are many predicates, such for
instance as most (if not all) subjective predicates or the objective
one of being surrounded by a red ring, which do _not_ depend solely
on the intrinsic nature of what possesses them: or, in other words,
of which it is _not_ true that if _x_ possesses them and _y_ does
not, _x_ and _y must_ differ in intrinsic nature. But what precisely
is meant by this unconditional 'must,' I must confess I don't know.
The obvious thing to suggest is that it is the logical 'must,' which
certainly is unconditional in just this sense: the kind of necessity,
which we assert to hold, for instance, when we say that whatever is a
right-angled triangle _must_ be a triangle, or that whatever is yellow
_must_ be either yellow or blue. But I must say I cannot see that
all unconditional necessity is of this nature. I do not see how it
can be deduced from any logical law that, if a given patch of colour
be yellow, then any patch which were exactly like the first would be
yellow too. And similarly in our case of 'intrinsic' value, though I
think it is true that beauty, for instance, is 'intrinsic,' I do not
see how it can be deduced from any logical law, that if A is beautiful,
anything that were exactly like A would be beautiful too, in exactly
the same degree.

Moreover, though I do believe that both "yellow" (in the sense in
which it applies to sense-data) and "beautiful" are predicates which,
in this unconditional sense, depend only on the intrinsic nature of
what possesses them, there seems to me to be an extremely important
difference between them which constitutes a further difficulty in the
way of getting quite clear as to what this unconditional sense of
"must" is. The difference I mean is one which I am inclined to express
by saying that though both yellowness and beauty are predicates which
_depend_ only on the intrinsic nature of what possesses them, yet
while yellowness is itself an _intrinsic_ predicate, _beauty_ is not.
Indeed it seems to me to be one of the most important truths about
predicates of value, that though many of them _are_ intrinsic kinds of
value, in the sense I have defined, yet _none_ of them are intrinsic
properties, in the sense in which such properties as "yellow" or the
property of "being a state of pleasure" or "being a state of things
which contains a balance of pleasure" are intrinsic properties. It is
obvious, for instance, that, if we are to reject _all_ naturalistic
theories of value, we must not only reject those theories, according to
which no kind of value would be intrinsic, but must also reject such
theories as those which assert, for instance, that to say that a state
of mind is good is to say that it is a state of being pleased; or
that to say that a state of things is good is to say that it contains
a balance of pleasure over pain. There are, in short, two entirely
different types of naturalistic theory, the difference between which
may be illustrated by the difference between the assertion, "A is good"
_means_ "A is pleasant" and the assertion "A is good" _means_ "A is a
state of pleasure." Theories of the former type imply that goodness is
_not_ an intrinsic kind of value, whereas theories of the latter type
imply equally emphatically that it is: since obviously such predicates
as that "of being a state of pleasure," or "containing a balance of
pleasure," _are_ predicates like "yellow" in respect of the fact that
if a given thing possesses them, anything exactly like the thing in
question must possess them. It seems to me equally obvious that _both_
types of theory are false: but I do not know how to exclude them both
except by saying that two different propositions are both true of
_goodness_, namely: (1) that it does depend _only_ on the intrinsic
nature of what possesses it--which excludes theories of the first type
and (2) that, _though_ this is so, it is yet not itself an intrinsic
property--which excludes those of the second. It was for this reason
that I said above that, if there are any intrinsic kinds of value,
they would constitute a class of predicates which is, perhaps, unique;
for I cannot think of any other predicate which resembles them in
respect of the fact, that though _not_ itself intrinsic, it yet shares
with intrinsic properties the characteristics of depending solely on
the intrinsic nature of what possesses it. So far as I know, certain
predicates of value are the only non-intrinsic properties which share
with intrinsic properties this characteristic of depending only on the
intrinsic nature of what possesses them.

If, however, we are thus to say that predicates of value, though
_dependent_ solely on intrinsic properties, are not themselves
intrinsic properties, there must be some characteristic belonging to
intrinsic properties which predicates of value never possess. And
it seems to me quite obvious that there is; only I can't see _what_
it is. It seems to me quite obvious that if you assert of a given
state of things that it contains a balance of pleasure over pain, you
are asserting of it not only a _different_ predicate, from what you
would be asserting of it if you said it was "good"--but a predicate
which is of quite a different _kind_; and in the same way that when
you assert of a patch of colour that it is "yellow," the predicate
you assert is not only _different_ from "beautiful," but of quite a
different _kind,_ in the same way as before. And of course the mere
fact that many people have thought that goodness and beauty were
subjective is evidence that there is _some_ great difference of kind
between them and such predicates as being yellow or containing a
balance of pleasure. But _what_ the difference is, if we suppose, as I
suppose, that goodness and beauty are _not_ subjective, and that they
do share with "yellowness" and "containing pleasure," the property
of depending _solely_ on the intrinsic nature of what possesses
them, I confess I cannot say. I can only vaguely express the kind of
difference I feel there to be by saying that intrinsic properties seem
to _describe_ the intrinsic nature of what possesses them in a sense
in which predicates of value never do. If you could enumerate _all_
the intrinsic properties a given thing possessed, you would have given
a _complete_ description of it, and would not need to mention any
predicates of value it possessed; whereas no description of a given
thing could be _complete_ which omitted any intrinsic property. But,
in any case, owing to the fact that predicates of intrinsic value are
not themselves intrinsic properties, you cannot define "intrinsic
property," in the way which at first sight seems obviously the right
one. You cannot say that an intrinsic property is a property such that,
if one thing possesses it and another does not, the intrinsic nature of
the two things _must_ be different. For this is the very thing which we
are maintaining to be true of predicates of intrinsic value, while at
the same time we say that they are _not_ intrinsic properties. Such a
definition of "intrinsic property" would therefore only be possible if,
we could say that the necessity there is that, if _x_ and _y_ possess
different intrinsic properties, their nature must be different, is a
necessity of a _different kind_ from the necessity there is that, if
_x_ and _y_ are of different intrinsic values, their nature must be
different, although both necessities are unconditional. And it seems to
me possible that this is the true explanation. But, if so, it obviously
adds to the difficulty of explaining the meaning of the unconditional
"must," since, in this case, there would be two different meanings of
"must," both unconditional, and yet neither, apparently, identical with
the logical "must."



EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL RELATIONS


[Propositions and terms surrounded by "°" are "over-ligned" in original.]

In the index to _Appearance and Reality_ (First Edition) Mr. Bradley
declares that _all_ relations are "intrinsical"; and the following are
some of the phrases by means of which he tries to explain what he means
by this assertion. "A relation must at both ends _affect,_ and pass
into, the being of its terms" (p. 364). "Every relation essentially
penetrates the being of its terms, and is, in this sense, intrinsical"
(p. 392). "To stand in a relation and not to be relative, to support
it and yet not to be infected and undermined by it, seems out of the
question" (p. 142). And a good many other philosophers seem inclined to
take the same view about relations which Mr. Bradley is here trying to
express. Other phrases which seem to be sometimes used to express it,
or a part of it, are these: "No relations are purely external"; "All
relations qualify or modify or make a difference to the terms between
which they hold"; "No terms are independent of any of the relations in
which they stand to other terms." (See _e.g.,_ Joachim, _The Nature of
Truth,_ pp. 11, 12, 46).

It is, I think, by no means easy to make out exactly what these
philosophers mean by these assertions. And the main object of this
paper is to try to define clearly one proposition, which, even if it
does not give the whole of what they mean, seems to me to be always
implied by what they mean, and to be certainly false. I shall try to
make clear the exact meaning of this proposition, to point out some
of its most important consequences, and to distinguish it clearly
from certain other propositions which are, I think, more or less
liable to be confused with it. And I shall maintain that, if we give
to the assertion that a relation is "internal" the meaning which this
proposition would give to it, then, though, in that sense, _some_
relations are "internal," others, no less certainly, are not, but are
"purely external."

To begin with, we may, I think, clear the ground, by putting on
one side two propositions about relations, which, though they seem
sometimes to be confused with the view we are discussing, do, I think,
quite certainly not give the whole meaning of that view.

The first is a proposition which is quite certainly and obviously true
of all relations, without exception, and which, though it raises points
of great difficulty, can, I think, be clearly enough stated for its
truth to be obvious. It is the proposition that, in the case of any
relation whatever, the kind of fact which we express by saying that
a given term A has that relation to another term B, or to a pair of
terms B and C, or to three terms B, C, and D, and so on, in no case
simply consists in the terms in question _together with_ the relation.
Thus the fact which we express by saying that Edward VII was father
of George V, obviously does not simply consist in Edward, George,
_and_ the relation of fatherhood. In order that the fact may be, it
is obviously not sufficient that there should merely be George and
Edward and the relation of fatherhood; it is further necessary that the
relation should _relate_ Edward to George, and not only so, but also
that it should relate them in the particular way which we express by
saying that Edward was father of George, and not merely in the way
which we should express by saying that George was father of Edward.
This proposition is, I think, obviously true of all relations without
exception: and the only reason why I have mentioned it is because,
in an article in which Mr. Bradley criticises Mr. Russell (_Mind,_
1910, p. 179), he seems to suggest that it is inconsistent with the
proposition that any relations are merely external, and because, so far
as I can make out, some other people who maintain that all relations
are internal seem sometimes to think that their contention follows
from this proposition. The way in which Mr. Bradley puts it is that
such facts are unities which are not _completely analysable_; and this
is, of course, true, if it means merely that in the case of no such
fact is there any set of constituents of which we can truly say: This
fact is _identical with_ these constituents. But whether from this it
follows that all relations are internal must of course depend upon
what is meant by the latter statement. If it be merely used to express
this proposition itself, or anything which follows from it, then, of
course, there can be no doubt that all relations are internal. But I
think there is no doubt that those who say this do not mean by their
words _merely_ this obvious proposition itself; and I am going to point
out something which I think they always imply, and which certainly does
_not_ follow from it.

The second proposition which, I think, may be put aside at once as
certainly not giving the whole of what is meant, is the proposition
which is, I think, the natural meaning of the phrases "All relations
modify or affect their terms" or "All relations make a difference to
their terms." There is one perfectly natural and intelligible sense in
which a given relation may be said to modify a term which stands in
that relation, namely, the sense in which we should say that, if, by
putting a stick of sealing-wax into a flame, we make the sealing-wax
melt, its relationship to the flame has modified the sealing-wax.
This is a sense of the word "modify" in which part of what is meant
by saying of any term that it is modified, is that it has actually
undergone a change: and I think it is clear that a sense in which this
is part of its meaning is the only one in which the word "modify" can
properly be used. If, however, those who say that all relations modify
their terms were using the word in this, its proper, sense, part of
what would be meant by this assertion would be that all terms which
have relations at all actually undergo changes. Such an assertion would
be obviously false, for the simple reason that there are terms which
have relation? and which yet never change at all. And I think it is
quite clear that those who assert that all relations are internal, in
the sense we are concerned with, mean by this something which could be
consistently asserted to be true of all relations without exception,
even if it were admitted that some terms which have relations do
not change. When, therefore, they use the phrase that all relations
"modify" their terms as equivalent to "all relations are internal,"
they must be using "modify" in some metaphorical sense other than its
natural one. I think, indeed, that most of them would be inclined to
assert that in every case in which a term A comes to have to another
term B a relation, which it did not have to B in some immediately
preceding interval, its having of that relation to that term causes
it to undergo some change, which it would not have undergone if it
had not stood in precisely that relation to B and I think perhaps
they would think that this proposition follows from some proposition
which is true of all relations, without exception, and which is what
they mean by saying that all relations are internal. The question
whether the coming into a new relation does thus always cause some
modification in the term which comes into it is one which is often
discussed, as if it had something to do with the question whether all
relations are internal as when, for instance, it is discussed whether
knowledge of a thing alters the thing known. And for my part I should
maintain that this proposition is certainly not true. But what I am
concerned with now is not the question whether it is true, but simply
to point out that, so far as I can see, it can have nothing to do
with the question whether all relations are internal, for the simple
reason that it cannot possibly follow from any proposition with regard
to _all_ relations without exception. It asserts with regard to all
relational properties of a certain kind, that they have a certain kind
of _effect_; and no proposition of this sort can, I think follow from
any universal proposition with regard to _all_ relations.

We have, therefore, rejected as certainly not giving the whole meaning
of the dogma that all relations are internal: (1) the obviously true
proposition that no relational facts are _completely_ analysable,
in the precise sense which I gave to that assertion; and (2) the
obviously false proposition that all relations modify their terms,
in the natural sense of the term "modify," in which it always has as
part of its meaning "cause to undergo a change." And we have also seen
that this false proposition that any relation which a term comes to
have always causes it to undergo a change is wholly irrelevant to the
question whether _all_ relations are internal or not. We have seen
finally that if the assertion that all relations modify their terms is
to be understood as equivalent to the assertion that all are internal,
"modify" must be understood in some metaphorical sense. The question
is: What is this metaphorical sense?

And one point is, I think, pretty clear to begin with. It is obvious
that, in the case of some relations, a given term A may have the
relation in question, not only to one other term, but to several
different terms. If, for instance, we consider the relation of
fatherhood, it is obvious that a man may be father, not only of
one, but of several different children. And those who say that all
relations modify their terms always mean, I think, not merely that
every different relation which a term has modifies it; but also that,
where the relation is one which the term has to several different other
terms, then, in the case of _each_ of these terms, it is modified by
the fact that it has the relation in question to that particular term.
If, for instance, A is father of three children, B, C, and D, they
mean to assert that he is modified, not merely by being a father, but
by being the father of B, also by being the father of C, and also by
being the father of D. The mere assertion that all _relations_ modify
their terms does not, of course, make it quite clear that this is what
is meant; but I think there is no doubt that it is always meant; and
I think we can express it more clearly by using a term, which I have
already introduced, and saying the doctrine is that all _relational
properties_ modify their terms, in a sense which remains to be
defined. I think there is no difficulty in understanding what I mean
by a _relational property._ If A is father of B, then what you assert
of A when you say that he is so is a _relational property_--namely
the property of being father of B; and it is quite clear that this
property is not itself a _relation_, in the same fundamental sense
in which the relation of fatherhood is so; and also that, if C is a
different child from B, then the property of being father of C is a
different relational property from that of being father of B, although
there is only _one_ relation, that of fatherhood, from which both are
derived. So far as I can make out, those philosophers who talk of
all _relations_ being internal, often actually mean by "relations"
"relational properties"; when they talk of all the "relations" of a
given term, they mean all its relational properties, and not merely
all the different relations, of each of which it is true that the term
has that relation to something. It will, I think, conduce to clearness
to use a different word for these two entirely different uses of the
term "relation" to call "fatherhood" a relation, and "fatherhood of
B" a "relational property." And the fundamental proposition, which is
meant by the assertion that all relations are internal, is, I think, a
proposition with regard to relational properties, and not with regard
to relations properly so-called. There is no doubt that those who
maintain this dogma mean to maintain that all relational properties are
related in a peculiar way to the terms which possess them--that they
modify or are internal to them, in some metaphorical sense. And once we
have defined what this sense is in which a _relational property_ can be
said to be internal to a term which possesses it, we can easily derive
from it a corresponding sense in which the _relations_, strictly so
called, from which relational properties are derived, can be said to be
internal.

Our question is then: What is the metaphorical sense of "modify" in
which the proposition that all relations are internal is equivalent to
the proposition that all relational properties "modify" the terms which
possess them? I think it is clear that the term "modify" would never
have been used at all to express the relation meant, unless there had
been some analogy between this relation and that which we have seen is
the proper sense of "modify," namely, _causes_ to change. And I think
we can see where the analogy comes in by considering the statement,
with regard to any particular term A and any relational property P
which belongs to it, that A _would have been different from what it
is if it had not had_ P: the statement, for instance, that Edward VII
would have been different if he had not been father of George V. This
is a thing which we can obviously truly say of A and P, in some sense,
whenever it is true of P that it _modified_ A in the proper sense of
the word: if the being held in the flame causes the sealing-wax to
melt, we can truly say (in some sense) that the sealing-wax would not
have been in a melted state if it had not been in the flame. But it
seems as if it were a thing which might also be true of A and P, where
it is _not_ true that the possession of P _caused_ A to change; since
the mere assertion that A would have been different, if it had not
had P, does not necessarily imply that the possession of P _caused
A_ to have any property which it would not have had otherwise. And
those who say that all relations are internal do sometimes tend to
speak as if what they meant could be put in the form: In the case of
every relational property which a thing has, it is always true that
the thing which has it would have been different if it had not had
that property; they sometimes say even: If P be a relational property
and A a term which has it, then it is always true that A _would not
have been A_ if it had not had P. This is, I think, obviously a clumsy
way of expressing anything which could possibly be true, since, taken
strictly, it implies the self-contradictory proposition that if A had
not had P, it would not have been true that A did not have P. But it
is nevertheless a more or less natural way of expressing a proposition
which might quite well be true, namely, that, supposing A has P, then
anything which had not had P would necessarily have been different
from A. This is the proposition which I wish to suggest as giving the
metaphorical meaning of "P _modifies_ A," of which we are in search.
It is a proposition to which I think a perfectly precise meaning can
be given, and one which does not at all imply that the possession of P
_caused_ any change in A, but which might conceivably be true of all
terms and all the relational properties they have, without exception.
And it seems to me that it is not unnatural that the proposition that
this is true of P and A, should have been expressed in the form, "P
modifies A," since it can be more or less naturally expressed in the
perverted form, "If A had not had P it would have been different,"--a
form of words, which, as we saw, can also be used whenever P does, in
the proper sense, modify A.

I want to suggest, then, that one thing which is always implied by
the dogma that, "All relations are internal," is that, in the case of
every relational property, it can always be truly asserted of any term
A which has that property, that any term which had not had it would
necessarily have been different from A.

This is the proposition to which I want to direct attention. And there
are two phrases in it, which require some further explanation.

The first is the phrase "would necessarily have been." And the meaning
of this can be explained, in a preliminary way, as follows:--To say
of a pair of properties P and Q, that any term which had had P would
necessarily have had Q, is equivalent to saying that, in every case,
from the proposition with regard to any given term that it has P, it
_follows_ that that term has Q: _follows_ being understood in the sense
in which from the proposition with regard to any term, that it is a
right angle, it _follows_ that it is an angle, and in which from the
proposition with regard to any term that it is red it _follows_ that
it is coloured. There is obviously some very important sense in which
from the proposition that a thing is a right angle, it does follow
that it is an angle, and from the proposition that a thing is red it
does follow that it is coloured. And what I am maintaining is that the
metaphorical sense of "modify," in which it is maintained that all
relational properties modify the subjects which possess them, can be
defined by reference to this sense of "follows." The definition is: To
say of a given relational property P that it modifies or is internal to
a given term A which possesses it, is to say that from the proposition
that a thing has not got P it follows that that thing is different
from A. In other words, it is to say that the property of _not_
possessing P, and the property of being different from A are related
to one another in the peculiar way in which the property of being a
right-angled triangle is related to that of being a triangle, or that
of being red to that of being coloured.

To complete the definition it is necessary, however, to define the
sense in which "different from A" is to be understood. There are two
different senses which the statement that A is different from B may
bear. It may be meant merely that A is _numerically_ different from
B, _other_ than B, not identical with B. Or it may be meant that not
only is this the case, but also that A is related to B in a way which
can be roughly expressed by saying that A is _qualitatively_ different
from B. And of these two meanings, those who say "All relations make
a _difference_ to their terms," always, I think, mean difference
in the latter sense and not merely in the former. That is to say,
they mean, that if P be a relational property which belongs to A,
then the absence of P entails not only numerical difference from A,
but qualitative difference. But, in fact, from the proposition that
a thing is qualitatively different from A, it does follow that it
is also numerically different. And hence they are maintaining that
every relational property is "internal to" its terms in both of two
different senses at the same time. They are maintaining that, if P be a
relational property which belongs to A, then P is internal to A both in
the sense (1) that the absence of P entails qualitative difference from
A; and (2) that the absence of P entails numerical difference from A.
It seems to me that neither of these propositions is true; and I will
say something about each in turn.

As for the first, I said before that I think some relational properties
really are "internal to" their terms, though by no means all are.
But, if we understand "internal to" in this first sense, I am not
really sure that any are. In order to get an example of one which
was, we should have, I think, to say that any two different qualities
are always _qualitatively_ different from one another: that, for
instance, it is not only the case that anything which is pure red is
qualitatively different from anything which is pure blue, but that
the quality "pure red" itself is qualitatively different from the
quality "pure blue." I am not quite sure that we can say this, but I
think we can; and if so, it is easy to get an example of a relational
property which is internal in our first sense. The quality "orange" is
intermediate in shade between the qualities yellow and red. This is a
relational property, and it is quite clear that, on our assumption,
it is an internal one. Since it is quite clear that any quality which
were _not_ intermediate between yellow and red, would necessarily
be _other_ than orange; and if any quality _other_ than orange must
be _qualitatively_ different from orange, then it follows that
"intermediate between yellow and red" is internal to "orange." That is
to say, the absence of the relational property "intermediate between
yellow and red," _entails_ the property "different in quality from
orange."

There is then, I think, a difficulty in being sure that _any_
relational properties are internal in this first sense. But, if what we
want to do is to show that some are _not,_ and that therefore the dogma
that all relations are internal is false, I think the most conclusive
reason for saying this is that if _all_ were internal in this first
sense, all would necessarily be internal in the second, and that this
is plainly false. I think, in fact, the most important consequence of
the dogma that all relations are internal, is that it follows from it
that all relational properties are internal in this second sense. I
propose, therefore, at once to consider this proposition, with a view
to bringing out quite clearly what it means and involves, and what are
the main reasons for saying that it is false.

The proposition in question is that, if P be a relational property
and A a term to which it does in fact belong, then, no matter what
P and A may be, it may always be truly asserted of them, that any
term which had _not_ possessed P would necessarily have been other
than--numerically different from--A: or in other words, that A would
necessarily, in all conceivable circumstances, have possessed P.
And with this sense of "internal," as distinguished from that which
says _qualitatively different,_ it is quite easy to point out some
relational properties which certainly are internal in this sense.
Let us take as an example the relational property which we assert to
belong to a visual sense-datum when we say of it that it has another
visual sense-datum as a spatial part: the assertion, for instance,
with regard to a coloured patch half of which is red and half yellow.
"This whole patch contains this patch" (where "this patch" is a proper
name for the red half). It is here, I think, quite plain that, in a
perfectly clear and intelligible sense, we can say that any whole,
which had not contained that red patch, could not have been identical
with the whole in question: that from the proposition with regard to
any term whatever that it does not contain _that_ particular patch it
_follows_ that that term is _other_ than the whole in question--though
_not_ necessarily that it is qualitatively different from it. _That_
particular whole could not have existed without having that particular
patch for a part. But it seems no less clear, at first sight, that
there are many other relational properties of which this is not true.
In order to get an example, we have only to consider the relation which
the red patch has to the whole patch, instead of considering as before
that which the whole has to it. It seems quite clear that, though the
whole could not have existed without having the red patch for a part,
the red patch might perfectly well have existed without being part
of that particular whole. In other words, though every relational
property of the form "having _this_ for a spatial part" is "internal"
in our sense, it seems equally clear that every property of the form
"is a spatial part of this whole" is _not_ internal, but purely
external. Yet this last, according to me, is one of the things which
the dogma of internal relations denies. It implies that it is just
as necessary that anything, which is in fact a part of a particular
whole, should be a part of that whole, as that any whole, which has
a particular thing for a part, should have that thing for a part. It
implies, in fact, quite generally, that any term which does in fact
have a particular relational property, could not have existed without
having that property. And in saying this it obviously flies in the
face of common sense. It seems quite obvious that in the case of many
relational properties which things have, the fact that they have them
is _a mere matter of fact:_ that the things in question _might_ have
existed without having them. That this, which seems obvious, is true,
seems to me to be the most important thing that can be meant by saying
that some relations are purely external. And the difficulty is to see
how any philosopher could have supposed that it was not true: that, for
instance, the relation of part to whole is no more external than that
of whole to part. I will give at once one main reason which seems to me
to have led to the view, that _all_ relational properties are internal
in this sense.

What I am maintaining is the common-sense view, which seems obviously
true, that it may be true that A has in fact got P and yet also true
that A might have existed without having P. And I say that this
is equivalent to saying that it may be true that A has P, and yet
_not_ true that from the proposition that a thing has _not_ got P it
_follows_ that that thing is _other_ than A--numerically different from
it. And one reason why this is disputed is, I think, simply because it
is in fact true that if A has P, and _x_ has _not_, it _does_ follow
that _x_ is other than A. These two propositions, the one which I admit
to be true (1) that if A has P, and _x_ has not, it _does_ follow that
_x_ is other than A, and the one which I maintain to be false (2) that
if A has P, then from the proposition with regard to any term _x_
that it has not got P, it _follows_ that _x_ is other than A, are, I
think, easily confused with one another. And it is in fact the case
that if they are not different, or if (2) follows from (1), then no
relational properties are external. For (1) is certainly true, and (2)
is certainly equivalent to asserting that none are. It is therefore
absolutely essential, if we are to maintain external relations, to
maintain that (2) does _not_ follow from (1). These two propositions
(1) and (2), with regard to which I maintain that (1) is true, and (2)
is false, can be put in another way, as follows: (1) asserts that if A
has P, then any term which has not, _must_ be other than A. (2) asserts
that if A has P, then any term which had not, _would necessarily be_
other than A. And when they are put in this form, it is, I think, easy
to see why they should be confused: you have only to confuse "must"
or "is necessarily" with "would necessarily be." And their connexion
with the question of external relations can be brought out as follows:
To maintain external relations you have to maintain such things as
that, though Edward VII was in fact father of George V, he _might_
have existed without being father of George V. But to maintain this,
you have to maintain that it is _not_ true that a person who was _not_
father of George would necessarily have been other than Edward. Yet
it is, in fact, the case, that any person who was not the father of
George, _must_ have been other than Edward. Unless, therefore, you can
maintain that from this true proposition it does _not_ follow that any
person who was _not_ father of George _would necessarily_ have been
other than Edward, you will have to give up the view that Edward might
have existed without being father of George.

By far the most important point in connexion with the dogma of internal
relations seems to me to be simply to see clearly the difference
between these two propositions (1) and (2), and that (2) does _not_
follow from (1). If this is not understood, nothing in connexion with
the dogma, can, I think, be understood. And perhaps the difference may
seem so clear, that no more need be said about it. But I cannot help
thinking it is not clear to everybody, and that it does involve the
rejection of certain views, which are sometimes held as to the meaning
of "follows." So I will try to put the point again in a perfectly
strict form.

Let P be a relational property, and A a term to which it does in fact
belong. I propose to define what is meant by saying that P is internal
to A (in the sense we are now concerned with) as meaning that from the
proposition that a thing has not got P, it "follows" that it is _other_
than A.

That is to say, this proposition asserts that between the two
properties "not having P" and "other than A," there holds that relation
which holds between the property "being a right angle" and the property
"being an angle," or between the property "red" and the property
"coloured," and which we express by saying that, in the case of any
thing whatever, from the proposition that that thing is a right angle
it follows, or is deducible, that it is an angle.

Let us now adopt certain conventions for expressing this proposition.

We require, first of all, some term to express the _converse_ of that
relation which we assert to hold between a particular proposition _q_
and a particular proposition _p_, when we assert that _q follows from_
or _is deducible from p._ Let us use the term "entails" to express the
converse of this relation. We shall then be able to say truly that "_p_
entails _q_," when and only when we are able to say truly that "_q_
follows from _p_" or "is deducible from _p_," in the sense in which the
conclusion of a syllogism in Barbara follows from the two premisses,
taken as one conjunctive proposition; or in which the proposition
"This is coloured" follows from "This is red." "_p_ entails _q_" will
be related to "_q_ follows from, _p_" in the same way in which "A is
greater than B" is related to "B is less than A."

We require, next, some short and clear method of expressing the
proposition, with regard to two properties P and Q, that _any_
proposition which asserts of a given thing that it has the property
P _entails_ the proposition that the thing in question also has the
property Q. Let us express this proposition in the form

_x_P entails _x_Q

That is to say "_x_P entails _x_Q" is to mean the same as "Each one of
all the various propositions, which are alike in respect of the fact
that each asserts with regard to some given thing that that thing has
P, entails _that one_ among the various propositions, alike in respect
of the fact that each asserts with regard to some given thing that
that thing has Q, which makes this assertion with regard to the _same
thing_, with regard to which the proposition of the first class asserts
that it has P." In other words "_x_P entails _x_Q" is to be true, if
and only if the proposition "AP entails AQ" is true, and if also all
propositions which resemble this, in the way in which "BP entails BQ"
resembles it, are true also; where "AP" means the same as "A has P,"
"AQ" the same as "A has Q" etc., etc.

We require, next, some way of expressing the proposition, with regard
to two properties P and Q, that any proposition which _denies_ of a
given thing that it has P _entails_ the proposition, with regard to the
thing in question, that it has Q.

Let us, in the case of any proposition, _p_, express the contradictory
of that proposition by _p_. The proposition "It is not the case that A
has P" will then be expressed by °AP°; and it will then be natural, in
accordance with the last convention to express the proposition that any
proposition which _denies_ of a given thing that it has P _entails_ the
proposition, with regard to the thing in question,

that it has Q, by

°_xP_° entails _xQ._

And we require, finally, some short way of expressing the proposition,
with regard to two things B and A, that B is _other_ than (or not
identical with) A. Let us express "B is identical with A" by "B = A";
and it will then be natural, according to the last convention, to
express "B is not identical with A" by

°B = A.°

We have now got everything which is required for expressing, in a short
symbolic form, the proposition, with regard to a given thing A and
a given relational property P, which A in fact possesses, that P is
_internal_ to A. The required expression is

_xP_ entails (°_x_ = A°)

which is to mean the same as "Every proposition which asserts of any
given thing that it has not got P _entails_ the proposition, with
regard to the thing in question, that it is other than A." And this
proposition is, of course, logically equivalent to

(_x_ = A) entails _x_ P

where we are using "logically equivalent," in such a sense that to
say of any proposition _p_ that it is logically equivalent to another
proposition _q_ is to say that both _p_ entails _q_ and _q_ entails
_p._ This last proposition again, is, so far as I can see, either
identical with or logically equivalent to the propositions expressed
by "anything which were identical with A would, in any conceivable
universe, necessarily have P" or by "A could not have existed in any
possible world without having P"; just as the proposition expressed by
"In any possible world a right angle must be an angle" is, I take it,
either identical with or logically equivalent to the proposition "(_x_
is a right angle) entails (r is an angle)."

We have now, therefore, got a short means of symbolising, with
regard to any particular thing A and any particular property P, the
proposition that P is _internal_ to A in the second of the two senses
distinguished on p. 286. But we still require a means of symbolising
the general proposition that _every_ relational property is internal
to any term which possesses it--the proposition, namely, which was
referred to on p. 287, as the most important consequence of the dogma
of internal relations, and which was called (2) on p. 289.

In order to get this, let us first get a means of expressing with
regard to some one particular relational property P, the proposition
that P is internal to _any_ term which possesses it. This is a
proposition which takes the form of asserting with regard to one
particular property, namely P, that any term which possesses that
property also possesses another--namely the one expressed by saying
that P is internal to it. It is, that is to say, an ordinary universal
proposition, like "All men are mortal." But such a form of words is,
as has often been pointed out, ambiguous. It may stand for either of
two different propositions. It may stand merely for the proposition
"There is nothing, which both is a man, and is not mortal"--a
proposition which may also be expressed by "If anything is a man,
that thing is mortal," and which is distinguished by the fact that
it makes no assertion as to whether there are any men or not; or it
may stand for the conjunctive proposition "If anything is a man, that
thing is mortal, _and there are men."_ It will be sufficient for our
purposes to deal with propositions of the first kind--those namely,
which assert with regard to some two properties, say Q and R, that
there is nothing which both does possess Q and does not possess R,
without asserting that anything does possess Q. Such a proposition is
obviously equivalent to the assertion that _any_ pair of propositions
which resembles the pair "AQ" and "AR," in respect of the fact that
one of them asserts of some particular thing that it has Q and the
other, of the same thing, that it has R, stand to one another in a
certain relation: the relation, namely, which, in the case of "AQ"
and "AR," can be expressed by saying that "It is not the case both
that A has Q and that A has not got R." When we say "There is nothing
which does possess Q and does not possess R" we are obviously saying
something which is either identical with or logically equivalent to the
proposition "In the case of every such pair of propositions it is not
the case both that the one which asserts a particular thing to have
Q is true, and that the one which asserts it to have R is false." We
require, therefore, a short way of expressing the relation between two
propositions _p_ and _q,_ which can be expressed by "It is not the case
that _p_ is true and _q_ false." And I am going, quite arbitrarily to
express this relation by writing

_p_ * _q_

for "It is not the case that _p_ is true and _q_ false."

The relation in question is one which logicians have sometimes
expressed by "_p_ implies _q_." It is, for instance, the one which
Mr. Russell in the _'Principles of Mathematics_ calls "material
implication," and which he and Dr. Whitehead in _Principia Mathematica_
call simply "implication." And if we do use "implication" to stand for
this relation, we, of course, got the apparently paradoxical results
that every false proposition implies every other proposition, both
true and false, and that every true proposition implies every other
true proposition: since it is quite clear that if _p_ is false then,
whatever _q_ may be, "it is not the case that _p_ is true and _q_
false," and quite clear also, that if _p_ and _q_ are both true, then
also "it is not the case that _p_ is true and _q_ false." And these
results, it seems to me, appear to be paradoxical, solely because,
if we use "implies" in any ordinary sense, they are quite certainly
false. Why logicians should have thus chosen to use the word "implies"
as a name for a relation, for which it never is used by any one else,
I do not know. It is partly, no doubt, because the relation for which
they do use it--that expressed by saying "It is not the case that _p_
is true and _q_ false"--is one for which it is very important that
they should have a short name, because it is a relation which is very
fundamental and about which they need constantly to talk, while (so far
as I can discover) it simply has no short name in ordinary life. And
it is partly, perhaps, for a reason which leads us back to our present
reason for giving some name to this relation. It is, in fact, natural
to use "_p_ implies _q_" to mean the same as "If _p,_ then _q."_ And
though "If _p_ then _q_" is hardly ever, if ever, used to mean the
same as "It is not the case that _p_ is true and _q_ false"; yet the
expression "If _anything_ has Q, _it_ has R" may, I think, be naturally
used to express the proposition that, in the case of _every_ pair of
propositions which resembles the pair A Q and A R in respect of the
fact that the first of the pair asserts of some particular thing that
it has Q and the second, of the same thing, that it has R, it is not
the case that the first is true and the second false. That is to say,
if (as I propose to do) we express "It is not the case both that AQ is
true and AR false" by

AQ * AR,

and if, further (on the analogy of the similar case with regard
to "entails)," we express the proposition that of _every_ pair of
propositions which resemble A Q and A R in the respect just mentioned,
it is true that the first has the relation * to the second by

_x_Q * _x_R

then, it _is_ natural to express _x_Q * _x_R, by "If _anything_ has
Q, then _that thing_ has R." And logicians may, I think, have falsely
inferred that _since_ it is natural to express "_x_Q * _x_R" by "If
_anything_ has Q, then _that thing_ has R," it _must_ be natural to
express "AQ * AR" by "If AQ, then AR," and therefore also by "AQ
implies AR." If this has been their reason for expressing "_p * q_"
by "_p_ implies _q_" then obviously their reason is a fallacy. And,
whatever the reason may have been, it seems to me quite certain that
"AQ * AR" cannot be properly expressed either by "AQ implies AR" or by
"If AQ, then AR," although "_r_Q * _x_R" can be properly expressed by
"If anything has Q, then that thing has R."

I am going, then, to express the universal proposition, with regard to
two particular properties Q and R, which asserts that "Whatever has
Q, has R" or "If anything has Q, it has R," without asserting that
anything has Q, by

_x_Q * _x_R

--a means of expressing it, which since we have adopted the convention
that "_p_ * _q_" is to mean the same as "It is not the case that
_p_ is true and _q_ false," brings out the important fact that this
proposition is either identical with or logically equivalent to the
proposition that of _every_ such pair of propositions as AQ and AR,
it is true that it is not the case that the first is true and the
second false. And having adopted this convention, we can now see how,
in accordance with it, the proposition, with regard to a particular
property P, that P is _internal_ to _everything_ which possesses it, is
to be expressed. We saw that P is _internal_ to A is to be expressed by

°_xP_° entails (°_x_ = A°)

or by the logically equivalent proposition

(_x =_ A) entails _xP_

And we have now only to express the proposition that _anything_ that
has P, has also the property that P is _internal_ to it. The required
expression is obviously as follows. Just as "Anything that has Q, has
R" is to be expressed by

_x_Q * _x_R

so "Anything that has P, has also the property that P is internal to
it" will be expressed by

_x_P * {°_y_P° entails (°_y  x_°)}

or by

_x_P * {(_v  x_) entails _y_P}.

We have thus got, in the case of any particular property P, a means
of expressing the proposition that it is _internal_ to _every_ term
that possesses it, which is both short and brings out clearly the
notions that are involved in it. And we do not need, I think, any
further special convention for symbolising the proposition that _every_
relational property is internal to any term which possesses it--the
proposition, namely, which I called (2) above (pp. 289, 290), and which
on p. 287, I called the most important consequence of the dogma of
internal relations. We can express it simply enough as follows:--

(2) = "What we assert of P when we say _xP_ * {°_y_P° entails (°_y =
x_°)} can be truly asserted of every relational property."

And now, for the purpose of comparing (2) with (1), and seeing exactly
what is involved in my assertion that (2) does not follow from (1), let
us try to express (1) by means of the same conventions.

Let us first take the assertion with regard to a particular thing A
and a particular relational property P that, from the proposition that
A has P it _follows_ that nothing which has not got P is identical
with A. This is an assertion which is quite certainly true; since, if
anything which had not got P were identical with A, it would follow
that °AP°; and from the proposition AP, it certainly _follows_ that
°AP° is false, and therefore also that "Something which has not got P
is identical with A" is false, or that "Nothing which has not got P is
identical with A" is true. And this assertion, in accordance with the
conventions we have adopted, will be expressed

by

AP entails {°_x_P° * (°_x_ = A°)}

We want, next, in order to express (1), a means of expressing with
regard to a particular relational property P, the assertion that, from
the proposition, with regard to _anything_ whatever, that that thing
has got P, it _follows_ that nothing which has not got P is identical
with the thing in question. This also is an assertion which is quite
certainly true; since it merely asserts (what is obviously true) that
what

AP entails {°_x_P° * (°_x_ = A°)}

asserts of A, can be truly asserted of anything whatever. And this
assertion, in accordance with the conventions we have adopted, will be
expressed by

_x_P entails {°_y_P° * (°_y_ = x°)}.

The proposition, which I meant to call (1), but which I expressed
before rather clumsily, can now be expressed by

(1) = "What we assert of P, when we say,

_x_P entails {°_y_P° * (°y = _x_°)}

can be truly asserted of every relational property." This is a
proposition which is again quite certainly true; and, in order to
compare it with (2), there is, I think, no need to adopt any further
convention for expressing it, since the questions whether it is or is
not different from (2), and whether (2) does or does not follow from
it, will obviously depend on the same questions with regard to the two
propositions, with regard to the particular relational property, P,

_x_P entails {°_y_P° * (°_y = x_°)}

and

_x_P * {_y_P entails (_y = x_)}

Now what I maintain with regard to (1) and (2) is that, whereas (1) is
true, (2) is false. I maintain, that is to say, that the proposition
"What we assert of P, when we say

_x_P * {°_y_P° entails (°_y = x_°)}.

is true of _every_ relational property" is false, though I admit that
what we here assert of P is true of _some_ relational properties.
Those of which it is true, I propose to call _internal_ relational
properties, those of which it is false _external_ relational
properties. The dogma of internal relations, on the other hand, implies
that (2) is true; that is to say, that _every_ relational property is
_internal_ and that there are no _external_ relational properties. And
what I suggest is that the dogma of internal relations has been held
only because (2) has been falsely thought to follow from (1).

And that (2) does not follow from (1), can, I think, be easily seen as
follows. It can follow from (1) only if from any proposition of the form

_p_ entails (_q_ * _r_)

there follows the corresponding proposition of the form

_p_ * (_q_ entails _r_),

And that this is not the case can, I think, be easily seen by
considering the following three propositions. Let _p_ = "All the books
on this shelf are blue," let _q_ = "My copy of the _Principles of
Mathematics_ is a book on this shelf," and let _r_ = "My copy of the
_Principles of Mathematics_ is blue." Now _p_ here does absolutely
_entail_ (_q * r_). That is to say, it absolutely follows from _p_
that "My copy of the _Principles_ is on this shelf," and "My copy of
the _Principles_ is _not_ blue," are not, as a matter of fact, both
true. But it by no means follows from this that _p_ * (_q_ entails
_r_). For what this latter proposition means is "It is not the case
both that _p_ is true and that (_q_ entails _r_) is false." And, as a
matter of fact, (_q_ entails _r_) is quite certainly false; for from
the proposition "My copy of the _Principles_ is on this shelf" the
proposition "My copy of the _Principles_ is blue" does _not_ follow. It
is simply not the case that the second of these two propositions can be
deduced from the first _by itself:_ it is simply not the case that it
stands to it in the relation in which it does stand to the conjunctive
proposition "All the books on this shelf are blue _and,_ my copy of the
_Principles_ is on this shelf." This conjunctive proposition really
does _entail_ "My copy of the _Principles_ is blue." But "My copy of
the _Principles_ is on this shelf," _by itself_ quite certainly does
not entail "My copy of the Principles is blue." It is simply not the
case that my copy of the Principles _couldn't_ have been on this shelf
without being blue, (_q_ entails _r_) is, therefore, false. And hence
"_p_ * (_q_ entails _r_)," can only follow from "_p_ entails (_q_ *
_r_)," if from this latter proposition °_p_° follows. But _p_ quite
certainly does not follow from this proposition: from the fact that (_q
* r_) is deducible from _p_, it does not in the least follow that °_p_°
is true. It is, therefore, clearly not the case that every proposition
of the form

_p_ entails (_q * r_)

entails the corresponding proposition of the form

_p_ * {_q_ entails _r_},

since we have found one particular proposition of the first form which
does _not_ entail the corresponding proposition of the second.

To maintain, therefore, that (2) follows from (1) is mere confusion.
And one source of the confusion is, I think, pretty plain. (1) does
allow you to assert that, if AP is true, then the proposition "°_y_P°
* {°(_y_ = A°)}" _must_ be true. What the "must" here expresses is
merely that this proposition follows from AP, not that it is in itself
a necessary proposition. But it is supposed, through confusion, that
what is asserted is that it is not the case both that AP is true
and that "°_y_P° * (°_y_ = A°)" is not, _in itself,_ a necessary
proposition; that is to say, it is supposed that what is asserted is
"AP + {°_y_P° entails (°_y_ = A°)}"; since to say that "°_y_P° * (°_y_
= A°)" is, _in itself_, a necessary proposition is the same thing as to
say that "°_y_P° entails (°_y_ = A°)" is also true. In fact it seems
to me pretty plain that what is meant by saying of propositions of
the form "_x_P * _x_Q" that they are _necessary_ (or "apodeictic")
propositions, is merely that the corresponding proposition of the
form "_x_P entails _x_Q" is also true, "_x_P _entails_ _x_Q" is not
_itself_ a necessary proposition; but, if "_x_P entails _x_Q" is
_true,_ then "_x_P * _x_Q" is a necessary proposition--and a necessary
truth, since no false propositions are necessary in themselves. Thus
what is meant by saying that "Whatever is a right angle, is also an
angle" is a necessary truth, is, so far as I can see, simply that the
proposition "(_x_ is a right angle) entails (_x_ is an angle)" is
also true. This seems to me to give what has, in fact, been generally
meant in philosophy by "necessary truths," _e.g._ by Leibniz; and
to point out the distinction between them and those true universal
propositions which are "mere matters of fact." And if we want to extend
the meaning of the name "necessary truth" in such a way that some
singular propositions may also be said to be "necessary truths," we
can, I think, easily do it as follows. We can say that AP is itself
a necessary truth, if and only if the universal proposition "(_x_ =
A) * _x_P" (which, as we have seen, follows from AP) is a necessary
truth: that is to say, if and only if (_x_ = A) entails _x_P. With
this definition, what the dogma of internal relations asserts is that
in every case in which a given thing actually has a given relational
property, the fact that it has that property is a necessary truth;
whereas what I am asserting is that, if the property in question is
an "internal" property, then the fact in question will be a necessary
truth, whereas if the property in question is "external," then the fact
in question will be a mere "matter of fact."

So much for the distinction between (1) which is true, and (2), or
the dogma of internal relations, which I hold to be false. But I said
above, in passing, that my contention that (2) does not follow from
(1), involves the rejection of certain views that have sometimes been
held as to the meaning of "follows"; and I think it is worth while to
say something about this.

It is obvious that the possibility of maintaining that (2) does not
follow from (1), depends upon its being true that from "_x_P * _x_Q"
the proposition "_x_P entails _x_Q" does not follow. And this has
sometimes been disputed, and is, I think, often not clearly seen.

To begin with, Mr. Russell, in the _Principles of Mathematics_ (p. 34),
treats the phrase "_q_ can be deduced from _p_" as if it meant exactly
the same thing as "_p * q_" or "_p_ materially implies _q_"; and has
repeated the same error elsewhere, _e.g._ in _Philosophical Essays_
(p. 166), where he is discussing what _he_ calls the axiom of internal
relations. And I am afraid a good many people have been led to suppose
that, since Mr. Russell has said this, it must be true. If it were
true, then, of course, it would be impossible to distinguish between
(1) and (2), and it would follow that, since (1) certainly is true,
what I am calling the dogma of internal relations is true too. But I
imagine that Mr. Russell himself would now be willing to admit that, so
far from being true, the statement that "_q_ can be deduced from _p_"
means the same as "_p_ * _q_" is simply an enormous "howler"; and I do
not think I need spend any time in trying to show that it is so.

But it may be held that, though "_p_ entails _q_" does not mean the
same as "_p * q_," yet nevertheless from "_x_P * _x_Q" the proposition
"_x_P entails _x_Q" does follow, for a somewhat more subtle reason;
and, if this were so, it would again follow that what I am calling the
dogma of internal relations must be true. It may be held, namely, that
though "AP entails AQ" does not mean simply "AP * AQ" yet what it does
mean is simply the conjunction "AP * AQ _and_ this proposition is an
instance of a true formal implication" (the phrase "formal implication"
being understood in Mr. Russell's sense, in which "_x_P * _x_Q" asserts
a formal implication). This view as to what "AP entails AQ" means,
has, for instance, if I understand him rightly, been asserted by Mr.
O. Strachey in _Mind,_ N.S., 93. And the same view has been frequently
suggested (though I do not know that he has actually asserted it) by
Mr. Russell himself (_e.g., Principia Mathematica,_ p. 21). If this
view were true, then, though "_x_P entails _x_Q" would not be identical
in meaning with "_x_P * _x_Q," yet it would follow from it; since, if

_x_P * _x_Q

were true, then every particular assertion of the form AP * AQ, would
not only be true, but would be an instance of a true formal implication
(namely "_x_P * _x_Q") and this, according to the proposed definition,
is all that "_x_P entails _x_Q" asserts. If, therefore, it were true,
it would again follow that all relational properties must be internal.
But that this view also is untrue appears to me perfectly obvious. The
proposition that I am in this room does "materially imply" that I am
more than five years old, since both are true; and the assertion that
it does is also an instance of a true formal implication, since it is
in fact true that all the persons in this room are more than five years
old; but nothing appears to me more obvious than that the second of
these two propositions can _not_ be deduced from the first--that the
kind of relation which holds between the premisses and conclusion of
a syllogism in _Barbara_ does _not_ hold between them. To put it in
another way: it seems to me quite obvious that the properties "being
a person in this room" and "being more than five years old" are not
related in the kind of way in which "being a right angle" _is_ related
to "being an angle," and which we express by saying that, in the case
of every term, the proposition that that term is an angle can be
deduced from the proposition that it is a right angle.

These are the only two suggestions as to the meaning of "_p_ entails
_q_" known to me, which, if true, would yield the result that (2)
does follow from (1), and that therefore all relational properties
are internal; and both of these, it seems to me, are obviously
false. All other suggested meanings, so far as I know, would leave
it true that (2) does not follow from (1), and therefore that I may
possibly be right in maintaining that some relational properties are
external. It might, for instance, be suggested that the last proposed
definition should be amended as follows--that we should say: "_p_
entails _q_" means "_p * q and_ this proposition is an instance of a
formal implication, which is not merely true but _self-evident,_ like
the laws of Formal Logic." This proposed definition would avoid the
paradoxes involved in Mr. Strachey's definition, since such true formal
implications as "all the persons in this room are more than five years
old" are certainly not self-evident; and, so far as I. can see, it may
state something which is in fact true of _p_ and _q,_ whenever and only
when _p_ entails _q._ I do not myself think that it gives the _meaning_
of "_p_ entails _q,_" since the kind of relation which I see to hold
between the premisses and conclusion of a syllogism seems to me to be
one which is purely "objective" in the sense that no psychological
term, such as is involved in the meaning of "self-evident," is involved
in its definition (if it has one). I am not, however, concerned to
dispute that some such definition of "_p_ entails _q_" as this may be
true. Since it is evident that, even if it were, my proposition that
"_x_P entails _x_Q" does _not_ follow from "_x_P * _x_Q," would still
be true; and hence also my contention that (2) does not follow from (1).

So much by way of arguing that we are not bound to hold that all
relational properties are internal in the particular sense, with which
we are now concerned, in which to say that they are means that in every
case in which a thing A has a relational property, it follows from the
proposition that a term has _not_ got that property that the term in
question is _other_ than A. But I have gone further and asserted that
some relational properties certainly are _not_ internal. And in defence
of this proposition I do not know that I have anything to say but that
it seems to me evident in many cases that a term which _has_ a certain
relational property _might_ quite well not have had it: that, for
instance, from the mere proposition that this is this, it by no means
follows that this has to other things all the relations which it in
fact has. Everybody, of course, must admit that if all the propositions
which assert of it that it has these properties, do in fact follow from
the proposition that this is this, we cannot see that they do. And so
far as I can see, there is no reason of any kind for asserting that
they do, except the confusion which I have exposed. But it seems to me
further that we can see in many cases that the proposition that this
has that relation does _not_ follow from the fact that it is this:
that, for instance, the proposition that Edward VII was father of
George V _is_ a _mere_ matter of fact.

I want now to return for a moment to that other meaning of "internal,"
(p. 286) in which to say that P is internal to A means not merely that
anything which had not P would necessarily be _other_ than A, but that
it would necessarily be _qualitatively_ different. I said that this
was the meaning of "internal" in which the dogma of internal relations
holds that all relational properties are "internal"; and that one of
the most important consequences which followed from it, was that all
relational properties are "internal" in the less extreme sense that
we have just been considering. But, if I am not mistaken, there is
another important consequence which also follows from it, namely, the
Identity of Indiscernibles. For if it be true, in the case of every
relational property, that any term which had net that property would
necessarily be qualitatively different from any which had, it follows
of course that, in the case of two terms one of which has a relational
property, which the other has not the two are qualitatively different.
But, from the proposition that _x_ is other than _y,_ it _does_ follow
that _x_ has some relational property which _y_ has not; and hence,
if the dogma of internal relations be true, it will follow that if
_x_ is other than _y, x_ is always also qualitatively different from
_y,_ which is the principle of Identity of Indiscernibles. This is, of
course, a further objection to the dogma of internal relations, since I
think it is obvious that the principle of Identity of Indiscernibles is
not true. Indeed, so far as I can see, the dogma of internal relations
essentially consists in the joint assertion of two indefensible
propositions: (1) the proposition that in the case of no relational
property is it true of any term which has got that property, that it
_might_ not have had it and (2) the Identity of Indiscernibles.

I want, finally, to say something about the phrase which Mr. Russell
uses in the _Philosophical Essays_ to express the dogma of internal
relations. He says it may be expressed in the form "Every relation is
grounded in the natures of the related terms" (p. 160). And it can be
easily seen, if the account which I have given be true, in what precise
sense it does hold this. Mr. Russell is uncertain as to whether by "the
nature" of a term is to be understood the term itself or something
else. For my part it seems to me that by a term's nature is meant, not
the term itself, but what may roughly be called all its qualities as
distinguished from its relational properties. But whichever meaning
we take, it will follow from what I have said, that the dogma of
internal relations does imply that every relational property which a
term has is, in a perfectly precise sense, _grounded_ in its nature.
It will follow that every such property is _grounded_ in _the term,_
in the sense that, in the case of every such property, it _follows_
from the mere proposition that that term is that term that it has the
property in question. And it will also follow that any such property
is grounded in the qualities which the term has, in the sense, that if
you take _all_ the qualities which the term has, it will again follow
in the case of each relational property, from the proposition that the
term has _all_ those qualities that it has the relational property in
question; since this is implied by the proposition that in the case of
any such property, any term which had not had it would necessarily have
been different in quality from the term in question. In both of these
two senses, then, the dogma of internal relations does, I think, imply
that every relational property is grounded in the nature of every term
which possesses it; and in this sense that proposition is false. Yet
it is worth noting, I think, that there is another sense of "grounded"
in which it may quite well be true that every relational property _is_
grounded in the nature of any term which possesses it. Namely that, in
the case of every such property, the term in question has some quality
_without_ which it could not have had the property. In other words that
the relational property _entails_ some quality in the term, though no
quality in the term _entails_ the relational property.



THE NATURE OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY


I should like, if I can, to interest you to-night in one particular
question about Moral Philosophy. It is a question which resembles most
philosophical questions, in respect of the fact that philosophers are
by no means agreed as to what is the right answer to it: some seem to
be very strongly convinced that one answer is correct, while others are
equally strongly convinced of the opposite. For my own part I do feel
some doubt as to which answer is the right one, although, as you will
see, I incline rather strongly to one of the two alternatives. I should
like very much, if I could, to find some considerations which seemed to
me absolutely convincing on the one side or the other; for the question
seems to me in itself to be an exceedingly interesting one.

I have said that the question is a question _about_ Moral Philosophy;
and it seems to me in fact to be a very large and general question
which affects the whole of Moral Philosophy. In asking it, we are doing
no less than asking what it is that people are doing when they study
Moral Philosophy at all: we are asking what sort of questions it is
which it is the business of Moral Philosophy to discuss and try to
find the right answer to. But I intend, for the sake of simplicity,
to confine myself to asking it in two particular instances. Moral
Philosophy has, in fact, to discuss a good many different ideas;
and though I think this same question may be raised with regard to
them all, I intend to pick out two, which seem to me particularly
fundamental, and to ask it with regard to them only.

My first business must be to explain what these two ideas are.

The name Moral Philosophy naturally suggests that what is meant is a
department of philosophy which has something to do with morality. And
we all understand roughly what is meant by morality. We are accustomed
to the distinction between moral good and evil, on the one hand, and
what is sometimes called physical good and evil on the other. We all
make the distinction between a man's moral character, on the one hand,
and his agreeableness or intellectual endowments, on the other. We feel
that to accuse a man of immoral conduct is quite a different thing from
accusing him merely of bad taste or bad manners, or from accusing him
merely of stupidity or ignorance. And no less clearly we distinguish
between the idea of being under a moral obligation to do a thing, and
the idea of being merely under a legal obligation to do it. It is a
commonplace that the sphere of morality is much wider than the sphere
of law: that we are morally bound to do and avoid many things, which
are not enjoined or forbidden by the laws of our country; and it is
also sometimes held that, if a particular law is unjust or immoral, it
may even be a moral duty to disobey it--that is to say that there may
be a positive conflict between moral and legal obligation; and the mere
fact that this is held, whether truly or falsely, shows, at all events,
that the one idea is quite distinct from the other.

The name Moral Philosophy, then, naturally suggests that it is a
department of philosophy concerned with morality in this common sense.
And it is, in fact, true that one large department of Moral Philosophy
is so concerned. But it would be a mistake to think that the whole
subject is _only_ concerned with morality. Another important department
of it is, as I shall try to show, concerned with ideas which are _not_
moral ideas, in this ordinary sense, though, no doubt, they may have
something to do with them. And of the two ideas which I propose to
pick out for discussion, while one of them is a moral idea, the other
belongs to that department of Moral Philosophy, which is not concerned
solely with morality, and is not, I think, properly speaking, a moral
idea at all.

Let us begin with the one of the two, which is a moral idea.

The particular moral idea which I propose to pick out for discussion
is the one which I have called above the idea of moral obligation--the
idea of being morally bound to act in a particular way on a particular
occasion. But what is, so far as I can see, precisely the same idea
is also called by several other names. To say that I am under a moral
obligation to do a certain thing is, I think, clearly to say the same
thing as what we commonly express by saying that I ought to do it,
or that it is my duty to do it. That is to say, the idea of moral
obligation is identical with the idea of the moral "ought" and with the
idea of duty. And it also seems at first sight as if we might make yet
another identification.

The assertion that I ought to do a certain thing seems as if it meant
much the same as the assertion that it would be wrong of me _not_ to do
the thing in question: at all events it is quite clear that, whenever
it is my duty to do anything, it would be wrong of me not to do it,
and that whenever it would be wrong of me to do anything, then it is
my duty to refrain from doing it. In the case of these two ideas, the
idea of what is wrong, and the idea of what is my duty or what I ought
to do, different views may be taken as to whether the one is more
fundamental than the other, or whether both are equally so; and on
the question: _If_ one of the two is more fundamental than the other,
which of the two is so? Thus some people would say, that the idea of
"wrong" is the more fundamental, and that the idea of "duty" is to be
defined in terms of it: that, in fact, the statement "It is my duty to
keep that promise" merely means "It would be wrong of me not to keep
it"; and the statement "It is my duty not to tell a lie" merely means
"It would be wrong of me to tell one." Others again would apparently
say just the opposite: that duty is the more fundamental notion, and
"wrong" is to be defined in terms of it. While others perhaps would
hold that neither is more fundamental than the other; that both are
equally fundamental, and that the statement "it would be wrong to do so
and so" is only equivalent to, not identical in meaning with, "I ought
not to do it." But whichever of these three views be the true one,
there is, I think, no doubt whatever about the equivalence notion of
the two ideas; and no doubt, therefore, that whatever answer be given
to the question I am going to raise about the one, the same answer must
be given to the corresponding question about the other.

The moral idea, then, which I propose to discuss, is the idea of duty
or moral obligation, or, what comes to the same thing, the idea of what
is wrong--morally wrong. Everybody would agree that this idea--or, to
speak more accurately, one or both of these two ideas--is among the
most fundamental of our moral ideas, whether or not they would admit
that all others, for example the ideas of moral goodness, involve a
reference to this one in their definition, or would hold that we have
some others which are independent of it, and equally fundamental with
it.

But there is a good deal of difficulty in getting clear as to what this
idea of moral obligation itself is. Is there in fact only one idea
which we call by this name? Or is it possible that on some occasions
when we say that so and so is a duty, we mean something different by
this expression from what we do on others? And that similarly when
we say that so and so is morally wrong, we sometimes use this name
"morally wrong" for one idea and sometimes for another; so that one
and the same thing may be "morally wrong" in one sense of the word,
and yet _not_ morally wrong in another? I think, in fact, there are
two different senses in which we use these terms; and to point out the
difference between them, will help to bring out clearly more the nature
of each. And I think perhaps the difference can be brought out most
clearly by considering the sort of moral rules with which we are all of
us familiar.

Everybody knows that moral teachers are largely concerned in laying
down moral rules, and in disputing the truth of rules which have been
previously accepted. And moral rules seem to consist, to a very large
extent, in assertions to the effect that it is always wrong to do
certain actions or to refrain from doing certain others; or (what comes
to the same thing) that it is always your duty to refrain from certain
actions, and positively to do certain others. The Ten Commandments for
example, are instances of moral rules; and most of them are examples
of what are called negative rules--that is to say rules which assert
merely that it is wrong to do certain positive actions, and therefore
our duty to refrain from these actions; instead of rules which assert
of certain positive actions, that it is our duty to do them and
therefore wrong to refrain from doing them. The fifth commandment,
which tells us to honour our father and mother, is apparently an
exception; it seems to be a positive rule. It is not, like the others,
expressed in the negative form "Thou shalt _not_ do so and so," and
it is apparently really meant to assert that we ought to do certain
positive actions, not merely that there are some positive action from
which we ought to refrain. The difference between this one and the
rest will thus serve as an example of the difference between positive
and negative moral rules, a difference which is sometimes treated as
if it were of great importance. And I do not wish to deny that there
may be some important difference between seeing only that certain
positive actions are wrong, and seeing also that, in certain cases, to
refrain from doing certain actions is just as wrong as positively to
do certain others. But this distinction between positive and negative
rules is certainly of much less importance than another which is, I
think, liable to be confused with it. So far as this distinction goes
it is only a distinction between an assertion that it is wrong to do a
positive action and an assertion that it is wrong to refrain from doing
one: and each of these assertions is equivalent to one which asserts
a duty--the first with an assertion that it is a duty to refrain, the
second with an assertion that a positive action is a duty. But there is
another distinction between some moral rules and others, which is of
much greater importance than this one, and which does, I think, give a
reason for thinking that the term "moral obligation" is actually used
in different senses on different occasions.

I have said that moral rules seem to consist, _to a large extent_,
in assertions to the effect that it is always wrong to do certain
_actions_ or to refrain from doing certain others, or the equivalent
assertions in terms of duty. But there is a large class of moral
rules, with which we are all of us very familiar, which do not come
under this definition. They are rules which are concerned not with our
_actions_, in the natural sense of the word, but with our feelings,
thoughts and desires. An illustration of this kind of rule can again
be given from the Ten Commandments. Most of the ten, as we all know,
are concerned merely with actions; but the tenth at least is clearly
an exception. The tenth says "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's
house, nor his wife, nor his servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor
anything that is his," and, unless "covet" is merely a mistranslation
of a word which stands for some kind of action, we plainly have here a
rule which is concerned with our _feelings_ and not with our actions.
And one reason which makes the distinction between rules of this kind
and rules concerned with actions important, is that our feelings are
not, as a rule, directly within the control of our will in the sense in
which many of our actions are. I cannot, for instance, by any single
act of will directly prevent from arising in my mind a desire for
something that belongs to some one else, even if, when once the desire
has arrived, I can by my will prevent its continuance; and even this
last I can hardly do _directly_ but only by forcing myself to attend
to other considerations which may extinguish the desire. But though
I thus cannot prevent myself altogether from coveting my neighbour's
possessions, I can altogether prevent myself from stealing them. The
action of stealing, and the feeling of covetousness, are clearly on a
very different level in this respect. The action is _directly_ within
the control of my will, whereas the feeling is not. _If_ I will not
to take the thing (though of course some people may find a great
difficulty in willing this) it does in general follow directly that I
do not take it; whereas, it I will not to desire it, it emphatically
does not, even in general, follow directly that no desire for it will
be there. This distinction between the way in which our feelings and
our actions are under the control of our wills is, I think, a very
real one indeed; we cannot help constantly recognising that it exists.
And it has an important bearing on the distinction between those moral
rules which deal with actions and those which deal with feelings, for
the following reason. The philosopher Kant laid down a well-known
proposition to the effect that "ought" implies "can": that is to say,
that it cannot be true that you "ought" to do a thing, unless it is
true that you _could_ do it, _if_ you chose. And as regards one of
the senses in which we commonly use the words "ought" and "duty," I
think this rule is plainly true. When we say absolutely of ourselves
or others, "I ought to do so and so" or "you ought to," we imply,
I think, very often that the thing in question is a thing which we
_could_ do, _if_ we chose; though of course it may often be a thing
which it is very difficult to choose to do. Thus it is clear that I
cannot truly say of anyone that he ought to do a certain thing, if it
is a thing which it is physically impossible for him to do, however
desirable it may be that the thing should be done. And in this sense it
is clear that it cannot be truly said of me that I ought not to have a
certain feeling, or that I ought not to have had it, if it is a feeling
which I could not, by any effort of my will, prevent myself from
having. The having or the prevention of a certain feeling is not, of
course, strictly ever a _physical_ impossibility, but it is very often
impossible, in exactly the same sense, in which actions are physically
impossible--that is to say that I could not possibly get it or prevent
it, even if I would. But this being so, it is plain that such a
moral rule as that I ought not to covet my neighbour's possessions
is, if it means to assert that I ought not, in that sense in which
"ought" implies "can," a rule which cannot possibly be true. What it
appears to assert is, absolutely universally, of _every_ feeling of
covetousness, that the feeling in question is one which the person who
felt it _ought_ not to have felt. But in fact a very large proportion
of such feelings (I am inclined to say the vast majority) are feelings
which the person who felt them could not have prevented feeling, if he
would: they were beyond the control of his will. And hence it is quite
emphatically _not_ true that none of these feelings _ought_ to have
been felt, if we are using "ought" in the sense which implies that the
person who felt them _could_ have avoided them. So far from its being
true that absolutely _none_ of them ought to have been felt, this is
only true of those among them, probably a small minority, which the
person who felt them _could_ have avoided feeling. If, therefore, moral
rules with regard to feelings are to have a chance of being _nearly_
true, we must understand the "ought" which occurs in them in some
other sense. But with moral rules that refer to actions the case is
very different. Take stealing for example. Here again what the Eighth
Commandment appears to imply is that absolutely every theft which has
ever occurred was an act which the agent ought not to have done; and,
if the "ought" is the one which implies "can," it implies, therefore,
that every theft was an act which the agent, if he had chosen, could
have avoided. And this statement that every theft which has been
committed was an act which the thief, _if_ he had so willed, could
have avoided, though it may be doubted if it is absolutely universally
true, is not a statement which is clearly absurd, like the statement
that every covetous desire could have been avoided by the will of the
person who felt it. It is probable that the vast majority of acts of
theft have been acts which it was in the power of the thief to avoid,
if he had willed to do so; whereas this is clearly not true of the vast
majority of covetous desires. It is, therefore, quite possible that
those who believe we ought never to steal are using "ought" in a sense
which implies that stealing always _could_ have been avoided; whereas
it is I think quite certain that many of those who believe that we
ought to avoid all covetous desires, do not believe for a moment that
every covetous desire that has ever been felt was a desire which the
person who felt it could have avoided feeling, if he had chosen. And
yet they certainly do believe, in some sense or other, that no covetous
desire _ought_ ever to have been felt. The conclusion is, therefore,
it seems to me, unavoidable that we do use "ought," the moral "ought,"
in two different senses; the one a sense in which to say that I ought
to have done so and so does really imply that I could have done it,
if I had chosen, and the other a sense in which it carries with it no
such implication. I think perhaps the difference between the two can be
expressed in this way. If we express the meaning of the first "ought,"
the one which does imply "can," by saying that "I ought to have done
so and so" means "It actually _was_ my duty to do it"; we can express
the meaning of the second by saying that _e.g._ "I ought not to have
felt so and so" means _not_ "it _was_ my duty to avoid that feeling,"
but "it _would_ have been my duty to avoid it, _if_ I had been able."
And corresponding to these two meanings of "ought" we should, I think,
probably distinguish two different sorts of moral rules, which though
expressed in the same language, do in fact mean very different things.
The one is a set of rules which assert (whether truly or falsely)
that it always actually _is_ a duty to do or to refrain from certain
actions, and assert therefore that it always is in the power of the
agent's will to do or to refrain from them; whereas the other sort only
assert that so and so _would_ be a duty, if it _were_ within our power,
without at all asserting that it always is within our power.

We may, perhaps, give a name to the distinction I mean, by calling the
first kind of rules--those which do assert that something actually is
a duty--"rules of duty," and by calling the second kind--those which
recommend or condemn something not in the control of our wills--"ideal
rules": choosing this latter name because they can be said to inculcate
a moral "ideal"--something the attainment of which is not directly
within the power of our wills. As a further example of the difference
between ideal rules and rules of duty we may take the famous passage
from the New Testament (Luke 6, 27) "Love your enemies, do good to
them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that
despitefully use you." Of these four rules, the three last may be
rules of duty, because they refer to things which are plainly, as a
rule, at least, in the power of your will; but the first, if "love"
be understood in its natural sense as referring to your feelings, is
plainly only an "ideal" rule, since such feelings are obviously not
directly under our own control, in the same way in which such actions
as doing good to, blessing or praying for a person are so. To love
certain people, or to feel no anger against them, is a thing which
it is quite impossible to attain directly by will, or perhaps ever
to attain completely at all. Whereas your behaviour towards them is
a matter within your own control: even if you hate a person, or feel
angry with him, you can so control yourself as not to do him harm, and
even to confer benefits upon him. To do good to your enemies may, then,
really be your duty; but it cannot, in the strict sense, be your duty
not to have evil feelings towards them: all that can possibly be true
is that it would be your duty if you were able. Yet I think there can
be no doubt that what Christ meant to condemn was the occurrence of
such feelings altogether; and since, if what he meant to assert about
them in condemning them, would have been certainly false, if he had
meant to say that you _could_ avoid ever feeling them, I think it is
clear that what he meant to assert was _not_ this, or not this only,
but something else, which may quite possibly be true. That is to say,
he was asserting an ideal rule, not merely a rule of duty.

It will be seen that this distinction which I am making coincides,
roughly at all events, with the distinction which is often expressed
as the distinction between rules which tell you what you ought to
_be_ and rules which tell you merely what you ought to _do_; or as
the distinction between rules which are concerned with your inner
life--with your thoughts and feelings--and those which are concerned
only with your external actions. The rules which are concerned with
what you ought to _be_ or with your inner life are, for the most part
at all events, "ideal" rules; while those which are concerned with what
you ought to do or your external actions are very often, at least,
rules of duty. And it is often said that one great difference between
the New Testament and the Old is its comparatively greater insistence
on "ideal" rules--upon a change of heart--as opposed to mere rules of
duty. And that there is a comparatively greater insistence on ideal
rules I do not wish to deny. But that there are plenty of ideal rules
in the Old Testament too must not be forgotten. I have already given an
example from the Ten Commandments: namely the rule which says you ought
not to covet anything which belongs to your neighbour. And another
is supplied by the Old Testament commandment, "Love thy neighbour as
thyself," if by "love" is here meant a feeling which is not within our
own control, and not merely that the Jew is to _help_ other Jews by his
external actions. Indeed, however great may be the difference between
the Old Testament and the New in respect of comparative insistence on
ideal rules rather than rules of duty, I am inclined to think that
there is at least as great a difference, illustrated by this very rule,
in another, quite different, respect--namely in the kind of rules,
_both ideal and of duty,_ which are insisted on. For whereas by "thy
neighbour" in the Old Testament there is plainly meant only other Jews,
and it is not conceived either that it is the duty of a Jew to help
foreigners in general, or an ideal for him to love them; in the New
Testament, where the same words are used, "my neighbour" plainly is
meant to include all mankind. And this distinction between the view
that beneficent action and benevolent feelings should be confined to
those of our own nation, and the view that both should be extended
equally to all mankind,--a distinction which has nothing to do with
the distinction between being and doing, between inner and outer, but
affects both equally--is, I am inclined to think, at least as important
a difference between New Testament and Old, as the comparatively
greater insistence on "ideal" rules. However, the point upon which I
want at present to insist is the distinction between ideal rules and
rules of duty. Both kinds are commonly included among moral rules,
and, as my examples have shown, are often mentioned together as if no
great difference were seen between them. What I want to insist on is
that there is a great difference between them: that whereas rules of
duty do directly assert of the idea of duty, in the sense in which to
say that something is your duty implies that you _can_ do it, that
certain things are duties, the "ideal" rules do _not_ assert this, but
something different. Yet the "ideal" rules certainly do, in a sense,
assert a "moral obligation." And hence we have to recognise that the
phrase "moral obligation" is not merely a name for one idea only, but
for two very different ideas; and the same will, of course, be true of
the corresponding phrase "morally wrong."

When, therefore, I say that the idea of "moral obligation" is one of
the fundamental ideas with which Moral Philosophy is concerned, I think
we must admit that this one name really stands for two different ideas.
But it does not matter for my purpose which of the two you take. Each
of them is undoubtedly a moral idea, and whatever answer be given to
the question we are going to raise about the one, will also certainly
apply to the other.

But it is now time to turn to the other idea, with which I said that
Moral Philosophy has been largely concerned, though it is not, strictly
speaking, a moral idea, at all.

And I think, perhaps, a good way of bringing out what this idea is,
is to refer to the Ethics of Aristotle. Everybody would admit that
the fundamental idea, with which Aristotle's Ethics is concerned, is
an idea which it is the business of Moral Philosophy to discuss; and
yet I think it is quite plain that this idea is not a moral idea at
all. Aristotle does not set out from' the idea of moral obligation
or duty (indeed throughout his treatise he only mentions this idea
quite incidentally); nor even from the idea of moral goodness or moral
excellence, though he has a good deal more to say about that; but
from the idea of what he calls "the human good," or "good for man."
He starts by raising the question what the good for man _is,_ and his
whole book is arranged in the form of giving a detailed answer to that
question. And I think we can gather pretty well what the idea is, which
he calls by this name, by considering what he says about it. There
are two points, in particular, which he insists upon from the outset:
first, that nothing can be good, in the sense he means, unless it is
something which is worth having for its own sake, and not merely for
the sake of something else; it must be good _in itself_; it must not,
like wealth (to use one example which he gives) be worth having merely
for the sake of what you can do with it; it must be a thing which is
worth having even if nothing further comes of it. And secondly (what
partly covers the former, but also, I think, says something more) it
must, he says, be something that is "self-sufficient": something which,
even if you had nothing else would make your life worth having. And
further light is thrown upon his meaning when he comes to tell you
what he thinks the good for man is: the good, he says, is "mental,
activity--where such activity is of an excellent kind, or, if there
are several different kinds of excellent mental activity, that which
has the best and most perfect kind of excellence; and also" (he
significantly adds) "mental activity which lasts through a sufficiently
long life." The word which I have here translated "excellence" is what
is commonly translated "virtue"; but it does not mean quite the same
as we mean by "virtue," and that in a very important respect. "Virtue"
has come to mean exclusively _moral_ excellence; and if that were all
Aristotle meant, you might think that what he means by "good" came
very near being a moral idea. But it turns out that he includes among
"excellences," intellectual excellence, and even that he thinks that
the best and most perfect excellence of which he speaks is a particular
kind of intellectual excellence, which no one would think of calling a
moral quality, namely, the sort of excellence which makes a man a good
philosopher. And as for the word which I have translated "activity,"
the meaning of this can be best brought out by mentioning the reason
which Aristotle himself gives for saying that mere excellence itself is
not (as some of the Greeks had said) the good for man. He says, truly
enough, that a man may possess the greatest excellence--he may be a
very excellent man--even when he is asleep, or is doing nothing; and
he points out that the possession of excellence when you are asleep
is not a thing that is desirable _for its own sake_--obviously only
for the sake of the effects it may produce when you wake up. It is not
therefore, he thinks, mere mental excellence, but the _active exercise_
of mental excellence--the state of a man's mind, when he not only
possesses excellent faculties, moral or intellectual, but is actively
engaged in using them, which really constitutes the human good.

Now, when Aristotle talks of "the good for man," there is, I think, as
my quotation is sufficient to show, a certain confusion in his mind
between what is _good_ for man and what is _best_ for man. What he
really holds is that _any_ mental activity which exhibits excellence
and is pleasurable is _a_ good; and when he adds that, if there are
many excellences, _the_ good must be mental activity which exhibits
the _best_ of them, and that it must last through a sufficiently long
life, he only means that this is necessary if a man is to get the
_best_ he can get, not that this is the _only_ good he can get. And
the idea which I wish to insist on is not, therefore, the idea of
"_the_ human good," but the more fundamental idea of "good "; the idea,
with regard to which he holds that the working of our minds in some
excellent fashion is the only good thing that any of us can possess;
and the idea of which "better" is the comparative, when he says that
mental activity which exhibits some sorts of excellence is _better_
than mental activity which exhibits others, though both are good, and
that excellent mental activity continued over a longer time is _better_
than the same continued for a shorter. This idea of what is "good," in
the sense in which Aristotle uses it in these cases, is an idea which
we all of us constantly use, and which is certainly an idea which it
is the business of Moral Philosophy to discuss, though it is not a
moral idea. The main difficulty with regard to it is to distinguish it
clearly from other senses in which we use the same word. For, when we
say that a thing is "good," or one thing "better" than another, we by
no means always mean that it is better in this sense. Often, when we
call a thing good we are not attributing to it any characteristic which
it would possess _if it existed quite alone,_ and if nothing further
were to come of it; but are merely saying of it that it is a sort of
thing from which other good things do in fact come, or which is such
that, when accompanied by other things, the whole thus formed is "good"
in Aristotle's sense, although, by itself, it is not. Thus a man may
be "good," and his character may be "good," and yet neither are "good"
in this fundamental sense, in which goodness is a characteristic which
a thing would possess, if it existed quite alone. For, as Aristotle
says, a good man may exist, and may have a good character, even when
he is fast asleep; and yet if there were nothing in the Universe but
good men, with good characters, all fast asleep, there would be nothing
in it which was "good" in the fundamental sense with which we are
concerned. Thus "moral goodness," in the sense of good character, as
distinguished from the actual working of a good character in various
forms of mental activity, is certainly not "good" in the sense in which
good means "good for its own sake." And even with regard to the actual
exercise of certain forms of moral excellence, it seems to me that in
estimating the value of such exercise relatively to other things, we
are apt to take into account, not merely its intrinsic value--the sort
of value which it would possess, if it existed quite alone--but also
its effects: we rate it higher than we should do if we were considering
only its intrinsic value, because we take into account the other good
things which we know are apt to flow from it. Certain things which
have intrinsic value are distinguished from others, by the fact that
more good consequences are apt to flow from them; and where this is
the case, we are apt, I think, quite unjustly, to think that their
intrinsic value must be higher too. One thing, I think, is clear about
intrinsic value--goodness in Aristotle's sense--namely that it is only
actual occurrences, actual states of things over a certain period of
time--not such things as men, or characters, or material things, that
can have any intrinsic value at all. But even this is not sufficient to
distinguish intrinsic value clearly from other sorts of goodness: since
even in the case of actual occurrences, we often call them good or bad
for the sake of their effects or their promise of effects. Thus we
all hope that the state of things in England, as a whole, will really
be better some day than it has been in the past--that there will be
progress and improvement: we hope, for instance, that, if we consider
the whole of the lives lived in England during some year in the next
century, it may turn out that the state of things, as a whole, during
that year will be really better than it ever has been in any past year.
And when we use "better" in this way--in the sense in which progress
or improvement means a change to a _better_ state of things--we are
certainly thinking partly of a state of things which has a greater
intrinsic value. And we certainly do not mean by improvement merely
_moral_ improvement. An improvement in moral conditions, other things
being equal, may no doubt be a gain in intrinsic value; but we should
certainly hold that, moral conditions being equal, there is yet room
for improvement in other ways--in the diminution of misery and purely
physical evils, for example. But in considering the degree of a real
change for the better in intrinsic value, there is certainly danger of
confusion between the degree in which the actual lives lived are really
intrinsically better, and the degree in which there is improvement
merely in the _means_ for living a good life. If we want to estimate
rightly what would constitute an intrinsic improvement in the state
of things in our imagined year next century, and whether it would on
the whole be really "good" at all, we have to consider what value it
would have if it were to be the last year of life upon this planet;
if the world were going to come to an end, as soon as it was over;
and therefore to discount entirely all the promises it might contain
of future goods. This criterion for distinguishing whether the kind
of goodness which we are attributing to anything is really intrinsic
value or not, the criterion which consists in considering whether it
is a characteristic which the thing would possess, if it were to have
absolutely no further consequences or accompaniments, seems to me to
be one which it is very necessary to apply if we wish to distinguish
clearly between different meanings of the word "good." And it is only
the idea of what is good, where by "good" is meant a characteristic
which has this mark, that I want now to consider.

The two ideas, then, with regard to which I want to raise a question,
are first the moral idea of "moral obligation" or "duty," and secondly
the non-moral idea of "good" in this special sense.

And the question with regard to them, which I want to raise, is this.
With regard to both ideas many philosophers have thought and still
think--not only _think_, but seem to be absolutely convinced, that when
we apply them to anything--when we assert of any action that it ought
not to have been done, or of any state of things that it was or would
be good or better than another, then it _must_ be the case that _all_
that we are asserting of the thing or things in question is simply
and solely that some person or set of persons actually does have, or
has a tendency to have a certain sort of feeling towards the thing or
things in question: that there is absolutely no more in it than this.
While others seem to be convinced, no less strongly, that there _is_
more in it than this: that when we judge that an action is a duty or
is really wrong, we are _not_ merely making a judgment to the effect
that some person or set of persons, have, or tend to have a certain
sort of feeling, when they witness or think of such actions, and that
similarly when we judge that a certain state of things was or would be
better than another, we are _not_ merely making a judgment about the
feelings which some person or set of persons would have, in witnessing
or thinking of the two states of things, or in comparing them together.
The question at issue between these two views is often expressed in
other less clear forms. It is often expressed as the question whether
the ideas of duty and of good or value, are or are not, "objective"
ideas: as the problem as to the "objectivity" of duty and intrinsic
value. The first set of philosophers would maintain that the notion of
the "objectivity" of duty and of value is a mere chimera; while the
second would maintain that these ideas really are "objective." And
others express it as the question whether the ideas of duty and of good
are "absolute" or purely "relative": whether there is any such thing
as an absolute duty or an absolute good, or whether good and duty are
purely relative to human feelings and desires. But both these ways
of expressing it are, I think, apt to lead to confusion. And another
even less clear way in which it is put is by asking the question: Is
the assertion that such and such a thing is a duty, or has intrinsic
value, ever _a dictate of reason?_ But so far as I can gather, the
question really at issue, and expressed in these obscure ways, is the
one which I have tried to state. It is the question whether when we
judge (whether truly or falsely) that an action is a duty or a state
of things good, _all_ that we are thinking about the action or the
state of things in question, is simply and solely that we ourselves
or others have or tend to have a certain feeling towards it when we
contemplate or think of it. And the question seems to me to be of great
interest, because, if this is all, then it is evident that all the
ideas with which Moral Philosophy is concerned are merely psychological
ideas; and all moral rules, and statements as to what is intrinsically
valuable, merely true or false psychological statements; so that
the whole of Moral Philosophy and Ethics will be merely departments
of Psychology. Whereas, if the contrary is the case, then these two
ideas of moral obligation and intrinsic value, will be no more purely
psychological ideas than are the ideas of shape or size or number; and
Moral Philosophy will be concerned with characteristics of actions
and feelings and states of affairs, which these actions and feelings
and states of affairs would or might have possessed, even if human
psychology had been quite different from what it is.

Which, then, of these two views is the true one? Are these two ideas
merely psychological ideas in the sense which I have tried to explain,
or are they not?

As I have said, I feel some doubts myself whether they are or not: it
does not seem to me to be a matter to dogmatize upon. But I am strongly
inclined to think that they are not merely psychological; that Moral
Philosophy and Ethics are not mere departments of Psychology. In favour
of the view that the two ideas in question are merely psychological,
there is, so far as I am aware, nothing whatever to be said, except
that so many philosophers have been absolutely convinced that they are.
None of them seem to me to have succeeded in bringing forward a single
argument in favour of their view. And against the view that they are,
there seem to me to be some quite definite arguments, though I am not
satisfied that any of these arguments are absolutely conclusive. I will
try to state briefly and clearly what seem to me the main arguments
against the view that these are merely psychological ideas; although,
in doing so, I am faced with a certain difficulty. For though, as I
have said, many philosophers are absolutely convinced, that "duty"
and "good" do merely stand for psychological ideas, they are by no
means agreed _what_ the psychological ideas are for which they stand.
Different philosophers have hit on very different ideas as being the
ideas for which they stand; and this very fact that, if they _are_
psychological ideas at all, it is so difficult to agree as to _what_
ideas they are, seems to me in itself to be an argument against the
view that they are so.

Let me take each of the two ideas separately, and try to exhibit the
sort of objection there seems to be to the view that it is merely a
psychological idea.

Take first the idea of moral obligation. What purely psychological
assertion can I be making about an action, when I assert that it was
"wrong," that it ought not to have been done?

In this case, one view, which is in some ways the most plausible that
can be taken, is that in every case I am merely making an assertion
about my own psychology. But what assertion about my own psychology can
I be making? Let us take as an example, the view of Prof. Westermarck,
which is as plausible a view of this type as any that I know of. He
holds that what I am judging when I judge an action to be wrong, is
merely that it is of a sort which _tends_ to excite in me a peculiar
kind of feeling--the feeling of moral indignation or disapproval. He
does not say that what I am judging is that the action in question _is
actually_ exciting this feeling in me. For it is obviously not true
that, when I judge an action to be much more wrong than another, I am
always actually feeling much indignation at the thought of either, or
much more indignation at the thought of the one than at that of the
other; and it is inconceivable that I should constantly be making so
great a mistake as to my own psychology, as to think that I am actually
feeling great indignation when I am not. But he thinks it is plausible
to say that I am making a judgment as to the _tendency_ of such actions
to excite indignation in me; that, for instance, when I judge that one
is much more wrong than the other, I am merely asserting the fact,
taught me by my past experience, that, if I were to witness the two
actions, under similar circumstances, I should feel a much more intense
indignation at the one than at the other.[1]

But there is one very serious objection to such a view, which I think
that those who take it are apt not fully to realise. If this view be
true, then when I judge an action to be wrong, I am merely making a
judgment about my own feelings towards it; and when you judge it to
be wrong, you are merely making a judgment about yours. And hence the
word "wrong" in my mouth, means something entirely different from
what it does in yours; just as the word "I" in my mouth stands for an
entirely different person from what it does in yours--in mine it stands
for me, in yours it stands for you. That is to say when I judge of a
given action that it was wrong, and you perhaps of the very same action
that it was not, we are not in fact differing in opinion about it at
all; any more than we are differing in opinion if I make the judgment
"I came from Cambridge to-day" and you make the judgment "_I_ did not
come from Cambridge to-day." When _I_ say "That was wrong" I am merely
saying "That sort of action excites indignation in me, when I see it";
and when you say "No; it was not wrong" you are merely saying "It
does not excite indignation in _me,_ when _I_ see it." And obviously
both judgments may perfectly well be true together; just as my judgment
that I did come from Cambridge to-day and yours that you did not, may
perfectly well be true together. In other words, and this is what I
want to insist on, if this view be true, then there is absolutely
no such thing as a difference of opinion upon moral questions. If
two persons think they differ in opinion on a moral question (and it
certainly seems as if they sometimes _think_ so), they are always,
on this view, making a mistake, and a mistake so gross that it seems
hardly possible that they should make it: a mistake as gross as that
which would be involved in thinking that when you say "I did not come
from Cambridge to-day" you are denying what I say when I say "I did."
And this seems to me to be a very serious objection to the view.
Don't people, in fact, sometimes really differ in opinion on a moral
question? Certainly all appearances are in favour of the view that they
do: and yet, if they do, that can only be if when I think a thing to
be wrong, and you think it not to be wrong, I mean by "wrong" the very
_same_ characteristic which you mean, and am thinking that the action
possesses this characteristic while you are thinking it does not. It
must be the very _same_ characteristic which we both mean; it cannot
be, as this view says it is, merely that I am thinking that it has to
my feelings the very same relation, which you are thinking that it
has not got to yours; since, if this were all, then there would be no
difference of opinion between us.

And this view that when we talk of wrong or duty, we are not
merely, each of us, making a statement about the relation of the
thing in question to our own feelings, may be reinforced by another
consideration. It is commonly believed that some moral rules exhibit a
_higher_ morality than others: that, for instance a person who believes
that it is our duty to do good to our enemies, has a higher moral
belief, than one who believes that he has no such duty, but only a duty
to do good to his friends or fellow-countrymen. And Westermarck himself
believes that, some moral beliefs, "mark a stage of higher refinement
in the evolution of the moral consciousness."[2] But what, on his view
can be meant by saying that one moral belief is higher than another? If
A believes that it is his duty to do good to his enemies and B believes
that it is not, in what sense can A's belief be higher than B's? Not,
on this view, in the sense that what A believes is true, and what B
believes is not; for what A is believing is merely that the idea of not
doing good to your enemies tends to excite in him a feeling of moral
indignation, and what B believes is merely that it does not tend to
excite this feeling in _him_: and both beliefs may perfectly well be
true; it may really be true that the same actions do excite the feeling
in A, and that they don't in B. What then, could Westermarck mean by
saying that A's morality is higher than B's? So far as I can see, what,
on his own views, he would have to mean is merely that he himself,
Westermarck, shares A's morality and does not share B's: that it is
true of him, as of A, that neglecting to do good to enemies excites
his feelings of moral indignation and not true of him as it is of B,
that it does _not_ excite such feelings in him. In short he would have
to say that what he means by calling A's morality the higher is merely
"A's morality is _my_ morality, and B's is not." But it seems to me
quite clear that when we say one morality is higher than another, we do
not merely mean that it is our own. We are not merely asserting that it
has a certain relation to our own feelings, but are asserting, if I may
say so, that the person who has it has a better moral taste than the
person who has not. And whether or not this means merely, as I think,
that what the one believes is true, and what the other believes is
false, it is at all events inconsistent with the view that in all cases
we are merely making a statement about our own feelings.

For these reasons it seems to me extremely difficult to believe that
when we judge things to be wrong, each of us is merely making a
judgment about _his own_ psychology. But if not about our own, then
about whose? I have already said that the view that, if the judgment
is merely a psychological one at all, it is a judgment about our
own psychology, is in some ways more plausible than any other view.
And I think we can now see that any other view is _not_ plausible.
The alternatives are that I should be making a judgment about the
psychology of all mankind, or about that of some particular section
of it. And that the first alternative is not true, is, I think,
evident from the fact that, when I judge an action to be wrong, I
may emphatically _not_ believe that it is true of all mankind that
they would regard it with feelings of moral disapproval. I may know
perfectly well that some would not. Most philosophers, therefore, have
not ventured to say that this is the judgment I am making; they say,
for instance, that I am making a judgment about the feelings of the
particular society to which I belong--about, for instance, the feelings
of an impartial spectator in that society. But, if this view be taken,
it is open to the same objections as the view that I am merely making a
judgment about my own feelings. If we could say that every man, when he
judges a thing to be wrong, was making a statement about the feelings
of all mankind, then when A says "This is wrong" and B says "No, it
isn't," they would really be differing in opinion, since A would be
saying that all mankind feel in a certain way towards the action, and
B would be saying that they don't. But if A is referring merely to his
society and B to his, and their societies are different, then obviously
they are not differing in opinion at all: it may perfectly well be true
both that an impartial spectator in A's society does have a certain
sort of feeling towards actions of the sort in question, and that an
impartial spectator in B's does not. This view, therefore, implies that
it is impossible for two men belonging to different societies ever to
differ in opinion on a moral question. And this is a view which I find
it almost as hard to accept as the view that _no_ two men ever differ
in opinion on one.

For these reasons I think there are serious objections to the view
that the idea of moral obligation is merely a psychological idea.

But now let us briefly consider the idea of "good," in Aristotle's
sense, or intrinsic value.

As regards this idea, there is again a difference of opinion among
those who hold that it is a psychological idea, as to _what_ idea it
is. The majority seem to hold that it is to be defined, somehow, in
terms of desire; while others have held that what we are judging when
we judge that one state of things is or would be intrinsically better
than another, is rather that the belief that the one was going to be
realized would, under certain circumstances, give more pleasure to some
man or set of men, than the belief that the other was. But the same
objections seem to me to apply whichever of these two views be taken.

Let us take desire. About whose desires am I making a judgment, when I
judge that one state of things would be better than another?

Here again, it may be said, first of all, that I am merely making a
judgment about my own. But in this case the view that my judgment is
merely about my own psychology is, I think, exposed to an obvious
objection to which Westermarck's view that my judgments of moral
obligation are about my own psychology was not exposed. The obvious
objection is that it is evidently not true that I do in fact always
desire more, what I judge to be better: I may judge one state of things
to be better than another, even when I know perfectly well not only
that I don't desire it more, but that I have no tendency to do so. It
is a notorious fact that men's strongest desires are, as a rule, for
things in which they themselves have some personal concern; and yet
the fact that this is so, and that they know it to be so, does not
prevent them from judging that changes, which would not affect them
personally, would constitute a very much greater improvement in the
world's condition, than changes which would. For this reason alone the
view that when I judge one state of things to be better than another I
am merely making a judgment about my own psychology, must, I think, be
given up: it is incredible that we should all be making such mistakes
about our feelings, as, on this view, we should constantly be doing.
And there is, of course, besides, the same objection, as applied in
the case of moral obligation: namely that, if this view were true, no
two men could ever differ in opinion as to which of two states was the
better, whereas it appears that they certainly sometimes do differ in
opinion on such an issue.

My judgment, then, is not merely a judgment about my own psychology:
but, if so, about whose psychology is it a judgment? It cannot be a
judgment that all men desire the one state more than the other; because
that would include the judgment that I myself do so, which, as we have
seen, I often know to be false, even while I judge that the one state
really is better. And it cannot, I think, be a judgment merely about
the feelings or desires of an impartial spectator in my own society;
since that would involve the paradox that men belonging to different
societies could never differ in opinion as to what was better. But we
have here to consider an alternative, which did not arise in the case
of moral obligation. It is a notorious fact that the satisfaction of
some of our desires is incompatible with the satisfaction of others,
and the satisfaction of those of some men with the satisfaction of
those of others. And this fact has suggested to some philosophers that
what we mean by saying that one state of things would be better than
another, is merely that it is a state in which more of the desires, of
those who were in it, would be satisfied at once, than would be the
case with the other. But to this view the fundamental objection seems
to me to be that whether the one state was better than the other would
depend not merely upon the number of desires that were simultaneously
satisfied in it, but upon what the desires were desires for. I can
imagine a state of things in which all desires were satisfied, and yet
can judge of it that it would not be so good as another in which some
were left unsatisfied. And for this reason I cannot assent to the view
that my judgment, that one state of things is better than another is
merely a judgment about the psychology of the people concerned in it.

This is why I find it hard to believe that either the idea of moral
obligation or the idea of intrinsic value is merely a psychological
idea. It seems to me that Moral Philosophy cannot be merely a
department of Psychology. But no doubt there may be arguments on the
other side to which I have not done justice.


[1] E Westermarck, _The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas_, Vol. I,
pp. 4, 13, 17-18, 100-101. On p. 105, however, Westermarck suggests a
view inconsistent with this one; namely that, when I judge an action to
be wrong, I am not _merely_ asserting that it has a tendency to excite
moral indignation in me, but am also asserting that other people _would
be_ convinced that it has a tendency to excite moral indignation in
them, if they "knew the act and all its attendant circumstances as well
as [I do], and if, at the same time their emotions were as refined as
[mine]."

[2] Ibid. p. 89.


THE END



    INDEX


    Abstractions, "illegitimate"
    Agnosticism
    "Analytic" truths
    Apprehension, direct
    Aristotle's Ethics
    Attention
    Awareness

    "Being" and "Reality"
    Berkeley
    Bradley
    Causal connection
        necessity
    Consciousness
    "Content"

    Deduction
    Difference,
        numerical and qualitative
        intrinsic
    Direct apprehension
        observation
        perception
    Duty and Wrong
        "objectivity" of

    Entails
        and "implies"
    _Esse_ and _percipi,_
    Existence
        and "reality"
        of physical objects
    "Experience," ambiguity of
    External objects and facts
        relations

    Fact, matters of
    "Follows"

    "Given," ambiguity of
    "Good," ambiguity of
        objectivity of
        "for man"

    Hegel
    Hume

    "I."
    Idealism
    Ideas
    Identity of Indiscernibles
    "Implication,"
    Indiscernibles, Identity of
    Induction,
        conditions necessary for
    Internal relations,
        dogma of
        two senses of
    Intrinsic difference
        nature
        predicates
        value

    James, William
    Joachim, H. H.

    Kant
    Knowledge
        and belief
        by description

    Leibniz

    "Manifestation of"
    Material objects or things
    Mill. J. S.
    Minds, "in our"
    "Modify"
    Moral rules, two kinds of

    Necessary truths
    Necessity, three senses of
        logical
        unconditional

    "Objectivity," ambiguity of
        of kinds of value

    Objects,
        external
        material
        physical, and sensibles

    Observation
    Organic unities
    "Ought," two meanings of
        objectivity of
        and "wrong"

    Part, physical
        and whole

    "Perception," ambiguity of
        direct
    _Percipi_ and _esse_
    Physical objects and sensibles
    Pickwickian senses
    "Possible," three senses of
    Pragmatist theory of truth
    "Presented," ambiguity of

    Reality
    Reason, "dictates of"
    Reasons
    Reid, T.
    Relational properties
    Relations,
        dogma of internal
        external
        internal
    Right, objectivity of
    Russell, B.

    "See," ambiguity of
    "Seems"
    Sensations
        proper
    Sense-data
    Sensibles
    Solipsism
    Spiritual
    Strachey, O.
    "Subjective"
    "Synthetic" truths

    Taylor, A. E., 8
    "Time"
    Truth,
        and mutability
        pragmatist theory of
        and utility
        and verification
        of words
    Truths, "analytic" and "synthetic"
        "man-made"
        necessary

    Value, intrinsic
        objectivity of

    Westermarck, E.
    "Wrong," objectivity of
        and "ought"





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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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