In entering upon our task we may derive encouragement from the position accorded at present to philosophical thought. There is reason for rejoicing in the reflection that from an object of contempt it has come to inspire the warmest interest. When in the last century the natural sciences began their triumphal progress, and the enthusiasm Hegel had aroused gave way to sober disenchantment, people turned their backs on all metaphysics and for a while cherished the delusion that exact science would sometime give a satisfactory solution to all the problems of life. This was the so-called “period of Renan,” in which physics was satisfied with itself and professed to have no need of metaphysics.31
But this period now belongs to the past. Natural science, it is true, has by no means become insolvent, as Brunetiare asserted. On the contrary, it has gone on year after year adding one great discovery to another. But many have been disappointed in the foolish expectations they had cherished regarding it: the ignoramus et ignorabimus has rudely awakened them out of their dreams. Thus toward the close of the last century a great change gradually took place in the prevailing mental attitude. With the return to mysticism in literature and art, the need of philosophy and metaphysics and religion reasserted itself. This remarkable reaction has extended into the very camp of natural science. Not only has Ostwald published his “Lectures on Natural Philosophy,” his “Annals of Natural Philosophy,” and Reinke his “Philosophy of Botany,” but natural scientists have eagerly discussed philosophical and especially epistemological problems—witness such names as W. K. Clifford, Poincare, Kleinpeter, Ostwald, Verworn. Haeckel, no doubt, professes to base his conclusions wholly on facts, but even he, none the less, recognizes that, in order to reach a monistic world-view, thought must be called to the aid of perception, philosophy of science, faith of knowledge.32
Nor is this return to philosophy and religion the result of arbitrary caprice. It has all the characteristics of a universal and necessary phenomenon. It is not confined to one people or one stratum of society, but appears in many countries and among men of all ranks. It is not peculiar to this or that particular branch of learning, but manifests itself in the spheres of history, jurisprudence, and medicine, as well as in that of natural science; its influence is no less strong in literature and art than in religion and theology themselves. Verlaine and Maeterlinck, Sudermann and Hauptmann, Ibsen and Tolstoi and Nietzsche are all equally dissatisfied with present-day culture, and all seek something different and higher. They endeavor to penetrate beneath the appearance of things to the essence, beneath the conscious to the unconscious, beneath the outward forms to the inner mystery of infinite life, of silent power, of hidden will. From every quarter comes the demand for a new dogma, a new religion, a new faith, a new art, a new science, a new school, a new education, a new social order, a new world, and a new God. The things offered under this label are too varied, and often also too silly, to enumerate. Buddhism and Mohammedanism and the religion of Wodan are commended to us, theosophy, occultism, magic and astrology, daemonism and satan-worship, race- and hero-worship, ethical culture and the pursuit of ideals, the cult of humanity and of Jesus. Reform movements are the order of the day. Modernism is in the air everywhere.33
Divergent as these tendencies may be, they all have two characteristics in common. In the first place, the principle of autonomy, expressing itself on the one hand in anarchism of thought, on the other hand in the auto-soterism of the will.34 Each individual regards himself as independent and self-governing, and shapes his own course and pursues his own way. Having nothing to start with except a vague sense of need, men seek satisfaction in every possible quarter, in India and Arabia, among the civilized and uncivilized nations, in nature and art, in state and society. Religion is treated as a matter of purely personal invention and individual construction, as a mere product and element of culture. Everybody has his own religion,—not merely every nation and every church, but every person. Thus we hear of a religion of the modern man, a religion of the layman, a religion of the artist, a religion of the scientist, a religion of the physician. It has become a, vogue to study and expound the religion of Goethe and Lessing, of Kant and Schleiermacher, of Bismarck and Tolstoi.
But in the second place these modern movements are all alike seeking after religion, after the supreme good, abiding happiness, true being, absolute worth. Even though the word “religion” be avoided and the new-fashioned term “world-view” preferred, in point of fact the satisfaction of no other need is aimed at than that which used to be supplied by religion. As to the proper definition of such a world-view, there exists considerable divergence of opinion. But whether with Windelband we define philosophy as the theory of “the determination of values,” as the science of “normal consciousness,” or conceive of it with Paulsen as a mode of viewing the world and life “which shall satisfy both the demands of reason and the needs of the heart,” in any case it is plain that philosophy is not content with a scientific explanation of reality, but seeks to vindicate the higher ideals of humanity, to satisfy its deepest needs. Philosophy wishes itself to serve as religion, and from an attitude of contempt for all theology has veered round to a profession of being itself at bottom a search after God.35
The agreement between these various movements of reform extends, however, still farther than this. The ways in which satisfaction is sought for the ineradicable “metaphysical need” appear to be many and divergent. But appearances are deceitful. Some youthful enthusiast discovers an idea, which takes him by surprise, and he forthwith claims for it the importance of a new religion, or a new philosophy. But historical study and scientific reflection will, as a rule, convince him in short order that the thing he regarded as new was, in point of fact, quite old, having in the past repeatedly emerged and passed away. That which has been is that which shall be, and there is no new thing under the sun. The new fashions in theology are as much like the old Arianism and Socinianism and Gnosticism and Sabellianism as one drop of water is like another. The new roads in philosophy have all been travelled by the thinkers of ancient Greece. It is difficult to square this fact with the theory of evolution and its boast of the wonderful progress of our times. But in reality the limitations of the human intellect soon become apparent, the originality of human thought is readily exhausted. Troeltsch strikingly observes that “the number of those who have had something really new to tell the world has always been remarkably small, and it is astonishing to observe on how few ideas humanity has actually subsisted.”36 The directions in which it is possible for our thinking to move are not nearly so numerous as we suppose or imagine. We are all determined in our thought and action by the peculiarity of our human nature, and then again by each one’s own past and present, his character and environment. And it is not rare that those who seem to lead others are rather themselves led by them.37
If, then, we attend to details, to words and forms of ex pression, to outward considerations and modes of presentation, we seem in the presence of a chaotic mass of religions and world-views among which choice is difficult. But when we penetrate to the centre of things and consider principles, all this mass reduces itself to a few types. “The epochs of human life,” as Goethe’s saying has it, “traverse in typical development a series of world-views.”38 And as every world-view moves between the three poles of God, the world, and man, and seeks to determine their reciprocal relations, it follows that in principle only three types of world-view are distinguishable,—the theistic (religious, theological), the naturalistic (either in its pantheistic or materialistic form), and the humanistic. These three do not succeed one another in history as Comte imagined his trois états to do. They rather recur in rhythmical waves, more or less intermingle, and subsist side by side. Thus Greek philosophy was born out of the Orphic theology, passed over into the naturalism of the old nature-philosophy, and became humanistic in the Sophists and the wisdom-philosophy of Socrates. Plato in his doctrine of ideas went back to the old theology and to Pythagoras; but, after Aristotle, his philosophy gave way to the naturalistic systems of Epicurus and the Stoa; and these in turn, by way of reaction, gave birth to the teachings of the sceptical and mystical schools. Christianity gave theism the ascendancy for many centuries; but modern philosophy, which began with Descartes and Bacon, assumed in ever increasing measure a naturalistic character till Kant and Fichte in the ego once more took their starting-point from man. After a brief period of the supremacy of the theistic philosophy in the nineteenth century, naturalism in its materialistic or pantheistic form resumed its sway, only to induce during these recent years a new return to Kant and the principles of humanism.
At present the materialistic form of naturalism has been generally discredited among all thinkers of repute. Practically it still survives and counts many adherents, but it has lost all hold upon the leaders of thought. Three causes have chiefly contributed to this.
In the first place, the criticism to which Darwinism in the narrower sense of this term has been subjected. It should be remembered that Darwin was not the father of the idea of evolution. This existed long before him. Bodin and Hobbes, Montesquieu, Voltaire and Roussean, Kant and Schiller, had already taught that the original state of man was merely animal. Hegel had changed Spinoza’s substance into a principle of active force, and made out of immutable being a restless becoming. But all these earlier thinkers held the idea of evolution in a purely philosophical form. Darwin., on the other hand, endeavored to supply it with a scientific basis in facts, just as Marx tried to detach the socialistic hopes from all utopianism and raise them to the rank of a scientific theory. But no sooner had Darwin succeeded in laying such a scientific foundation in his “struggle for existence” with its correlates of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest,” than the attack on his work and its demolition began. In rapid succession the principles of struggle for existence, of unlimited variability, of gradual accumulation of minute changes during vast periods of time, of the heredity of acquired qualities, of the purely mechanical explanation of all phenomena, of the exclusion of all teleology, were subjected to sharp criticism and in wide circles pronounced untenable. The prophecy of Wigand that this attempt to solve the riddle of life would not survive until the close of the century has been literally fulfilled. And the declaration of J. B. Meyer has met with wide assent that Darwin’s doctrine of descent was not so much an hypothesis proposed to explain facts as rather an invention of facts for the support of an hypothesis.39
In the second place, natural science itself has undergone considerable modification in its fundamental conceptions. Physics and chemistry for a long time proceeded on the assumption of atoms, which, however minute, yet had the property of extension and were capable of fillng space. With sober scientists this atomism never took the place of a scientific theory, but served simply as a working hypothesis within defined limits. Materialism, however, elevated this hypothesis into a theory capable of explaining the world, regarded the atoms as the ultimate and sole elements of the universe, and viewed all change and variation in the world as due in the last analysis to mechanical combination and separation of these primitive elements. Not merely was protest raised against this by philosophical thought as represented in Kant, Schelling, and Schopenhauer, on the ground that atoms possessing extension and filling space cannot at the same time be conceived as indivisible; but modern physics and chemistry themselves through their study of the phenomena of light, and their discovery of the Roentgen and Becquerel rays, and their insight into the endless divisibility of matter, came more and more to the conviction that actio in distans is absurd, that empty space between the atoms is inconceivable, that the atom itself is a mere figment, and that the existence of a world-aether filling all is highly plausible.40
To this must be added, in the third place, the effect of the criticism which has been brought to bear upon the naturalistic hypothesis from the epistemological point of view. Materialism made pretence to being monistic, but could furnish no support for this claim, seeing that in its atoms it continued to place matter and force side by side and had nothing to say about the relation between these two, and so remained obviously dualistic. Hence, in the name of monism materialism was condemned. Ostwald dispensed entirely with the conceptions of atom, matter, substance, “thing-in-itself,” and substituted for them the idea of energy. What the vulgar notion regards as matter is a pure product of thought, and in itself nothing else but “a group of various energies arranged in space.” These energies are the only reality. All our knowledge of the outside world can be subsumed under the form of representation of existing energy.41
But even this “energetic monism,” which Ostwald sought to substitute for “material monism,” did not prove a permanent resting-place. On further reflection it appeared that none of the outside world, including ourselves, is directly present to our ego, but comes to us through the medium of consciousness only. The ultimate elements, therefore, which are positively given and form the foundation of science, appear to be not, matter and force, aether and energy, but sensations and perceptions. The phenomena of consciousness are the only fixed reality. Hence it becomes the task of all genuine, empirical, and exact science, taking its start from these phenomena of consciousness, to strip them of all accretions, and then to proceed to the construction of a system on the basis of these ultimate elements of “pure experience” only.42
These considerations, drawn from the philosophy of “pure experience,” as advocated chiefly by Mach and Avenarius, led the Gottingen physiologist, Max Verworn, to a new form of monism, to “psychical monism.” In the opinion of this scientist, materialism, while capable of rendering some service as a working hypothesis, is altogether without value as an explanation of the world. Mind cannot be explained from matter, nor phenomena of consciousness from the movement of atoms. Even the “parallelistic monism” of Spinoza, advocated of late chiefly by Paulsen, does not satisfy, because it is neither monism nor parallelism. Nor is the “energetic monism” of Ostwald more satisfactory, because it continues to distinguish between physical and psychical energy, thus falling back into dualism. There is no way of saving monism except by abandoning materialism and energeticism alike, rejecting altogether the distinction between soul and body as a delusion inherited from primitive man, and deliberately reducing reality in its whole extent to a “content of the soul.”43
In view of the fact, however, that such “psychical monism” may easily lead to solipsism and scepticism, others have concerned themselves with establishing the objective reality of the phenomena of consciousness. The Marburg school, represented by Cohen, Natorp, Cassirer, and their colleagues, seeks to secure this end by finding the subject of experience, not like Protagoras, in the consciousness of the individual as such, but in this as rooted in and supported by a universal, objective, transcendental consciousness, which, although incapable of individual states of experience, yet bears in itself aprioristic forms and so offers to our representation a basis and a norm.44
Others, however, while equally intent upon maintaining the objectivity of knowledge, regard such a “transcendental psychical monism” as unwarranted and unnecessary. They believe an “epistemological or logical monism” sufficient to meet the requirements of the case. Especially Rickert, but also Schuppe, Leclair, Rehmke, Schubert-Soldern and their supporters, are convinced indeed that in order to escape from solipsism a universal consciousness must needs be assumed. But they do not understand by this a concrete, objective, real consciousness, carrying the individual consciousness in itself, like a sort of deity, something as Malebranche said that man sees all things in God. Their view rather is that a nameless, general, impersonal consciousness suffices, a consciousness which forms the abstract, logical presupposition of all human consciousness, but can never itself become the content of conscious experience, which therefore as a matter of fact amounts to the presence in the world of a universal potency attaining to consciousness in man.45
The unprejudiced mind, passing in review these several attempts to save monism, can scarcely fail to reach the conclusion that the history of this monistic movement provides to a remarkable degree its sufficient criticism. Its development is a rapid process of dissolution. The very name with which the philosophy of the preceding century loves to describe itself is open to objection. It is difficult to find in the history of science another such instance of the wanton abuse of a word. It is of comparatively recent origin, and came into vogue especially as an attractive designation of pantheism, which in its turn, if we may believe Schopenhauer, is but another name for atheism, although it takes leave of God after a somewhat more polite fashion. But while the name “pantheism” still bears some definite meaning, the term “monism” is so vague and meaningless as to make it impossible to attach to it any clear conception. All possible or impossible systems may be so designated. We hear of a materialistic, pantheistic, parallelistic, energetic, psychic, epistemological, logical, and still further of an empirical, a critical, an idealistic, a naturalistic, a metaphysical, a concrete, an immanent, a positive, and of several other kinds of monism.46
The name is particularly affected by the pantheistic materialism of Haeckel, who wishes by its use to brand every system differing from his own as dualism, and so to bar it out as unscientific. By his own “pure monism” he understands that there exists but a single substance which is at one and the same time God and world, spirit and body, matter and force. And in his opinion this monism is the world-view to which modern natural science stands committed. He agrees with Schopenhauer in declaring it equivalent to atheism, at least if God is to be conceived as a personal being. In the name of this monism he condemns as unscientific, all who recognize in nature, in the soul, in consciousness, in the freedom of the will, I do not say a supernatural factor, but even any force different from and higher than that at work in the mechanism of natural science. That men of high standing, like Kant, von Baer, Dubois-Reymond, Virchow, have kept aloof from this mechanical monism, is due, declares the President of the German Monistic Alliance, to inconsistency in thought or some decay of mental powers.
Such an act of scientific excommunication in itself betrays an arrogance little calculated to commend a theory. No one who has proofs to rely on need resort to “energetic language” like this. In the realm of science there is no pope to proclaim dogmas, no emperor to promulgate laws. All investigations here stand on equal ground, and truth alone is lord. But least of all is such a lofty tone in place when one’s own system utterly fails to meet the scientific requirements laid down. Haeckel himself oscillates between materialism and pantheism, conceives of his substance as both God and world, ascribes to his atoms a principle of life and consciousness, and appears to be naively unconscious of the involved antinomies. And the same is true of all systems which offer themselves under this name of “monism.” The name is a mere disguise under which are concealed the distinctions between God and world, mind and matter, thought and extension, being and becoming, physical and psychical energy, as with Ostwald, or consciousness and the content of consciousness, as with Verworn.
But even more serious is the objection that no one can tell us what this straining after monism in science and philosophy exactly means. Does it mean that there shall be recognized in the last analysis only one single and simple substance or force or law? But to lay down such an axiom apriori amounts to a palpable petitio principii, and applies to the world perchance a standard by which it neither can nor will be measured. The universe is doubtless much richer and more complex than we are able to imagine. Reinke very properly says: “I regard monism as an abortive attempt to understand the world. . . . The desire for unity, natural though it be, should never be given decisive weight in determining our world-view. The supreme question is not what would please us, but what is true.”47 No doubt science properly strives to reduce the phenomena as much as possible to simple principles and to subsume them under general laws. And in accordance with this our thoughts refuse to rest in a sort of eternal Manichaeism, which assumes two powers antithetically related to each other. But Sir Oliver Lodge truly observes that in this sense the striving after monism is proper to all science: “the only question at issue is, what sort of monism are you aiming at?”48 When the use of this name is intended to imply that all multiformity in the world must be merely the manifestation of one substance, we must reject the demand as unwarranted, as the offspring of an aprioristic philosophical system, and as directly opposed to the results of all unprejudiced investigation of the phenomena.
The demand in question appears even more unjustified when we consider how the monists attain the desired unity. The actual world presents to us an infinite variety of things and phenomena, and by no empirical research do we discover that unity of matter and force out of which monism seeks to explain the world. If such a unity be assumed, it can be reached only by way of abstraction. Greek philosophy was the first to conceive the idea of a principle of things, wherein it found both the temporal beginning and the efficient cause of all phenomena. Such a principle always necessarily bears this characteristic,—that all the peculiarities which actuality presents to our view have been eliminated, and nothing is left except the notion of universal, abstract being, which is not capable of any further definition. Even if we suppose, that thought can without logical fallacy reason from the full actuality to such an apeiron, this would by no means prove that the world really had sprung from and been formed out of this arche. Pantheistic philosophy, to be sure, proceeds on this assumption, identifying as it does thought and being. But this is to forget that logical analysis is something totally different from real decomposition or regression. In geometry points are conceived as occupying no space, but it does not follow that such points can exist anywhere objectively in the real world. Real space and real time are always finite, but this does not prevent the attribution to them in thought of infinite extension and duration. Similarly the conception of ultimate being reached by abstraction is a mere product of thought, upon which nothing can be posited in the real world; nothing can come out of it because it is itself nothing.
The proof of this lies in the fact that the relation between the absolute and the world is described by pantheism only by the aid of varying images and similes. It speaks of natura naturans and natura naturata, of substantia and modi, of the idea and its objectivation, of reality and appearance, of the whole and its parts, of the species and the individuals, of the ocean and the waves. But it utterly fails to form a distinct idea or clear conception of this relation. Closely looked at, the relation assumed appears in each case to be either that of emanation or that of evolution. In former times, when thought was more accustomed to the category of substantiality, the former was in vogue. The absolute was represented as a fulness of being out of which the world flowed as water from a fountain. After criticism had attacked this conception of substance, thinking reverted to the category of actuality, and, under the influence of Hegel, substance was changed into a subject, being into an absolute becoming, and thus the idea of evolution was made supreme.
The term “evolution,” in point of fact, has become a magic formula. Says L. Reinhardt: “The idea of evolution was like the kindling of a torch which suddenly cast a brilliant light upon the mysterious processes of nature, the dark recesses of creation, and gave us the simple, nay, the only possible explanation of them; evolution is the magic formula through which we learn the secret of the apparently insoluble riddle of the origin and development of the infinite variety of terrestrial creatures.”49 To all questions concerning the origin and the essence of things, of heaven and of earth, of minerals and of plants, of animals and of men, of marriage and of family, of the state, and of society, of religion and of ethics, the same answer is invariably given: evolution is the key to the origin and existence of all things.
It is a pity that a conception which is to explain everything should itself so much need explaining.50 The definitions that are given of it vary immensely. A widely different sense attaches to it in Heraclitus and Aristotle, in Spinoza and Leibnitz, in Goethe and Schelling, in Hegel and von Hartmann, in Darwin and Spencer, in Huxley and Tylor, in Haeckel and Wundt. And no single definition covers all the phenomena that are subsumed under the conception. In the several realms of nature, and in the various stages of historical process, the element of becoming that is met everywhere bears widely different characters. The transformation observed in the inorganic world is of a different kind from that seen in living beings. And among the latter, again, consciousness and will, science and art, the family and society, the individual and the body collective, have each its own nature and its own law. There is unity, no doubt, but this unity does not justify our dissolving the variety into a mere semblance. There is no formula which will fit the universe with all its wealth of matter and force and life. “Do not think it likely,” says Lodge, repeating with slight modification a saying of Ruskin,—“do not think it likely that you hold in your hand a treatise in which the ultimate and final verity of the universe is at length beautifully proclaimed and in which pure truth has been sifted from the error of the preceding ages. Do not think it, friend; it is not so.”51
The most striking proof of the pertinence of this criticism of monism has been furnished in a practical way by the rise of that new form of philosophical thought which introduces itself as pragmatism (activism, humanism), and already numbers conspicuous adherents in various lands. Though it has taken many by surprise, its appearance is easily explicable. When naturalism passes over from pure materialism to pantheism, this is tantamount to the return of philosophy to the ideas of life, mind, and soul. If, having recovered these, philosophy be unwilling to refer them to their origin in a personal God, it can find no foothold except in man. Hence, taking pragmatism as a general type of philosophical thought (as James himself describes rationalism and empiricism52 ) apart from all individual modifications, as these appear in James or Schiller, Pierce or Panini, Höffding or Eucken, we find in it a reaction of the ego from monism in its several forms, a self-assertion of the science of mind against the science of nature, of the one against the many, of man against the world. Very properly James calls pragmatism “a new name for some old ways of thinking.” Wherever monism makes of the absolute a Saturn devouring his own children, wherever the substance is permitted to resolve the modi, the natura naturans the natura naturata, being the becoming, reality the appearance, into a mere semblance, there humanity, personality with its consciousness and will, with its sense of religious and ethical values, with its scientific and aesthetic ideals will never fail to enter an emphatic protest.
Thus Socrates brought philosophy back from heaven to earth. Thus in the Renascence and the Reformation the human mind shook off the shackles of scholasticism. Thus over against the dogmatism of the rationalists the philosopher of Königsberg asserted the autonomy of human knowledge and action. And when in the nineteenth century monism had waxed powerful, and had found in socialism an ally in the sphere of civil and practical life, the birthhour of a new sense of personality could no longer be delayed. Of this movement Carlyle was the first, the mighty, the paradoxical prophet. During the years 1833 and 1834 he lifted up his voice against the intellectualism of the school of Bentham and Mill, and pleaded the cause of faith, of personal conviction, of the experience of the soul. All of his ego rose in him and set over against the no of the world its strong, triumphant yea. I am greater than thou, O nature; I stand above thee, for I know and have power; in the life of my spirit, in my religion and ethics, in my science and art, I furnish proofs of my imperishable superiority. And this cry, born from distress of soul, found an echo everywhere. It was the same impulse that led a Soren Kierkegaard to revolt against the Christianity and Church of his time; that induced a Ritschl to break as a church-historian with the Tubingen school; that made a Hoffding range “values” above “facts”; that determined an Eucken, in the mental life of man, to choose his standpoint above the empirical reality; that in the Netherlands filled the poet de Génestet with horror at the web which Scholten’s monism threatened to spin around him; that impelled a Tolstoi, an Ibsen, a Nietzsclhe to hurl their anathemas against the corruption of society; that caused the men of art to draw back from naturalism to symbolism and mysticism, and everywhere procured for the principle of “voluntarism” an open door and a sympathetic reception.53
While formerly the attempt was made to explain man from nature, thus doing violence to his personality, at present it is proposed to pursue the opposite method and seek in man the solution of the riddle of the world. Heretofore thinkers have looked backward, and investigated the past in order to discover the origin of man and how he became what he is; now the eflort is to look forward, to inspire man to work for his future, with the watchword, “make life, the life thou knowest, as valuable as possible.”54 Hitherto man has learned to know himself only as a product of the past: let him now learn to regard himself as “creator of the universe.”55 For is it not evident that in man evolution has reached its culminating point? Having after endless ages of strife and labor, after innumerable failures and disappointments of every sort, produced man, evolution now continues its task in and through man exclusively, with his co-operation and under his guidance. Personality is the most precious product, the most valuable quintessence of the process of the development of nature. Goethe’s words, “Höchstes Glück der Erdenkinder ist nur die Persönlichkeit,” are being quoted with universal delight and approval.
We see, therefore, that pragmatism as a philosophical theory stands by no means isolated, but is connected with a mighty, ever recurrent mental movement. None the less it has a shade and color of its own. True, at first sight it seems to be nothing more than the recommendation of a new method differing from that usually applied in philosophy; and sometimes it introduces itself with an amiable modesty befitting this humble claim. It disclaims every desire to advocate any dogma, and maintains no preconceived theories. Discouraged by the outcome of the philosophical systems, and sceptical as to the fruitfulness of philosophic thinking, it turns, we are told, its back upon all “verbal solutions, apriori reasons, fixed principles, and closed systems,” and applies itself to “concreteness and adequacy, to facts, to action, and to power.” Still this is nothing more than the old demand which we have become accustomed to hear from varying quarters, that science must not start from preconceived opinions, but with strict impartiality build on the simple naked facts. Empiricism through the ages has harped on this, and positivism has simply played again the same tune in a slightly higher and shriller tone.
In making this demand these schools of thought have acted under the naive impression that they themselves stand outside of the pale of philosophy and are absolutely free from all preconceptions. Pragmatism also cherishes this conviction, and, through the mouth of Schiller, compares itself to a corridor or passage in a hotel through which all the guests from the different rooms must pass in order to reach the open air. This is, however, nothing but a well-meant delusion. Empiricism is as much a guest in the great hotel of science, and as truly occupies a separate room, as all other inmates of the building. All engaged in the pursuit of knowledge recognize that thought must be based on experience, and that no other foundation can be laid on which to build science than that of the facts of nature or history. The scientific investigator does not resemble the spider or the ant, but the bee; he gathers the honey of knowledge from the flowers of experience. In order to see one has to open his eyes; in order to hear, his ears. Even mediaeval scholasticism, which, owing to various causes held the writings of antiquity, especially of Aristotle, in excessive reverence, never failed to recognize the principle that “omnis cognitio intellectualis incipit a sensu.” But there is and always has been difference of opinion with regard to the influence which is exercised or which should be exercised by the personality of the investigator in the discovering, observing, arranging, and systematizing of the facts. No difference exists as regards the formal canon that science must proceed on the basis of the facts. Pragmatism, in exhorting us to obey this canon, does no more than reiterate a well-known and well-nigh universally acknowledged principle. The difference begins when the question what are the facts is reached, how they are to be found and observed, to be classified and elaborated.
The case of pragmatism itself furnishes the best illustration of this. While offering itself as a mere method, it soon appears to be a theory and a system. It brings to the investigation of things a preconceived judgment of its own, both as to reality and as to truth.
As regards reality, pragmatism not only declares the philosophy of materialism and pantheism aprioristic and dogmatic, but passes the same judgment on all philosophy which would recognize the reality of ideas and would count ideas among the facts to which consciousness bears witness. Appealing to the well-known words of Goethe, “In the beginning was not the word but the deed,” it rejects all realism in the mediaeval sense of this term, to take its stand consciously and unequivocally on the side of nominalism. All generic conceptions, such as God, the absolute, the world, the soul, matter, force, time, space, truth, substance, causation, language, religion, morality, and the like are considered, therefore, not designations of objective realities, but terms by means of which we put together for the sake of convenience certain groups of phenomena, mere “helps to thought,” which have to prove their serviceableness and value in the using; by no means invested capital, but current coin, subject to fluctuation. To the pragmatist the world is in itself no unity, no organism, no kosmos, but an avowed multiplicity of phenomena, an infinite mass of facts, a hyle, a chaos.
Pragmatism adduces in favor of this nominalistic world-view the consideration already urged by Aristotle against Plato’s doctrine of ideas, namely, that otherwise the world exists in duplicate, or even in triplicate. For, as James observes, to the rationalist the world exists either from the outset complete in the idea, or, at any rate, finished and ready in its objective reality exterior to us, in which case it once more appears in the form of a more or less imperfect copy in our minds. To the pragmatist, on the other hand, the unity of the world is not a given fact, but a growing thing, ever in process of becoming and improvement. In itself the world is essentially unformed matter, hyle, but “it is still in the making, and awaits part of its completion from the future.” Or, better still, the world becomes what we cause it to be; “it is plastic, it is what we make it.” For this reason it is a matter of comparative indifference how we conceive that it in the past became what it now is, whether we explain it materialistically or theistically. For, after all, the world is that which it is. And the main question is not, What has it been? but What is it becoming? What are we doing with it and making of it?56
From this peculiar outlook upon reality pragmatism reaps the advantage of being able to accord unstinted and honest recognition to many facts which rationalism has to ignore or explain away. The world is a chaos, full of pathetic facts of sin and misery and sorrow, facts which the philosophy of the absolute seeks in vain to justify or to reconcile with the harmony of the universe. It also gives due consideration to a great number of the most diversified phenomena and experiences of religious and moral life, and, without in connection with these raising the question of truth and right, seeks to respect and appreciate them from a psychological and sociological point of view. Since it does not take its start from any idea of the absolute, not even of absolute goodness or justice or ominipotence, it does not feel called upon to furnish a theodicy. It does not sacrifice reality to any theological or philosophical theory nor force it into the procrustean bed of any apriori system. The world is a miserable world and in itself cannot be anything else.
But while judging thus pessimistically of the past and the present, pragmatism cherishes quite optimistic expectations with regard to the future. And in connection with this it holds a peculiar conception of truth. Behind and around about us, no doubt, gloom and darkness reign, but ahead of us the dawn is breaking. For evolution has now so far advanced as to produce man, and has committed to him the further improvement of the world. On man it depends what the world is to become. True, this renders the future more or less uncertain; the world is not saved, necessarily, by its own inherent powers; if to be saved, it must be saved by man. Still this salvation is possible, and in part even probable. Pragmatism is not wholly pessimistic nor wholly optimistic; its frame of mind might be described as melioristic. Although the world be wretched in itself, the power and the duty of saving it belong to us.
Man possesses such power because through a long series of ages he has come to be a knowing, and especially a willing and acting, being; his intellect and his will constitute him, in the midst of the sad, ugly reality, “a creative power.” He has raised himself gradually to this plane. He was not endowed with such intellect and will at the start; he has slowly acquired them. Nor is he by nature endowed with a so-called “common sense,” with innate knowledge of apriori forms, as even Kant from his rationalistic standpoint still imagined. The intellect itself, with all its content of conceptions, categories, laws of thought, etc., has been evolved in the struggle for existence, because it proved practically useful and valuable for life. And this consequently is the only criterion of truth.
Truth does not exist before or outside or independent of man. It has no more objective existence than the unity, the goodness, or the happiness of the world. It is nowhere to be found in its completeness, as though man could receive it after a purely passive fashion into his consciousness. Nor does its criterion lie in the agreement of our representations with the external reality, for it exists only in and not outside of man. It is not, but becomes; as the world in general, so truth is “in the making.” Truth is that which in the experience of the life of knowledge and volition approves itself as useful. Its changeableness and relativity are necessarily given with this. There is no single truth that is settled absolutely, above all possibility of doubt; all truth remains subject to revision. Every truth is to be measured by its value for life, and for this reason may change any day. Science itself gives no knowledge of the objective reality. All it can do is to provide us with instruments for using the reality. It furnishes no absolute, but only relative, practical truth. It teaches no necessary, but only contingent, laws. That system is most true which is most useful. Truth, religion, morality, civilization in its whole extent, are all subject and subservient to life. The reality may be hard and chaotic; it is for us to make it true and good.57
31Renan, L’avenir de la science, 1890. Bertholot, Science et morale, 1897. Ladenburg, Der Einfluss der Naturwissenschaft auf die Weltanschauung, 1903.
32Haeckel, Die Welträthsel, 1899, pp.345 ff.
33A. M. Weisz, Die religiöse Gefahr., Freiburg, 1904, pp.117 ff.
34L. Stein, Gedankenanarchie, in: An der Wende des Jahrhunderts, 1899, pp.287 ff. Ed. von Hartmann, Religionsphilosophie, I, pp.624 ff. A. Drews, Die Religion als Selbstbew. Gottes. 1906 pp.237 ff.
35Paulsen, Einl. in die Philosophie, Vorwort. Paulsen, Die Zukunftsaufgaben der Philos., pp.389 ff., in Systematische Philosophie, in: Die Kultur der Gegenwart, 1907.
36Troeltsch, Die Absolutheit des Christ. und die Religions-geschichte. 1902, p.56. Comp. A. Vierkandt, Die Stetigkeit im Kulturwandel, Leipzig, 1908. pp.1 ff.
37According to the well-known saying of Ledru-Rollin: Je suis votre chef, il faut donc que je vous suive.
38In Dilthey, Das Wesen der Philos., p.37, in System. Philos., in : Die Kultur der Gegenwart.
39J. B. Meyer, Philos. Zeitfragen, 1870, p. 92. Comp. further on the history of Darwinism after Darwin and its critics: Ed. von Hartmann, Der Darwinismus seit Darwin, in Ostwald’s Annalen der Naturphilos., Leipzig, 1903, pp.285ff. R. H. Francé, Der heutige Stand der darwin’schen Fragen, Leipzig, 1907. H. Meyer, Der gegenwärtige Stand der Entwicklungslehre, Bonn, 1908. A. R. Wallace, The Present Position of Darwinism, Cont. Review, Aug., 1908.
40Dennert, Die Weltanschauung des modernen Naturforschers., Stuttgart, 1907, pp.60 ff.. Ed. von Hartmann, Die Weltanschauung der modernen Physik, Leipzig, 1902. Ludwig Baur, Der gegenwärtige Stand der Philos., in: Philos. Jahrbuch, 1907, pp.1-21, 156-177, especially pp.164 ff. A. Schneider, Der moderne deutsche Spiritualismus, Philos. Jahrbuch, 1908, pp.339-357.
41Ostwald, Die Ueberwindung des wissensch. Materialismus, Leipzig, 1895. Id., Vorlesungen über die Naturphilos., 1905. Comp. on Ostwald: Dennert, op. cit., pp.222 ff. W. von Schnehen, Energetische Weltanschauung, Leipzig, 1908.
42Comp. on this tendency especially Mach, Populärwiss. Vorlesungen, Leipzig, 1897. Id., Erkenntnis und Irrtum., Leipzig, 1905. Also the exposition of Mach’s philosophy by Hönigswald, Zur Kritik der machsehen Philos., Berlin, 1903, and Hell, Ernst Machs Philosophie., Stuttgart, 1907. The following may also be consulted: Spruyt, Het empirio-criticisme, de jongste vorm van de wijsbegeerte der ervaring, Amsterdam, 1899. Koster, De ontkenning van het bestaan der materie en de moderne physiol. psychologie, Haarlem, 1904. Jelgersma, Modern Positivisme, Gids, Oct., 1904. Wobbermin, Theologie und Metaphysik, Berlin, 1901. Schapira, Erkenntnisstheor. Strömungen der Gegenwart, Bern, 1904.
43Max Verworn, Natur- und Weltanschauung, Leipzig, 1905. Id., Principienfragen in der Natur, Jena, 1905. Id., Die Mechanik des Geisteslebens, Leipzig, 1908, pp.1-20. Comp. Dennert, op. cit., pp.130 ff. As a result of this criticism of the faculty of knowledge modern science has once more become conscious of its limitations. Not only have Duboise-Reymond in his Sieben Welträthsel and Balfour in his Foundations of Belief expressed themselves to this effect, but the same views in regard to the limitations of science, and even its exclusively empirical character, are taken by H. Poincaré, La science et l’hypothèse; Id., La valeur de la science; L. Poincaré, La physique moderne; and others whose works have appeared in the Bibliothèque de philosophie scientifique under the editorship of G. le Bon. Comp. Gustave Dumas, Réflexions sur la science contemporaine, Foi et Vie, 16 Dec, 1907, pp.752-759.
44H. Cohen, Religion und Sittlichkeit, Berlin, 1907. P. Natorp, Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der Humanität, Freiburg, 1894. Comp. Ueberweg-Heinze, Gesch. der Philos., III, 2, 1897, pp.198 ff.
45Rickert, Der Gegenstand der Erkenntniss, Tübingen, 1904. Id., Geschichtsphilosophie, pp.51-145, of: Die Philosophie im Beginn des 20 Jahrh., Heidelberg, 1905, especially pp.110 ff. Heymans, Einführung in die Metaphysik auf Grundlage der Erfahrung, Leipzig, 1905, pp.224, 293.
46Eisler, Wörterbuch der philos. Begriffe s. v.; further: Der Monismus, dargestellt in Beiträgen seiner Vertreter. Herausgeg. v. Arthur Drews. I. Systematisches, II. Historisches, Jena, 1900.
47Reinke, Die Welt als That, Berlin, 1903, p.457.
48Sir Oliver Lodge, Life and Matter, London, 1907. Comp. also: Fr. Traub, Zur Kritik des Monismus, Zeits. fur Theol. u. K., May, 1908, pp.157-180. U. Flügel, Monismus und Theologie, Cothen, 1908.
49L. Reinhardt, Der Mensch zur Eiszeit in Europa, Munschen, 1906, p.2. Haeckel, Die Welträthsel, 1899, p.6. Id., Der Kampf um den Entwicklungsgedanken, Berlin, 1905, pp.13 ff. L. Stein, An der Wende des Jahrh., Freiburg, 1899, pp.47 ff. C. Stumpf, Der Entwicklungsgedanke in der gegenwärtigen Philosophie, 1899.
50Rümelin in de la Saussaye, Geestelijke Stroomingen, Haarlem, 1907, p. 288, well says: “The idea of evolution must itself first be explained, before anything is explained by it,” but what cannot be explained is looked upon as evolution. Eyes are being opened, however, to the abuse made of the word. Comp. Lexis, Das Wesen der Kultur, in: Die Kultur der Gegenwart, I. pp.13-19. H. Schurtz, Altersklassen und Männerbünde, Berlin, 1902, pp.6 ff., 69. Steinmetz, De studie der volkenkunde, ‘s Gravenhage, 1907, pp.30 ff.
51Lodge, Life and Matter, pp.6, 7.
52James, Pragmatism, a New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, Longmans, Green & Co., 1907, pp.9 ff.
53Comp. an article by Prof. F. J. E. Woodbridge, Naturalism and Humanism, Hibbert Journal, 1907, pp.1-17. L. Stein, Der Sinn des Daseins, Tubingen, 1904, pp. 22 ff.
54Höffding, Philosophy of Religion, London, 1906, p. 381, reviewed in Review of Theol. and Philos., Nov., 1907, p. 318.
55The idea that man’s physical evolution has reached its climax, and that henceforward it depends on him to direct with his mind the further development and to create a new world, occurs in many writers: E. Schurtz, Urgeschichte der Kultur, 1900, Vorwort, and pp.3 ff. Stanley Hall, Adolescence, 2 vols. London, 1905, I, preface. Henry Demarest Lloyd, Man the Social Creator, London, 1906, p.15. In the last-mentioned work occur, for example, the following statements. The laborer is the creator, he is the remaker of man, nature, and society, p.12. As labor is creation, by labor men are divine and become godlike, p.13. Every good man (is) a creator and redeemer, p.32. Man is a possible God, p.25. an is not under the law, he creates the law, p.41. The creature is the creator, every creature. Man is not the creator, nor the creator of all, but he is the greatest creator we know on earth. He is the creator of himself and society, p. 42, etc.
56James, Pragmatism, pp.122, 127,162, 243, 257.
57James, op. cit., Comp. on the related French philosophy of Ravaisson, Boutroux, Bergson, Le Roy, and others, an article by George M. Sauvage, New Philosophy in France, Catholic University Bulletin, April, 1906; J. de Tonquédec, La notion de la vérité dans la philosophic nouvelle, Paris, 1908. G. Rageot, Les savants et la philosophie, Paris, 1908.